Statement of Special Interest
The Fingask Castle sundial is an important example, of some antiquity. It is located in the fine grounds of Fingask Castle along with a collection of separately listed early statuary. Although weathered, the dial retains evidence of an interesting highly complex faceted design closely resembling, in fact almost duplicating the 3rd stage, of the fine example at Glamis Castle (see separate listing) which MacGibbon and Ross say 'may be regarded as certainly one of the finest monumental dials in Scotland'. It is not uncommon for such early sundials to become polyglot structures over the centuries, and 1993 photographs of this dial held at the RCAHMS show the dial surmounted by four rampant lions supporting a mermaid figure.
There has in the past been confusion between this dial and another example (no longer at Fingask) dated 1563, and thought to have originated from Holyrood Palace. The provenance for this other example relied upon the testimony of Sir Patrick Murray Threipland, provost of Perth in 1665, who purchased Fingask Castle and estate in 1672. A photograph taken in 1989 at Fingask and held at the RCAHMS accords with a description in the 1861 OS Name Book of 'an octagonal block on a pillar, with a horse's head finial, marked as a sundial with 11 faces and a worn date which could well be 1563'. If the date is accurate, this would be one of the oldest dials in Europe, but its whereabouts are not at present (2007) known.
The first garden at Fingask was laid out during the 17th century, and improved in the late 18th century when James Stobie was factor. By the start of the 17th century, when gracious living began to flourish, formal gardens were being developed around the traditional tower house in the form of 'parterres and knot gardens, sundials and fountains' (Buxbaum, p7). Intense scientific interest led to early publications on the construction of sundials 'in which definite rules are laid down for the guidance of the dial-maker, so as to ensure his producing a work which will accurately note the passing hours' (MacGibbon & Ross, p357).
Category changed from A to B, 28 June 2007.