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Castle Gardens unveil restored A-listed sundial

By David Porter

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Ellon Castle Gardens welcomed dozens of visitors on Saturday for a special ceremony as the cumulation of the restoration of the site's A listed sundial.

The new sundial in place.
The new sundial in place.

The walled gardens are built around a collection of yew trees, which are thought to be several hundred years old, with the gardens themselves dating from at least 1715 as marked on a stone lintel in the walls.

Hosting the ceremony on Saturday, chairman Stuart Wale said: "It is great to see such a good turn out for Ellon Castle Gardens and it is my pleasure to welcome everyone for this unveiling.

"I particularly welcome our patrons Lady Aberdeen and those who helped restore and fund the restoration.

“I’m sure you’ll agree that we have made great progress in developing the gardens.

“It has been a process of small steps and this sundial is other one of those.

"In particular we say a big thank you to Jim Davidson who has been the driving force behind a lot of the work that has been done.

Patron of the trust Lady Aberdeen said: “There is something very poignant about being here together in these Covid times about being here within these walls.

"Ellon Castle Garden is an important project and bringing it back into use for the community is even more important these days.

“Generous friends, supporters and volunteers have made this happen.

"To the see the sundial restored is a great moment in time and fantastic to have Christopher Dingwall an expert on Scottish Garden history here to help with the unveiling."

Speaking during the unveiling Christopher Dingwall commented: "It is an honour to be invited to help Lady Aberdeen with the ceremony to unveil this multi-faceted sundial which is thought to have acted as the focal point of the garden for around 300 years.

"There is a lintel with 1715 on it, so the garden has been here that long and the yew trees are even older which suggest that it may be older than that.

"The dial itself is the subject of a category A listing by Historic Environment Scotland which means it is of national importance by itself, regardless of the setting, which the gardens here are category B.

"The restoration has been assisted by a grant from the Mushroom Trust which supports projects throughout Scotland.

"The gardens were gifted to the people of Ellon by Scotia Homes in 2015 and restoration work began five years ago by the gardens trust.

"Restoring a garden like this cannot be done in a hurry, and this is a very special place."

With the covers removed, the months of work which had gone into the restoration revealed the unusual arrangement of the top of the sundial.

This is to ensure that the time can continue to be read throughout the course of the day, with a traditional single gnomon only workable for 12 hours maximum, indeed the Ellon sundial even has north-side facings as the angle of the sun in Scotland in mid-summer still allows for times to be read.

Ellon Castle Gardens are now open to visitors on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays from 11am to 3pm.

Membership supports the ongoing restoration and provides free entry to the gardens.

Visitors can sign up at www.elloncastlegardens.net

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