Crotal Bell

Contributed by Graham

This Crotal bell was the largest offered by the Robert Wells bell foundry of Aldbourne, Wiltshire. Crotal bells were extremely popular from at least the early medieval period and although many founders also made this type of bell, no others offered such a range of sizes (over 30!). Early medieval ones were made in two separate halves that after putting a metal pea (this rolls around and so makes it sound) inside were either soldered or crimped together but around 1400 the method of casting them in one whole piece and the magic of just how a ball of metal came to get inside was born. This is a number 32 and it measures 158mm across (the little one by its side is the smallest one produced and measures 32mm across). For 250years several founders worked their trade in Aldbourne and although only a drop in the ocean where church tower bell manufacturing was concerned with crotal bells Aldbourne was unrivalled. Cast using bell metal it is a fantastic example of the founders art, indeed Robert Wells and his two sons Robert and James were without doubt the most skilful in the land where crotal bell production was concerned. Far too large for animal use it was probably mounted on a wagon.

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Aldbourne, Wiltshire


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