& 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:
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
recordings made during this event were recorded at the same level,
to allow comparison. Beware of the Celtic Trumpet, which is very
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
Small stones with holes bored by sea creatures. They produce a shrill
tone, not unlike the high notes of an Oracina.
Very ancient but still used all around the world. Simon & Maria
used a pair of contemporary Irish Bodhrans.
Simon played a beautiful set of whistle pipes made from Yew wood -
a reproduction of the 'Wicklow Pipes' that date from the early bronze
Two swan-bone flutes were used together - one as a whistle and
the other side-blown as a flute.
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.
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.
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!