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Derry Sundial
Noon Mark Dial

Noon at the Equinox

Some 5000 years ago the Stone Age Neolithic people in Ireland aligned their megalithic monuments to the major solar events of the Equinoxes and the Winter and Summer Solstices which divided the year into four parts. The half way points between these major solar events, (which we now call the cross quarter days), mark the turning of the seasons and further subdivide the year into eight parts. It is more than likely that these ancient people had some form of dial in their village to indicate the turning of the seasons, the time to plough, plant, harvest etc. None of these dials have been found but this conjectural design consists of a vertical direct south facing dial with a horizontal pointed rod gnomon. Spirals were used by the Neolithic people as a sun motif on their megalithic stone carvings, most notably at Newgrange in Co. Meath, world famous for its Winter Solstice alignment, so spirals were used on this dial to indicate the turning of the seasons and a noon line was also incorporated to mark the passing of the first half of every day. On any day, when the sun is due south and at its highest in the sky, the shadow of the tip of the gnomon touches the vertical line at mid-day, twelve noon, which is marked on the dial with the Roman numeral XII for clarity. The length of the shadow, which varies throughout the year, indicates the occurrence of the Eight Calendric Events when it touches the varying sized spirals, the smallest anti-clockwise indicating the cold mid-winter, the largest clockwise the warm mid-summer with a double spiral at the Equinox marking the transition from winter to summer and vice versa. The Eight Calendric Events with their names in old Irish are:-

Lat 55° 1' 22" North    Long 7° 18' 30" West

Irish Grid  C   244235    419690

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
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