The Joseph Bell of Redwall Abbey was a monumental and beautiful piece of craftsmanship. Cast with copper, silver, brass and gold, it was adorned with many intricate hieroglyphics and inscriptions, some of which could only be deciphered by Badger Lords. The hieroglyphics on the bell told about the bell's coming to Redwall Abbey, even predicting its name, Joseph. Its polished surface reflected the sunlight perfectly and, when struck, reverberated its surrounding with beautiful musical tones. A poem was engraved at its base, describing the honorable and peaceful purposes of the bell, which included tolling times of day, funeral peals, alarms, and welcoming visitors.
The Bell's extraordinary size required an appropriate Bell Tower to support its tremendous weight. Dedicated Bellringers have traditionally been assigned to toll the Joseph Bell, and its powerful sound could be heard across Mossflower Woods. The bell would later be recast as two bells, but the sound still was as melodious as when there was one, and often signaled travelers that they were near the Abbey. During funerals and other solemn moments, the bell or bells would be muted, with cloth wound round the clappers.
The Joseph Bell was originally designed by Joseph the Bellmaker, to be delivered to Rawnblade Widestripe of Salamandastron, but the ship carrying it was intercepted by Gabool the Wild and the bell was stolen. Although Gabool adored the bell at first, his steadily growing madness drove him to think it was taunting him and he vowed to destroy it. He was overthrown by the Trag before he could fulfill his vow. The bell was awarded to Redwall for the valiant efforts of Dandin and Mariel Gullwhacker. It was removed from Fort Bladegirt through a hole in the seaward side of the fortress and lowered onto the Periwinkle. It was then sailed to Redwall Abbey, where it replaced the hollow log that was used to announce meals and danger. A special feast called "The Feast of the Bell Raising" celebrated its placement in the Abbey's Bell Tower, complete with a bell-shaped fruitcake as big as the bell itself. Mariel's Gullwhacker was used as the Bell's tolling rope, and Rufe Brush was the first bellringer.
Seasons later, Cluny the Scourge attacked Redwall. In the last desperate fight between Matthias and Cluny in the belltower, Matthias cut the rope holding the bell in place, causing it to crash onto Cluny, killing the rat instantly. The bell itself was destroyed in the process, and was recast into two new bells, the Matthias and Methuselah Bells. These bells were used for the same purposes as their predecessor. They were also used, accidentally, to slay the Ravenwyte Tarul, who hid in the bell tower and was struck and killed by the rims when Sister Violet rang the bells.
Many creatures outside of Redwall were aware of the importance of the bells. Periodically, the bells were taken down for cleaning - as the Abbey was without an alarm system during these times, Lady Melesme built a large drum to serve their purpose and had it sent to Abbot Humble. Lord Brang Forgefire at one point broke the bellropes while ringing the bells. He made new green ropes, and had Buckler Kordyne and Diggs deliver them to Abbess Marjoram.