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Harborough Museum

Swithland Slate Sundial

Swithland Slate Sundial

This sundial from 1834 was built on the south wall of an observatory in South Kilworth by Revd Dr William Pearson (1767-1847). It was removed in 1960 when the building was remodelled.

Revd Pearson was a co-founder of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1820 and his portrait hangs in the organisation’s offices of Burlington House, London.

Revd Pearson moved to South Kilworth in 1821 and became rector of St Nicholas’s church. He built an extension to the rectory, in which he kept his telescopes. Due to smoke from chimneys in the village making his observations difficult, Revd Pearson built the observatory in the south of the village.

A photograph of a slate sundial next to a derelict building
Revd. Pearson’s observatory became derelict in the 20th century.

The sundial originally would have had a gnomon, a piece of metal secured to the dial. The gnomon was raised from the flat sundial so that it cast a shadow, which moved with the sun during the day.

The Latin on the sundial translates to “I run without feet, I speak without a tongue.”

You can find out more about the Royal Astronomical Society by visiting their website:

A photograph of a large slate sundial
The Swithland slate sundial on display in the reception area of Harborough Museum and Market Harborough Library

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