Prayers for safe return of 7th century hand bell

A minister has called for the safe return of a 7th century Celtic handbell which was stolen from a Perthshire church.

Rev Anne Brennan said the congregation was "very upset" that someone had taken the distinctive artifact from Fortingall Church, near Aberfeldy, sometime between September 3 and September 8.

It had been in the possession of Fortingall and Glenlyon Church for about 1,200 years.

HAND BELL
Fortingall Church - inset Celtic hand bell.

The quadrangular hand-bell made of iron, coated with bronze, was stolen from a specially designed niche – a hole in the wall with a locked metal grill - behind the pulpit.

It is one of 19 Scottish hand bells.

Irreplaceable

Ms Brennan said she hoped the theft would not restrict access to the building, which is open from April-October during the day, in the future.

“We are all just really upset, annoyed and disappointed that somebody would take something of such historical value,” she added.

“It’s got no monetary value, but in other ways it’s completely irreplaceable, not just for the church but for the whole area.

“I am responsible for three churches and we try and keep them open as a quiet space for people to worship and investigate the heritage of the local area.

“We’d just like to have it back.”

The current parish church, which dates back to 1901, is on an early Christian site, dedicated to Coeddi, Bishop of Iona.

It is believed to have been founded from the Hebridean island as a daughter monastery, around 700.

Any information which may lead to the bell’s return is being asked by Police Scotland to call 101 quoting reference number CR/23634/17.