John Ingham (express.co.uk) – [Experts] have found that the bluestones which form an outer ring of the 5,000-year-old monument have musical properties.
They believe this could help the answer mystery of why Stone Age man went to the enormous trouble of transporting them 150 miles from Pembrokeshire’s Preseli Hills to Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire.
A team from London’s Royal College of Art went to the Preseli Hills and discovered that the rocks have “extraordinary sonic properties.”
Paul Devereux and Jon Wozencroft struck the rocks in 1,000 separate locations and discovered that they made a wide range of sounds.
Writing in the journal Time & Mind, they say: “When struck, some make a range of metallic sounds from pure bell-like tones to tin drum noises to deeper gong-like resonances.”
They found that up to 10 per cent of the rocks “ring” when hit and in “a few very small hotspots,” up to 40 per cent rang out.
The team writes: “‘We are in no doubt that the source area of the Stonehenge bluestones is a noteworthy soundscape.”
They then went to Stonehenge itself where they were given unprecedented access by its managers, English Heritage, and tested the stones on site for the first time.
Early one morning in the presence of the English Heritage curator they tapped away on the rocks – through a protective plastic film – to hear the rock music.
And some of the stones revealed they had not lost their musical properties, ringing out across the grassland.
The researchers write: “Was sound a key reason behind the otherwise inexplicable transport of these stones from Preseli to Salisbury Plain – whether they were to be rung at Stonehenge, or simply because the megalith builders associated them with the magical properties of the astonishing Preseli soundscape?
“Stonehenge will never tell us for certain. But given all that the Project has discovered, such a suggestion may well ring true with further research.”
The study, “Landscape and Perception Project”, is described as an attempt to discover how Stone Age heard and saw the world.
It was released about a week after archaeologists were told they had spent 90 years looking in the wrong place for the source of Stonehenge’s bluestones.
Geologists say the bluestones came from a part of the Preseli Hills one mile from what was previously thought to be the source.
The team tested all the bluestones at the monument and several were found to make “distinctive if muted sounds”.
Some bluestones at the site also showed evidence of having been struck – which Wozencroft suggests would have been in order to create an acoustic environment.
The team believes the bluestones were seen as magic by Stonehenge’s builders and this may have been the prime reason for the otherwise inexplicable transportation of these stones from Preseli to Salisbury Plain.
The researchers also say the bluestones were brought despite the presence of plentiful local rocks in Wiltshire from which Stonehenge could have been built.