Loch Lomond And Trossachs National Park Planning Authority
Complete 17th century sandstone obelisk sundial. Obelisk sundials are unique to Scotland and the Gartmore sundial is one of only 25 complete obelisk dials to survive in Scotland (Somerville 1994, 234, 237). The Gartmore sundial has some peculiarities that make it unique and it is of national importance as a complete example of a distinctive style of 17th century sundial design. It forms the centre-piece of the Cayzer Family Private Cemetery behind Gartmore Church. It was originally located in the forecourt of Gartmore House, and was moved to its present position in the early 1960s.
Approximately 8 feet high. Set on a square plinth set with an octagonal stone base, the sundial has a square shaft with four panels and octagonal collar. Uniquely all 8 faces of the collar have bowl-shaped sinkings. The pointed boss (polyhedron) has corner cup-hollows and dials on the upper and lower surfaces. The tapering finial has five panels and a pineapple finial at the top. Each panel contains a sunken geometrical pattern, some with metal gnomons - it has 56 dials in total. There is no inscription or date.
Statement of Special Interest
There are a number of peculiarities that distinguish the Gartmore sundial from other obelisk dials (Stevenson 1937, 265; Dr Ken Mackay 2004):
1. No other obelisk dials have an octagonal collar. It appears that the polyhedron and collar were cut from one piece of stone, so it is not an alien element.
2. The polyhedron differs from the standard type, but closely resembles those at Cardross and Drumquhassle. Four hemispherical hollows, each in a pentagonal frame, face N, S, E & W respectively. Between each of these dial faces two hexagons are set, one sloping up and the other sloping down.
3. The patterns on the shaft differ markedly from those of the standard type, which usually depict hearts, saltires, etc. Some present a partial resemblance to patterns on shafts at Drummond Castle and Invermay. Like them, the Gartmore pillar is divided into 4 panels, not 5.
The Gartmore Sundial is not mentioned in MacGibbon & Ross's Castellated and Domestic Architecture of Scotland (1892). Originally located in the forecourt of Gartmore House, when the Cayzer family sold the house in the late 1940s they took the sundial with them to England. However, it was returned to Gartmore in the early 1960s and situated in its present position.
The obelisk type of sundial is unique to Scotland and their origin is a matter for speculation. While the earliest multiple dials to be found in England exhibit German or French influences, the Scottish mind for mathematics and science took the multiple dial in a way which is found nowhere else. Masterpieces of the dial maker's art and a highly distinctive product of Scottish craftsmanship, they show a remarkable passion for dialling in all its most complex mathematical forms (Daniel 2004, 34). Scotland has a rich heritage of 17th and 18th century sundials and the great variety of sundial forms shows that the dialmakers had scientific, artistic and practical aims (Stevenson 1937, 227). There are a number of reasons for their appearance in Scotland at this time: Firstly, interest in science and mathematics was increasing. A key figure was John Napier of Merchiston (1550-1617), who, whilst living at nearby Gartness, experimented in alchemy, mechanics and mathematics. His work on logarithms culminated in the publication two years after his death of 'Mirifici Logarithmorum Canonis Constructio'. Secondly, Calvinist philosophy at this time frowned on decoration for its own sake and required function as well; and finally, during this period mansion houses with pleasure gardens were being established, of which sundials formed centre-pieces.
British Sundial Society, The Sundial Register 2000; Daniel, Christopher St J H, Sundials 2nd edition (Shire Publications, 2004); Duggan, E. R. 'Restoration of a Sundial' in Clan Line House Magazine (August, 1964); Gifford, John & Walker, Frank A, The Buildings of Scotland: Stirling & Central Scotland (New Haven & London, 2002), 518; MacGibbon & Ross, The Castellated and Domestic Architecture of Scotland (Edinburgh, 1892) 5:407; Somerville, Andrew R, The Ancient Sundials of Scotland (London, 1994); Stevenson, W B, 'Sundials of Six Scottish Counties, Near Glasgow' in Transactions of the Glasgow Archaeological Society, 9 (1937): 227-286; The Church in Gartmore: The First Two Hundred Years (Stirling, 1995). Additional information courtesy of Dr Ken Mackay and Gartmore Heritage Society (2004).
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Printed: 12/12/2018 18:47