Clocks and time have been in co-existence for a long time. The Babylonians and Egyptians started measuring time roughly 5,000 years ago and since that time they have had to use a tool to measure it. Recently a clock was discovered abandoned in a Cathedral in the United Kingdom that may just be the oldest working clock in the world.
The Salisbury Cathedral is a church that still serves many parishioners today. It is a beautiful constructed building with important artifacts inside. The Salisbury Cathedral actually houses the Magna Carta – an important historic document dating back to 1215 that detailed the rights of the British people. Over time the importance of this document has been better understood and it is now revered as “the greatest constitutional document of all times” because it is believed to be the first document that gave freedom to the individual against the ruler in place at the time. The rights we have today may all stem from the radical move of the Magna Carta.
To many, the Magna Carta is an important symbol of freedom today and it is for this reason that an incredible number of people visit the Salisbury Cathedral every year. Some as followers of the faith, others as followers of freedom. Yet none of these followers ever made the extra journey to the top of the clock tower, if they had they may have discovered something of equal importance.
T.R Robinson and other clock experts discovered the abandoned clock in the cathedral tower in 1928. Robinson had climbed the tower to look at the existing clock that was installed in 1884. In the corner of the room, Robinson saw the old artifact and went for a closer look. Experts suggest that it dates back as far as 1386.
This may make the clock the oldest working clock in the world although there is some debate on this fact. There is a clock in France that claims to date back to 1305 and one in Italy that also claims to be the oldest in the world. While the English clock has been dated back to 1386 the others require further inspection to determine their place in history.
The most incredible thing about the clock in Salisbury Cathedral is that it doesn’t have a face or dial. To the modern user, it would be pretty useless as it barely tells the time. However, to the people of the 14th century, it performed its job perfectly.
The truth is that today we are obsessed with time. We care about the hour, we care about the minute, we even care about the second and nano-second. We care so much we are desperate to measure time to the smallest possible degree and if we succeed we will probably let it rule over us. In the 14th century, they were not as concerned.
Back then people only really cared about the hour so that they could have a rough indication of the time of day. The sunset and sunrise were important but whether something was in ten minutes or fifteen was not a concern. This was likely a more pleasant way of living, although may have included some waiting around for friends.
This is why the clock was abandoned after some time. Although it made a loud noise on the hour and was later proved to be able to get the time correct to within two minutes, it had to make way for a modern clock that showed the time, both minute and hour.
The clock has since been restored and is now has the recognition it deserves. Until the French or Italian clock proves their year of birth it can be known as the oldest working clock in the world.