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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Musical Stones of Skiddaw in North Cumbria, England

Do all of you remember playing around in music class on an instrument called the xylophone? Well this historical instrument, using the Musical Stones of Skiddaw, makes me look at the modern day piano or xylophone from a completely different perspective.

Around 1785, Peter Crosthwaite, an eccentric inventor, was walking around the area of Skiddaw in North Cumbria, England when he made a startling discovery. He found "hornfels" rock that produced sound. He spent months and months looking for more rocks that made the desired sound he was looking for.

The result was a type of xylophone, in which he set up to attract visitors to his museum. With the help of his daughter and an old woman, they formed an impromptu welcoming party to the Keswick Museum.

According to the Musical Stones of Skiddaw Blog, the updated instrument is a 14 foot-long 1.5 ton stone xylophone made in 1827 by Keswick stonemason Joseph Richardson out of rare 'hornfels' rock found between the mountains Skiddaw and Blencathra in North Cumbria, UK.

Also check out:

Ancient Digger: Leoninus and Perotinus: The First Polyphonic Music



Rick (Ratty) said...

That is just amazing! I never thought anything like this might exist.

John | Daily Photo Gallery said...

I want to have a go! :-) It must be awkward to move when they take it to performances.

Anonymous said...

Wow..that's very interesting information, and the history behind that musical instrument is wonderful. (Tweeted)

Sigfus Orn said...

I know that Sigur Ros and Steindor Andersen used Musical Stones that they had custom-made to play 'Odin's Ravens Magic' a few times. They played the stones both at performances in Iceland as well as abroad.

Here is a clip on youtube where they are playing the stones in this piece:

Cruiselife & Co said...

@Sigfus Orn

Thanks so much for the video. I'm going to check that out right now.


They are incredible aren't they? I stumbled upon these the other day, and thought, wow I've never seen these before.


You would be right. They have to move each stone individually so so they don't break.


Amazing what we find in nature. Although, I believe nature produces the most beautiful music.

Cruiselife & Co said...


soubriquet said...

Petrophone, surely, as 'xylo' means wood.

Must go see it next time I'nm near there!

thestickman said...

Fred Flintstone played one of these! ;-)

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