The Kilmichael Glassary Bell-shrine
12th Century, Medieval, 1814, 7th9th Century
The Kilmichael Glassary Bell-shrine is one of the treasures of National Museums Scotland. This paper re-assesses the circumstances of its discovery, its context and importance, and its role as a relic of a saint, not Moluaf, as previously suggested but possibly Columba. The wider use of handbells in the early medieval church is also considered. The bell-shrine was found in 1814, on the farm of Torbhlaren, in the parish of Kilmichael Glassary, in mainland Argyll, probably near to where it was venerated. The bell inside it dates to the 7th-9th century, the shrine to the first half of the 12th century. The latter bears evidence in its design of a mixed artistic heritage, including local, Irish and Scandinavian influence. Alternative hypotheses. That it represents the artistic output of the kingdom of the Isles of Dunkeld, in the kingdom of the Scots, are presented. Details are provided of a technological examination of bell and shrie and list of other early Scottish handbells is included.