Tide dial

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Bishopstone sundial.jpg
Bishopstone sundial and porch.jpg
A 7th-century Saxon tide dial on the porch of St Andrew's in Bishopstone, in East Sussex in England, with larger crosses marking the canonical hours. [1]

A tide dial, also known as a Mass [2] or scratch dial, [3] [4] is a sundial marked with the canonical hours rather than or in addition to the standard hours of daylight. Such sundials were particularly common between the 7th and 14th centuries in Europe, at which point they began to be replaced by mechanical clocks. There are more than 3,000 surviving tide dials in England and at least 1,500 in France.

Contents

Name

The name tide dial preserves the Old English term tīd , used for hours and canonical hours prior to the Norman Conquest of England, after which the Norman French hour gradually replaced it. The actual Old English name for sundials was dægmæl or "day-marker".

History

The tide dial at St Michael & All Saints' in Coningsby, Lincolnshire, UK Cadran canonial.jpg
The tide dial at St Michael & All Saints' in Coningsby, Lincolnshire, UK
The c. 1240 tide dial in Strasbourg Musee-de-l-Oeuvre-Notre-Dame-Strasbourg-IMG 4024.jpg
The c.1240 tide dial in Strasbourg

Jews long recited prayers at fixed times of day. Psalm 119 in particular mentions praising God seven times a day, [5] [6] and the apostles Peter and John are mentioned attending afternoon prayers. [7] Christian communities initially followed numerous local traditions with regard to prayer, but Charlemagne compelled his subjects to follow the Roman liturgy and his son Louis the Pious imposed the Rule of St Benedict upon their religious communities.

The canonical hours adopted by Benedict and imposed by the Frankish kings were the office of matins in the wee hours of the night, [lower-alpha 1] Lauds at dawn, Prime at the 1st hour of sunlight, Terce at the 3rd, Sext at the 6th, Nones at the 9th, [6] Vespers at sunset, [10] and Compline before retiring in complete silence. [11] Monks were called to these hours by their abbot [12] or by the ringing of the church bell, with the time between services organized in reading the Bible or other religious texts, in manual labor, or in sleep.

The need for these monastic communities and others to organize their times of prayer prompted the establishment of tide dials built into the walls of churches. They began to be used in England in the late 7th century and spread from there across continental Europe through copies of Bede's works and by the Saxon and Hiberno-Scottish missions. Within England, tide dials fell out of favor after the Norman Conquest. [13] By the 13th century, some tide dials—like that at Strasbourg Cathedral—were constructed as independent statues rather than built into the walls of the churches. From the 14th century onwards, the cathedrals and other large churches began to use mechanical clocks and the canonical sundials lost their utility, except in small rural churches, where they remained in use until the 16th century.

There are more than 3,000 surviving tide dials in England [14] [lower-alpha 2] and at least 1,500 in France, [16] mainly in Normandy, Touraine, Charente, and at monasteries along the pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostella in northwestern Spain.

A sundial beside the priests' door at SS Mary & Lawrence's in Stratford Toney, England Priest's door at St Mary and St Lawrence Church - geograph.org.uk - 539126.jpg
A sundial beside the priests' door at SS Mary & Lawrence's in Stratford Toney, England

Design

With Christendom confined to the Northern Hemisphere, the tide dials were often carved vertically onto the south side of the church chancel at eye level near the priest's door. In an abbey or large monastery, dials were carefully carved into the stone walls, while in rural churches they were very often just scratched onto the wall.

Some tide dials have a stone gnomon, but many have a circular hole which is used to hold a more easily replaced or adjusted wooden gnomon. These gnomons were perpendicular to the wall and cast a shadow upon the dial, a semicircle divided into a number of equal sectors. Most dials have supplementary lines marking the other 8 daytime hours, but are characterized by their noting the canonical hours particularly. The lines for the canonical hours may be longer or marked with a dot or cross. The divisions are seldom numbered.

Dials often have holes along the circumference of their semicircle. As additional gnomons were needless and these holes are often quite shallow, Cole suggests they were used to quickly and easily reconstruct the tide dials following a fresh whitewash of the church walls with chalk or lime. [17]

Examples

Bewcastle Cross

The oldest surviving English tide dial is on the 7th- or 8th-century Bewcastle Cross in the church graveyard of St Cuthbert's in Bewcastle, Cumbria. It is carved on the south face of a Celtic cross at some height from the ground and is divided by five principal lines into four tides. Two of these lines, those for 9 am and noon, are crossed at the point. The four spaces are further subdivided so as to give the twelve daylight hours of the Romans. On one side of the dial, there is a vertical line which touches the semicircular border at the second afternoon hour. This may be an accident, but the same kind of line is found on the dial in the crypt of Bamburgh Church, where it marks a later hour of the day. The sundial may have been used for calculating the date of the spring equinox and hence Easter. [18] [19]

Nendrum Sundial

Nendrum Monastery in Northern Ireland, supposedly founded in the 5th century by St Machaoi, now has a reconstructed tide dial. [20] The 9th-century tide dial gives the name of its sculptor and a priest.

Kirkdale Sundial

The 1056 x 1065 tide dial at St Gregory's Minster in Kirkdale, North Yorkshire, has four principal divisions marked by five crossed lines, subdivided by single lines. One marking ¼ of the way between sunrise and noon is an incised cross that would indicate about 9 am at midwinter and 6 am at midsummer. It was dedicated to a "Hawarth". [21]

Proper tide dials prominently displaying the canonical hours:

Other ecclesiastical sundials ("Mass dials") used to determine times for prayer and Mass during the same period:

See also

Notes

  1. It began at about the 8th hour of night (⅔ of the way between sunset and sunrise) which in the longer nights between November 1 and Easter allowed time for study before beginning the dawn office of lauds, but in the shorter summer months required curtailment of the vigil service so that lauds could then begin after only a brief interval to permit the monks to visit the toilet. [8] Sunday services being longer, they necessarily began somewhat earlier. [9]
  2. Cole gives a list of 1300 English churches with tide dials. [15]

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Diptych Two-part polyptych

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Compline Church service

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Bewcastle Cross

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  1. The size of its ellipse.
  2. The latitude of its location.
  3. The declination of the sun.
St Marys Church, Acton Church in Cheshire, England

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St Michael and All Angels Church, Mottram Church in Greater Manchester, England

St Michael and All Angels Church stands on Warhill overlooking the village of Mottram in Longdendale, Greater Manchester, England. The church is recorded in the National Heritage List for England as a designated Grade II* listed building. It is an active Anglican parish church in the diocese of Chester, the archdeaconry of Macclesfield and the deanery of Mottram.

Nendrum Monastery Christian monastery on Mahee Island in Strangford Lough, County Down, Northern Ireland

Nendrum Monastery was a Christian monastery on Mahee Island in Strangford Lough, County Down, Northern Ireland. Medieval records say it was founded in the 5th century, but this is uncertain. The monastery came to an end at some time between 974 and 1178, but its church served a parish until the site was abandoned in the 15th century. Some remains of the monastery can still be seen.

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<i>Sundial, Boy with Spider</i> artwork by Willard Dryden Paddock

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All Saints Church, Little Wenham Church in Suffolk, England

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Whitehurst & Son sundial sundial

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St Johns Church, Waberthwaite Church in Cumbria, England

St John's Church is situated on the south bank of the River Esk in the hamlet of Hall Waberthwaite in the former civil parish of Waberthwaite, Cumbria, England. It is an active Anglican parish church in the deanery of Calder, the archdeaconry of West Cumberland, and the diocese of Carlisle. Its benefice is united with those of St Paul, Irton; St Michael, Muncaster; and St Catherine, Boot. The church is recorded in the National Heritage List for England as a designated Grade II* listed building.

London dial

A London dial in the broadest sense can mean any sundial that is set for 51°30′ N, but more specifically refers to a engraved brass horizontal sundial with a distinctive design. London dials were originally engraved by scientific instrument makers. The trade was heavily protected by the system of craft guilds.

A schema for horizontal dials is a set of instructions used to construct horizontal sundials using compass and straightedge construction techniques, which were widely used in Europe from the late fifteenth century to the late nineteenth century. The common horizontal sundial is a geometric projection of an equatorial sundial onto a horizontal plane.

Clone Church Church in County Wexford, Ireland

Clone Church is a Romanesque medieval church and National Monument in County Wexford, Ireland.

References

Citations

  1. Wall (1912), pp. 67 & 97.
  2. Cook (2012).
  3. Horne (1929).
  4. Cole (1935).
  5. Ps. 119:164.
  6. 1 2 Rule of Benedict, Ch. 16 .
  7. Acts 3:1.
  8. Rule of Benedict, Ch. 8 .
  9. Rule of Benedict, Ch. 11 .
  10. Rule of Benedict, Ch. 41 .
  11. Rule of Benedict, Ch. 42 .
  12. Rule of Benedict, Ch. 47 .
  13. "Tide, Mass or Scratch Dials", Pastfinders .
  14. "Mass Dials", Official site, British Sundial Society.
  15. Cole (1935), pp. 10-16.
  16. Schneider, Denis (2014), "Les Cadrans Canoniaux", L'Astronomie, No. 76, pp. 58–61.
  17. Cole (1935), pp. 2-3.
  18. Bewcastle: A Brief Historical Sketch.
  19. "Bilberries and Tickled Trout: Reflections on the Bewcastle Cross".
  20. "Nendrum Monastic Site", Department of the Environment, archived from the original on 2009-04-16.
  21. Wall (1912) , p. 66.
  22. Wall (1912), p. 66.
  23. Dackett, Eliza; Julia Skinner (2006), Ancient Britain: Land of Mystery and Legend, Francis Frith, p. 93, ISBN   1-84589-276-3 .
  24. The Italian Riviera, Milan: Touring Club of Italy, 2001, p.  52 .

Bibliography