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Latitude: 55.8237 / 55°49'25"N
Longitude: -3.0772 / 3°4'38"W
OS Eastings: 332607
OS Northings: 659460
OS Grid: NT326594
Mapcode National: GBR 61Y3.L6
Mapcode Global: WH6T7.PWVC
Entry Name: Arniston House, Sundial
Listing Date: 5 July 2012
Source: Historic Scotland
Source ID: 401098
Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB51937
Building Class: Cultural
Electoral Ward: Midlothian South
Traditional County: Midlothian
1685, with 1956 pedestal Ian G Lindsay and Partners, resited to current location 2011. Carved and relief detail two-tier squared sundial with lead gnomons set on later carved stone pedestal base and located immediately adjacent to the East elevation of Arniston House (see separate listing). Finely tooled sandstone ashlar.
A fine and early example of a carved stone two tier squared sundial with carved stone detailing and with later mid 20th century additions by a well known architect. Originating from Polton House, Midlothian (now demolished) the stones have been relocated several times as both Carmichael and Dundas family bequests. From 1946-2011 the stones were in the garden of Birkinshaw House, Traquair and in 2012 they were installed at Arniston as the Family seat of the Dundas Family following a further family gift.
The stones first known location was incorporated in a garden wall at Polton House, Midlothian, as a rockery feature. It was here that MacGibbon and Ross first recorded them in a drawing. Apparently, the ruins were formerly one or two dials "apparently of exceptional design". The 3 lower dial-stones were from one structure. The workmanship (and design) suggests it was a high status dial as the figures and ornamentation is not carved, they are in relief. The lowest (now separated) stone is 22 inches square and contains cup hollows 13 inches in diameter on each face. The next 2-tiers are those now at Arniston. The lower tier is 13 inches square and rises to a height of 22 inches; it is dated 1685. The adjoining upper tier is of polygonal design One side contains the initials I.I, whilst the other is initialled (in relief) I.I. and A.M. It is believed the dial originally had a height of 3 feet 8 inches and it now contains replacement gnomons dating to 1956.
In 1892 these stones formed the base of an elaborate cruciform tower inset into a rockery wall. Incorporated into the garden wall is a stone (decorated in relief) depicting Death with his scythe encompassing the world, below is where the gnomon would have been. In 1892, this stone was on top of the previously described stones with 2 pictorial stones flanking it (see below); a large lintel-like stone dated 1685 formed the arms of the cross and surmounting all was a tall tapered finial, decorated in relief. The 2 pictorial stones can now be found as "terminations" on the same wall as the Death stone. One stone is a harpy, the other a grotesque mask.
Formally listed in 1975 at Category B along with three other remnant carved stones at Birkinshaw: the Slab Sundial, The Harpy and The Grotesque which are of similar design to those found on the Newbattle Abbey dials (in Midlothian). These three other stones are now also at Arniston.
The cup hollow stone in the 1890 drawing was previously thought lost however is now at Arniston though not in a permanent location.
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