A team of researchers from London’s Royal College of Art (RCA) have discovered that the stones used to construct Stonehenge hold musical properties and when struck, sound like bells, drums and gongs. It is suggested that these properties could be the reason why the builders were willing to travel so far to source the stones from Wales and bring them to the site in Salisbury Plain, England.
English Heritage allowed archaeologists from Bournemouth and Bristol universities to acoustically test the bluestones at Stonehenge, effectively playing them like a huge xylophone.
To the researchers’ surprise, several were found to make distinctive if muted sounds, with several of the rocks showing evidence of having already been struck.
The stones make different pitched noises in different places and different stones make different noises - ranging from a metallic to a wooden sound.
The investigators believe that this could have been the prime reason behind the otherwise inexplicable transport of these stones nearly 200 miles from Preseli to Salisbury Plain.
There were plentiful local rocks from which Stonehenge could have been built, yet the bluestones were considered special.
The principal investigators for the Landscape & Perception project are Jon Wozencroft and Paul Devereux. Wozencroft is a senior lecturer at the RCA and the founding director of the musical publishing company, Touch.
Jon Wozencroft told MailOnline it was 'amazing' to find that the stones used in the monument make the noises that the researchers hoped for.
'It was a really magical discovery and refreshing to come across a phenomenon you can't explain,' he said.
The researchers have looked into geological reasons as to why some rocks make noise and others do not and one theory is that the amount of silica in the rocks could explain why in the future.
'Walking around Mynydd Y Presel you can't tell which stones will make sounds by sight, but in time you get a sort of intuition by the way they are positioned,' he said.
The researchers had feared the musical magic of the stones at Stonehenge might have been damaged as some of them were set in concrete in the 1950s to try and preserve the monument and the embedding of the stones damages the reverberation.
Mr Wozencroft said 'you don't get the acoustic bounce' but when he struck the stones gently in the experiment, they did resonate, although some of the sonic potential has been suffocated.
In Wales, where the stones are not embedded or glued in place, he said noises made by the stones when struck can be heard half a mile away.