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The sundials are the oldest known instruments for telling time. In the modern world, there are much easier and more precise ways for telling the time, but the sundial could still have a place in your garden, serving as a garden ornament. Sundials are great for decorative purposes and they add a timeless touch. Learn about the sundial materials, its two main styles and tips for positioning it to include something in your garden that is sure to last.

Sundial Materials

The sundials are typically from metal, stone or wood. All these materials help to create intricate designs and include inscriptions or images on them. Brass sundials do not rust and require almost no maintenance. Cast iron sundials are also long lasting and age gracefully, withstanding all kinds of weather. Wood sundials are most susceptible to weather changes. Basically, the choice of material comes down to personal preference and taste.

Horizontal Sundials

The horizontal sundials consist of a horizontal flat plate and a gnomon on top of it. Their bases often include inscriptions or images. Their designs can be very meaningful, and they can be perfect gifts for the right loved one. Horizontal sundials could also be wall-mounted.

Armillary Sundials

The ancient Greeks invented the armillary sundial or the shadow clock. The Greek believed that the Earth was the centre of the universe and the stars moved around it. The antique armillary is essentially a model of such a universe. These sundials consist of connecting circles and an arrow-like gnomon. The shadows fall on the marked surface of the band and indicate the time this way. The armillary sundials look quite striking and seem as if they are expensive ancient artefacts.

Positioning the Sundial

Positioning the sundial correctly is crucial if you want it to tell time rather than just be a decoration. A horizontal sundial should be on a completely flat surface or a special pedestal. The gnomon should face celestial north. If you choose a wall sundial, put it on the wall that gets the most sunlight throughout the day. Without the sun, the sundial does not work. For the best position, you can use special sundial positioning calculators, in which you can insert your longitude, latitude, the facing angle of the wall and even the lean of the wall.