Crotal Bells - Aldbourne Heritage Centre

User avatar
Saffron
Posts: 1826
Joined: Mon Jul 27, 2020 7:31 pm
Has thanked: 2506 times
Been thanked: 2389 times

I have always liked Crotal Bells, or "rumblers", and on a dig I was on last Sunday a very nice one was found with the makers mark of "BI" and the finder wanted to know if anybody could help with further information.

Well you know me when I get a subject that I like the look of and it can be researched :lol:

So straight to my standard resource on crotal bells, the excellent http://www.ukdfd.co.uk/pages/crotal-bells.html

By the suspension loop and being decorated only on the lower hemisphere I dated it to late 18th to mid 19th century.
But could not find a maker "BI", however there was an "IB" John Bridgman who run the foundary at Aldbourne from 1825 until 1851. The design of this crotal bell was identical to ones made at Aldbourne slightly earlier than this, and I knew that Aldbourne was the nearest major bell making centre to where this one was found and that Aldbourne crotal bells had been found in this area previously. So if "BI" was actually "IB" (which it could have been) everything fitted perfectly.

A search for "Aldbourne bells" found this very good item http://aldbourneheritage.org.uk/village ... l-industry which gave a lot more information about the subject.

So this afternoon I had a drive down to Aldbourne and looked around the Heritage Centre. Its only small but has a very large selection of crotal bells (largest the size of a football!!) and some other bits detectorists could find so it's well worth a visit if anybody is in the area.

I found it fascinating and learnt a lot about crotal bells. Including that there is good evidence that in some cases moulds were modified to change the makers initials but keep the same design when the maker changed.

As for last weeks crotal bell due to the visit I confirmed the that it was made by James Bridgman, made at Aldbourne between 1828-1851, and the design was initially used by Robert Wells.

While at the Heritage Centre I puchased the book "Aldbourne 'The Home of the Hand Bel and Crotal Bell'". Although only one chapter is dedicated to crotal bells its is packed with good information about the foundry and bell makers, and looks a good read.

The US 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment was based in the area in WWII. The 506th "Easy Company" were portrayed in the 2001 film Band of Brothers. There was a display about the unit, and finds made (some by detectorists) where they were stationed. So if anybody is a film buff another reason to visit.

So if anybody is in the area please do visit the Aldbourne Heritage Centre I am sure you will find it fascinating, and its one of those little locol heritage centres / museums run by volunteers that deserves our support.
While there have a walk around this charming village, and note its most unusual sundial cross on the green (a type I have never seen previously and there are only a very few in country).
I can also recommend a pint at the adjacent pub, and more so the very tasty chilli sausage rolls from the cafe / shop / postoffice :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

Evan
Dave The Slave
Posts: 3698
Joined: Mon Jul 20, 2020 6:36 pm
Has thanked: 12246 times
Been thanked: 4084 times

Very good post, Evan
Has special significance to myself in my detecting History.
31st October 2016, my 1st season of inland detecting, on my 8th visit to the farm, found 3 Historical pieces within a few yards in the 1st half an hour. Only one i could Id on the spot, a Vespasian Denarius, my first Roman coin. The other 2 pieces later found out to be part of a Langton Down Brooch and the other piece had an R on it and a sunburst pattern. Using the link to bells you have used, found out about Robert Wells.
Image
Cheers, :thumbsup:
Dave.
User avatar
alloverover
Posts: 1870
Joined: Sat Jul 18, 2020 3:02 pm
Has thanked: 1541 times
Been thanked: 2333 times

Saffron wrote: Sat Jul 24, 2021 11:14 pm
I can also recommend a pint at the adjacent pub, and more so the very tasty chilli sausage rolls from the cafe / shop / postoffice :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

Evan
Nice post Evan :thumbsup: I always enjoy staying 10 minutes up the road at Ogbourne St George, The Inn with the Well, great beer and decent rooms :thumbsup: , lots of great pubs in that area :D :thumbsup:
User avatar
Saffron
Posts: 1826
Joined: Mon Jul 27, 2020 7:31 pm
Has thanked: 2506 times
Been thanked: 2389 times

Dave The Slave wrote: Sun Jul 25, 2021 2:57 pm Very good post, Evan
Has special significance to myself in my detecting History.
31st October 2016, my 1st season of inland detecting, on my 8th visit to the farm, found 3 Historical pieces within a few yards in the 1st half an hour. Only one i could Id on the spot, a Vespasian Denarius, my first Roman coin. The other 2 pieces later found out to be part of a Langton Down Brooch and the other piece had an R on it and a sunburst pattern. Using the link to bells you have used, found out about Robert Wells.
Image
Cheers, :thumbsup:
Dave.
Really pleased that due to the links you found out about Robert Wells, so are able to better identify anf age the crotal bell. :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

However, that 1/2 hour of detecting in your first inland season is taking the proverial, I have never found a Langton Down Brooch and none of my few Roman grots have been anywhere near the standard of that denarious. But what really gets me is that although I have found a few complete, or near complete, crotal bells (including a ringer) I have never found one with a makers mark. :sick: :sick:

Evan
Dave The Slave
Posts: 3698
Joined: Mon Jul 20, 2020 6:36 pm
Has thanked: 12246 times
Been thanked: 4084 times

Evan , that was also the only fragment with a makers mark.
Did find 2 complete bells, including a ringer in successive signals, couple of seasons later but the Robert Wells partifact means more because i could Id it. The id was done in 2016 via the same link you posted but the Heritage centre link opened up more info.
Imagine digging up the football sized one.
Cheers, :thumbsup:
Dave.,
User avatar
Saffron
Posts: 1826
Joined: Mon Jul 27, 2020 7:31 pm
Has thanked: 2506 times
Been thanked: 2389 times

Just giving this a bump due to a conversation earlier about Crotal Bells and the Aldbourne Heritage centre.

Assuming nothing has changed in the 18 months since my original post it is well worth a visit.

Think its a sign of my age we mentioned "RW" as a makers mark and I knew it was one of the main ones but could not remember it was Robert Wells :pulling hair out: :pulling hair out:

Evan
User avatar
Oxgirl
Posts: 13412
Joined: Thu Jul 09, 2020 4:21 pm
Location: Oxfordshire
Has thanked: 10070 times
Been thanked: 11692 times

Saffron wrote: Thu Dec 22, 2022 2:01 pm Just giving this a bump due to a conversation earlier about Crotal Bells and the Aldbourne Heritage centre.

Assuming nothing has changed in the 18 months since my original post it is well worth a visit.

Think its a sign of my age we mentioned "RW" as a makers mark and I knew it was one of the main ones but could not remember it was Robert Wells :pulling hair out: :pulling hair out:

Evan
Well isn’t that a co incidence I found one this week, first one this year ;) Mine is WG, William Gwyn 1770-1813 also from Aldbourne :D
Attachments
D4A82213-5C9B-4327-B492-031EC8A42592.jpeg
B4741914-AF8C-433C-879B-A273F7062D5C.jpeg
6163D6E3-580D-4DD1-9824-1D8C8921E03B.jpeg
Yes I really don’t like Roman coins, I’m not joking
User avatar
Saffron
Posts: 1826
Joined: Mon Jul 27, 2020 7:31 pm
Has thanked: 2506 times
Been thanked: 2389 times

Oxgirl wrote: Thu Dec 22, 2022 4:22 pm Well isn’t that a co incidence I found one this week, first one this year ;) Mine is WG, William Gwyn 1770-1813 also from Aldbourne :D
Well found. :thumbsup: It looks complete, is it a ringer?, if so :Party:

William Gwyn is much rarer than Robert Wells.

On the Aldbourne Heritage site there is a comment -
"During this period, 2 other men were casting small bells, namely Edne Witts (between 1760 – 1777), and William Gwynn (between 1770 – 1813). They may well have been sub-contracting for the Wells, but were certainly not in competition in a big way."

Evan
User avatar
Oxgirl
Posts: 13412
Joined: Thu Jul 09, 2020 4:21 pm
Location: Oxfordshire
Has thanked: 10070 times
Been thanked: 11692 times

Saffron wrote: Thu Dec 22, 2022 4:42 pm Well found. :thumbsup: It looks complete, is it a ringer?, if so :Party:

William Gwyn is much rarer than Robert Wells.

On the Aldbourne Heritage site there is a comment -
"During this period, 2 other men were casting small bells, namely Edne Witts (between 1760 – 1777), and William Gwynn (between 1770 – 1813). They may well have been sub-contracting for the Wells, but were certainly not in competition in a big way."

Evan
Yes it’s a ringer :Party: :Party:
Yes I really don’t like Roman coins, I’m not joking
Pete E
Posts: 2812
Joined: Mon Jul 20, 2020 10:05 pm
Location: North Wales
Has thanked: 3695 times
Been thanked: 2423 times

Just so you know, I hate you all! :cry:

I have only ever found a suspension loop with small fragment of the actual bell.. :|

Oh, I did find a small souvenir cow bell complete with an Edelweiss pattern stamped on it 🙄
stanslad
Posts: 448
Joined: Mon Jul 20, 2020 11:21 am
Location: North Oxfordshire
Has thanked: 546 times
Been thanked: 777 times

That’s a lovely read with great info,
Thanks Evan.
I should love mine more really, a tub full in the shed & this lot on the wall, I should study them more for names & founders marks.
Clint
Attachments
BE41FFDD-83BF-4EFD-B88B-D8B51AB371DE.jpeg
User avatar
Saffron
Posts: 1826
Joined: Mon Jul 27, 2020 7:31 pm
Has thanked: 2506 times
Been thanked: 2389 times

Well those last two posts certainly show how your chances of finding a crotal bell depends on where you live, I know that when they have been discussed previously this has also been very obvious.

Poor Pete is obviously in the wrong part of the country. While Stanslad must be tripping over them to have such a fantastic display, let alone a "tub full in the shed".

I have found a few, mainly when driving down to north Somerset to dig with a group down there where they seem fairly common. Yet locally until earlier this year I had never found one locally, and even that was only a small fragment.

I know in the past I have had comments about the distance I have driven for some digs, but it can often result in finds that although not uncommon for that region are new to myself. So I would suggest that others consider this option next year if looking for something different.

Evan
Pete E
Posts: 2812
Joined: Mon Jul 20, 2020 10:05 pm
Location: North Wales
Has thanked: 3695 times
Been thanked: 2423 times

Saffron wrote: Thu Dec 22, 2022 9:47 pm Well those last two posts certainly show how your chances of finding a crotal bell depends on where you live, I know that when they have been discussed previously this has also been very obvious.

Poor Pete is obviously in the wrong part of the country. While Stanslad must be tripping over them to have such a fantastic display, let alone a "tub full in the shed".

I have found a few, mainly when driving down to north Somerset to dig with a group down there where they seem fairly common. Yet locally until earlier this year I had never found one locally, and even that was only a small fragment.

I know in the past I have had comments about the distance I have driven for some digs, but it can often result in finds that although not uncommon for that region are new to myself. So I would suggest that others consider this option next year if looking for something different.

Evan
Evan, I think you are right, and I ve said it before, you either seem to live in swindle whorl country or crotal bell country!
User avatar
Oxgirl
Posts: 13412
Joined: Thu Jul 09, 2020 4:21 pm
Location: Oxfordshire
Has thanked: 10070 times
Been thanked: 11692 times

Pete E wrote: Fri Dec 23, 2022 1:31 pm Evan, I think you are right, and I ve said it before, you either seem to live in swindle whorl country or crotal bell country!
Very true Pete. Stanslad lives only a few miles from me and I find lots too, including 6 from one memorable field over a couple of weeks! In fact a crotal bell was pretty much the first decent find I had on my first outing with the original Deus.

I’m not sure how many whole crotal bells Evan has actually found but he did unearth a beauty on one of my fields. A lovely early complete one with a coat of tin to make it look silvery. I found it’s twin nearby a week or so later and it’s still one of my favourites.

As I said before most of mine have been found where the village pound had been located. So if you can get permission where the pound was get on there quick. Surprisingly the signal from a crotal bell can often be quite poor. The one I found this week actually had a lovely strong signal but was a bit jumpy (at 8”). Some others have been booming, nice signals but most have definitely been suspect ones. It depends where the slit is located and if the iron pea is sitting near the top of the bell as it sits in the ground.

But when it comes to decorated whorls my total is zero. Lots and lots of plain ones but never had even part of a decorated one. Maybe that should be on my wish list for 2023!
Yes I really don’t like Roman coins, I’m not joking
Pete E
Posts: 2812
Joined: Mon Jul 20, 2020 10:05 pm
Location: North Wales
Has thanked: 3695 times
Been thanked: 2423 times

Hi Cath,

You've mentioned the "village pound" before, but I have never heard of them around here up in North Wales...

Would they show on the Victorian OS maps or is there some other way of finding them?

I recall looking at such maps for an old market town in mid Wales, and it showed the location of Water troughs on the main roads through the town leading to the cattle market...Not really useful for detecting, but a little bit of history as apparently one or two still survived...
Post Reply