Many of Luxembourg's church bells were stolen and taken to France in the Napoleonic period to be melted down into weapons and cannons. In some villages, locals would hide the bells while in other towns, the French would take all but one bell, leaving the villagers with a half-functioning church.
In Mersch and Schuttrange, and no doubt some other smaller villages throughout Luxembourg, church bells were hidden in wells and graves and still no one has managed to find them all.....or dared to look for them.
A Mersch myth says that an old chapel’s bell was hidden in a fountain about a kilometre away from the churchyard. In the 19th Century a rich farmer and his red-hatted haulier, consumed by greed, set out to find the bell and a treasure chest allegedly hidden beneath it. They easily found the spot and started digging. Soon after they found the chest but seconds before discovering what it contained, they heard a deep voice bellow: “Who wants to be taken first? You, with the red hat?”. Stricken by fear both men hurried away, and no-one has ever dared go back to look for the hidden bell of Mersch.
The bell-myth of Schuttrange explains the disappearance of the local church bells in two ways. Some argue that the villagers hid the bells to protect them and others say that the French wanted to torment locals by hiding the bells. Whatever the reason, the bells were hidden in a well close to today’s railway tracks.
Several years later, the inhabitants sought to put the bells back in the church tower. Unfortunately, these were hidden so “well” that to this day they remain safe in their hiding place.