Monday, 19 July 2010

Duthie Park 'Sundial'

The 'interpretation' panel in the Duthie Park claims this is a sundial. That's putting it mildly.

This item is nothing less than a full solar (and possibly lunar - bits are missing) observatory with astonishingly accurate capabilities for measuring and cross-referencing both time and longitude (at our latitude).

Only one of the 10 or 11 instruments which make up the artifact is what we would understand as a conventional sundial. The other instruments are something else - instruments which are capable of providing the owner/user with a completely accurate understanding of the true shape of the earth's orbit and movement through the solar system. This includes the accurate measurements of axial, perihelion and ecliptic precession necessary for establishing corrections to the apparent solar and lunar time; this, in turn, necessary for establishing accurate longitude; that, in turn, necessary for performing and logging accurate astronomical observations.

The original commissioner/owner/user of the instrument had a rational and sophisticated understanding of our place in the cosmos and was fascinated by the still-ongoing great quest of inquiry into the true nature of the universe. The artifact pre-dates the Duthie Park and Arthurseat House; the lands of Arthurseat having been bought by Miss Duthie (a linen-mill heiress) and gifted to the city as the Duthie Park.

The artifact is incomplete, as the ground on which it stands would form a 'dial' and would be an integral and essential part of the instrument and its function. According to ScotlandsPlaces, the horizontal part of the instrument was 'nearby' as recently as 1978. There is no sign of it today.

The artifact is inscribed with the date 1707. I can't stress enough how advanced this instrument is. It should be inside, and carefully conserved.


Debra Storr said...

or properly restored and conserved including the restoration of the ground based element? Contact Friends of Duthie Park?

Other Aberdeen said...

Good call Debra. My former dentist is a leading light of the friends. I'll mention it to him the next time I see him.