Tradition attributes the start of bell production in Valday to the crash of the veche Novgorod bell there at the end of the XV century. According to the legend famous yamschitsky Valday bells were born of its chips...
...In 1478 the veche Novgorod bell, that used to summon the city assembly (or veche), was ordered to be taken from the Sofia belfry and sent to Moscow by Tsar Ivan the Third so that it sounded in harmony with all Russian bells and did not preach freedom any more. But the Novgorod bell never reached the capital. On one of the slopes of the Valday hills the sledge, which was carrying a bell, rolled down and the frightened horses raced at a gallop, the bell fell from the cart, and having fallen into a ravine, shattered. Countless pieces turned into small bells. Local residents picked them and began to cast their own bells in its model, carrying the glory of Novgorod freemen around the world...
Another popular belief (and there are many) refers the beginning of a bell cast in Valday to the XVII century. In 1656 the Sovereign's master Alexander Grigoriev molded Nikon bell in Iversky Monastery. The rest of the cast bronze the master gave to the citizens, who had helped him. Since then, they say, the bells have been cast in Valday...
Yamschitsky bells were necessary in the main, very busy road of Russia — Moscow - Petersburg tract. The center of their production originated in Valday, that was located in the middle of the way. Local craftsmen had long been famous for blacksmith products - in the smithy they began to cast first Valday bells.
Valday is generally recognized to be the first center of casting of yamschitsky bells. The technology of their production differs from casting of church bells and was first developed in Russia, thus a yamschitsky bell (and especially the Valday one) is exclusively Russian, national phenomenon.
Slobodskoy of Vyatka province, the city of Tyumen, Kasimov of Ryazan province, Purekh village of Nizhny Novgorod province and other cities began to cast yamschitsky bells by the example of Valday.
Yamschitsky bell was a signaling tool, that determined the safety of movement, as well as a musical instrument, that accompanied the singing of the driver. The bell ordained the rhythm of movement of horses, hurrying them up or giving the opportunity to rest in a measured step. The bell informed about a forthcoming carriage and performed another set of functions, which brightened the difficult travel conditions of Russian roads.
Over the years the Valday bell workshops turned into plants, but after the October Revolution they ceased to exist.
As time passed people kept believing that they could have a Valday bell made from a chip of the veche Novgorod bell, and its fragments scattered under the Valday hills were enough for everyone, its glory and power was enough for everyone.
Nowadays the Gift of Valday - Valday bells - are produced at the Novgorod plant of metalwork Olevs in memory of the ancient Novgorod land and the legendary veche bell.
You can buy a Valday bell in the Red Izba tourist information center (5 Sennaya square):