Landscape & Perception

Carn Menyn range
Carn Menyn Range

In 2006, Jon Wozencroft and I initiated the Landscape & Perception (L&P) project under the aegis of the Royal College of Art (RCA), London. The project is a pilot study of raw visual and acoustic elements mainly among the rock outcrops on and around the Carn Menyn ridge (pictured), Mynydd Preseli, south-west Wales, the source area of some of the Stonehenge bluestones, an area still relatively untouched by modern development. Sites in the surrounding Pembrokeshire countryside were also briefly visited. The project asked: “What might Stone Age eyes and ears have perceived in this landscape, and what aspects made it become important to the builders of Stonehenge?” The L&P project was primarily conceived to encourage a younger generation of audio-visual practitioners to use direct, natural sensory source material for their digital work, to offset the increasing overuse of disembodied digital sources. In the course of the fieldwork, it was felt that observations had been made that could perhaps be archaeologically relevant in a landscape that until very recently has been subjected to surprisingly little archaeological study.

Over many site visits, Jon and I, happily sometimes accompanied by family and friends, RCA students, and archaeological advisers (Dr Timothy Darvill being the principal one), conducted visual studies of monuments on and around Preseli, and organised a careful acoustical search of the Carn Menyn outcrops.

It was found that the Carn Menyn area was a veritable soundscape, in that a significant percentage of ‘ringing rocks’ was present among the various outcrops that have been petrologically identified as sources for the Stonehenge bluestones. (Ringing rocks are rocks that emit a metallic or musical / bell-like sound when struck with a small hammerstone. Where evidence exists that such rocks were deliberately used to make sounds they are referred to as lithophones. This type of evidence was indeed found by the project on Carn Menyn.)

A 2014 paper on the outcome was published in Time & Mind:

Access to Abstract and option on full paper:

The project’s website is currently under reconstruction - we will post it on this page when it has been published.

Man crouching amid rocks
Man with headphones striking a rock
A rocky outcrop
Man in blue jacket climbing rocks