Sundials in Ireland

Medieval Sundials


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Scratch dials, also known as mass dials, are a rather basic form of sundial from the medieval period, scratched into the south facing stonework of a church or similar building, often near the main or the priest's door. Although later than the Ancient Monastic dials, they are generally less well executed. They are usually circular or semicircular in shape, with a hole in the centre to accommodate a horizontal gnomon (the shadow casting pin). Delineated, probably empirically, to show some form of unequal hours, they are event markers rather than true time keepers. While common in England where thousands of examples are known, they are extremely rare in Ireland probably because of a lack of surviving stone built medieval churches.

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for Dial details and photos

Map below shows locations of the known Medieval Sundials






Nendrum Co.Down


Old Mellifont Abbey Co.Louth


Kilbeg Co.Meath


Kells Co.Meath


Donaghpatrick Co.Meath


Bremore Co.Dublin


Iniscealtra Co.Clare


Askeaton Co.Limerick


Cloghane Co.Kerry


Muckross Co.Kerry


If you know the location of a sundial in Ireland (NOT a mass produced DIY Store garden ornament) please email it to me (Click here to email M.J.Harley) - a member of British Sundial Society