Inveraray Bells – Information

A Mecca for visiting bell ringers from all over Britain. Ringers and bells can sometimes be watched in action. At other times, recordings of the bells can be heard.


The Bell Tower was planned by Niall Diarmid, 10th Duke of Argyll in 1914 as a war memorial but building progress was slow due to lack of funds – indeed the tower is unfinished to this day and has never been joined to the church as was orinally planned. It was struck by lightning in 1944. This damage was only recently repaired.

The Bells were originally hung in the small bell house beside the church where they were played from a keyboard. In 1931 the tower was sufficiently completed for the ring of ten bells to be hung in their present position. The 126ft tower is exceptionally well designed to bring out the wonderful tones of the bells which are a joy to campanologists who consider them one of the finest rings of bells ever cast.

Enter the tower by its new door. You are in the ground floor chamber. The large west window, now restored, was badly damaged by lightning. On the wall is mounted the chiming apparatus. One person can ‘chime’ the bells, but ten people are needed to ‘ring’ them in full peal with the ropes. Climb the circular stair in the narrow side turret to reach the ringing chamber, which is of graceful proportions.

Above, on the second floor, is the ‘silence chamber’, necessary to moderate the sound in the ringing chamber. Finally the great bell chamber is reached and the ten bells can be seen through the glass door. The seven huge louvre windows of freestone tracery have been partially lined with brickwork and wooden shutters for sound and weather control.

From the roof of the tower there is a magnificent view over the parishes established in the early days of Christianity by the Saints to whom the bells are dedicated.

The Bells

The ringing peal of ten bells at Inveraray was cast in 1920 by John Taylor and Company of Loughborough, a firm established in 1780 and now one of the two remaining bell founders in Britain. The total weight of the bells, whose notes are in the diatonic scale, is nearly 8 tons. Approximately 80% of this weight is copper and the rest tin. The tenor bell weighs 2116 kgs, the other nine bells progressively less as their pitch rises. They are the second heaviest peal of 10 bells in the world, the heaviest being at Wells Cathedral.

The bells are inscribed in Latin in Lombardic characters. The Gaelic Saints referred to on the bells belonged to the age of St Columba and all had their own churches in the area at that time.


Bell Notes & Weights

1-St Moluag E 6cwt 0qr 14lb 311kg
2-St Columba D 6cwt 1qr 26lb 330kg
3-St Mundus C 7cwt 1qr 6lb 372kg
4-Brendan B 8cwt 2qr 2lb 433kg
5-St Maelrubha A 10cwt 1qr 5lb 524kg
6-St Blaane G 13cwt 1qr 8lb 666kg
7-Blessed Mary F 17cwt 0qr 22lb 875kg
8-St Murdouche E 20cwt 1qr 21lb 1040kg
9-St Brigida D 28cwt 3qr 0lb 1464kg
10-St Molaise C 41cwt 2qr 8lb 2116kg

Since 1970 there has been extensive restoration and refurbishment to the tower, including making the tower accessible to visitors; a new entrance with vestibule doorway and Gothic style window; making a Garden of Friendship in the grounds; and a walkway and a Viewing Gallery in the Bell Chamber for visitors. It takes £5,000 per year to maintain the Tower and Bells and keep them open to the public.