Dartington Carillon Project

Great Bells

The Dartington carillon’s largest bell will stand over 4m high and weigh around 20 tons. Large bells are objects of great power and beauty – here are some of the world’s greatest.

The Yongle bell in China, 600 years old, 45 tons, 227,000 Chinese characters describing Buddhist sutras cover the interior and exterior.
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The Mingun bell in Burma cast by King Bodawpaya in 1808 and is about 13 feet tall. It weighs 90.55 metric tons.
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A 1920’s photograph of the Great bell at ChionIn temple Kyoto. The 74- ton bell, cast in 1633, is the heaviest bell in Japan. It requires as many as 17 monks to operate this huge bell.
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The world’s largest bell is the Tsar Bell III (Tsar-Kolokol) in Moscow. Cast by over 200 craftsmen, 6.14 meters high and 6.6 meters in diameter, it was to be the biggest and clearest sounding bell in the world. It was cast in 1733-35, and weighs about 180 tons. Cooled too rapidly (ironically to save it from a great fire) the bell cracked.
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In Europe and the US only one shape of bell is commonplace – but elsewhere foundries have developed a wide range of bell shapes.

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Some ancient cultures were enormously skilled in bell casting, though in many instances the secrets of their casting techniques have been lost.

The 2400 year old horned Bells of Wuhan in China are among the most unusual and sophisticated – each bell being able to produce two perfect notes. The technology available now will enable us to cast similar bells for the Dartington carillon – with complex shapes and subtle acoustics.

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