Stonehenge may have been built for acoustics

Throughout history people have often wondered, and still wonder what Stonehenge was, and why it was built. A new theory is that people misinterpreted strange sounds in caves as spirit voices, and build Stonehenge as some sort of structure to manipulate sound, probably in the hope of making contact with those spirits whose voices they thought they heard, or maybe merely hearing them more clearly.

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1 Introduction to Stonehenge

A prehistoric monument in England, Stonehenge comprises a set of standing stones arranged in a ring like pattern by its human builders. It is estimated to have been built anywhere between 3000 BC and 2000 BC. Deposits containing human bone from cremations have been found that date back to as early as 3000 BC, and such deposits have been found at the site dated for a further five hundred years. This suggests that Stonehenge had its beginnings as a type of burial ground. Stonehenge has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1986.

Introduction to Stonehenge

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2 Cave Paintings and Spirit Noises

Cave paintings in France depicting herds of animals like bulls and horses have until recently been thought to depict Paleolithic hunting scenes, but Dr. Steven Waller, an American researcher and Acoustic archaeology expert, has presented new evidence that the images may have been inspired by strange noises emanating from the mouths of the caves. Waller believes that ritual clapping outside the cave could have caused echoes that early people mistook for hundreds of hooves drumming on the ground in the cave. Similar echoes of other noises could have been perceived as the voices of supernatural beings.

Cave Paintings and Spirit Noises

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3 Built for Acoustics

Dr. Waller proposes that ancient people may have also mistaken “spooky noises”coming from cave mouths as divine voices. He suggests that structures such as Stonehenge may have been built for acoustic effects that these people believed to be supernatural noises. He noticed a link between the arrangement of stones at the site and an acoustic phenomenon known as an interference pattern. This occurs where sound waves from different sources reinforce, or amplify, each other, or cancel each other out. He set up an experiment with two flutes in an open field, playing the same note. At certain angles, the pitch of one flute drowning out the other one, gave test subjects that were blind-folded the illusion of a ring of pillars “casting acoustic shadows”.

Built for Acoustics

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4 More Ancient Pipers

Waller points out that structures such as Stonehenge, also known as “pipers’circles”, are a central part of a myth involving pipers that play for maidens dancing in a circle. The maidens then turn to stone at the sound of the music. The Hurlers is another one of some 150 stone circles found in England, and its close grouping of stones, three stone circles, makes it unique in England. The Pipers is another set out of two stones found to the West of the Hurlers, and is said to represent two men who played pipes on a Sunday and were turned to stone for doing so.

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5 Accepted origins of Stonehenge

Dr. Waller’s theories contradict currently accepted theories on Stonehenge’s origin. Historians, and vast numbers of modern pagans, and especially Druids, believe Stonehenge was built so that its stones, or shadows cast by them, would be specially aligned during the summer and winter solstices. The editor of British Archaeology, and a leading expert on Stonehenge, Mike Pitts, dismisses Waller’s proposal by tersely saying “there was no question”of this. Other British experts on Stonehenge say it was clearly built over several centuries, and not at one time for one purpose.

Accepted origins of Stonehenge.

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