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University of Glasgow, Gilmorehill Campus, South Terrace, Lord Kelvin's Sundial

A Category B Listed Building in Hillhead, Glasgow

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Coordinates

Latitude: 55.8709 / 55°52'15"N

Longitude: -4.2877 / 4°17'15"W

OS Eastings: 256952

OS Northings: 666556

OS Grid: NS569665

Mapcode National: GBR 0CH.X6

Mapcode Global: WH3P2.3PHP

Entry Name: University of Glasgow, Gilmorehill Campus, South Terrace, Lord Kelvin's Sundial

Listing Date: 1 December 2011

Category: B

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 400792

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB51848

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Glasgow

County: Glasgow

Town: Glasgow

Electoral Ward: Hillhead

Traditional County: Lanarkshire

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Description

Possibly William Thomson, Baron Kelvin of Largs, or his father, James Thomson, mid-later 19th century. Sandstone terrestrial globe incorporating 4 slate sundials with zinc gnomen, mounted on circular pedestal; surmounting horizontal sundial. Pedestal inscribed 'Horas non numero nisi serenas' ('I only count the bright hours'); surmounting crown inscribed with astrological symbols and dates.

Statement of Interest

Lord Kelvin's Sundial is part of an A-Group with McMillan Reading Room, Gatepiers, Railings, Quincentenary Gates, Pearce Lodge, Hunter Memorial, John McIntyre Building, Thomson Building, James Watt Building and Gilbert Scott Buildings.

Also known as 'Kelvin's Globe' the sundial is of interest as an unusual type of freestanding sundial, possibly designed by the pioneering mathematician and physicist, William Thomson, Baron Kelvin of Largs (1824-1907). Thomson was Professor of Natural History at the University from 1846 until 1899. Amongst his many scientific achievements is the absolute scale of temperature, known as the Kelvin scale. He is buried beside Isaac Newton in Westminster Abbey.

Originally from Torridon House (later Drewsteignton School), Bearsden, the sundial was bequeathed by Miss MacOnie to the University of Glasgow in 1964 and erected in 1971 by the architect Ivor Dorward. Anecdotal evidence (see Lloyd, p.6) suggests that the sundial was designed by Lord Kelvin for his friend, the original owner of Torridon House.

Numerous sundials in Venice ('La Serenissima') bear the same motto.

Listed as part of review of the University of Glasgow Hillhead Campus, 2010-11.

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