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Stonehenge Sounds

Researchers reveal Stonehenge stones hold incredible musical properties

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?

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.

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