Barnwell Sundial – Barnwell, South Carolina - Atlas Obscura

Barnwell Sundial

Barnwell, South Carolina

The only free-standing, vertical sundial in the US was keeping standard time before it was even invented. 


Gifted to the town of Barnwell, South Carolina by a soldier from the town, the Barnwell Sundial is the only timekeeper of its kind in the entire country and has been keeping perfect standard time since before that was even a concept. 

The sundial was installed outside the Barnwell courthouse in 1858 after being donated by Captain Joseph D. Allen who had a soft spot for unique monuments and wanted his town to have one. More elaborate than classical sundials, the clock uses a unique square shape with a chart of months and days. Amazingly the sundial has kept the correct time within two minutes of standard time for over 150 years. Even more astounding is that the global standard time was not actually established officially until 1884, making this odd monument even more prescient. Despite dating back to the 1800’s, the Barnwell sundial was truly ahead of its time. 


Know Before You Go

Located on Main Street in front of the Barnwell County Courthouse.

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