Two weeks ago, I travelled to the Netherlands for the first time, to attend Dutch Comic Con!
I spent a lot of time running around the convention admiring all the amazing costumes…
The tower in the picture is called the Dom Tower. It’s 600 years old and 368 feet tall. I climbed up its twisting, stone stairway right to the top – 465 steps! As you can imagine, I was soon quite short on puff.
And halfway up, our guide introduced us to the bells. There were some fairly big bells that hung in a ‘carillon’, a sort of giant instrument that lets people ring the bells using a keyboard. The biggest and oldest bells, however, lurked in a darkened belfry.
Here’s a translation of the engraving on one of the bells:
“I am Mary, Queen of the Heavens and the Virgin Mother of the One who makes it thunder. Verily I am an honourable, influential woman, the well-known mother of the Holy Father. I go by a name that will remain for many years to come. I trample the snares, the schemes, the deceptions of the haughty devil and I extinguish the furious flames of hell. Geert van Wou made me in the year of the Lord 1505.”
And here’s another:
“This is John the Baptist, with a pleasing sound and tone. Here I come, loved by God, with my fifth. Through faith and hope, I was the holy light of the Father, a jewel of the immeasurable desert. Geert van Wou made me in the year of the Lord 1505.”
It would have taken a lot of time, work and skill to make these bells. Each of them was unique. So perhaps it seemed only natural to give them names.
In some old legends swords had names. There are also named swords in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings as well – Glamdring, Heregrim, Andúril and so on. In times past a well-made sword was a rare and powerful thing, almost a being in its own right.
But perhaps one of the jobs of a writer is to look at everyday things and see their hidden stories and mysteries – perhaps even their secret proud names.