Stonehenge stones may have been chosen for their musical properties

"You can almost see them as a pre-historic glockenspiel, if you like and you could knock them and hear these tunes," Stonehenge expert Tim Darvill said of the findings.
By Brooks Hays   |   March 6, 2014 at 12:45 PM   |   Comments

WILTSHIRE, England, March 6 (UPI) -- Since the 1920s, Stonehenge experts have known that the rock formation was assembled in three stages. The third phase, initiated around 2300 BCE, marked the arrival of some 80 "bluestones" -- stones sourced from the Preseli Hills of Wales, roughly 250 miles away.

Still, archaeologists, scientists, and historians continue to wonder why? Why were stones weighing as much as four tons each hauled so far?

Now, a study carried out by London's Royal College of Art suggests the bluestones may have been brought for their musical attributes. The study is part of the college's Landscape and Perception Project, an effort to recreate the sights and sounds of ancient times.

When struck, the bluestones emit a muted but discernible ringing tone. Researchers compared the sounds of the Stonehenge rocks to boulders found at Carn Menyn, one of the most productive quarries of the Preseli Hills.

"The percentage of the rocks on the Carn Menyn ridge are ringing rocks, they ring just like a bell," Paul Devereux, the study's lead researcher, told BBC News. "It hasn't been considered until now that sound might have been a factor."

Details of Devereux's study were published in the latest edition of Time and Mind: The Journal of Archaeology, Consciousness and Culture.

"We don't know of course that they moved them because they rang," Stonehenge expert Tim Darvill said of the findings. "But ringing rocks are a prominent part of many cultures. You can almost see them as a pre-historic glockenspiel, if you like and you could knock them and hear these tunes."

[BBC News]

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