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Sundial, North Garden, Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh

A Category A Listed Building in Edinburgh, Edinburgh

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Latitude: 55.9535 / 55°57'12"N

Longitude: -3.1731 / 3°10'23"W

OS Eastings: 326845

OS Northings: 674005

OS Grid: NT268740

Mapcode National: GBR 8SF.RB

Mapcode Global: WH6SM.7M7B

Plus Code: 9C7RXR3G+9Q

Entry Name: Sundial, North Garden, Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh

Listing Name: Holyroodhouse Sundial, North Garden

Listing Date: 14 December 1970

Category: A

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 365450

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB28030

Building Class: Cultural

ID on this website: 200365450

Location: Edinburgh

County: Edinburgh

Town: Edinburgh

Electoral Ward: City Centre

Traditional County: Midlothian

Tagged with: Sundial

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John Mylne, 1633. Multi-facetted polyhedron stone sundial set on carved and moulded hexagonal pedestal, centrally situated on wide, tiered, 3-stepped, moulded and panelled hexagonal base. Sundial with 10 triangular side faces, each with carved figures and geometric shaped sinkings, including hemispheres and hearts, some with metal gnomons. One with carved grotesque head. Carved heraldic devices to underside with MR and CR insignia (see Notes). Pedestal with carved acanthus leaf decoration.

Statement of Interest

The ground beneath the Palace of Holyroodhouse and nearby structures (including Croft-an-Righ House, the buildings on the N side of Abbey Strand and the buildings around Mews Court) is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 for its archaeological importance. The upstanding remains of Holyrood Abbey and Queen Mary's Bath are also scheduled monuments. Significant upstanding and below-ground archaeological remains may survive as part of and in addition to the structures and features described above.

This is one of the earliest and most elaborate examples of a complex multi-facetted polyhedron 17th century sundial. Made for the Scottish coronation of Charles I by the King's Master Mason John Mylne, it is intricately carved with a variety of different shaped sinkings and carries the insignia of Charles I and his wife Henrietta Maria to the underside. John Mylne was aided by his two sons, John and Alexander and the dial cost £408.15s.6d Scots in total. It has been moved to different areas within the grounds of the Palace and underwent restoration during the reign of Queen Victoria.

Multi-facetted dials were a particular cultural feature of Scotland in the 16th and 17th century and it is thought that Scotland had more of this type of dial than any other country in Europe. They are very rare and comprise a number of small dials of varying sizes and shapes, each with differently aligned gnomons and markings and they required great mathematical skill to produce. One of the gnomons here is the nose of a grotesque face, another is a thistle. It is thought that the Scottish fascination with mathematics encouraged the building of these complicated dials, which could also serve as unusual garden ornaments. Other examples can be found at Pitmedden House and Glamis Castle (see separate listings).

John Mylne was the founder of the Mylne dynasty - a family which was renowned for its stone masons, architects and which produced more than one Master Mason to the Crown.

Part of A-group comprising: Palace of Holyroodhouse; 28 and 30 Croft-An-Righ (Croft-An-Righ House); Abbey Strand Eastern Building; Abbey Strand Western Building; Queen Mary's Bath House; North Garden Sundial; Palace Forecourt Fountain; Abbey Court House; Gatehouse and Former Guard Rooms; Palace Coach House; Stables; Queen's Gallery (see separate listings).

List description revised as part of the Edinburgh Holyrood Ward resurvey 2007-08. List description updated 2013.

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