Very old bells

Richard Smith richard at
Mon Dec 20 12:51:21 GMT 2010

Is anyone here aware of any examples of bells anywhere 
in Europe that are over a thousand years old?

I'm aware of many Celtic quadrangular bells in Ireland, and 
to a lesser extent elsewhere in the British Isles.  They're 
typically dated to the 6th-9th centuries.  The Marden bell 
(now in the Hereford Museum) and the Bosbury bell (in the 
Horniman Museum), both found in Herefordshire, are clearly 
examples of this style.

The treble at Hardham, Sussex is probably only mid-11th 
century, and I believe that's thought to be the oldest cast 
bell in Britain.  (I also have a list of twelve 12th century 
bells too -- eleven in England, one in Scotland.  I guess 
one of these might turn out to be older.)

Outside Britain, the only older bell I'm aware of is one 
discovered at Hedeby (now Haithabu), a Viking trading centre 
near modern-day Schleswig.  Apparently it's 8th-11th 
century, most likely 9th, and from the scant descriptions 
I've seen, must weigh about 1/2 cwt.

Is anyone aware of any other pre-11th century bells in 



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