Friday, 17 February 2012

Stonehenge 'built to worship sound rather than light'

Giant stones may have been placed to emphasise volume during dances and rituals

Stonehenge could have been built to worship sound rather than light, a bizarre new theory claims.
The giant stones may have been carefully placed to recreate magical quiet spots or loud areas during dances and rituals.
Scientist Steven Waller walked around a pair of flutes playing the same tone and recorded different areas of loudness and softness caused by “an interference pattern” of sound waves.
He believes prehistoric Britons could have heard and felt the same effect and come to believe it was caused by a mystery force from another world.
They could have erected Stonehenge with its strange ring of giant stones to represent the pattern of mysterious sounds they heard.
Mr Waller, an independent scientist,  said: “Stonehenge is a mystery as to why our ancestors bothered to haul tons of stones and build this strange structure. I thought I would approach it to see if it had anything to do with sound.

“What was really interesting was that when I walked around this pair of flutes to experience the interference pattern myself I did feel that pattern of quiet and loud, quiet and loud.”
To test his theory he took blindfolded people into a field to walk around where flutes were playing.
“I had them draw what they thought was between them and the noise. The drawings that they made in response to the interference patterns resembled Stonehenge.
“Stonehenge is itself kind of unique because it has lintels on top. One person actually drew archways and thought of it more like a wall with gaps in it.
“So I believe that could have happened 5,000 years ago just as it can be demonstrated today.
“That's if these people in the past were dancing in a circle around two pipers who were playing the flute, or whistle, or whatever they had back then and they were experiencing the loud and soft and loud and soft regions that happen when an interference pattern is set up they would have felt that there were these massive objects arranged in a ring.
“And it would have been this completely baffling experience - they would not have been able to explain it.
“Anything that was mysterious like that in the past was considered to be magic and supernatural.
“I think that was what motivated them to build the actual structure that matched this virtual impression. It was like a vision they had received from the other world.”
Mr Waller studies the science of archeoachoustics which attempts to reveal the sounds which would have been heard in ancient monuments and caves thousands of years ago.
He began researching the acoustics of ancient caves in 1987 before turning his attention to Stonehenge.
He presented his research to the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in Vancouver today.

More theories about Stonehenge, from the fantastic to the archaelogical to the paranormal
- According to Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae, Merlin used magic to move circle from Ireland to Wiltshire for an appropriate burial place for Britain's dead princes
- In 1655, architect John Webb argued that Stonehenge was a Roman temple dedicated to Caelus, the god of the sky
- Some archaeologists have suggested that bringing together igneous bluestones and sedimentary sandstone blocks symbolised a union between two cultures from different landscapes
- One current view is that glacier ice transported the stones from the Preseli Hills, a hill range in north Pembrokeshire, West Wales all the way as far as Somerset during the Pleistocene period. The builder of Stonehenge then moved them from there to their current location
- It has also been claimed that Stonehenge site was the ultimate destination of a long, ritualised funerary procession for treating the dead. It is said that this ceremony began in the east at sunrise at Woodhenge and Durrington Walls, moved down the Avon and then along the Avenue reaching Stonehenge in the west at sunset. The journey from wood to stone by water was considered a symbolic journey from life to death
-  A recently analysis highlights that the stones display mirrored symmetry and that the only alignment to be found is that of the solstices, regarded as the axis of that symmetry. This interpretation views the monument as having been designed off-site, mostly prefabricated and built to conform to location marks according to an exact geometric plan


Stonehenge Tour Guide

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