Horizontal dial

Horizontal dial for latitude 47° North. The dial is rectangular and engraved on the obverse side only. It has an index arm, pivoted at the base of the gnomon, which indicates hours and minutes by means of two different pointers when rotated until its centre line lies along the shadow of the gnomon. The gnomon is intricately shaped and hinged, folding flat when not in use. It holds the string gnomon. The compass is missing.

On the left of the gnomon two figures are shown standing at a draped table with a large globe on the floor to the left. One figure faces out from behind the table with his left hand upraised and his right resting on a book. The other is holding a pair of dividers and stands with his back to the viewer, in front of the table. On the table lies a globe, carpenter’s square and a knife. To the right of the table on the floor are books, a protractor and dividers. On the right of the gnomon, a man stands in front of a table facing outwards with a paper in his right hand. There is a compass with an alidade on the floor to his right and an inkpot with a quill, dividers and a carpenter’s square on the table.

This dial is of interest for the images set either side of the gnomon. Both depict mathematicians at work with their books and instruments around them. A similar instrument is in the Victoria and Albert Museum (inventory no. 20-1879), but with different scenes, depicting astronomers at work. A further dial in the Benedictine monastery in Krems, Austria, shows a rural scene with two lovers seated under a tree.

For more information regarding this dial please refer to the OUP & NMM catalogue, 'Sundials at Greenwich'.

Object Details

ID: AST0449
Collection: Astronomical and navigational instruments
Type: Horizontal dial
Display location: Display - ROG
Creator: Knittl, Franz Antoni
Date made: early 18th century
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Caird Collection
Measurements: Overall: 42 x 220 x 275 mm

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