Airth Sundial (F1)

At the top of the cemetery to the south of Airth Parish Church the cubical head of a sundial stands on a stone plinth.  The only information provided is cast into a copper alloy plaque which tells is that it dates to c1650 and was re-erected in 1960.  This was at the time that Stirling County Council was demolishing the historic heart of Airth and building new council houses and as the plaque also calls it the “Airth Sundial” there is no doubt that it came from the village.  Rumours suggest that it may have come from the area of Crawford Square just off Shore Road.

That is was a freestanding sundial is shown by the dial face on the flat top which retains the leg plug for the gnomon.  The hour lines are set within a square incised border which now comes close to the edge of the stone due to the loss of the original edge and as a consequence there are no numbers.

The way in which it is positioned presents a head on the south face, a thistle to the west, a crown to the east and a fleur-de-lys to the north.  The alignment of the gnomon suggests that this was its original orientation.  All of the figures are carved in bold relief and the thistle in some detail.

The choice of these prominent figures was evidently deliberate – the thistle of Scotland, the fleur-de-lys of France and the crown of England.  It is a pity that we do not know the identity of the head.  Is it Charles I or perhaps a covenanting martyr?  Presumably it is these symbols that led to the attribution of the 1650 date.

Sites & Monuments Record

Airth sundial (SMR 1553)        NS 8972 8764

G.B. Bailey, 2021