Sonic rituals and engraved notations in London’s nature reserves

This research was led by Pietro Bardini and was made possible with the help of the Lambent Institute. Research assistants are Aydin Robles and Elijah Akhtar (Lambent Insitute), research consultant is Dr. Hernan de las Cuevas (Lead of Chronocartographics, Lambent Insitute). These findings are part of Paraspaces residency at arebyte (10/2021).

The artefacts included on these pages were discovered around East London’s nature reserves of Epping Forest and the Middlesex Filter Beds. This research is a documentation of those findings and proposes an interpretation of their origin and uses.

No carbon dating was made on these stones, and we cannot assume their exact historical placement. A close study on the engraving techniques showed that most required a high level of precision only achievable with late 20th century technologies. However, there are no records of similar activities attributable to contemporary nor ancient spiritual practices in these areas. We therefore cannot exclude that these blessings might still be performed by an under-the-radar culture.

The visible engravings are believed to depict instructions or notes to perform sounds, a documentation method comparable to music notation. The four artefacts discovered share some similarities:

1.    Lack of begin and end points

2.    Presence of circular shapes

3.    Repetition of compositional elements

Based on their locations we assume that each blessing was site specific, and it might have been used to nurture a beneficial relationship with its environment. For instance, m.cW, might have been used to bless Epping Forest’s Connaught Water in a process similar to water sanctification seen in Catholicism, Lutheranism, Anglicanism, Eastern Orthodoxy and Oriental Orthodoxy.

The open-ended nature of these depictions, without beginning nor end, seems to suggest a circular and cyclical approach to time which opposes the linearity of western music notation and of chronology in general. This standpoint might suggest that these blessings were meant to be repeated and re-interpreted. Their significance was embedded in the landscape rather than on the engravings themselves.

Each artefact features different markings which are attributed to the instrumentations in use. For instance s1.kC shows large letter-like blocks with variations and we believe this score required large percussive membranes while m.cW might have required some sort of string instrument or voice.

These circular sound blessings depict a relationship with the environment that is not hierarchical and belong to a non-linear timescale. Their significance emerges through repetition and through the acknowledgment of a perpetual changing landscape. The following pages include scans, digital reconstructions as well as in-depth information about each artefact.

These artefacts were discovered using an XTR.01, a device that can detect acoustic irregularities in terrains.


︎ s1.kC
︎ m.cW

︎ s2.fB
︎ s3.fB