Stonehenge Sounds

Researchers reveal Stonehenge stones hold incredible musical properties

(Read the article on one page)

A team of researchers from London’s Royal College of Art (RCA) have discovered that the stones used to construct Stonehenge hold musical properties and when struck, sound like bells, drums and gongs.  It is suggested that these properties could be the reason why the builders were willing to travel so far to source the stones from Wales and bring them to the site in Salisbury Plain, England.

In the new study, which was published today in the Journal of Time and Mind, experts conducted acoustic tests at the site for the first time by tapping the bluestones with small quartz hammerstones to test for sonic sounds.  They found that the stones made metallic and wooden sounds in many different notes.  Such sonic or musical rocks are referred to as 'ringing rocks' or 'lithophones'.

“Different sounds can be heard in different places on the same stones,” said the researchers. 

The researchers used a special square of material to protect the surface of the rocks, but interestingly, several of the stones showed evidence of having already been struck.

The investigators believe that this ‘acoustic energy’ could have been the prime reason why these stones were transported nearly 200 miles from Preseli to Salisbury Plain, as archaeologists have not yet been able to explain why they were brought so far when there were plentiful local rocks from which Stonehenge could have been built.  For some reason, the bluestones were considered special.

“It is not controversial to say that prehistoric people would have known of the stone's capabilities. We can see indentations on the rocks - the area is amazingly untouched,” said Jon Wozencroft, senior lecturer at the RCA.

The researchers had been concerned that the musical properties of the stones might have been damaged as some of them were set in concrete in the 1950s and the embedding of the stones damages reverberation. 

“You don't get the acoustic bounce' but when he struck the stones gently in the experiment, they did resonate, although some of the sonic potential has been suffocated,” said Mr Wozencroft.

In Wales, where the stones are not embedded or glued in place, he said noises made by the stones when struck can be heard half a mile away. He theorised that stone age people might have used the rocks to communicate with each other over long distances as there are marks on the stones where they have been struck an incredibly long time ago.

One of the principal researchers, Paul Devereux is currently working on a book, Drums of Stone, which will tell the full story of musical rocks in ancient and traditional cultures.

To listen to clips of the stones being ‘played’ at Stonehenge, click here.

By April Holloway

Comments

Which begs the question, are the Rolling Stones a really old Rock band?

What intrigues me most about this discovery is...
the fact that Wales is the most musical culture in all the United Kingdom

9-year-olds grow up singing the four-part harmonies of The Diadem.

How long was man banging these stones before the PRS turned up demanding to see their licence ??

Archaeologists trying to uncover the mystery of Stonehenge have been digging around the wrong hill for almost a century.

Teams of archaeologists have spent the past 90 years scouring the Preseli Hills in Pembrokeshire to find the source of the prehistoric monument's iconic 'blue stones'.

Scientists believed the 11 stones used to construct the ancient site came from a hill called Carn Menyn, but geologists have since discovered they actually came from another hill - just over a mile away - called Carn Goedog.

Why is this news? This knowledge was published some 20 years ago. In fact, the location in Wales from where the stones were quarried is literally called "the place of the ringing rocks."

Pages

Register to become part of our active community, get updates, receive a monthly newsletter, and enjoy the benefits and rewards of our member point system OR just post your comment below as a Guest.

Top New Stories

The Mayan Red Queen Skull. Image: INAH
An unexpected discovery of a royal burial inside a previously unknown substructure of Temple XIII in Palenque, Mexico, set off a decades-long archaeological mystery. In 1994, a young Mexican archaeologist named Fanny Lopez Jimenez was performing routine stabilization work on the temple stairs, when she noticed a small crack partly covered by weeds and masonry.

Myths & Legends

Lake Titicaca and Floating Island in Peru
Lake Titicaca has long been the center of various socio-political cultures in South America. The lake has seen many cultures along its shores, such as the Pucará (400BC-100AD) and the Tiwanaku (200BC-1000AD), and still remains a place of value and livelihood for the Uru peoples of the famed Floating Islands.

Human Origins

Lake Titicaca and Floating Island in Peru
Lake Titicaca has long been the center of various socio-political cultures in South America. The lake has seen many cultures along its shores, such as the Pucará (400BC-100AD) and the Tiwanaku (200BC-1000AD), and still remains a place of value and livelihood for the Uru peoples of the famed Floating Islands.

Ancient Technology

Five carved stone spheres from Scotland held at the Ashmolean Museum
The purpose of these, predominantly Scottish in origin, spheres is unknown, although simple theories range from projectiles to predictive devices and more. But the sophistication of their design and manufacture seems to point us to there being a more intelligent and scientific nature involved.

Ancient Places

The Sphinx and Great Pyramids of Egypt. (BigStockPhoto)
In Egypt, in the middle of 2013, I was on a very important job: the Giza Pyramids investigation through mathematical proportional applications. I focused all my attention on the three mysterious and majestic pyramids, without exception.

Our Mission

At Ancient Origins, we believe that one of the most important fields of knowledge we can pursue as human beings is our beginnings. And while some people may seem content with the story as it stands, our view is that there exists countless mysteries, scientific anomalies and surprising artifacts that have yet to be discovered and explained.

The goal of Ancient Origins is to highlight recent archaeological discoveries, peer-reviewed academic research and evidence, as well as offering alternative viewpoints and explanations of science, archaeology, mythology, religion and history around the globe.

We’re the only Pop Archaeology site combining scientific research with out-of-the-box perspectives.

By bringing together top experts and authors, this archaeology website explores lost civilizations, examines sacred writings, tours ancient places, investigates ancient discoveries and questions mysterious happenings. Our open community is dedicated to digging into the origins of our species on planet earth, and question wherever the discoveries might take us. We seek to retell the story of our beginnings. 

Ancient Image Galleries

View from the Castle Gate (Burgtor). (Public Domain)
Door surrounded by roots of Tetrameles nudiflora in the Khmer temple of Ta Phrom, Angkor temple complex, located today in Cambodia. (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Cable car in the Xihai (West Sea) Grand Canyon (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Next article