What is ringing?

Church bells are rung to call people to worship, and the act of campanology has been practised for thousands of years. The first use of large bells is credited to Bishop Paulinus of Nora near Naples. His province of Campania gave the name campanile to bell-towers, and subsequently the English word campanology.

By 1400, many English parish churches had 3 or more bells swinging to and fro in the church tower on special occasions. At first the bells were sounded haphazardly, as still happens in most European countries, but by 1600 bells were being rung full-circle. Change ringing, where bells change places in mathematical patterns, began to spread quickly throughout the English speaking world.

Today, the art of 'full circle' ringing is thriving in Britain (where there are over 5000 towers) and in Ireland, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Southern Africa and at 200-300 towers in Northern Italy.

There are many groups of people who ring bells - you do not have to be hugely strong, mathematical, fantastically musical, have any rhythm, or any religous convictions - DUSCR welcomes anybody and everybody!

It does take a while to learn to handle a bell, but after that you have endless opportunities open to you and you will be made welcome wherever you go to ring.

To the right is what physcially happens when someone is ringing a bell "full circle". The clapper hits the side of the bell (known as the sound bow) after the bell has rotated about 300 degrees, or when the sally (fluffy bit on the rope) or the tail end passes the ringer's face. It usually takes from 1 to 2 seconds for a bell to rotate 360 degrees, depending on the size of the bell.

Full Circle Ringing

An animation of full circle ringing.
Credit to OUSCR.