Tag Archives: Salisbury Cathedral

Toss your sundials – mechanical clocks are here to stay

You probably have a sundial or two still laying around the house. Well, it’s probably time to let the garbage guys (and gals) carry it away.

Mechanical clocks are here, and they’re not going away.

That could have been the message to the people of Salisbury, England, in 1386 when the mechanical clock was installed in its now famous cathedral. That clock is still running, making it the oldest mechanical clock in the world, according to those who know about these things.

According to Atlas Obscura:

The design of this clock introduced to Salisbury the also relatively new concept of standardized hours, rather than the ever-shifting increments, based on the seasons, that came before, in the era of sundials. The clock is wound manually, through the turning of large wheels, which raise weights. The descending weights turn rope-bound barrels, which in turn power the clock.

The clock was actually “discovered” by a clock enthusiast in 1928. It had been ignored for generations. It underwent extensive renovation in 1956 and today functions much as it did when it was first installed. Source: Medieval Clock at Salisbury Cathedral – Salisbury, England – Atlas Obscura