The survival of the instrument intact from the time of its manufacture to the present day is remarkable…
Winchester’s medieval moot horn is a large and solid instrument, cast in a good quality alloy of copper known as leaded gunmetal. It has two suspension loops for a shoulder harness to help support the weight when it was blown.
The decorative band around the bell of the horn shows six figures in relief, two standing bishops and four rampant lions. The figures are thought to represent the two principal authorities in medieval Winchester, the bishop and the king, the lions being a symbol of royal authority.
In medieval times the moot horn was used by the men of the watch to call the citizens together in times of danger and to summon the freemen to assemblies of the "Burrough Mote", the equivalent of City Council meetings. The Burghmote met three times a year, when elections took place and the laws and by-laws necessary for the peace and smooth running of the city's affairs were passed. The quality of the Moot Horn's sound can be shown by flicking it with a fingernail; it rings as sweetly as a bell.
The Moot Horn has been on public display for more than 100 years, and was from time to time still blown at civic functions throughout the 20th century. In 1998, a replica was commissioned, which is now blown at the annual mayor-making ceremony in May. However, you can hear for yourself the sound of the original by listening to an audio recording alongside the horn on display in the City Museum or by clicking the link in the "Sounds" section below.
In 1731 the city’s town-crier was fined for ‘not blowing the Burrough Mote Horn as in former times’. When its weight is considered, the reluctance of some of Winchester’s officials to fulfil this part of their civic duty is understandable.
Listen to the four notes of the moot horn
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