BELFRY (Mid. Eng. berfrey, through Med. Lat. berefredus, from Teut. bergfrid or bercvrit, which, according to the New Eng. Dict., is a combination of bergen, to protect, and frida, safety or peace; the word thus meaning a shelter; the change from r to l, - cf. almery for armarium, - wrongly associated the origin of the word with "bell," and aided the restriction in meaning), a word in medieval siege-craft for a movable wooden tower of several stages, protected with raw hides, used for purposes of attack; also a watch-tower, particularly one with an alarm bell; hence any detached tower or campanile containing bells, as at Evesham, but more generally the ringing room or loft of the tower of a church (see Tower).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)