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There have been countless theories about the design of Stonehenge but this one, which appeared in the Guardian in 2012, is memorable:

“A team of academics have revealed the “sonic experience” that early visitors to Stonehenge would have heard. Scholars from the Universities of Salford, Huddersfield and Bristol used an American replica of the monument to investigate its audio history. Salford’s Dr Bruno Fazenda said they had found the site reacted to sound “in a way that would have been noticeable to the Neolithic man”. He said the research would allow a “more holistic” view of its past.

In February, scientist Steven Waller published a paper suggesting the design of Stonehenge could have been inspired by music. Dr Fazenda, who has been involved with the acoustic testing of the monument for four years, said his own research had not revealed if this was the case or not. “Stonehenge is very well known, but people are still trying to find out what it was built for,” he said. “We thought that doing this would bring an element of archaeology that so far hasn’t been looked at.”

The auditory effect of Stonehenge in Neolithic ears is indeed a fascinating subject. But what about the auditory effect of Stonehenge on modern ears?  Auditory illusions are still happening at Stonehenge – for how else can one describe the sound of people in official or prominent roles claiming that the damage caused by a mile of new dual carriageway across the World Heritage Landscape is an improvement to that landscape?

One day academics will try to make sense of how and why Trumpism – the blatant repetition of a plain untruth – was applied to our national icon.


December 2019

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