Heritage100

The Ship's Bell

The Mary Rose bell

...a warning to other ships.

The bell of the Mary Rose was found just outboard of the Sterncastle, having been wrenched from its housing as the ship sank or collapsed there at a later date. The ship’s bell had two main purposes - to communicate time as measured by an hourglass and as a warning to other ships.

The bell is cast in bronze. It has a total height of 221mm, including the suspension loop and an external dimension of 208mm at the mouth. It weighs just over 5 kilos. The average thickness of the metal is 15mm

The ship’s name was not found on the bell, the only markings were from the maker and the casting date. An inscription around the top in Lombardic script in Flemish reads “I was made in 1510”. It is believed the bell was made in Mechelen near Antwerp, in what is today Belgium.

Quick Facts

  • Artefact number #81A2297  
  • Made of bronze
  • Made in Mechelen, Belgium (then known as the Netherlands)
  • Date made 1510
  • Found on The Mary Rose
  • Dimensions Height 221mm, Diameter at mouth 208mm, Weight 5220g (approx)(11.5lb)

Facts

  • The Mary Rose ship's bell was found close to a broken wooden object, made of beech, that appears to be the bell hanger.
  • The inscription around the top of the bell reads, in Flemish, 'Ic ben ghegoten int yaer MCCCCCX' ('I was made in the year 1510').

Did you know?

The ship's bell is generally considered to be synonymous with the identity of the vessel to which it belongs, but names are unknown on ship's bells before the end of the 18th century.

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