Tips for Dial Recorders

Here are some tips for those who may wish to record a dial for the Society.

Ideally get one of our special forms for the purpose.  Report form in 'MS Word' format Here.

(Send the Registrar (John Foad) an e-mail or visit the BSS web site (then select the Register menu) if you want more detailed information.  

1. If at all possible take one or more photographs. Preferably take both a location shot and a close up of the dial face. In most cases the close up should be as near square-on as possible, though that can be notoriously difficult on occasion! However, when taking a close up of an horizontal dial it is often better for it not to be truly square on since that will prevent the gnomon design from being recorded.  An additional shot can often be best in such circumstances.

The Society accepts colour or B/W prints (6 x 4ins or 7 x 5ins - that's the maximum size we can file) or 35mm transparencies. Such images are archived by us.  We do not accept e-mailed images for the main archive.

Remember to write on the back of each photograph:

The Address details of the dial.
The County.
The date of the sighting.
Your BSS Membership Number, (if you are a BSS member).
Your own sighting serial number (numbering sequentially from one for each dial report submitted).

Top Tip:  If you have difficulty writing on the back of photographs, use a fine-tipped overhead projector pen which uses ink that is designed for writing on non-absorbent film. It avoids the smearing or write through associated with other types of pen.

2. Next try to complete the Dial Record Form in such a way that its description stands alone from the photograph and gives sufficient information so the dial can be recognised from the words alone. Don't assume that because a dial might have been recorded before there is no need for you to bother with the details.  It is amazing how often two people find different things...

3. Give as full (and correct!) an Address as possible. Include any helpful description like "St Swithin's Church, Mellor Street, Anytown, Countyshire; High on South wall of Nave in between crenellations."

4. Be especially vigilant with vertical dials to notice if they are Decliners or Direct dials. Direct dials face due South (or East, West or North) , decliners face to an intermediate part of the Compass.  The gnomon will be in line with the 12 o'clock line if they are Direct South dials and the two 6 o'clock lines will both be horizontal at the root of the gnomon. Gnomons on declining dials are not in line with the Noon line.  The angle of declination of the dial can be deduced by noting the 'apparent time' at which the gnomon is situated, subtracting that time from 12 and reading the dial declination from the graph below. Thus a dial at 52 degs latitude where the gnomon sits as if at 9.05 am (that is 2hrs 55mins from noon) is an East declining dial where the dial plate declines 38 degrees to the East.

6. Dials are recorded in the Register by County or Region and, since in the UK there are many towns and villages with the same name, it is essential to also know correctly which County or Region the dial is in. Where villages of the same name exist in a particular County (and they do!) please also indicate the nearest large town.

5. Please do try to establish (and enter on the form) the Latitude/Longitude (dd/mm/ss) and the six-figure OS Grid Reference of the site. This can be very helpful when we have to decide whether you have found a previously 'unknown' dial or whether it might have been seen by one of the Society's Recorders before.

Finally you should post the form and photographs to the BSS Registrar:

Mr JM Foad, 'Greenfields', Crumps Lane, ULCOMBE, Kent, ME17 1EX

Note: Please do NOT send forms and photos by e-mail.  We do not have the time to pre-process and print them off on appropriate printers and the photographic quality and ink permanence of our computer's printer is quite unsuitable for use as an archive entry. If you take photos on a Digital Camera, do instead get them printed professionally since home produced prints are just not adequate as archive copies. For only a few pence a copy Boots or SnapFish will print images e-mailed to them and post back the results to you.