ALTHOUGH this year’s summer solstice will take place this Saturday, 20 June, while the UK remains locked down, children can still experience the sounds, music and art that surround the rituals of the year’s longest day from home.

While Stonehenge itself will be closed for the solstice, you can watch it virtually from home, and in that spirit, Professor Rupert Till of the University of Huddersfield has created a range of free home learning resources to help children explore what has taken place at the world-famous site in Wiltshire for 5,000 years. 

Study Music and Music Technology at Huddersfield

Professor Till and his team created the Soundgate app, which gives children the chance to travel back in time to immerse themselves in the sounds and sights of Stonehenge, as well as other ancient societies and civilisations.

The app is part of a range of activities for children in the new resource pack, which includes a set of step-by-step worksheets that explore how people used Stonehenge to celebrate the longest day of the year, and what the rituals and celebrations may have sounded and looked like.

With the app, children can take a virtual ‘walk-through’ of Stonehenge to hear the sounds that could have been heard amongst the stones those many years ago.  The worksheets enable them to build their own stone circle or prehistoric cave and make simple musical instruments that are similar to those played by our ancestors.  Others can make a drinking straw airbrush, and learn how to use it to make cave paintings, just like people did 25,000 years ago.  They can also explore a Roman theatre and hear reconstructed Roman musical instruments.

The resources are aimed at 7 to 11-year-old children, with adults helping.  They have been adapted from the project’s existing resource pack for Key Stage 2 teachers, supporting learning in History, Music, Drama, and Science, which is also still available.

Professor Till is an expert in sound archaeology, and as ‘Professor Chill’ he writes and performs ambient music with roots in the music of ancient civilisations from around the world.

“For more than 5,000 years, people have collected at Stonehenge to mark the longest day of the year,” says Professor Till.  “Rituals held in the stone circle nowadays involve music, like most human ceremonies.”

“We have produced a fun set of easy-to-use worksheets aimed at home-schooling children during lockdown, that allow young people to connect with the music and art cultures of our ancestors, including the solstice at Stonehenge, cave art and music in prehistory, and the culture of the Romans.”