Stonehenge Sounds

Researchers reveal Stonehenge stones hold incredible musical properties

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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

I want to get in the news by banging on a rock. No, seriously, I do.

ancient-origins's picture

What's stopping you?

What is a "sonic sound" and are there any non-sonic sounds to be heard?

ancient-origins's picture

Sonic sounds are those that are audible, not all sound waves are audible to the human ear. 

the "one hand clapping" koan occurred to me when I saw this... ^..^

Sonic sounds are sounds which are heard in the sonic frequency of sounds which are sounds that are heard.... Sonically.

Stonehenge Rocks!

Nigel Tufnel of Spinal Tap was way ahead of the curve. In his interview with NatGeo he talked about the sonic properties of the rock and that it was also a huge amplifier. You can see these interviews on YouTube. Just look up Nigel Tufnel and Stonehenge. http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=9G3yKlaX3n8

When researching my book, Dreamwater, about Marblehead, MA, USA, a town which is built on granite, I came across Paul Devereux's work, in particular, Places of Power. Devereux has also recorded some pretty amazing studies with ultra-sound and granite. Characters in Dreamwater use what we call the paranormal as normal tools of life. More in this blog post - Granite Has a Heartbeat: The Paranormal As Normal
http://patriciagoodwin.blogspot.com/2013/09/granite-has-heartbeat-parano...

It's probably just the Cyberman in the UnderHenge making noises.

Do you know what is half a mile away? The parking lot. A human voice could be heard farther than striking these stones, positing that they were used for "long distance communication" is idiotic.

I was reminded of the movie 'What's Up, Doc?' Musical rocks were the focus of all the trouble.

Maybe they had ancuent rave party

*Banging*

Perhaps the sonic qualities of the rocks were how, not why they were moved.

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."

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.

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

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.

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

so the question is why how and what does this mean? I hope some answers will be forth coming. Sure beats the nonsense that makes the news in our 21st century and we should concentrate on exciiting exploration like this.Go for it.

Reminds me of Ringing Rocks in Bucks County Pa http://www.davidhanauer.com/buckscounty/ringingrocks/

Hello Jim,
I have been researching the strange acoustic properties of semi-petrified wood and have made musical instruments of this material. In the course of this work I came upon a pub [as one does] having a wall made of stone which had, as legend would have it, the ability to record the sound of patrons voices from the past and play it back!

This chimes, if you will, with the content of your article for L.P.I. and I would be very grateful if you could point me to any source material from Doctors Chubbs or Jeeves or other links specifically on this.

I was so stunned by the content of your article that I felt compelled to check whether the date was April 1st and could'nt help noticing it was published on 11/11/11 and that your recent link was posted at the 11thhour! Anyway thanks for taking the time to read this.
All the best,
Peter.

Ancient civilisations knew how to utilise sound to raise structures and vibration for high magical use.

This is the same as the pyramids, the stones make a perfect A in the central chamber. ....

Startling evidence that their is rock music older than the Rolling Stones!

What if they in ancient history used sound for quarrying and shaping the stones. If they choose stone material with a very homogenious chrystal structure, there would have been resonance frequences to be found. Using these frequenses with appropriate energi input, would possible have given them an instrument for maisonry. At a certain limit , the stone would even break down due to mechanical stress.

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