Maes Howe

Title: Maes Howe
Category: Burial Chamber Capture Date: 10th December 2004
Maes Howe - Exterior Maes Howe - Plan
Maes Howe Interior - Entrance Passage Maes Howe Interior - Ceiling
Maes-Howe, Orkney, is one of the finest chambered cairns in Europe, and is dated to 3000BC.  Prior work in the acoustics of ancient sites explores how the resonances exhibited therein might have affected regular human ritual and interaction with the space.  It has been hypothesized that as these resonances are within the lower male vocal range, they may have been used in ritual to accentuate aspects of the voice.  Unlike many similar ancient structures that have been studied to date, Maes Howe lends itself to the presence of strong modal frequencies.  It is almost cubic in shape, of dimension 4.6m, with walls made from large, flat slabs of stone, resulting in smooth reflecting surfaces rather than more commonly found irregular placement of smaller stones.
Location: Orkney, Scotland, UK Size (Approx): 100m3
Source: Log. Swept Sine; 20-22k Hz; 15s long Input: Genelec S30D
Source Location: Centre of chamber Mic Location: Centre of wall opposite entrance
Source-Microphone Distance: 2m
ISO 3382 - T30:
Freq (Hz) 31.5 63 125 250 500 1k 2k 4k 8k 16k
T30 (s) 0.75 0.79 0.87 0.60 0.57 0.51 0.46 0.42 0.37 0.30
Microphone: Soundfield SPS-422B
B-format: W and X Channels
B-format: Y and Z Channels
Microphone: ORTF Neumann SKM-140
Stereo - ORTF
Links and Resources:

R. G. Jahn, P. Devereux and M. Ibison, "Acoustical resonances of assorted ancient structures", J. Acoustical Society of America, vol. 99, no. 2, pp. 649-658, 1996.

The Acoustics of Maes Howe:

Historic Scotland's Maes Howe information site:

Maes Howe Webcam and additional information -

Submitted by damian on 24 November, 2006 - 10:18.