Our Dials

Articles, Publications & Awards


John Davis is proud to have been presented with the North American Sundial Society’s Sawyer Dialing Prize for 2009. The citation was:

In recognition of the superb quality of the dials he has created, and in appreciation of his historical research to enhance our knowledge of the dialists who preceded us and the craft they left us.

sawyer dialing prize 2009The trophy, a specialised glass windowsill dial, was made by Jim Tallman of www.artisanindustrials.com.

I am also pleased to have manufactured the dial with which Heiner Thiessen won the heiner-thiessen-globe-dialAmateur Prize in the 2005 British Sundial Society Sundial Design Competition.

I have published numerous articles on sundials (sometimes in collaboration with other authors), presented papers at conferences and given talks to various groups and societies.  A list of articles from the British Sundial Society Bulletin, the North American Society Compendium and the Scientific Instrument Society Bulletin is shown here and some are available for download below (Adobe Reader pdf format).




Articles  pdf


J. Davis:  B. Degenaar, A. de Ruiter, R. van Gent, A. Pappot and A. Agostino: ‘A Previously Unrecorded Medieval Latin Astrolabe and Evidence for a Mid-fourteenth Century Instrument Workshop’, Bulletin of the Scientific Instrument Society, 146, pp. 6-23 (September 2020).  Download

J. Davis:  ‘Thomas and Joshua Mann. Engravers and York Virtuosi’, BSS Bull., 32(ii), 2–7, (June 2020).  Download

J. Turner and J. Davis:  ‘John Collins and the Double Horizontal Dial’, Notes and Records of the Royal Society, (12 February 2020). doi:10.1098/rsnr.2019.0045.

J. Davis:  ‘A Mass Dial at Auction’, BSS Bull., 32(i), 38–40 , (March 2020).

J. Davis and Rosaleen Robertson:  ‘A Long Way From Home. A dial for Glamis Castle now in New Zealand’, BSS Bull., 32(i), 2–8, (March 2020).  Download

J Davis:  ‘Hic Sunt Dracones. Why are there dragons on medieval astrolabes?’, Bulletin of the Scientific Instrument Society, 143, pp. 2-12 (December 2019).  Download

J. Davis:  H. James & K. Karney:  ‘Restoration of a Painted Stone Sundial near Prestatyn’, BSS Bull., 31(iv), 2–9, (Dec 2019).  Download

R. Schewe and J. Davis: ‘Time on a Tablet; Early ivory sundials incorporating wax writing tablets’, Early Science and Medicine, 24, 1–35 (2019).

J. Davis: ‘A Renaissance Navicula’, BSS Bull., 31(ii), 13–16 , (June 2019).

J. Davis, ‘The “Chaucerian” Astrolabe in the British Museum: A Reassessment of Its Dating and Ownership’
Journal for the History of Astronomy, 50(2), 121–154, (May 2019). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0021828619845585

J. Davis, ‘A Medieval English Astrolabe Now in Innsbruck, Linked to the Lancastrian Court and with a Chaucer Connection’, Nuncius, 34(1), (2019) 27–68. DOI: 10.1163/18253911-03401002.

J. Davis and Sarah Schechner: ‘The Puzzle Of A “Reproduction” Astrolabe In The Style Of Jean Fusoris’, Scientific Instrument Society Bulletin, 139, 8–16 (Dec 2018)Download

Sue Manston and J. Davis: ‘A Couple of Cumbrian Dials. Pt.2: The Penrith Dial’, BSS Bull., 30(iii), 19–22, (Sept 2018).

J. Davis: ‘John Wright of London and Bristol. The beginning of the scientific instrument trade in Bristol’, BSS Bull., 30(iii), 28–32, (Sept 2018).

J. Davis: ‘A Long Absence. The return of St Michael-on-Wyre’s churchyard dial’, BSS Bull., 30(i), forthcoming, (Sept 2018).

J. Davis and Jane Desborough: ‘Sundial Layout Plate of Declinatory?’, Scientific Instrument Society Bulletin, 138, 12–14, (Sept 2018).  Download

J. Davis: ‘The Double Horizontal Dial – Update’, Presented at the BSS Annual Conference, Norwich (April 2018).

J. Davis: ‘Negative Muons and Sundials – particle physics and quantum theory for diallists’, Presented at the BSS Annual Conference, Norwich (April 2018).

J. Davis: ‘A Gamble That Paid Off’, BSS Bull., 30(i), 2–5, (March 2018).

J. Davis: ‘A Quality Dial by Joshua Springer’, BSS Bull., 29(iv), 2–5, (Dec 2017).

J. Davis: ‘William Lumb of Swillington. Schoolmaster, land surveyor and dial designer’ BSS Bull., 29(iv), 15–18, (Dec 2017).

J. Davis: ‘Dating an astrolabe from its calendar scales’, Bulletin of the Scientific Instrument Society, 135, 2–7, (December 2017).

J. Davis, ‘Fit for a King. Decoding the great Sloane astrolabe and other English astrolabes with “quatrefoil” retes’, Medieval Encounters, Special issue on ‘Astrolabes in Medieval Encounters’, 23 (2017) 311–354. DOI: 10.1163/15700674-12342250

J. Davis: ‘The Navicula – Made in Medieval East Anglia?’, BSS Bull., 29(ii), 15–23 (June 2017). Download

J. Davis: ‘The Navicula – Made in Medieval East Anglia?’, presented at the BSS Annual Conference, Oxford (April 2017).

J. Davis: ‘The Restoration of a Horizontal Dial by Henry Sutton’, BSS Bull., 29(i), 2–8 (March 2017). Download
J. Davis: ‘A Royal English Medieval Astrolabe Made for Use in Northern Italy’, J. Hist. Astron., 48(1), 3–32 (Feb 2017). DOI: 10.1177/0021828616681214.

J. Davis: ‘Joshua Springer of Bristol – An eighteenth-century provincial dialmaker’, BSS Bull., 28(iv), 12–16 (Dec 2016).

J. Davis: ‘Sundials by the Davis Dynasty’ BSS Bull., 28(iii), 2–6 (Sept 2016). Download

J. Davis: ‘A Mystery Welsh Horizontal Dial’ BSS Bull., 28(ii), 2–6 (June 2016). Download

J. Davis: ‘An Early English Horizontal Dial’ BSS Bull., 28(ii), 26–28 (June 2016).

T. Grosserberger, A. Freundlich & J. Davis: ‘Kitchener’s Sundial in Palestine’ BSS Bull., 28(i), 13–16 (March 2016).

J. Davis: ‘An Unrecorded Transitional Mass Dial at Bixley, Norfolk’ BSS Bull., 28(i), 21–25 (March 2016). Download

J. Davis: ‘A Disregarded Seventeenth-Century Horizontal Dial From Scotland’ BSS Bull., 27(iv), 35–37 (Dec 2015).

J. Davis: ‘Early Tudor Dials’ BSS Bull., 27(iii), Readers’ Letters, 47 (Sept 2015).

J. Davis and M. Lowne: ‘An Early English Astrolabe at Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge, and Walter of Elveden’s Kalendarium’. J. History Astronomy, 46(3), 257–290, (August 2015). DOI: 10.1177/0021828615590336.

J. Davis: ‘The Chetwode Quadrant – a medieval unequal-hour instrument’ BSS Bull., 27(ii), 2–6 (June 2015). Download

J. Davis: ‘Manchester Railway Dial’, BSS Bull., 26(iii), 39 (Sept 2014).

J. Davis: ‘A Decorative Tile Dial’, BSS Bull., 26(ii), 7 (June 2014).

K. Karney and J. Davis: ‘Lewis Carroll’s Sundial’, BSS Bull., 26(ii), 21 (June 2014).

J. Davis: ‘Engraved Decoration on English Horizontal Dials’, BSS Bull., 26(ii), 48–54 (June 2014). Download

J. Davis: ‘The Zutphen Quadrant – a very early equal-hour instrument excavated in The Netherlands’, BSS Bull., 26(i), 36–42 (March 2014). Download

J. Davis: ‘A Dial by George Bradford’, BSS Bull., 25(iv), 7 (Dec 2013).

J. Davis: ‘An Edwin Russell Designed Horizontal Dial’, BSS Bull., 25(iv), 14 (Dec 2013).

J. Davis: ‘A Missing Stained Glass Dial Located’, BSS Bull., 25(iv), 27 (Dec 2013).

M. Lowne & J. Davis: ‘Planetary Hours’, BSS Bull., 25(iii), 40–48 (Sept 2013). Download

J. Davis: ‘Noon Overlaps and Overhanging Gnomons’, BSS Bull., 25(iii), 12 (Sept 2013).

J. Davis & D Harber: ‘A New Dial for St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle’, BSS Bull., 25(ii), 14–17 (Jun 2013).

J. Davis: ‘William Cuningham’s Cosmographical Glasse’, BSS Bull., 25(ii), 8–10 (Jun 2013).

J. Davis: ‘A Holographic Sundial’, BSS Bull., 25(i), 48 (Mar 2013).

J. Davis: ‘Thomas Boleyn’s Slate Sundial’, BSS Bull., 25(i), 45 (Mar 2013).

J. Davis: ‘A 12th-century Manuscript Indian Circle Diagram’, BSS Bull., 25(i), 29 (Mar 2013).

J. Davis: ‘A Palimpsest Gnomon’, BSS Bull., 25(i), 28–29 (Mar 2013).

J. Davis: ‘Helical Sundials’, BSS Bull., 24(iv), 41 (Dec 2012).

J. Davis: ‘An Excavated Lead Sundial’, BSS Bull., 24(iv), 18–20 (Dec 2012). Download

J. Davis & J. Bonin: ‘Early 19th-century English Drawings of Greek Dials’, BSS Bull., 24(iii), 43–44 (Sept 2012).

J. Davis: ‘Holbein’s Cylinder Dial’, BSS Bull., 24(iii), 40 (Sept 2012).

J. Davis: ‘Lost Bonar Dial Resurfaces – Briefly!’, BSS Bull., 24(iii), 22 (Sept 2012).

M. Lowne & J. Davis: ‘The Stereographic Projection and Quadrant by Henry Sutton’, BSS Bull., 24(iii), 8–15 (Sept 2012).

H.v.d. Wijk & J. Davis: ‘A Dutch Manuscript Showing Polyhedral Dials’, BSS Bull., 24(iii), 23–26 (Sept 2012). Download

J. Davis & C. Mason: ‘A Medieval Equinoctial Dial Excavated at St James’s Priory, Bristol’, BSS Bull., 24(iii), 36–40 (Sept 2012). Download

J. Davis: ‘A Very Early Description of a Horizontal Dial in English’, BSS Bull., 24(ii), 12–15  (Jun 2012). Download

J. Davis: ‘An Unrecorded Stained Glass Dial’, BSS Bull., 24(i), 17 (Mar 2012).

J. Davis: ‘Addendum to Robert Stikford’s De Umbris Versis et Extensis’, BSS Bull., 24(i), 1 (Mar 2012).

J. Davis: ‘A Portable Horologium’, BSS Bull., 24(i), 18-22 (Mar 2012). Download

J. Davis: ‘Robert Stikford’s “De Umbris Versis et Extensis”’, BSS Bull., 23(iv), 24-28 (Dec 2011). Download

J. Davis: ‘A Medieval Gunter’s Quadrant?’, BSS Bull., 23(iii), 2-7 (Sept 2011). Download

M. Lowne & J. Davis: ‘A Horizontal Quadrant of 1658 by Henry Sutton; Part 2’, BSS Bull., 23(iii) 45-48 (Sep 2011).

M. Lowne & J. Davis: ‘A Horizontal Quadrant of 1658 by Henry Sutton; Part 1’, BSS Bull., 23(ii) 8-13 (Jun 2011).

M. Lowne & J. Davis: ‘A Universal Altitude Dial by John Marke’, BSS Bulletin 21(iii), 2–8  (September 2009). Download

J. Davis: ‘Satellite Dish Sundial’, BSS Bulletin, 21(iv), 37, (Dec 2009).

J. Davis: ‘Robert Cutbush – a provincial dialmaker, BSS Bulletin, 21(iv), 20-22, (Dec 2009).

J. Davis: ‘Hans Holbein’s Design for a Clocksalt’, BSS Bulletin, 21(iii), 45, (Sept 2009).

J. Davis & C. Daniel: ‘John Seller – Instrument maker and plagiarist’, Bull. Scientific Instrument Society, 102, pp.6-10, (Sept 2009). Download

J. Davis: ‘The “Lost” Barrington Stained Glass Dial Rediscovered’, BSS Bulletin, 21(ii), p.12, (June 2009).

J. Davis: ‘The Double Horizontal Dial—Then and Now; at the OxfordMuseum of the History of Science’,  BSS Bulletin, 21(ii), p.11, (June 2009)

J. Davis: ‘An Unusual Equation of Time Display’, BSS Bulletin, 21(i), p.31, (March 2009).

N. Severino and J. Davis: ‘A Puzzle at Ravello, Italy’, BSS Bulletin, 20(iv), pp.199-200, (December 2008).

J. Davis: ‘A Triple Horizontal Dial for California’. NASS Compendium, 15(4), pp.11-21, (December 2008). Download

J. Davis: ‘John Marke’s Double Horizontal Dials’, BSS Bulletin, 20(iii), pp.117-118, (September 2008).

J. Davis: ‘Charles Darwin’s Sundial’, BSS Bulletin, 20(ii), pp.64-67, (June 2008).

J. Davis: ‘Pat Briggs’ Meccano Models’, BSS Bulletin, 20(i), pp.43-45, (March 2008).

J. Davis: ‘John Rowell: Plumber and Stained Glass Dial Maker’, BSS Bulletin, 19(iv), pp.179-183, (December 2007).

M. Lowne & J. Davis: ‘Lines of Declination and Two Seventeenth Century Dials’,  BSS Bull, 19(iii), pp.128-134, (June 2007). Download

J. Davis, T.M. Brown & I. Brightmer: ‘Brass or Bronze?’, BSS Bulletin, 19(ii), pp.50-55, (June 2007).

J. Davis: ‘Extract from Joseph Moxon’s “Mechanick Exercises” ’, BSS Bulletin, 19(i), p.27, (March 2007).

J. Davis: ‘The restoration of the dial on the Thomas Plume Library, Maldon’, BSS Bulletin, 19(i), pp.28-30, (March 2007).

J. Davis & H. James: ‘The Stanwardine Hall Dial’, BSS Bulletin, 18(iii), pp.98-106, (September 2006).

J. Davis & C.M. Lowne: ‘Henry Wynne’s Double Horizontal dials – Update’, BSS Bulletin, 18(i), pp.33-34, (March 2006).

H. James & J. Davis: ‘A close look at a Salisbury dial’, BSS Bulletin, 17(iii), pp.101-3, (September 2005).

J. Davis: ‘More on the Equation of Time on Sundials’, BSS Bulletin, 17(ii), pp. 66-75, (June 2005).

J. Davis: ‘A Just Punishment?’, BSS Bulletin, 17(ii), p. 65, (June 2005).

J. Davis: ‘Sir Isaac Newton Sundial Unveiled at LeicesterUniversity”, BSS Bulletin, 17(i), pp. 34-35, (March 2005).

J. Davis: ‘A Horizontal Dial for Montana’, NASS Compendium, 12(1), pp. 25-28, (March 2005).

J. Davis: ‘William Molyneux’s Sciothericum Telescopicum’, Bull SIS, 83, pp. 19-22, (Dec. 2004).J. Davis: ‘Thomas Wright’s horizontal sundials’, BSS Bulletin, 16(iv), pp. 135-143, (Dec. 2004).

J. Davis: ‘Sundial restoration at Houghton Hall – a study in patience’, BSS Bulletin, 16(iii), pp. 96-99, (Sept. 2004).

J. Davis, M.J. Harley & H. James: ‘Joseph McNally’s slate sundials’, BSS Bulletin, 16(iii), pp. 110-116, (Sept. 2004). Download

J. Davis & C.M. Lowne: ‘Henry Wynne’s Double Horizontal Dial at Staunton Harold’, BSS Bulletin15(ii) pp 46-58 (2003).

J. Davis & C.M. Lowne: ‘The “Bacon” Double Horizontal Sundials’, BSS Bulletin, 13(iv), pp 160-165 (2001).

J. Davis: ‘A buried sundial’, BSS Bulletin, 16(ii), pp.57-59, (2004).

J. Davis: ‘Sundials at TrinityCollegeCambridge’, BSS Bulletin, 16(i), pp 7-14, (2004).

J. Davis: ‘The Equation of Time as Represented on Sundials’,  BSS Bulletin, 15(iv), pp.135-144, (2003).

J. Moir & J. Davis: ‘An Armillary Octahedron’, BSS Bulletin 15(iii), pp122-123, (Sept 2003).

J. Davis: ‘A 17th Century Churchyard Dial’, BSS Bulletin, 15(ii), pp 68-70, (2003).

J. Davis: ‘Some 18th Century Dialmakers in the Grocers’ Company’,  BSS Bulletin, 15(i), pp 6-14, (2003).

J. Davis: ‘An Isaac Newton Sundial’, BSS Bulletin 14(i), pp.4-7, (2002).

J. Davis: ‘Tudor Dials in Ipswich’, BSS Bulletin 13(iii), pp.117-122, (2001).

J. Davis: ‘A pocket gnomon protractor’, BSS Bulletin, 13(ii), pp.56-58, (2001).

J. Davis: ‘The Psion organizer – the diallists’ friend’,  NASS Compendium

J. Davis: ‘A lightweight laser trigon for layout of sundial lines’, BSS Bulletin, 11(iii), pp.144-146, (1999).

J. Davis: ‘A test table for horizontal dials’, BSS Bulletin, 98(2), pp.37-38, (1998).

J. Davis: ‘Satellites and sundials’, BSS Bulletin, 11(ii), pp.77-80, (1999).

J. Davis: ‘When the sun shines’, BSS Bulletin, 97(3), pp.10-11, (1997).

J. Davis: ‘In Arthur Mee’s Footsteps’, BSS Bulletin, 97(2), pp.40-44, (1997).


J. Davis & M. Lowne: The Double Horizontal Dial – and associated instruments, BSS Monograph No. 5. BSS, London (2009), ISBN 978-0-9558872-1-5.

J. Davis (Ed.):  BSS Sundial Glossary – a sourcebook of dialling data,  Second edition,  BSS Publications, (2004).


J. Davis: ‘Fourteenth-century Latin Astrolabes.  Their journeys in location, time and function’ XXXIX Scientific Instrument Commission Symposium, London, (14–18 September 2020).

J. Davis: Negative Muons and Sundials or Particle Physics and Quantum Theory for Diallists. BSS Annual Conference, Norwich, April 2018.

J. Davis & M. Lowne: Double Horizontal Dials – an Update. BSS Annual Conference, Norwich, April 2018.

J. Davis: Metallurgy of Medieval Scientific Instruments (MoMSI), Seminar at Merton College Oxford, March 2018.

J. Davis: ‘The metallurgy of portable sundials found by detectorists’, presented at the HMS/PAS seminar on The metallurgy of our portable heritage, UCL, June 2017.

J. Davis: Another 18th-century Provincial Dial Designer. BSS Newbury Meeting, September 2017.

J. Davis: A Gamble That Paid Off. BSS Newbury Meeting, September 2017.

J. Davis: The Navicula. Made in East Anglia? BSS Annual Conference, Oxford, April 2017.

J. Davis: Restoration of a Horizontal Dial by Henry Sutton.  BSS Newbury Meeting, September 2016.