This is a rare survival of a cast bronze handbell typical of the Irish and Pictish churches of the 9th and 10th centuries. Bells were important for time-keeping and other liturgical practices. Associations with saints made them holy and this meant they were often perceived as having supernatural qualities and so treated as relics. Their sound was thought to ward off evil.
Bells were commonly recast if they became damaged or lost their musical tone. This seems to have been the case with the Forteviot bell. It is marked with an elaborate letter ‘M’. This is a casting mark typical of the 17th century when the bell was recast in its original form using the original metal.
On the monitor showing the animation of the Forteviot arch, you can hear the notes produced when the bell is struck with a variety of strikers by percussionist Emma Anderson.
The bell was intended to be mobile so that it could be used in processions to and from sacred locations outside the church.
Sound of the bell as rung: