David Harber's Sundials
David Harber is probably better known for its sculpture installations. But sundials were where the company started. And sundials, time and all things celestial remain a passion for David Harber, who still regards himself as very much a sundial maker at heart.
What type of sundial?
David Harber makes three main types of sundials: armillary sphere sundials; vertical sundials which attach to a wall; and traditional horizontal sundials. All three types have a long history dating back to ancient times so owning any of these sundials is a great way to connect with the past and a salutary reminder of the inexorable passage of time. The company also makes a few unusual sundials which are as much sculpture as time pieces.
The right sundial for you depends on what you are looking to achieve in your garden. Are you looking for accurate time telling? Is traditional style an important consideration? Do you want a big impressive feature? The location of the sundial in your garden is another factor.
The location of a sundial in your garden is an important factor if you are looking for accurate time telling. A sundial needs to be located in full sunlight throughout the day in order to tell the time all day long. Partial sun suffices if you are happy with a sundial that tells the time for part of the day.
If the aesthetics of the sundial are the main requirement and time telling is less important, then a sundial can go anywhere – sun, shade, and anywhere in between..
Accurate time telling
A well made sundial can be very accurate; and the larger the sundial the more accurate it becomes. But sundial time is slightly different to clock time due to natural irregularities in the path of the shadow cast on a sundial. The difference between sundial time and clock time varies throughout the year, peaking at 16 minutes and averaging out at four minutes.
In the UK, David Harber calibrates sundials to GMT. In other countries, sundials will tell the time for your local time zone.
Vertical sundials are a little different. Ideally wall mounted sundials in the Northern hemisphere should face as close to South as possible, thereby showing the time for the maximum number of hours. But as David Harber makes vertical sundials for the orientation of individual walls, East facing wall sundials are able to tell the time in the morning, while vertical sundials facing West can tell the time in the afternoon and evening hours.
More Detailed Explanation of Sundial Time – The Equation of Time
Sundials do not tell Mean Time (clock time) but Local Apparent Time. For each degree of longitude West of the Greenwich meridian the sun is 4 minutes 'slow' and for each degree East it is 4 minutes 'fast'. The hour band on our sundials have been calibrated to allow for this.
To convert the Local Apparent Time indicated by the shadow on the sundial to GMT, find the relevant month of the year on the horizontal axis on the below graph and run your finger up or down to intersect the curve. Then add or subtract the number of minutes indicated on the graph to the time indicated on the dial to find GMT.
You can download a PDF of the Equation of Time and these instructions.
In the Garden
With its simple lines, David Harber's interpretation of the classic armillary sphere offers a contemporary statement of classical values that makes a powerful impression. The impact is traditional in bronze or brass, sharply contemporary when an armillary sundial is made from stainless steel, but always dramatic enough for the armillary to feature as a garden centrepiece.
By contrast, the appeal of an horizontal sundial is more subtle, evoking a strong sense of history and blending into the landscape around. It is also a more affordable piece.
For accurate time telling, sundials need to be precisely positioned and aligned. Our team of installers is expert at securely installing all manner of sundials in a wide range of locations. Installation is included in the price for sundials installed in mainland UK. For overseas, detailed instructions are provided.