Mission statement: 
‘Audiendo ad terram’: Listening to the Earth

The Institute exits for the purpose of exploring, recording and interpreting geological sonic phenomena in the British Isles and sovereign British territories worldwide.

For the purposes of this mission statement, ‘sonic geology’ shall be defined as the emerging, experimental science derived from the empirical analysis of subterranean sonic phenomena, and the tapping of historical sonic substrata for the release of revelatory data. 

The Institute aims to:

1: Be the leading voice for sonic geology and an authoritative source of sonic geology information for the advancement of sonic geology and the benefit of humanity;

2: Provide effective programs in support of the sonic geology community and the conduct of sonic geology;

3: Collaborate with international sonic geology societies for the advancement of science, science education and the science community;

4: Cooperate with international sonic geology societies, to promote sonic geology, to support sonic geologists worldwide and to foster international collaboration;

5: Promote an active, engaged and diverse membership, and support the activities of its units and members.


The Aviary, Aylesbury

“The grotto and the aviary they could view,
And see the parrots of every hue –
Splendid birds in green and blue”

From the 1883 report of the ‘Baron’s Treat’, Bucks Advertiser


Waddesdon Manor is an impressively opulent grand manor house built for weekend entertaining by the Rothschild Family.

The Sounding Space at Waddesdon Manor offers NISG a unique opportunity to investigate how subterranean human activity can cause the percolation of sound into the Earth.

Early investigations by NISG have detected an exciting range of percolated sonic phenomena that appear to have been generated. These include:

Conversational phenomena Voices of the house guests, servants and labourers and foremen who levelled the hill top upon which Waddesdon’s grounds sit
Melodic phenomena             Music, from the house or parties in the grounds (also bird song)
Ambient phenomena                        Water (from nearby fountains), significant bird song

Up until the latter part of the 19th century, there was no house, park or garden at Waddesdon, only a bare hill that had been stripped of its timber. The foundation stone was laid on 18 August 1877, and the site was quickly transformed and landscaped ‘from scratch’.
The first house party was held in May 1880 with seven of Ferdinand's close male friends enjoying a grand fireworks display. This was the commencement of many years of frequent and elaborate parties. 

Waddesdon is the ultimate party house.

To create the gardens, extensive landscaping of the hill was carried out, including levelling the top to create a flat space on which to build. The NISG posit, that building work in the environs of this park has stimulated conversational, melodic, ambient and proto-historic sonic phenomena through its disturbance of the incline’s underlying strata. This fortunate occurrence offers the NISG an opportunity to record and analyse the effect such significant earthworks have on sonic phenomena in a way which has been hitherto impossible. 

Art works and statues pepper the landscape. The gardens were enhanced with a rockery constructed with limestone rock which would have been easy to come by as significant amounts were excavated in the levelling of the hilltop. In his ‘Red Book’ Ferdinand also made reference to the ‘deep gash’ in the side of Lodge Hill when he first bought the property in 1874. This gash, he remarked, the result of limestone quarrying, proved ‘most useful in the construction of rockeries”.

The Sounding Space lies near to the historic cast-iron aviary which was inspired by 18th-century pavilions at the Palace of Versailles and Chateau de Chantilly, as well as his childhood home at Grüneburg. It was completed in 1889. Ferdinand was a keen animal lover. He stocked the aviary with exotic birds and enjoyed feeding them for his guests.

The aviary's paint and gilding were restored in 2003 and it now houses endangered species with a focus on breeding programs particularly of ground nesting doves, such as the bleeding heart dove.

NOTE: Conversational, melodic and ambient sonic phenomena arising from percolation of this sound-activity have formed the basis of initial NISG explorations in this area. Melodic and conversational phenomena have been detected by Ear Trumpet technology within the background sound profile of the Waddesdon Sounding Space.


Waddesdon is one of a number of outlier hills (including Brill, Whitchurch, Stone, Chilon and Ashendon Hills) which are capped by harder resistive sansdtones and limestones. The hills are only present because of the resistant capping provided by the Whitchurch Sandstone and Portland Stone (which underlies the Whitchurch Sandstone). Together they produce a hard layer, which proves very resistant to erosion. The clays around these hills have been eroded down to form the lower clay vales, which are a distinctive a feature of this part of Buckinghamshire. The geomorphological aspect of this combination of rock type and erosion has produced a highly aesthetic landscape.

The indigenous geology can be seen in the construction materials of the village, which incorporate collections of locally sourced stone including Whitchurch Sandstone and Portland Limestone.

The Whitchurch Sandstone is from the lowermost Cretaceous period (138-131 million years old). In this part of Buckinghamshire, ferruginous sandstone with ironstones layers and the more cemented lithologies, (generally red and iron-rich sandstones), have been used in many of the older buildings and numerous walls in the villages surrounding Waddesdon.

The layer of hard Portland Stone offers up plentiful ammonites and a CHALK SEAM runs from Norfolk to Dover underneath Waddsdon. Large pockets of flint are found within this chalky seam. Chalk is well-known for it’s sonic porosity due to the alluvial formation of this rock type.


There seems scant archeological data on this specific site, which is surprising when considering the strategic nature of this point in the landscape (ie. the top of a hill).  That said, the surrounding countryside is rich with evidence of tumuli and Roman settlements.

Aylesbury itself is build on an Iron Age hill fort dating from the early 4th century BC. It was one of the strongholds of the ancient Britons, from whom it was taken in the year 571 by Cutwulph, brother of Ceawlin, King of the West Saxons.

During the Civil War, the ‘Battle of Aylesbury’ took place just five or so miles from the Waddesdon site on the 1st November 1642 at Holmans Bridge near the river Thame. During this battle, some 500 of Prince Rupert’s men died, and 90 Parliamentary forces, Despite being heavily outnumbered, the Parliamentarians were victorious.

A great deal of building work has taken place at Waddesdon in the past 130 years or so. It has been suggested that this construction work (which has involved earthworks and the excavation of the top of a hill, akin to slicing off the top of a soft-boiled egg) may also have released detectable sonic phenomena, in the manner of repeated echo-type, induction, and auricular events.

NOTE: Sonic Geology clearly benefits from the subterranean disruption caused by such commercial building activity in terms of the release of new data and the stimulation of hitherto unknown Deep Stratum sonic activity.
However, some experts in the field also believe that the phenomena themselves could be permanently erased from the geological sound profile by such activity. A recent, internally divisive, NISG motion led to a slim majority decision that the Society should express its concern to the relevant authorities on this issue. In the case of Waddesdon, although a blink of an eye in geological terms, to quote International team member Dr. Wolfgang Lovejoy of Wisconsin University “it’s a bit late to complain when it’s been there for 140 years already”.

The NISG have long been involved in research surrounding the extent to which archaeological objects may emit charged sonic signals that have been stored within them as a result of human possession and transportation. The initial findings in the Waddesdon Sounding Space suggest that there is a growing amount of evidence to support the hypothesis that some objects do channel specific resonances into the earth, specifically clocks, high chiming bells and mechanical elephants.


National Institute of Sonic Geology

Dr Stella Barrows, (BsC, PhD, NISG)

Born in Dorset and educated at the Sherborne School for Girls, Stella Barrows first became interested in notions of subterranean resonance when, as a girl, she met the pre-eminent Archeologist, Sir Mortimer Wheeler who was then head of the Institute of Archeology. Sir Mortimer was conducting his (now famous) excavations of the Iron Age Hill Fort of Maiden Castle and nearby tumuli sited on the South Dorset Ridgeway. Upon meeting her, Sir Mortimer invited Stella to assist on the dig. Although this was during the heady time of National ‘Hill Fort Mania’ Stella’s attention drifted, and she started to become enthralled by the older Bronze Age Bincombe Bumps (sited near Weymouth, also on the South Dorset Ridgeway), a series of six burial mounds which local myth suggested emit music at midday if listened to carefully enough. Stella experienced the melodic phenomena herself, but swiftly dismissed notions of supernatural or folkloric explanation for these ‘singing barrows’ and started to theorise about how sound might have become trapped within the bedrock of the British Isles. Her conclusions around the specific geology of place being fundamental to these emissions led her away from her first love of Archeology into an interest in the formation of the earth itself.

Stella subsequently attended University College London and graduated with a first in Geological Science. Her postgraduate thesis written on ‘Sonic Resonance in Neolithic Topography’ was written under the inspirational tutelage of Dame Trinity Arthurson who has provided a constant source of encouragement.

During the war, Barrows found employment working on the development of Sound Navigation and Ranging (SONAR), focussing on the impact geological configurations and seismic events have on the density and resonance of underwater sounding. Post-war, her passion for sonic emissions reignited and she decided to dedicate herself fully to the nascent fields of Sonic Geology and Sonic Investigation. Stella quickly established the ground-breaking National Institute of Sonic Geology (NISG) of which she is founding member and President. Since its formation, the NISG has grown to include several enthusiastic field operatives and a permanent team who Stella affectionately refers to as ‘Sonic Investigators’, including Roger Millington, Beatrice Lathenby, Hildegard Brunel, Mavis Collingwood and Percival Denny.

Although most of Dr Barrows’ time is taken up with her passion for NISG she occasionally dabbles in landscape painting and learning the Piano Accordion in her home county of Dorset.

Percival Denny, BsC, NISG, 

Born and raised in Norfolk, Percival 'Plum' Denny attended the same school as the regions' other distinguished son and early amateur subterranean sonic enthusiast, Lord Horatio Nelson. Somewhat of a dullard, Plum bungled his way through his time as a border until he
was granted a scholarship to Oxford thanks to his skills as a wicketkeeper. Deft behind the sticks, Plum soon gained a reputation as one of the finest cricketers on the university circuit. Fame beckoned, and Plum was sent on a MCC Exhibition Tour to the Far East, with the purpose of spreading the popularity of God's Chosen Game (locals still talk of his majestic 136 against a Presidents XI in Kuala Lumpur).
However, it was on this tour that events in Plum's life took a
mysterious turn. Taking a day trip into the Himalayan Mountains, Plum disappeared. He returned three years later. Although rumours abound of what happened during his time in exile, very few facts have come to light. What we do know is: 

1) Evidence suggests that Plum was almost certainly completely silent for these three years 
2) During that time he developed an incredible ability to listen to the smallest of sounds from the longest of distances 
3) There is some talk of the influences of a shadowy Far Eastern Organisation dedicated to practicing the ancient art of subterranean listening mythologies
4) Plum never played cricket again.

On his return to England Plum switched courses at Oxford and transferred to study Physics, writing a seminal paper on "Ancient Eastern Philosophy and it's Influence on Transverse Waves". Whilst
many consider Plum to have 'gone native', his work attracted the
attention of Dr Stella Barrows and he was asked to join the NISG, a
position he still holds.

Plum is a passionate campanologist and owner of a Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) driving licence.

Mavis Collingwood BsC, NISG

Daughter of Dr Arthur and Phyllis Collingwood, Mavis moved to Aberdeen as a child after her parents were transferred to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary to assist with the development of a research partnership with Aberdeen University.
Mavis developed a keen interest in fishing, and frequently spent her spare time at the banks of the River Dee. However, she soon learnt that her fascination was less with what she caught, and more with the unexplored environment with which it came from. Even as a young adult, Mavis had recurring dreams of exploring a world underwater, and subsequently became isolated as her fascination with unseen places took over her ability to socialise with others in the environments within which she spent her time.
It was her mother who encouraged Mavis to take a more formal and educated interest in marine biology in order to overcome her isolation and to enable her to share her fascination with others.
Mavis graduated from Aberdeen University with a degree in Marine Ecology, and went on to write the ground breaking paper Familiar Patterns for Community Structures: a Study of Eastern Coastal Areas in Scotland.  During the war she assisted with the tracking of allied U-boat packs, helping to break and read German Naval Enigma codes. Although she became an eminent name in her field, Mavis soon became eager to learn more about other unseen environments. Her discovery of sonic geology happened purely by chance, after finding a copy of the Journal of Sonic Experimental Geology in the South Coast Centre for Snorkelling and Diving, which she later discovered belonged to Beatrice Lathenby.
It was at a conference on sonic phenomena that Mavis first met Dr Stella Barrows, becoming captivated by her talk on methods of investigating historical sonic substrata, which reignited Mavis’ childhood, dreamlike, fascination for occurrences in unseen environments.

Her enthusiasm and expertise have led to her becoming a core member of the NISG and she is thrilled to have been appointed on an upcoming exploration of sounding spaces across the British Isles.

Dr Wolfgang Lovejoy (BSc, PhD, co-opted NISG)
University of Wisconsin, Barron County Extension Campus

Dr Lovejoy grew up between Palos, Illinois and Long Lake Wisconsin. Born to a boat-builder father and a landscape painter mother, Wolfgang frequently roamed the wild and geologically fascinating countryside, which skirts the Second City of Chicago and Lake Michigan.

Dr Lovejoy's primary research areas are the geomorphology surrounding the formation of the Laurentian Great Lakes of North America (for the European reader, these are a series of interconnected lakes located primarily in the upper mid-east region of North America). 

Wolfgang trained at the University of Wisconsin in Freshwater Geology and was latterly was part of the first team to be situated at the Barron County Extension Campus. Dr Lovejoy studied glacial formations of Lake Michigan for his doctoral thesis. He first perceived subterranean sounds in his native environment, when upon walking near a log cabin (in which he now resides) an unexplained forceful sonic discharge emitted from the ground beneath his feet. With the help of NISG scientists, this sound has latterly been identified as the movement of vast ice sheets and voices of indigenous peoples from around 14,000 years ago.
Since this first eruption event, Dr Lovejoy has energetically pursued answers – and as is often the way with scientific discovery – has found more questions. He happened upon the academic papers of Dr Barrows and was excited to discover that the study of the sonic phenomena he had experienced had a name: Sonic Geology.

Dr Lovejoy is proud to be the first official International member of the National Institute for Sonic Geology, and the NISG are indebted to the forward-thinking University of Wisconsin for granting his research sabbatical.

Dr Lovejoy has a specialism in the movements of the Laurentide Ice Sheet during the Quaternary (Pleistocene) Glaciation, but he dabbles with piano in the evenings. 

Roger Millington, NISG
(Extract from Sonic Geology: Pioneers of a radical new science? The Times Educational Supplement)

Roger Millington’s interest in geology began as a boy, when he read Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne, and developed a passion for digging holes, much to the annoyance of the gardener at the Norfolk vicarage in which he grew up.

Millington left school at 14, with a solid devotion to mechanical tinkering and outdoor activities, but no qualifications to speak of. After an extensive hands-on practical training as a mining engineer in the South Wales Valleys, where he developed a love of colliery brass band music, he enlisted in the Corps of Royal Engineers as a Sapper. War soon intervened, and he found himself involved in the dangerous tasks of military tunnelling and the preparation of defensive earthworks. This involved long hours underground amid the mud and horror of war, digging beneath enemy lines and listening carefully to vibrations from below ground that might indicate an imminent attack. 
It was during one such mission that Millington had his first experience of geological sonic phenomena. Deep below ground on a Spring day in France, he found himself listening to the unmistakable sounds of medieval plainsong and the playing of spoons, as they oscillated within a large crystalline boulder around which he and his team were attempting to tunnel. Dismissing the experience as evidence of his slow slide into post-traumatic stress, Roger at first denied the preposterous notion that sound could be held in the Earth’s geology. He gritted his teeth, and plunged further into the jaws of international conflict.

The war was not kind to Millington, and eventually he was invalided out of the Army with shellshock and neuralgia, a shadow of his former self. He was shipped to a convalescent home in a former boys’ preparatory school at Seale Hayne, near Newton Abbot, where his recuperation centred on the restoration of a mountain of abandoned orchestral instruments that he had found in a dusty basement. Recovery was a slow and hesitant process. Peace and quiet, and gentle listening to the sounds of nature and light classical music were the order of the day. 

All this changed when Dr Stella Barrows, president of the newly-established National Institute for Sonic Geology, arrived at Seale Hayne to investigate sonic phenomena that had been stimulated by the excavation of an unexploded bomb from the German Beidecker raids on Exeter. Encountering Dr Barrows as she sought to manage an aural upsurge behind the stables with only a battered Henley Audiophone in the way of equipment, Millington learned that the geological sonic phenomena he had experienced in the tunnels of wartime France were in fact geological reality. His world was turned upside down. What he had thought of as madness - sound emerging from the fabric of the Earth itself - was actually scientific fact. Barrows explained to Millington that the phenomena he had experienced had arisen from a verifiable feature of geology that could be empirically proven, catalogued and recorded, if only an appropriate form of reliable detection technology could be developed.

Invigorated by his epiphany, Roger joined NISG as technical advisor. He quickly turned to his basement of musical horns for inspiration, as he wrestled to find a method of improving the detection of subterranean sonic phenomena. Three days of frenetic tinkering led to the creation of the Ear Trumpet, and the detection and recording of the Seale Hayne phenomena.

Hildegarde Brunel (BsC, MsC, NISG)

Hildegarde grew up in Richmond Upon Thames not far from Marble Hill Park. Her parents were 
eminent Egyptologists and the young Hildegarde would often go with them on their archaeological 
digs. Hildegarde first became interested in audiology science when her Mother was pregnant with her younger brother Bertie and she would use a pinard horn to listen to her unborn brother's heartbeat. 

The Pinard Horn is still Hildegarde's preferred listening device and she recently published a short 
paper on its use in mathematically mapping sonic porosity on the glacier's in southern Iceland. 
Hildegarde briefly flirted with the notion of becoming an aviator before taking up a place at 
Cambridge to read mathematical science. Whilst at Cambridge she set up the (now disbanded) 
SLS (Secret Listening Society) – a group dedicated to the exploration of the aural architecture of 
the environment. After graduation Hildegarde was recruited to take up a post for His Majesty's 

Hildegarde became interested in sonic geology and the work of the NISG after reading of the ground-breaking discoveries of Dr Stella Barrows and shortly after Roger Millington was invited to 
deliver a lecture at the SLS in the development of ear trumpet technology. After leaving the secret
civil service, Hildegarde was delighted to have been invited to work with the NISG. She joined the team for the first time last summer at the Little Bredy Sounding Space.

A keen diver and a passionate baker, Hildegarde's speciality is lemon drizzle cake.

Beatrice Lathenby BsC, NISG

Beatrice is the only child of Dr Harold and Margaret Lathenby, renowned archaeologists. She was brought up in London in a house overlooking Regent's Park. Whilst playing in the garden as a child 
Beatrice heard conversational phenomena coming from the ground. When she told her parents they 
worried for her sanity and sent her to eminent child psychologist Dr Heideberger, but finding nothing wrong with her the incident was soon forgotten, by her parents. 
Beatrice gained a Bachelors degree in Geography from St Hilda's, Oxford University. She was employed as an air raid warden in her time there and was praised for her cool head and practicality. Beatrice was also in the ladies cycling and swimming club.

Whilst on a Geography field trip to North Yorkshire, Beatrice happened across Roger Millington at the Brimham Rocks Sounding Space, and was intrigued to hear about the work of the NISG relating it back to her childhood experience. She questioned her professors about NISG and sonic phenomena but was told that they were not a respectable scientific organisation, some even dismissed them as a bunch of fanatics, but undeterred Beatrice started carrying around a stethoscope borrowed from a friend studying medicine. She found a subterranean hum with what sounded like choral voices on the lawn of Queen's College and immediately sent for the NISG. Roger Millington arrived with his investigative equipment but was refused entry by the college. Roger told her about a new sounding space that they were investigating that summer on the South Coast and the need for strong swimmers to join the snorkelling team. Beatrice immediately volunteered and after graduating a few weeks later she joined the NISG down at Burton Bradstock.

Beatrice 'Flippers' Lathenby has been with NISG for two and half years and visited 8 sounding Spaces 
with them. She has published three papers: The Common Emission of Melodic Events in Alluvial 
Valleys, The Suspected methods of Seeding on the Southern Shore and Imprinting of Bass Frequency Sound Associated with the Movement of Glaciers all published in The Journal of Sonic Experimental  Geogolgy. She is Captain of the snorkelling team and has produced a pamphlet entitled Snorkelling tips for Sonic Investigators.


Names from left to right (row by row) : Augustus, Lady Lynne, Maureen Anne, Margaret Rose, Tamsin,  Belle, Colin, Digby, Emma-May, Grand Prix De Danse, Jessica, John, Jove, Kingston Russell, Aunty Iris, Margaret Rose, Aubrey, Queen Alexandria, Rufus, Sir Mortimer, The Bishop, Tilly, Robert



As the NISG have visited many Sounding Spaces in the course of our investigations*, we have decided to instigate a coding system for the sites we have visited and documented. These are listed below. We will start publishing short field notes (including geological information and historical background) in advance of our investigations at each site in due course.

CODE    Location
001     Bincombe Down, South Dorset Ridgeway
002     Brimham Rocks, North Yorkshire
003     Avebury Stone Circle, Wiltshire
004     Burton Bradstock, West Dorset
005     Ringstead Downs, Norfolk
006     Ring of Brodgar, Orkney Isles
007     Ulsta, Yell, Shetland Isles
008     Little Bredy, South Dorset Ridgeway
009     Rushcombe, Corfe Mullen
010     Talbot Village, Bournemouth
011     Queens Park, Brighton
012     Wardrobe Museum Garden, Salisbury
013     Winchester Cathedral (Grounds)
014     Bell Meadows, Chelmsford
015     Bournemouth Lower Gardens
016     Castle Mound, (Higgins Museum) Bedford
017     Greenwich, St. Alfeges Park, London
018     Wrotham Park, Hertsfordshire
019     Queens Gardens, Kingston Upon Hull
020     Miller Park, Preston
021     Waddesdon Manor, Aylesbury

*There are several sites which have been visited pre-systematisation on a more 'ad hoc' basis. Some of these sites have been visited multiple times, namely Bincombe Down on the South Dorset Ridgeway whilst other sites have been less fruitful on investigation (the small port of Ulsta,  on the Isle of Yell in the Shetland Islands being one such site where adverse weather conditions mitigated against ourselves and our monitoring apparatus).


Compiled by Dr. S. Barrows & M. Collingwood

Avenham Park has been an open space in Preston since 1697, but the land for the adjacent Miller Park was donated by local cotton manufacturer Thomas Miller (1811-1865) in the mid-1800s. It was opened in 1867.
The River Ribble, which flows through the park, provides a southern border for the city. The Forest of Bowland forms a backdrop to Preston to the northeast while the Flyde lies to the west. Preston is approximately 27 miles (43 km) north west of Manchester, 26 miles (42 km) north east of Liverpool, and 15 miles (24 km) east of the coastal town Blackpool.
We posit that alluvial deposits from the water may be a factor in the transmission of proto historic sounds from these surrounding settlements, which date back to Neolothic, Roman and Saxon times.

Preston is an ancient settlement, recorded in the Domesday Book as “Prestune” in 1086. It is purported that the town’s name is derived from Old English Presta and Tun: the Tun signifies enclosure, farmstead, village, manor, estate and the Presta a priest or priests.
Anecdotally, Preston has an extremely high number of places of worship and therefore was dubbed ‘Priest’s Town’ the words latterly being conflated to form ‘Preston’.
There are at least 73 churches, chapels, missions and meeting-houses, 12 mosques, several temples and 15 cemeteries and burial sites. This concentration of religious and ceremonial meeting places might account for the number of bells, peeling and music, which has emanated from this current eruption event.

The Battles of Preston
The battle was fought from 12-14 November in 1715 and took place through the streets of the city between the Jacobites and the army of King George I, over 300 years ago (1715). It is sometimes also known as the Preston Fight or Fisticuffs. Although it is technically classed as a siege, there was a great deal of savage fighting in streets all over the town during the ‘Battle’. This might form some significant Proto Historical Sonic activity. There was an earlier ‘Battle of Preston’ during the English Civil War, which took place in 1648 but this was fought mainly in nearby Walton-Le-Dale. This first battle saw a victory for the New Model Army under the command of Oliver Cromwell over the Royalists and Scots.

Industrial Preston
A further consideration is the Earth Trauma caused during the Industrial Revolution, in which countless building works were completed, dislocating surface geologies and exposing the ground in a manner conducive to seeding and percolation of contemporary ambient phenomena. Preston saw an expeditious period of growth and development during industrialization in the 1800s with the rapid expansion of textile manufacturing.

The original East Lancashire Railway ran through the edge of Miller Park as does the North Union Railway Embankment.
During both the first and second World Wars, Preston Railway station was a major North-South route for troops. A free 24-hour buffet for servicemen was provided to anyone in uniform (soldiers or sailors) by the Women’s Voluntary Service, funded by subscription and had its own marked crockery.

The Preston (Miller Park) Sounding Space is situated towards the middle of the park, in sight of the Railway Line. The Ribble Valley is fascinating in geological terms, with the oldest rocks, sandstones & limestones, being laid down between 410 – 510 million years ago during the Ordovician and Silurian periods.
NOTE: Following the development of the railways stone could be brought cheaply to Preston, resulting in a town whose public buildings and rockeries in parks are largely built of Pendle Grit or stones from even further afield (Often from Scotland or the Lake District!). Do not be confused by this invasive use of non-Lancastrian rock specimens in these buildings! Some research attempts have been made to extract resonances from singular geological specimens –‘rock music’ as it were, but these have, to date, been fruitless. NB. From experience, it is not advisable to attempt to remove the rockery stone for your own research endeavors, they are large, unwieldy and could result in a conflagration with local constabulary, a hiatus hernia or indeed both. (SB)

Geological connectivity through the Ribble Valley suggests that we might expect to detect Reflection Phenomena, as geological sound ‘flows’ along the riverbed via underwater Transmission Layers. Atmospheric and radio wave imprinting within the surface geology of the area is expected to be a significant influence on the background sound profile in the Preston Sounding Space. Marconi’s identification of strong Etheric Wave Transmission in the area suggests the locale is particularly sensitive to electromagnetic fluctuation.
NOTE: there is fascinating research into post-glacial river morphology being undertaken by Dr Wolfgang Lovejoy into this field in his upcoming popular science book: Meander With Me Awhile! Adventures in Alluvium*

*publication date and publisher yet to be confirmed

During the Eruption Event, Master L. Pickering of Preston had some particularly insightful comments about the melodic eruption event - specifically the "church bells" and "pirate songs" and we thank him for his contribution to our work. (WL)




GEOLOGY: Ice, river, sea and storm.

NISG field experiments in the East Riding of Yorkshire, and in Hull and Holderness in particular, have lifted the lid on the role of water as a stimulus and primary engine of sonic eruption in this area.[1]

The plain of Holderness and the Humberhead levels both owe their present geological form to the Quaternary ice ages, when ice fields formed on the higher land and immense glaciers crawled inexorably down the main valleys, scouring material from the valley sides and depositing it as the climate warmed and the ice melted some 14,500 years ago.

The landscape around the Queens Gardens sounding space is dominated by deposits of till, boulder clays and glacial lake clays. Peat filled depressions (known locally as meres) mark the presence of long-lost, ancient lake beds in the area.

At the southern limit of the ice was an extensive lake, Glacial Lake Humber, which later filled with clay sediments up to 20 metres thick. These were slowly overlain by peat deposits, in which can be found the remains of a huge buried forest.
The geology of the area runs in bands, with a chalk layer at Flamborough in the North, Boulder clay or till (laid down in the last ice age) to the south and river deposits in the Humber Estuary.
Because the clay is a weak mass of particles and boulders it erodes more rapidly than the more resistant rock of chalk in the north. Rain and rivers also wash and reform the land in a constant cycle, releasing historic sound and creating a sonic porosity that is unrivalled in the UK.
The sea is also the sonic geologists friend in this area, its tidal rhythms setting up repeating sonic wavelengths in the substrata that can stimulate sonic eruptions many miles inland.
Holderness is the number one place in Europe for coastal erosion, and in a stormy year waves from the North sea can remove between 7 and 10m of coastline, making it one of the fastest-eroding coastlines in EuropeThe coastline starts with blowholes, stacks and stumps at Flamborough, and culminates with Spurn Head, a very large spit that runs across part of Humber Estuary.
The rich fertile land of the inland area around Hull has also been extensively drained and irrigated, with numerous large agricultural watercourses dug into its rich clay soils. As the sea devours the land it releases sonic phenomena that travel along these watercourses, allowing us to listen in on the ghostly echoes of as many as 30 lost towns along the coast.
These include the submerged farm village of Wilsthorpe, mentioned in the Domesday Book, the drowned hamlet of Hartburn at the mouth of the great Earls Dyke watercourse, the ridge and furrow agricultural system of Monkwell, and the church settlement of Sisterkirk, where, on the night of the 16th February, 1816, after a storm of unusual violence, the church was washed down the cliffs, and coffins and bodies were strewn upon the shore below.


The Sounding Space lies on the porous Boulder Clays of the Humber Estuary, and until 1930 Queens Gardens was filled with the waters of Queens Dock. As the dock was not completely filled in when it fell from commercial use, the gardens are largely below the level of the surrounding streets and buildings.

This means we are listening below general ground level, closer to the source of the sonic phenomena, a fact that greatly enhances the already impressive powers of our Ear Trumpet technology.

The subterranean nature of the site also creates a sonic funnel that collects local proto-historic phenomena, amplifies them and makes for some fascinating listening, although one should always be careful of potential surge conditions that might lead to embarrassing ossicular responses.

The location of the busy wharf on this site explains sonic phenomena such as industrial noise, melodic echo-type phenomena associated with work and drinking songs and some conversational activity. Queens Dock was surrounded corn mills and seed and fish processing plants, and the area was an important centre for the whaling industry.

Sonic eruption in this area may therefore be explained by the extensive disruption to the ground that has taken place in this area over the years. Queens Gardens themselves are an excellent example of landscape re-design by the prominent architect Sir Frederick Gibberd, and Hull was heavily bombed in WW2 when The Hull Blitz of 1941 killed around 1200 people and destroyed much of the town.

Large ground interventions have therefore defined the place, from defensive structures such as the town wall and moat, to the creation of the dock and expanding trade, to marine technology and practices rendering the dock redundant, the creation of the public gardens, and post war regeneration in a modernist landscape style by a celebrated architect.

The NISG team believe that the extraordinarily large amount of recent building work in the environs of this park and the repaving of the entire city-centre has stimulated conversational, melodic, ambient and proto-historic sonic phenomena through its disturbance of the underground strata. This fortunate occurrence offers NISG an opportunity to record and analyse a significant eruption event.

Most of the buildings around the sounding space are post-war, apart from the south east corner where there survives a block of Georgian and Victorian buildings fronting Lowgate, a Georgian Bond Warehouse fronting Guildhall Road and the offices on the corner of Quay Street, all grade 2 listed buildings. The original old town walls lie to the south edge of the site.

Kingston-Upon-Hull was a key territory in the early part of the English Civil War due to the large arsenal in the city. The 1642 Siege of Hull was the first major action of the English Civil War, and saw the town and surrounding area flooded when attacking Royalist forces smashed sluice gates and river defences on The River Humber. Faint echoes of battle are often detected in the sonic profile of the area.

NOTE: Subterranean sonic phenomena have been detected in this area by NISG members, which might offer a rational scientific explanation for longstanding local folkloric reports of music from below ground, the sounds of swords, minstrelsy and incantation.

The sounding space is very near to the statue of William Wilberforce, the slave trade abolitionist. Wilberforce was born and educated in Hull, and elected as MP for the town in 1780, before becoming MP for the County of York in 1784. His profound Christian faith motivated his political life and led to him becoming the leading opponent of slavery in parliament. His campaign work contributed to the abolition of the slave trade in the British Empire in 1807 and of slavery as an institution in 1833.

[1] (See: Lathenby, B (2016) Getting Wet for Sonic Geology – Sub Aqua Investigations at Spurn Head Spit, Journal of Aural Investigation, 6:2, pp135-212)