This Bell, originally cast in 1519, is said to have been looted from a Belgian Monastery.
The small village of Kettins lies just across from the southern edge of the Ecomuseum. The inscription on the bell, which reads “My name is Marie Troon and Mr Hans Popenuyder made me in 1519” identifies it as the work of the famous German cannon-maker (a close friend of the Dutch humanist Desiderius Erasmus), who armed the Mary Rose, Henry VIII’s favourite warship.
He had connections with the town of Grobbendonk near Antwerp and representatives of the Our Lady of Troon monastery there, claim the bell originally belonged to their abbey and was stolen in 1572 by mercenaries.
Kirk records at Kettins show the bell was given to the Kirk in 1697. It was used as the Kirk bell for over a 100 years, until a steeple was built in 1893. It was then taken down and displayed in the graveyard.
Stories about the bell’s journey to its current resting place are numerous.
One suggests it was used on a ship before it was stolen as the vessel lay moored in a Scottish port. The bell was then gifted to Kettins Kirk after the thief dumped it in a nearby field where it was discovered in 1697.
Another suggests that the bell actually belonged to the Cistercian Abbey at Coupar-Angus, which lay a short distance from where it was found. This version of the tale suggests the bell could have been secreted away to a nearby bog by monks during the turmoil of the Reformation, and then placed in the Kirk for safekeeping. However, historical records tell us that the abbey was destroyed during the Reformation in 1559, 13 years before the bell was taken.
A third version claims the bell was stolen by Dutch soldiers after they attacked and looted the Flemish monastery in 1578. Local historians believe the soldiers then sold the bell to Scottish traders and it may have fallen into the hands of Dundee merchants the Hallyburton family, who could have presented it to the Kirk as a gift.
What is not disputed is that the bell was standing in a belfry atop the Kettins church by the late 17th century, before it was taken down and placed in the churchyard in 1893.
In the late 20thc, representatives from the Our Lady of Troon monastery were keen to retrieve the bell but a compromise was reached when they agreed to accept a copy of the bell made from a cast instead.