Instructables

A slate sundial, carved by my great great great grandfather in 1858.

This is a slide show of a Slate sundial carved by my great great great grandfather, his name was Alexander Mills. The sundial was carved in 1858 from a piece of slate, the dial part is broken but the slate is in quite good order.

One of my dad's old customers called today to show us this, he has just bought the Bingham farm and this was in the garden.

I had not been aware that any of my ancestors had been an ornamental stone mason or sculptor.

It seems that there where a number of these made by Alexander and there are a few that have survived still in the local area.  I must try and find out where they are so I can get some photos of them too.

Update: I have added a high definition picture to the sideshow, all the fine detail can now be seen clearly.
valkgurl1 year ago
This is beautiful!
And you are SO lucky to have discovered it--even if it can;t come home with you!

Would be cool to do a sun dial with this same design configured for YOUR home
And yes great idea to collect rubbings and hi-def pics of ALL of the carvings--.
I am lucky enough to have pieces made by my family--including patent drawings-and have been drumming into my kids heads the importance of these to our history.
And after a number of years (45!) that our family was not in contact with other family members I know how THRILLED I was to be able to re-unite even family photos with other members whose relatives were depicted in them .One family "Legend" was confirmed this way--the elusive "Motorcycle in the living room" turned out to be true--I had the pics to prove it!

Slate is a huge business here in Washington County NY but know that all slate is NOT equal--and the ones off the "Old Shed" might be fine to practice on and decorate BUT the better slate to CARVE is the harder smoother more soapstone-like stone used here. Roofing slate is generally softer and easier to split into thin shingles-but not that easy to take a fine clear line.
This smoother harder stone can be easily carved tho--and we have gravestones here from the early 1700's in slate (and earlier in some New England Yards) that look PERFECT today--unlike the marble and granite ones used later--those have suffered from acid rain and freeze-thaw cycles and lichen.

The slate ones look like they were carved yesterday. My husband has a tattoo of a skull and bones from one of these from the 1700's and the stone looks just as it did the day it left the stone yard. And it has sat on the shores of the North Atlantic for almost 300 years!
I think this traditional slate work is brilliant, Where I live (North Wales) there are slate carvings all around, lying in peoples gardens and sometimes buried/forgotten, the slate miners would make them - usually as a wedding gift for their new wives. Some are so incredibly ornate, depicting their local or family history, and sometimes of a religious theme, their tools were often no more than a rusty old nail!
You know it would be a nice idea to make a rubbing of this and maybe frame it. That way you could "own" a piece of your family history that most people could never have. And you said there were more around the area, it might make a good project that you could document and pass on down the family.
canida4 years ago
That's totally awesome! A great find.
Dr Qui (author)  canida4 years ago
I was so nice to see something that is so well made and so well documented.

I want to get some better quality high def pictures of this.

I really want to make one of these now, just to see if I could do it.
Carving stone is really rewarding. You really should give it a try.
That's a lovely piece of carving, we have something in common my friend, my great grandfather was a stone mason, I don't own anything that he carved but his work is in the town centre and and the local park for people to see, could you persuade the chap to sell you back the sun dial?
Dr Qui (author)  diggerevans4 years ago
Its calibrated for 54* 12' north. it is also marked as to how many minutes fast or slow the dial has to be read according to the month.

I checked on Google earth and the farm this was made for is right bang in the 54* 12'  band. 

So it best belongs where it was made for and I would rather see it in use there.

Have you any photos of the work your great granddad did? please post them if you do.
I was thinking the same thing. I'd want to own at least one of them if it were me.
Dr Qui (author)  Culturespy4 years ago
I will do, I have some old thick rustic slates that came of the roof of the old byre. I will Be trying some carving on those, I need to get hold of some carving chisels first.