Prof. Tim Darvill and the sounds of Stonehenge’s ‘ringing rocks’

BU Professor of Archaeology Tim Darvill OBE was interviewed as part of BBC South programme Inside Out about whether the stones used for Stonehenge were picked because of their sound quality.

The feature looked at a recently developed theory which suggests that the Bluestones, which were transported from Wales to make up Stonehenge, were chosen for their resonant sound qualities – which means certain parts of the rocks make a ringing sound when struck.

Professor Darvill, who is one of the world’s leading experts on Stonehenge, was interviewed by presenter Jon Cuthill about the theory.

He said: “We don’t, of course, know that they moved them because they rang. What we can say though is that prehistoric attitudes to stone must have been very different to the attitudes we have today.

“We often think of stone as something very permanent, very long-term, very inert, but we talk about – in a strange way – the living rock. We talk about stone as if it’s got a life to it, it’s got a presence to the landscape that is a little bit more than just a rock.”

Jon joined Professor Darvill, and other researchers, after they were granted permission by English Heritage to test the rocks at Stonehenge to see if they had the same resonant qualities as the ones found in Wales.

“Ringing rocks are a prominent part of many cultures,” added Professor Darvill.  “You can almost see them as a prehistoric glockenspiel, if you like, and you could knock them and hear these tunes.

“The soundscapes of prehistory are something that we are really just starting to explore.”

The research and Professor Darvill’s thoughts were also featured in articles in The Independent and regional press in New Zealand and Belfast. The story was then featured in a number of publications throughout Europe, including Bulgaria, Romania and Norway.

Watch the Inside Out programme in full (available for seven days)

BU’s Tim Darvill speaks to National Geographic

Timothy Darvill, Professor of Archaeology at Bournemouth University, gave his comment in a recent article for the National Geographic.

The article talks about Stonehenge and tries to uncover the mystery of how early Britons managed to move the monument’s enormous stones into place.

Professor Darvill said, “The Sarsens were moved about 40 to 50 kilometres from essentially local sources”.

They were most likely moved over land routes mounted on sleds, which then slid across rollers or rails, he explained. “Plenty of experiments have been done to show this is possible.”

“Some of the bigger sarsens weigh about 40 tons (36 metric tonnes) and would need about 150 people to pull them along,” Darvill added.

Michael Parker Pearson, an archaeologist at University College London and a National Geographic grantee notes that the roller method of transport can be problematic.

Many ancient monuments that we admire today were built without the conveniences of modern technology and with no definite answers, the mystery surrounding their construction continues.

You can read the article in full on the National Geographic website.