March 2014, Isle of Iona, The Ringing Rock

RR Iona 1 copy

Rock gongs, lithophones, or ringing rocks are found worldwide and are large, often stand -alone rocks which have an inherent ringing sound, released when struck by a smaller stone. The use of rock gongs undoubtedly goes back into prehistory as a means to summon people to gather for ritual, worship and in times of danger. There are two known rock gongs on Iona and one of them lies on the shoreline just north east of the site the original Columban monastery. We’ll never know if the early monks knew or used the rock, but knowledge of it has always been held on the island up to the modern day.

John Purser, the musicologist recorded the Iona ringing rock, played by some visiting Druids to the island.

There wasn’t such ritual attached to our attempt to draw some sound from this stone, but we did manage to elicit the distinctive ring that gives the rock its name.

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