Celtic bell with Columba connection stolen from Scottish church

A 1,200-year-old Celtic handbell has been stolen from a Perthshire church leaving local people 'devastated'.

The bell, which dates from around 800 AD, was taken from Fortingall Church, where it was kept in a locked metal-fronted alcove. Its loss was discovered on Friday.

The bell stolen from Fortingall church.

Historians believe it may have been even older and belonged to St Adamnan (d.704), who wrote a biography of St Columba, his cousin. 

It stands 24 cm high and is made of iron coated with bronze. It has no clapper as it was designed to be hit with a metal rod.

While the Fortinall church was only built in 1902, the bell has been in the village for around 1000 years. It is one of four bells of the type known in Glen Lyon, a route used by early missionaries from Iona, of which now only two remain.

According to the Daily Record, local historian and session clerk for Fortingall Church Dr Gordon Stark said: 'We are devastated. What a thing to do, it has been here in this case, undisturbed but much admired since the church was built in 1902.'

The minister, Rev Anne Brennan, said: 'We can only hope that whoever took it will come to realize how much it is valued here and return it.'

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