Lighthouse bells

jim phillips jim at p...
Mon Sep 6 17:00:57 BST 2004

Following on from the Eddystone bells I delved into the background of the
Bell Rock lighthouse and the two 'sonorous' bells provided by Mr Stevenson
in 1811. Does anyone have particulars of these bells and their ultimate
fate? The Inchcape rock acquired the name of Bell Rock from the legend of
the Abbot of Aberbrothock (the ancient name of Arbroath) who fixed a bell on
the Rock in such a manner that it was tolled by the waves when they covered
the rock. Southey wrote a fine ballad entitled "Sir Ralph the Rover" about
the Abbot and his bell. If the legend is to be believed (only a few verses
covered in the Morris book Legends o'The Bells) then it would be the
earliest sound signal for mariners. My book of 1891 describes the bells of
the Bell Rock lighthouse as being struck by the hammer from outside, instead
of by a clapper from the inside as a more powerful sound is thus secured.
The range depends, of course, on the size of a bell. The book goes on to
say that probably the bells placed on the new Eddystone, which weigh two
tons each, are as heavy as can safely be used.
Does the sound of a bell struck by a hammer outside the bell (i.e. Big Ben)
travel further than the sound of a bell being struck by a hammer inside the

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