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Ship's bell in mediaeval ships


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I am constructing a scratch-built venetian carrack of 1445

http://modelshipworld.com/index.php/topic/4915-venetian-carrack-or-nave-tonda-by-woodrat/

and I can find no evidence that ships bells were in use in this period. My feeling is that they were. Certainly the Grace dieu had a bell. Does anyone have any proof that mediaeval ships had bells?

Cheers

Dick

Edited by woodrat
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  • 3 weeks later...

On reflection and having reviewed my books, I think that there is no evidence for routine or common usage of bells in mediaeval ships. Most large ships had trumpeters as seen in contemporary illustrations. Zorzi da Modone whose illustration I am using for my model was also called Trombetta (trumpeter). Presumably, the ships trumpeter could be used for signalling much as would a bell.

Dick

Edited by woodrat
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I am constructing a scratch-built venetian carrack of 1445

http://modelshipworld.com/index.php/topic/4915-venetian-carrack-or-nave-tonda-by-woodrat/

and I can find no evidence that ships bells were in use in this period. My feeling is that they were. Certainly the Grace dieu had a bell. Does anyone have any proof that mediaeval ships had bells?

Cheers

Dick

Not proof but an opinion. Bells, except for an emergency such as fire are used to manage the watches, 8 bells for an 4 hour Watch and 8 bells also covers 2 Dog Watches. It is word of mouth, a pipe or bugle that directs the crew. The early ships probably had not set up a watch system and didn't need a way to manage them. Short cruises being the norm, probably all hands were on duty at all times, managing what they were doing was important, not keeping time with a bell and half hour glass. High frequency bells used aboard ships make poor fog warnings, horns or drums carry better because of their low frequency. Suspect bells came into use when long periods at sea requiring part of the crew to rest and that made 4 hour Watches the norm.

jud

Edited by shiloh
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This might get someone started... a quick Google on "ship's bell history" (without the quotes) and here's two starting points:

 

http://www.history.navy.mil/research/library/online-reading-room/title-list-alphabetically/b/bells-on-ships.html

http://www.britannica.com/technology/ships-bell

 

Earliest referenced use is the 1600's...... Lots of links and lots of detailed information including wrecks available.

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