The Bell Clan: Heraldry and History of a Proud Scottish Lineage

Bell Clan Crest and Coat of Arms

Element Description
CREST A hand holding a dagger, Proper.
MOTTO I beir the bell
TRANSLATION I bear the bell
PLANT Unknown
ORIGIN OF NAME Derived from the French "bel" meaning "fair" or "handsome"

Introduction to the Bell Clan

The Bell Clan, a family with deep roots in the history of Scotland, is thought to be descendants of a Norman lineage dating back to the reign of David I. This article unveils the legacy of the Bell Clan, from their historical origins to the symbols that represent their name today.

Origins and Early History

The Bells were well-established across Dumfriesshire, Berwickshire, and Perthshire by the thirteenth century, their name possibly deriving from the French "bel" for "fair" or "handsome". This descriptive origin suggests a diverse ancestry among the various bearers of the surname.

The Bell Clan in Scotland's Landscape

The Bell Clan's history is intertwined with the tumultuous Borders region, known for the riding clans and border reivers. Their presence is marked on Scotland's map, with historical lands and ruins, such as the tower of Blacket House, telling tales of their past.

Heraldry of the Bell Clan

The arms of the principal Bell family are a form of canting heraldry, alluding to the name's pronunciation. The crest, a hand holding a dagger, suggests readiness and valor, while the motto "I beir the bell" translates to "I bear the bell," reinforcing the family's leading role.

The Bell Clan Tartan: A Tapestry of Identity
Bell Clan Tartan

The Bell Clan tartan, a distinctive cloth pattern, is a symbol of their unity and familial pride. Worn by clan members, the tartan represents the Bells' historical and cultural bond with Scotland.

The Bells Beyond the Borders

Following the Union of the Crowns, many Bells emigrated to Ulster and beyond, with descendants contributing to various fields, from education to medical science. Notable figures include Alexander Graham Bell, a pioneer of the telephone.

Clan Bell International and Clan Bell Castle

Today, the Clan Bell International organization preserves the history and heritage of the Bell Clan worldwide. The legacy of Clan Bell's Scottish castles continues to be a focal point for family history and pride.


The Bell Clan, with its historical significance, vibrant tartan, and meaningful crest, stands as a symbol of Scottish heritage. Their motto and name's origin reflect a clan that has weathered history with both fairness and strength.