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Sunday, 17 June 2012


The oldest known bell, found near Babylon (in present-day Iraq), is reputed to be more than 3,000 years old. China, Japan, Burma, India, Egypt, and other ancient civilizations made use of bells in different forms so long ago that to trace their history is almost impossible.

English bells have tolled the death of every English ruler since King John died in 1216.

The Great Bell of Dhammazedi is said to have been the largest bell ever made, It was cast in 1484 by the Mon monarch, Dhammazedi, and located in Shwedagon Pagoda of Yangon, Lower Burma, but was stolen by a Portuguese warlord. The story goes that the legendary bell lies at the bottom of a fast-flowing river that's full of shipwrecks.

In the 1500s local folks started running out of places to bury people. So they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a bone-house, and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been burying people alive. So they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (the graveyard shift) to listen for the bell; thus, someone could be, "saved by the bell" or was "considered a dead ringer."

Sets of handbells tuned diatonically first appeared in England in the 17th century for practicing change ringing. By the 18th century groups of ringers had branched out into tune playing, with the bells' range having been expanded to several chromatic octaves.

Some of the bells that rang out in England when World War II ended were so old that they had sounded their notes to celebrate the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215.

The biggest bell is the "Tsar Kolokol" cast in the Kremlin in 1733. It weighs 220 tonnes, and stands on the ground at the Kremlin, Moscow, Russia, where it fell when being hung. Alas, it cracked and has never been rung. 

The Liberty Bell is an iconic symbol of American independence, located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The bell was commissioned in 1752, and originally called the State House Bell. It was not commonly referred to as the Liberty Bell until the mid-1800s, in coordination with the abolitionist movement.

Under the Chimney Sweepers Act 1894 in the UK, it was an offence “to solicit employment as a chimney sweep by … ringing bells”.

Russian bells differ from western bells in that, rather than being tuned to one specific note, each individual bell is crafted to sound several complete scales of different notes.

The ‘Peace Bell’ at the United Nations headquarters, New York, USA, was cast in 1952 from coins presented by 64 countries.

In the Lloyd's of London insurance market, a bell from an 18th century ship is rung once for good news, twice for bad.

"Campanology" comes from the same word as "campanile," a common name for bell towers.

Source Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia © 1998 The Learning Company, Inc. 

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