Maria & Simon O'Dwyer have been professionals in the field of ancient music for many years, and they travelled over from Ireland for the Acoustic Silbury event with a selection of replica instruments.
More detailed information can be found on their website:

The instruments were demonstrated before each performance, to allow listeners to familiarise themselves with the sounds. Close-up recordings of the individual instruments can be heard by clicking on the links left.

All recordings made during this event were recorded at the same level, to allow comparison. Beware of the Celtic Trumpet, which is very loud.

Not all of the instruments used for the experiment are definitely know to have been used in the Avebury area, but as so few ancient instruments have survived at all, a certain amount of guess-work is justified.


Stone Whistles
Small stones with holes bored by sea creatures. They produce a shrill tone, not unlike the high notes of an Oracina.
Frame Drums
Very ancient but still used all around the world. Simon & Maria used a pair of contemporary Irish Bodhrans.
Wooden Pipes
Simon played a beautiful set of whistle pipes made from Yew wood - a reproduction of the 'Wicklow Pipes' that date from the early bronze age.
Bone Flutes
Two swan-bone flutes were used together - one as a whistle and the other side-blown as a flute.
Animal Horns
Aided by volunteers, a selection of horns was played in a group. The largest is from an American Longhorn cow, but is similar to that of the Aurochs - huge cattle once common in Britain, until hunted to extinction in the bronze age. Whether side or end-blown, all the horns are played in the manner of a trumpet.
Bronze Horns
A pair of horns was used - reproductions of a type used in in the bronze age. Several examples have been found in Ireland, sometimes well preserved even after spending many centuries in a bog.
Celtic Trumpet
A magnificent replica of the great Irish 'Trompa' used during the iron age. Made of rivetted sheet bronze, several clear harmonics can be produced, and the highest note has incredible power - somehow vibrating the embossed circular plate at the bell and producing a 'shock wave' effect. I estimated this to be around 130 decibels - about the volume of a passing ambulance siren!

click for mp3s:

stone flutes
frame drums
wooden pipes
bone flutes
animal horns
bronze horns
celtic trumpet


Copyright Steve Marshall 2007