Church bells - when did they appear?

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Chris, yclept John Barber
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Church bells - when did they appear?

Post by Chris, yclept John Barber »

It's one of the things we take for granted - in Ye Olden Dayes, the best way of telling time was to listen out for the local church's bells tolling the canonical hours.

But when did that start? Casting bells takes a lot of skill and a good quantity of metal. Does anyone know when the technology was sufficiently advanced to allow every parish church and monastery to have one?
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robin wood
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Post by robin wood »

I know Theophilus in "on divers arts" writing in the early 12th century gives a very full description of how to cast bells...so full in fact that it makes you think you could go out and have a go yourself. No doubt the technology was available then but that does not answer the question of when every monastery or church had them.

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John Waller
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Post by John Waller »

It is thought that some early bells were not cast but made of sheet metal and references can be found in britain from at least the 700s. The oldest dated cast bell extant in england would appear to be from the C14th
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Merlon.
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Post by Merlon. »

All Monastries would have at least one monastic bell as that is how the day is regulated, that goes back to St Bernard and St Benedict.

St. Egbert:- Archbishop of York in 750- said "Let all priests at the appointed hours of day and night ring the bells of their churches and then celebrate the divine office."

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Post by BrendanGrif »

The National Museum of Ireland has a lot of examples see http://www.askaboutireland.ie/show_asse ... et_id=2603 for one -though the info provided is less than good.
I know that several date to the 10th century at least (and possibly earlier) and most look like the one in the link

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Post by John Waller »

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Brother Ranulf
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Post by Brother Ranulf »

Quote:

"The original bells of Crowland Abbey are said to have been the first tuned ring in England. In the early tenth century Abbot Turketyl had a great bell cast for the Abbey, called Guthlac. Egelric (Abbot 975-984) added six more to complete the tuned peal; they were named Bartholomew, Beccelm, Turketyl, Tatwin, Pega and Bega.


Bells can be extremely long-lasting artefacts. From about the 12th century comes this pair of bells at Iwade, a small village in Kent. These bells have been in continuous use since they were installed almost nine hundred years ago and have recently been rehung to ensure their continued service."

These extracts are from a very informative site:

http://www.cccbr.org.uk/prc/pubs/bellsA ... inging.php

This pushes back the earliest date for cast bells to the early 10th century - are there any earlier references?
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Brother Ranulf
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Post by Brother Ranulf »

In his De nominibus utensilium ( circa 1180), Neckham gives a comprehensive list of the contents of a church, naming the cupola or bell-tower and stating that "Small bells, immense bells and little bells must be hung in the tower". The little bells were those rung during Mass.

The inference is that ordinary churches often housed more than a single bell but this can not have always been the case - the well-preserved 12th century church at Barfreston in Kent has no tower and a bell hangs instead in the neighbouring yew tree.
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Ariarnia
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Post by Ariarnia »

http://u.tv/newsroom/indepth.asp?pt=n&id=35755

Have you read this article from 2003 concerning a bell found in ireland?

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Post by Brother Ranulf »

Wow - thanks for posting that Ariarnia, it's not every day a "national treasure" emerges. 12th century cast bells are turning up everywhere.
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