Stonehenge built to create special sound effects

The purpose of Stonehenge have long baffled historians. Now, an American researcher claims to have solved the riddle — the ancient stones may have been arranged to create a special sound effect.

There have been several theories about the origin of the stone structure south-west England. While some suggest it was intended as a monument for the dead, others claim it might be a celestial observatory, or could even be a place of healing.

But, Steven Waller, a researcher at Rock Art Acoustics in the US, claimed that the ordering of the stones could be an attempt to recreate a sound illusion called “interference pattern” during prehistoric pipe-playing rituals.

If two pipers were to play in a field, observers walking around the musicians would hear a strange effect, said Waller, who specialises in the sound properties of ancient sites, or archaeoacoustics.

At certain points, he said, the sound waves produced by each player would cancel each other out, creating spots where the sound is dampened, LiveScience reported. It’s this pattern of quiet spots that may have inspired Stonehenge, he told a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Vancouver, Canada.

The theory is highly speculative, but experiments have revealed that the layout of the Stonehenge ruins and other rock circles mimics the piper illusion, with stones instead of competing sound waves blocking out sounds made in the center of the circle.

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