NS2683 : Sundial beside Rhu Parish Church

taken 8 years ago, near to Rhu, Argyll And Bute, Great Britain

Sundial beside Rhu Parish Church
Sundial beside Rhu Parish Church
The sundial, which is dated 1637, stands near the entrance of NS2684 : Rhu Parish Church; part of the church is visible on the right. The western gate of the churchyard can be seen in the left background.

The far side of the sundial has a plaque on it, near the top of the pedestal; an inscription on the plaque reads: "in memory of the Fairbairn family". For a view of the whole structure, see NS2683 : Sundial beside Rhu Parish Church. In his book "A Village Heritage" (1981), Ian Galbraith mentions that the sundial facing the front entrance of the church (presumably the one shown here) was presented after the Second World War (the attached Fairbairn plaque probably dates from that time). The book does not provide any further details about the provenance of the sundial.

This ancient sundial is really four in one. The upper face has a horizontal dial, which is perhaps the most commonly encountered form of sundial.

The southern face (on the left) has its copper gnomon intact, and is a vertical direct south dial; such a dial for 56, the latitude of this location, has the same form as a horizontal dial designed for the co-latitude, which is 34 (i.e., 90-56).

The near side of the stone block has a vertical direct east dial on it; this is constructed differently, with diagonal lines inscribed on it. The even-numbered hour figures have been written down the left-hand side, and the odd numbers along the top. Only the stub of the gnomon remains. There is a very similar vertical direct west dial on the far side.

The northern side is blank (vertical direct north dials can be constructed, but they are of very limited usefulness at this latitude; for obvious reasons, they would only be of use in summer, and, even then, only for a short time in the early morning and the late afternoon).

Dials can be constructed for vertical walls that are not facing north, south, east or west (vertical declining dials), for surfaces that are neither horizontal nor vertical (reclining dials), or for surfaces that both recline and decline: TL4558 : Unusual sundial. For another kind of sundial, the armillary sphere, see NS1485 : Sundial in the Formal Gardens.

[For more on the various kinds of dials mentioned above, see, for example, "Sundials: Their Theory and Construction" (1973), by Albert E. Waugh.]
Rhu Parish Church :: NS2684
The present-day church (1851), the third to stand on this site, is by William Spence, with later additions (c.1891) by Honeyman and Keppie; see its listed building report LinkExternal link (at Historic Environment Scotland) for further details. A portion of the wall of the second church (1763) survives in the kirkyard, where it forms part of a memorial to James Buchanan of Craigend Castle.
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NS2683, 50 images   (more nearby )
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Date Taken
Friday, 3 June, 2011   (more nearby)
Saturday, 11 June, 2011
Geographical Context
Historic sites and artefacts 
Place (from Tags)
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NS 2673 8398 [10m precision]
WGS84: 56:1.0393N 4:46.8807W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NS 2673 8398
View Direction
WEST (about 270 degrees)
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