The University
Photo: Mats Hellmark

Cannon Salute and Bell-Ringing

The cannon salutes at conferment ceremonies are attested from the early 19th century, but the firing of salutes was common much earlier at major festivities, to honor elevated individuals, etc, and thus may well have been a part of conferment ceremonies earlier.

Salutes are fired, on the one hand, from the castle in the morning, near the northern tower at 7 am. This is a series of salutes representing the sum of the number of faculties involved, the jubilee PhDs (celebrating the 50th anniversary of their doctorate), and the honorary doctorates at the coming ceremony. On the other hand, salutes are fired in groups of one, two, or three to accompany segments of the conferment ceremony. For these salutes, the battery is placed on the south side of University Hall, and the shots are fired at irregular intervals between roughly 12.50 pm and 3.00 pm.
(Photo: Mats Hellmark)

The ringing of the Cathedral bell at major academic ceremonies in Uppsala is an ancient tradition that reminds us of the formerly close connections between the Church and the University. The cannon salutes in doctoral conferment ceremonies are attested since the early 19th century.

The ringing of the Cathedral bell at major academic ceremonies in Uppsala is an ancient tradition that reminds us of the formerly close connections between the Church and the University. ‘Storan’ – Swedish for ‘The Big One’ – is at seven metric tons the largest bell in Sweden. The ringing starts at 8.00 am and lasts for ten minutes on days when there is a doctoral conferment ceremony (twice a year) or an inauguration of professors. As early as the 17th century the bell was rung at 8 o’clock on conferment day. At that time the ringing was to accompany the procession to the ceremony, either at the Academy of Science or the church. After the Great Fire of 1702, Uppsala University students were the ones who raised the re-cast ‘The Big One’ to its place in the northern spire of the Cathedral. In thanks, they were granted the perpetual right to free funereal ringing with the bell.