First visit to Victoria Cave

Victoria Cave itself is acoustically really subtle, with some nice resonances in the deeper narrow tunnel.  Most striking however is a lovely echo when facing the mountain wall.  It’s a beautiful cave with amazing forms, textures and shapes.


First visit to Yordas Cave

After a long wait, I was finally able to visit some caves in the Yorkshire Dales with the help of some very special assistants!

Yordas Cave has a large ~50meter long limestone chamber and waterfall at the end that causes a mighty drone - sounds like thousands of voices.

After much looping and listening to the first fieldrecording, there is a distinct bass melody in the murmer!

This is definitely a singing cave...


First visit to Dowkerbottom Cave

I am in love with this pothole cave! Hidden away and mysterious, with beautiful reverb in it’s belly.  We visited the first two chambers that  aparently connect with more deeper on (but need to pass through deeper water so I was not prepared to do that with my MixPre Sounddevices.  That would need more planning... In future, I will bring the hydraphones with.

Still, the reverb is audible from deeper on.  This is by far the acoustically most exciting cave I have visited so far. 

Aparently, 2 crouched human burials and other human remains were found here, Neolithic or Bronze Age flints, bone combs, Romano-British pottery, coins, brooches, as well as the bones of various animals including red deer, bear, horse and dog.


The Witches Valley and the Cumaean Sibyl Cave - Prof Iannace, Umberto Berardi and Amelia Trematerra.

I am terribly excited to receive these acoustic measurements from Prof Gino Innace and his team.  The website will be undergoing some dramatic changes this year to do these amazing world heritage sites justice.  

For now you can head over to the Acoustic Atlas globe and fly to Italy to find The Witches Valley as well as the  Cumaean Sibyl Cave.

“According to the legend, witches were women with magical knowledge that with the use of herbs cured illnesses and performed spells. In 1639, the book “De Nuce Maga Beneventana” described how the place where the “witches” gathered was an area south of the city of Benevento in South Italy in a long and narrow gorge. This valley with high rock walls was called the “stretto di Barba”. According to the legend, under a walnut tree in the “stretto di Barba”, the Longobards were used to perform sacred rituals. To make the rituals more effective, the sounds were amplified by the narrow gorge with flat and parallel rock walls”. Researched and recorded by Gino Iannace, Umberto Berardi, and Amelia Trematerra.

“The Cumaean Sibyl cave is a mythological place in the north of Naples, where the
Sibyl, a priestess presiding over the Apollonian oracle, received the travellers and
predicted their future. The cave is length about 140 m, with trapezoidal section
excavated in the rock of tuff. The cave has a height of about 4.5 m and it is 2.4 m wide. The legend says that the Sibyl received the travellers in the final part of the cave”. (Prof. Gino Iannace and Umberto Berardi)


Building the Acoustic Atlas Community

One of the main goals of Acoustic Atlas is to get acoustic data from heritage acoustic researchers to expand the data base and build awareness and community around this topic.

So far Acoustic Atlas has reached out to various groups and I will post a weekly update of researchers who will join.

For the first premiere of Acoustic Atlas at the Webaudio conference 2019 in Trondheim, MSC researcher Dr. Lidia Alvarez’s Cathedral Acoustics generously provided room inpulse response recordings of Bristol Cathedral, Ely Cathedral, York Minster Cathedral and Ripon Cathedral. Listen here. 

Lidia is a specialist in architectural acoustics and the acoustics of heritage buildings. She has extensive knowledge of acoustics analysis and virtual acoustics. What you hear in this first version for each cathedral, are single point source/listener impulse response positions. Lidia’s measurements, include much finer details than are presented inside the Acoustic Atlas. Read more about her research, detailed source/listener positions and analysis for each site that she worked on. I hope to collaborate with Lidia in the future, to add more source/listener positions for each cathedral and learn a lot more about the vast acoustic nuances she discovered and focused on. 


Acoustic Atlas kicks off its collaboration with the University of York

Looking forward to two years of developing this project, together with Dr Mariana Lopez in the Department of Theatre, Film, Television & Interactive Media and some advisors and collaborators in the Audio Lab, at the University of York.   

The first stages of Acoustic Atlas will be to visit the first 3 sites: Yordas Cave, Victoria Cave and Ingleborough Cave.

The UK Caving community has already been extremely friendly and helpful giving advise and assisting planning. The Yorkshire Dales National Park has given a green light for the field work to continue. Ingleborough management is also supportive! 

Now the real challenges are to vist and plan the recording process.
Acoustic measurements in caves need a lot of consideration. 

In parallel, I am sending out the first invitations to archaeoacousticians to contribue their work. 

The acoustic web application is also undergoing a make-over. I hope to have the new version up and running by the end of the year.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No 897905.

© 2020 Cobi van Tonder
Cultivating the Capacity to Listen