Researchers give voice to historic sounds of Stonehenge

Doctor Rupert Till, music technologist from the University of Huddersfield, poses for a photograph in the stone circle of the ancient monument of Stonehenge, Amesbury

By Matthew J. Stock

STONEHENGE (Reuters) – If you listen carefully – and with the right app – you can still hear the prehistoric acoustics that swirled around Britain’s ancient monument Stonehenge over the last 5,000 years.

A team of researchers spent eight years creating an app that allows you to hear the different noises the stones generated at various points over thousands of years, long before the traffic noise in the southwest English county of Wiltshire took over.

While most modern archaeologists generally agree Stonehenge was some sort of prehistoric temple aligned to the movements of the sun, the researchers from the University of Huddersfield said the stones also had surprisingly sonorous properties.

“You have a sense of reverberation, a bit like a gigantic bathroom,” lead researcher doctor Rupert Till told Reuters amidst the ancient ruins.

“People say ‘well, you hear that anywhere’. But not two-thousand, three-thousand years ago; there weren’t any large stone buildings. So this would have been one of the few human-made places where you’d have heard these kind of acoustic effects.”

The app, released this week, allows listeners to wander amongst the standing stones while listening to an interactive soundscape – including the sound of birds and the wind moving through the stones.

(Editing by Patrick Johnston and Pritha Sarkar)