Your Hometown Stories: Barnwell Sundial


Barnwell, South Carolina, home to over 4,500 and also home to one of the oldest and most unique time pieces in the United States. The famous sundial is a unique vertical monument placed in front of the courthouse in the city of Barnwell. It was given to Barnwell in 1858 by Joseph D. Allen, at the time a state senator from Barnwell. Captain Allen, a wealthy Barnwell resident, had the sundial made by D.B. Haselton, an Iron dealer of Charleston.

The sundial is thought to be the only free-standing, vertical sundial in the country. The sundial keeps almost perfect standard time, although standard time was not set up until 1884.

There are two statues that surround the sundial, one of a little boy playing, and one of a little girl that appears to be watching the boy. The boy’s shoes are also on the side of the monument.

The Sundial draws visitors from around the CSRA.

The sundial measures local solar time. Before the coming of the railways in the 1830s and 1840s, local time was displayed on a sundial and was used by the government and commerce. Before the invention of the clock, the sundial was the only source of time, after the invention, the sundial became more important as the clock needed to be reset regularly from a sundial because its accuracy was poor.

In the age of iphones and digital clocks, one clock needs only the power of the sun and has stood the test of time. For your hometown stories, in Barnwell South Carolina, I’m John Lynn, WJBF News Channel 6.

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