New research into Stonehenge has alluded to the possibility of the mysterious prehistoric monument being used as a giant instrument.
The Times today reports that a team of researchers from the Royal College Of Art “spent months” banging and clanging on over a thousand different types of rock, identifying that bluestones, which are the rocks found at Stonehenge, produce a unique, “singing” sound.
“We found it was a noteworthy soundscape, with a significant percentage of the actual rocks making metallic sounds like bells, gongs, tin drums, etc, when tapped with small, handheld ‘hammerstones’,” explains Paul Devereux, who helped conduct the study. “There had to be something special about these rocks, otherwise why would you take them from Wales all the way to Salisbury Plain? The stones may have been thought to have magical qualities because of their exceptional sonic nature.”
Interestingly, Dr Robert Till of the University Of Huddersfield reckons that this is not news.
“[Victorian writer]Thomas Hardy even mentioned it,” he notes. “Until relatively recently there used to be a hammer attached by a chain to one of the larger stones. The story was it was so that visitors could chip bits off as a souvenir, but it’s just as likely it was for hitting the stone to hear the sound it made.”
So, was Stonehenge essentially just a giant xylophone? We’ll realistically never know, but it’s a sweet thought all the same.