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.

SOUNDING SPACE Charterhouse, Coventry #028

The NISG Field Team at Charterhouse, Coventry

Field Notes compiled by Hildegard Brunel

Ed. Dr Stella Barrows



The Charterhouse (also known as the Charterhouse Priory, or Coventry Charterhouse) Sounding Space lies near to the River Sherbourne that runs underneath the centre of the city.

It is one of only nine Carthusian monasteries in the country, and was founded in 1381. After the Dissolution of the Monasteries (1536-1541), the site was converted to a private house and latterly it was gifted to the people of Coventry by Colonel Wyley, the last private owner in 1941 as a centre for arts, culture and for the benefit of the people of Coventry. It is a beautiful site on grassed area next to a river.

There is an abundance of musical, industrial and conversational sonic ‘hot spots’ found on this site, such as the ‘singing’ of the ancient riverbed, possible horticultural exploits, ‘sonic sermons’ recorded from the nearby priory, singing of monks, repeated campanological bell patterns and the geological historical echoes of ancient battles.



A few fragments remain of the Charterhouse Monastery which mostly date from the 15th century and consisting of a sandstone building that was probably the prior's house. Inside are medieval wall paintings of extraordinarily high quality.


The focus of Carthusian life is contemplation. To this end there was an emphasis on solitude and silence. Unless required by other duties, the Carthusian hermit, or choir monk would leave his cell daily only for three prayer services in the monastery chapel, including Mass, and to sing prayers, chants or hymns.


The Carthusian order was a silent order, although it seems that mass and song (as prayer) were allowed. The NISG believe that we have detected singing under the grounds and register it as Latin mass.


In its final form, in about 1500, the church at Coventry Charterhouse was a long thin rectangle, oriented east-west with a central bell tower and a large chapel on the North side. It’s possible that the bells the team of the NISG have been tracking with our audio technology (Ear Trumpets) are the sounds of these 16th Century bells. They could also be the bells from medieval St Anne’s Chapel (now ruined) just over the river which was leased to the Charterhouse, but which was confiscated and sold by the crown in 1546. An alternate theory is that they are bells of the much later Victorian Anglican Chapel of the famous London Road Cemetery (although we have yet to discern if there was ever a bell in the tower there), or even All Saints St Annes. [N.B. BEATRICE PLEASE CHECK THIS FACT, IF INDEED THERE ARE BELLS IN THESE LOCAL CHURCHES AND AUDIO RECORD FOR COMPARISON WHEN POSSIBLE S.B.]


Carthusian monasteries are distinctive because the monks lived in individual ‘cells’ comprising a two-story house set in a walled garden, all laid out round a cloister. Remains of these, and of the church, have been discovered through archaeological excavation at Charterhouse. When Henry VIII ordered The Dissolution of Monasteries in 1539, the church and many of the other buildings were demolished, but the Prior’s House and precinct walls were preserved and became a private house. 


Sadly, at the time of the dissolution of the Monasteries the Chapel and other religious buildings were destroyed and used as building materials, but this disruption and violence to the earth could account of the significance of this site and the sheer abundance of sonic hot spots vis-a-vis the new theory of ‘stone tape’ imprinting (hauntological/ghost response) which is still very much at the fringes of sonic geology.



In the 1560’s Charterhouse was owned by Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester who may have used it to house some of Elizabeth I’s retinue when she visited nearby Kenilworth Castle.

In the 18th century horticulturist John Whittingham and his family rented the building and created a substantial nursery within the walled gardens. The archives in Coventry hold his original journal and from this fascinating source we know he was very successful, selling highly prized and exotic citrus trees to Warwick Castle and other local country houses.

Colonel William Wyley was the last owner of the house. He was an industrialist in the pharmaceutical trade and an influential man in the city. Col. Wyley bequeathed the house to the people of the city after his death in 1940. The Charterhouse was then used for a number of purposes by Coventry City Council, including that of a college, until 2010 when it was decided to sell on the open market. After significant protestations by the local community, Charterhouse Coventry Preservation Trust was formed and Charterhouse ownership was transferred to it in November 2011. In 2015, The Charterhouse Coventry Preservation Trust became the Historic Coventry Trust.

A contemporary view of #SS028



Most of the Coventry area lies within the River Avon catchment. The other main rivers are the Sowe, the Sherbourne and the Blythe, while in the northeast, drainage is into the River Anker system. The River Sherbourne, canalised here, runs through the site, with the Charterhouse to the east.  The river has created a shallow valley, running north to south. Alluvial landscapes are rich for the formation of sonic emissions and a short way up the river is the site of Blue Coats School, a specialist music college which might explain some of the richness of the music on this site.

The lost village of Bisseley (later Shortley) lay somewhere not far from where we site our field tent. In the 12th C. Bissley Mill was located about 100 yards upstream of the Sherbourne Bridge. Later known as the Charterhouse Mill it was only demolished in the 1930s. Part of the village may lie under the Charterhouse and its grounds. The NISG posit that there may well be sounds of this medieval settlement emanating from underneath the ground.



Broadly speaking, the bedrock lithologies in this area of Central Coventry are dominated by red-brown sandstones and mudstones (or clay), with most Carboniferous, Permian and Triassic formations consisting of interbedded sequences of these two lithologies. Geological reports suggest that the prevalent rock is the red-brown Carbonifereous Coventry Sandstone.

The geological sequence of solid rock formations known in the area range in age from Cambrian to Jurassic, while the superficial (drift) deposits are of Quaternary age. The whole area was glaciated in Quaternary times, and there are extensive outcrops of glacial drift. Post-glacial river terrace deposits and alluvium occur along the main river valleys which is possibly why we’re detecting some similar emanations to those in other parts of the United Kingdom (although every Sounding Space is distinct and different).

‘Sandstone’ lithologies vary widely from very strong, massive and cemented, to weakly-cemented, friable and flaggy, and may include several bands of conglomerate and breccia. Strong sandstones are those found within the Arden Sandstone, Keele Formation, Coventry Sandstone and other formations are frequently cemented by iron oxides, which breaks down on weathering (as is evidenced in the brickwork of the surrounding walls of the Monk’s Pond). The massive sandstones, in particular those found in the Coventry Sandstone, are often separated into large, discrete blocks by near vertical joints. These clay-filled joints might be an important feature when considering sonic permeability – is Coventry Sandstone particularly good for sonic porosity or is it such a rich sounding space because of the historic nature of this site? Or are they two part of a symbiotic feedback loop? [EXCELLENT WORK HERE HILDEGARD S.B.]



Charterhouse will be opening once again to the public later in 2022.

The NISG team hypothesise that recent archaeological work and building construction on the Charterhouse undertaken in the environs of this sounding space have stimulated the conversational, melodic, ambient and proto-historic sonic phenomena through its (careful) disturbance of the underground strata. This proliferation of sonic ‘hot spots’ demonstrates that the Coventry CHARTERHOUSE is one in series of a deeply significant Heritage sites in the Coventry area which is of NATIONAL IMPORTANCE.


Blue Coat C of E School and Music College is situated very near to the site – could sounds emanating from the music practice rooms and have percolated into rock/alluvial drift and folding?


SOUNDING SPACE Marble Hill House #027
Notes compiled by Roger Millington and Dr. Stella Barrows

The Marble Hill House Sounding Space lies near to the great tidal River, the Thames. Occupation and activity in the immediate area of Twickenham can be traced back thousands of years, from Early Neolithic (possibly Mesolithic) settlements, through to Bronze Age, Iron Age and Roman and Norman occupations. It seems the area was first mentioned as “Tuican hom” and “Tuiccanham” (in writing at least) in the 8thCentury. Previous to the building and landscaping of the 18th century, the site was farmed for several hundred years and the banks of the river being used for fishing and trade. 
The NISG team posit that recent archaeological work undertaken by English Heritage in the environs of this park have stimulated conversational, melodic, ambient and proto-historic sonic phenomena through its (careful) disturbance of the underground strata. This proliferation of sonic ‘hot spots’ demonstrates that Marble Hill House is clearly a deeply significant site. 

Marble Hill was named after a “shot” - a term for a parcel of land and not the geological content of the bedrock beneath! The estate was built on land acquired for Henrietta Howard (1689-1767) who became the Countess of Suffolk and was the mistress of George II for sixteen years. Henrietta became the darling of Georgian society and was courted by the greatest wits, poets and intellectuals of the age. 
Building started on Marble Hill House in 1724 and was completed in about 1729. The house, designed in the newly fashionable Palladian manner was built under the supervision of Roger Morris, the gardens laid out by Charles Bridgeman, aided by her great friend Alexander Pope. Henrietta established the house as the liveliest social centre outside of court and the circle of famous people became known as ‘The Twickenham Set’ – Pope wrote ‘There is a greater court now at Marble Hill than at Kensington’. 
Pope and his friends Jonathan Swift and John Gay showed an interest both in Mrs Howard (and her wine cellar), which, during the summer of 1727, it is said they emptied. Pope regarded Mrs Howard as that rare being, “a reasonable woman, handsome and witty, yet a friend”. 
After an abusive first marriage, Henrietta was happily married in later life to politician George Berkeley. In later years Horace Walpole became a close friend, enjoying the pleasures of gossip over strawberries and cream. However, lest we only write about this woman in terms of her relationship to ‘great men’, Henrietta Howard was an extraordinary witty, accomplished and resilient woman in her own right and an advocate for women.

Marble Hill house was set in an ‘Arcadian’ landscape inspired by representations of ancient Greece and Rome. 
At least one grotto was constructed in the grounds and one still survives. A nine-pin bowling alley which was built over 250 years ago was discovered by more ‘traditional’ archaeologists than our affiliate organisation The National Institute for Sonic Archaeology (NISA) in 2017.
NOTE: Jonathan Swift thought that Henrietta’s gardener, Moody, passed too much time spending his wages drinking in the Dog and Partridge.

Alluvial landscapes are rich for the formation of sonic emissions.
The London Basin was formed during the Paleogene period from sedimentary rocks which were deposited when the land was submerged under the sea. Chalk was laid down first followed by sand, gravel, silts and clay. The gravelly and sandy soils found here are free draining overlying acid rocks, and is a common feature of many parts of London, and so becomes an integral part of lowland heath landscapes, commons and parklands.This soil type is well-known for it’s sonic porosity.
The flow of the River Thames dropped Kesgrave Sands and Gravels along its massive ancient river bed, and has transported puddingstones and sarsens, quartzes and gravels, all of which are well-known for their ability to trap sonic phenomena within their crystalline structures, a phenomenon explained by Dr Stella Barrows in her seminal paper Rocking Radiophony – Crystalline Induction in Sonic Geology.
One would assume that this were enough to explain the abundance of proto-historic musical, industrial and conversational sonic phenomena found in the Marble Hill House and surrounding Park area, such as the ‘singing’ of the ancient riverbed, the ‘sonic sermons’ recorded from beneath the nearby churches, the repeated campanological bell patterns, the geological historical echoes of ancient battles.
It is suggested that this geological fault-line, and the ‘London Basin’ acts to focus subterranean sonic phenomena in the manner of a ‘speaker cone’, allowing for detection of Deep Sound by means of NISG Ear Trumpet technology, and that this should be the focus of NISG investigations in the area.
It has been suggested that this may also have released detectable sonic phenomena, in the manner of repeated echo-type, induction, and auricular events.

In 1713 the nave of the ancient and local St Marys Church collapsed and the church was rebuilt in the neo-classical style. The St Marys Church tower has a ring of eight bells, of which one dates from the early 16th century, three from the 17th and four from the 18th and they are likely to be some of the loudest sounds audible in this area of London during Henrietta Howards lifetime. 

Unrelated to our listening activities, it is worthy of note that Henrietta Howard herself was a famous early adopter of Ear Trumpet technology, although this was due to her hearing loss than her commitment to sonic geology (though she was an extremely clever woman and who knows where her passions and curiosity would have taken her!). 
In a short and complementary poem about Henrietta’s positive attributes, Pope concludes with a rather mean stanza about Henrietta’s deafness:
'Has she no faults then (Envy says), Sir?'
Yes, she has one, I must aver:
When all the world conspires to praise her,
The woman's deaf, and does not hear.
However, Henrietta did ‘hear’ in many ways, was a keen observer of body language and was known as ‘The Swiss’ for her neutrality and the confidences she kept. In her later years she continued to be known for her great wit and good company.


Chollerford, Northumberland

Notes compiled by Percival Denny
Edited by Dr. Stella Barrows

The visible remains of Chesters Roman Fort comprise a headquarters, the commanding officers house and the best-preserved military bath house in Britain.
The fort guarded Chesters Bridge, which carried the Roman Road behind the wall across the North Tyne River. Although the bridge is long gone, the massive abutments survive. ‘Cilurnum’ (as it was known by the Romans), was a cavalry fort for over 200 years. There was also a thriving civilian settlement outside the fort in the second and third centuries. The fort lay empty after the Romans departure from Britain in the early fifth century, but between 1843 and 1890 the antiquary John Clayton excavated many hundreds of items from the site and the surrounding area.

Because of its proximity to the river, sonic phenomena in the area are likely to have been generated by the movement of subterranean water and the sedimentation of sound within alluvial deposits.

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, marching and horses.

The area around Hexham and Chollerford lies on stone from the Yoredale Group, which consists of limestone, sandstone, siltstone and mudstone.
Organised quarrying and extraction of stone in Northumberland on a large scale commenced during the Roman occupation, with the construction of Hadrian’s Wall (begun in AD 122), and its associated forts and associated forts, milecastles and turrets. Romans selected sandstone as the main construction material and together with limestone for making lime mortar, the sandstone was obtained from various quarries along the course of the Wall (there are rare examples of quarries near to Chollerford which can be identified as being of Roman origin).
Following the departure of the Romans, Hadrian’s Wall provided a ready source of building stone, and the distinctive squared blocks produced by the Roman masons are today recognisable in a range of structures, including castles, churches, farm buildings and even drystone walls.[1]
The solid geology of Northumberland is dominated by Carboniferous sediments. These sandstones and limestones have been quarried extensively for building purposes throughout Northumberland, and their use in vernacular architecture contributes much to the variety of the local built heritage and landscape. In his report on Otterburn and Elsdon, Miller (1887, p. 122) noted that the area was ‘... remarkable for the abundance of excellent building-stone existing in the freestones and grits of the Carboniferous Formation. There is scarcely an estate in which quarries might not be opened.’
The Carboniferous sediments have been intruded by a number of distinct igneous rocks and it is suggested that this geological trait of the landscape might cause a sonic buffering effect – which ultimately collects and reflects the sound back to the ground level, releasing 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 quarrying in terms of the release of new data and the stimulation of hitherto unknown Deep Stratum sonic activity.

There is a Neolithic cup-marked rock which has been built into the Chesters Roman Bridge abutment, but traces of the original setting for this stone has been long lost through it’s reuse by Roman builders. Its presence makes it seem likely there was some settlement in the area. A number of later Bronze Age burials have been found in the parish including one found when the Railway was built at Chollerford and the earliest evidence of a prehistoric settlement in the area dates to the Iron Age with a defended settlement above the village of Wall with six houses inside an enclosure. 


The Church of St. Giles in Chollerton, is around two miles from our site, just north of Hadrian’s Wall. It was built in the 12th Century and consists of a chancel, nave, aisles, south porch and a tower, heightened by the addition of a belfry stage, containing two bells, only one of which is currently ringable. The older bell was made by Thomas Mears of the Whitechapel bell foundry of London in 1791.
Four large Roman columns, believed to come from Cilurnum, may be seen supporting the south aisle in the church of St Giles at Chollerton, a couple of miles upstream from the fort. There is also a Roman alter which has been re-used as a font.
Subterranean shifts in the geology that have in turn allowed remarkable sonic phenomena to be detected and recorded, particularly in the area of Chesters Roman Fort. A late 10th or 11th century Anglo-Saxon cross has also been built into the walls of the church.  Fewer than 30 people inhabit Chollerton now, although in Victorian times it had a population of over 5000. Farming and quarrying have dominated this area for centuries.

Subterranean shifts in the geology, possibly caused by the local quarrying, have allowed remarkable sonic phenomena to be detected and recorded, particularly in the area of Chesters Roman Fort.
Hadrian’s Wall may have been a site of conflict, including for retaliatory raids into barbarian areas north of the wall during Roman times, but also later conflicts with the Scots and border families (The Reivers) took place in the surrounding area. Such highly charged sonic events may well have percolated into the surrounding rock.

The Sounding Space has active status as a Scheduled Monument. As one might expect; this site has a rich history! As mentioned, occupation and activity in the immediate area can be traced back thousands of years.

The Clayton Museum, at the edge of the site, displays hundreds of archeological objects. John Clayton, the man largely responsible for saving significant portions of Hadrian’s Wall in the 19th Century, bought sections of the Wall to save the monument from stone robbing and quarrying and carried out extensive archaeological excavations.

NOTE: A key research question surrounds 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.

[1] We have found this desecration of ancient standing stones in numerous places around Great Britain; as an example Avebury where sarsen stones were smashed by the Puritans of the late 17th and early 18th Centuries and used for house building




Sonic Geology is an emerging science. Despite the importance of our work to humankind’s understanding of the Natural World, we still face unjustified scepticism and even physical threats in some quarters, from rival organisations and those who find our approach too challenging to their established world view.
This has led to severe funding limitations for our work, and the need for us to recruit Citizen Scientists of all ages and backgrounds in order to investigate sonic phenomena as and when they appear.
The following is intended as a guide for the recruitment of Citizen Scientists at the Sounding Space.

When recruiting Citizen Scientists, the following Induction is suggested:

1.  Approach the potential Citizen Scientist with a warm smile.

2.  Introduce yourself.

3.  Ensure that you use the correct NISG accreditation: Roger Millington, NISG, pleased to meet you!

4.  Explain acronym where necessary and our motto: Audiendo Ad Terram: Listening to the Earth.

5.  A handshake may be proffered where appropriate, and should be firm and authoritative (NB avoid any excessive gripping, particularly of the frail or elderly).

6.  Initiate research discussion: Have you heard about the sonic experiment we are conducting here today?

7.  Explain Research Context for the Sounding Space

8.   Add folkloric elements where necessary to secure successful recruitment, but always stress the serious scientific nature of our enquiry:

We are Scientists, we have no truck with mythology; we are interested in cold, hard facts. However, it does appear that there may be some grain of truth in these old stories and tall tales.
As our research has progressed we have discovered that indeed it may be the case that over time, sometimes hundreds or even thousands of years, sound can become trapped in the folds of the earth, seeded, percolated and imprinted in the rocks beneath our feet.
Often, some Earth Trauma, mining perhaps, an earthquake or excess of Geomantic Earth Energy, seems to release these sounds, allowing us to detect them, catalogue them and analyse them. Just a few days ago we received a call saying just such a phenomenon was occurring here. And our primary method of detection and recording is the Ear Trumpet.
We are a small but dedicated band of researchers, and we have only limited funding, so if you would like to join us as Citizen Scientists we would be very grateful for your help.

9.  Demonstrate Ear Trumpet technology:

It is really very simple. Sweep, Plant and Linger! Hold the earpiece to your ear and Sweep the ground in the manner of a metal detector. If you happen to detect a sonic phenomenon, simply Plant the trumpet on the earth and Linger while you listen. My colleagues will be happy to help you record your findings.
We have discovered that each individual researcher seems drawn to a particular Trumpet that suits them. If you will permit me, I would like to show you some of this cutting edge technology and then you can make your choice:

  10.    Ear Trumpet Selectiononly available on site, assisted by Roger Millington

Sonic Investigator Hildegard Brunel demonstrating 'Ear Trumpet' technology


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
022     Oil Tank Culture Park, Seoul, South Korea
023     Pforzheim, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
024     Morecambe, Nr. Midland Hotel
025     Wentworth Woodhouse, South Yorkshire
026     Chesters Roman Fort, Northumberland
027     Marble Hill House, Twickenham, London
028     Charterhouse, Coventry

*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).