Dating brass bells

The chronologies of the abbot Ingulf suggest that Thurcytel, the first Abbot of Crowland, presented the Abbey with a bell named Guthlac, after which his successor, Egelric the Elder cast an additional six bells—two large, two of medium size and two small—to complete a peal of seven.The same period saw other ecclesiastics involved in the founding of bells. Dunstan, "The Chief of Monks", was an expert worker in metals and known bell caster. Independent craftsmen set up small, permanent foundries in towns.A practitioner of the craft is called a bellfounder or bellmaker.Bellfounding in Britain, as with other scientific crafts, had its origins with monasticism and throughout the early mediaeval period and in centuries following, it was carried out predominantly by monks.High-quality bells are normally made by casting bell metal (a high-tin bronze alloy) in a mould appropriate for the intended pitch of the bell.

Nearly 200 years later, in the tenth century is the first record of a complete peal of bells.The earliest bells were made of pottery, developing later into the casting of metal bells.Bells are traditionally cast in foundries for use in churches, clocks, and public buildings.Verdigris forms a protective patina on the surface of the bell which coats it against further oxidation.The hardest and strongest bronze contains large amounts of tin and little lead though an alloy with more than 25 per cent tin will have a low melting point and become brittle and susceptible to cracking.

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The forces holding the tin and copper together cause vibrations rather than cracks when the bell is struck which creates a resonant tone.

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