39 Many rural parishes in Kent never had a
church turret clock and did not procure a scientific sundial
until well into the eighteenth century. At Selling a half dial
has been re-incised with bunched hour lines and bears evidence
of a wedge gnomon. Such conversions of scratch dials to
pseudo-scientific sundials are rare.
40 Scratch dial literature often mentions
the presence of deliberate later dial alteration; an issue
warranting more conclusive consideration than hitherto in the
literature. The greatest source of comfort is that it is still
possible to discern patterns. (Any) dial alteration has been
insufficient to obliterate the underlying picture. A particular
concern has been artificial circle dials – yet this paper has
advanced sound reasons why we should not be surprised by them.
If there was a fashion to make artificial circles why apparently
spare quarter dials from such attention? Why should there be a
fixation to make circles to deceive? Why not a range of artistic
vandalism? Yet we do not see it. It is difficult to conceive of
the past activities of miscreants being of a scale and
systematic nature sufficient to materially mislead us today.
It will have been noted the dating of scratch dials receives
little assistance from the building dates of churches, primarily
because of their great age and subsequent rebuilding. The most
useful information is the dated building of porches that cast
scratch dials into permanent shadow.
41 The only exceptions would have been
those communities sufficiently wealthy and cosmopolitan to
procure clocks/scientific sundials early – these were very few
in number. Clocks are recorded in Canterbury, Dover and Hythe by
1292, 1404, and 1412 respectively; see M. Pearson, Kent
Clocks & Clockmakers, 1997. Scratch dial incidence is
lower in Canterbury, Rochester and the Cinque ports, consistent
with an early discontinuance of use. However this is too small a
sample to be categoric or to infer the relationship between
surviving incidence and the time when scratch dials were
Kent Scratch Dials by Parish
Key: √ Scratch dial(s) listed: 1,2,3… no. of scratch
dials listed. Source: see Table 1.