The amazing acoustics of Stonehenge

The acoustics at Stonehenge, Wiltshire, England's magical megalithic structure, were phenomenal, according to new archaeological research. According to research from the University of Salford's Acoustic Research Centre, the placement of the stones in the circle not only naturally amplified voices and music played there, but the sound would not have projected out far outside the monument. From Science News:

To explore Stonehenge's sound dynamics, acoustical engineer Trevor Cox and colleagues used laser scans of the site and archaeological evidence to construct a physical model one-twelfth the size of the actual monument. That was the largest possible scale replica that could fit inside an acoustic chamber at the University of Salford in England, where Cox works. This room simulated the acoustic effects of the open landscape surrounding Stonehenge and compacted ground inside the monument[…]

Stonehenge Lego, as Cox dubbed the model, was assembled assuming that Stonehenge's outer circle of standing sarsen stones — a type of silcrete rock found in southern England — had originally consisted of 30 stones. Stonehenge today includes 63 complete stones, including five standing sarsen stones and 12 other stones in fragments. Based on an estimated total of 157 stones placed at the site around 4,200 years ago, the researchers 3-D printed 27 stones of all sizes and shapes. Then, the team used silicone molds of those items and plaster mixed with other materials to re-create the remaining 130 stones. Simulated stones were constructed to minimize sound absorption, much like actual stones at Stonehenge, Cox says.

image: Acoustics Research Centre/University of Salford