Stonehenge could have been designed with acoustics in mind like a Greek or Roman theatre, a study has revealed.
A team of researchers from the University of Salford spent four years studying the historic site’s acoustic properties in a bid to crack the mystery of why it was built.
While they could not confirm the exact purpose of the stones, the researchers did find the space reacted to acoustic activity in a way that would have been noticeable to the Neolithic man.
‘Stonehenge is very well known, but people are still trying to find out what it was built for and we thought that doing this research would bring an element of archaeology that so far hasn’t been looked at,’ lead researcher, Bruno Fazenda said.
He added the new area of acoustic science, named archaeoacoustics, could be helpful in the archaeological
Because the site in Wiltshire is in a derelict state, researchers travelled to Maryhill in the U.S. where a full-sized concrete reconstruction of Stonehenge was built in 1929 as a memorial to the soldiers of WWI.
They were able to make proper acoustic measurements that allowed an investigation into striking acoustic effects such as echoes, resonances and whispering gallery effects.
The second phase consisted in the creation of a full 3D audio-rendition of the space using a system comprised of 64 audio channels and loudspeakers especially developed at the University of Salford based on Wave Field Synthesis.
This system enables an accurate and immersive recreation of what Stonehenge would have sounded like.
Dr Fazenda said: ‘This type of research is important because now we can not only see ourselves surrounded by the stones using virtual reality, but we can also listen how the stone structure would have enveloped people in a sonic experience. It is as if we can travel back in time and experience the space in a more holistic way.’
Dr Fazenda also thinks that this research opens a whole new world for archaeoacoustics: ‘Of course there are other sites of interest, and as soon as the methodology for studying acoustics in ancient spaces becomes robust then it can be used as a part of archaeology and I believe in the next ten years a lot of such studies will include acoustics.’
Now listen to recording done at Maryhill, U.S., where where a concrete reconstruction of Stonehenge was built in 1929. Click here
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Merlin @ Stonehenge Stone Circle