Rock ‘n’ Roll: Stonehenge’s Rave Credentials

The Stones

Stonehenge‘s use may have been debated for millennia – but one expert now thinks the Neolithic site was the venue for some of prehistory’s wildest raves. Professor Rupert Till, an expert in acoustics and music technology at Huddersfield University, insists the megalithic structure would have worked perfectly to resonate sound – creating trance-like music which would have aided rituals and worship at the site.

To prove his theories, Dr Till used a computer model to simulate the acoustics of Stonehenge when it was in perfect shape (many of the huge stones have fallen down over time).

The expert also visited a full-sized replica of the monument built in Maryhill, Washington state, U.S., where he claims he and colleague Dr Bruno Fazenda got the whole structure to resonate, ‘almost like a wine glass will ring if you run a finger round it.’

Waiting for the sun...

Dr Till continues, “While that was happening a simple drum beat sounded incredibly dramatic. The space had real character; it felt that we had gone somewhere special. Other archaeologists’ research shows that Stonehenge has a specific acoustic design.

“The stones are all curved and reflect the sound perfectly,” Dr Till adds. “The lintels are also curved. They must have noticed that when they placed a stone in a particular place it would have sounded different.”

Dr Till, a part-time DJ, argues that his work will help us understand the rituals of dance and music which allowed prehistoric Britons to worship at the famous site. Or maybe he’s just hoping to play the gig of his life.

Images by Chris Wilde.