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This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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by William S. Powell, 2006

Sundial by Morehead Planetarium in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Image courtesy of Flickr user Kristian20.  Evidence of the use of sundials in North Carolina has been found as early as the colonial period. In May 1772 it was noted that Christian Gottlieb Reuter intended to build two "sun clocks" for the Moravian community of Salem. In 1811 John Stirewalt of Rowan County had a sundial constructed on the south wall of his brick house. In 1833 Henry Barnard of St. John's College, Md., was in Chapel Hill and commented on the sundial in Professor Elisha Mitchell's garden there. The carved sandstone pedestal of another one stands in the Presbyterian churchyard in Fayetteville. A large sundial, adjacent to the Morehead Planetarium in Chapel Hill and very near the site of Mitchell's garden, was constructed in 1956 with a gnomon approximately 24 feet long and 20 feet high. The sundial has become an oft-visited landmark on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus.


Adelaide L. Fries, ed., Records of the Moravians in North Carolina, vols. 2 (1925) and 5 (1941).

Rener J. Roher, Sundials: History, Theory, and Practice (1965).

Image Credit:

Sundial by Morehead Planetarium in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Image courtesy of Flickr user Kristian20.  Available from (accessed July 18, 2012).

Additional Resources:

North American Sundial Society:



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