A nearly complete 1st century BCE carnyx found in 2004 at Tintignac, France (the one in the left picture, with a reconstruction in the right). Fashioned as a snarling boar, the carnyx was a war horn used by the Iron Age Celts between c. 200 BCE and c. 200 CE


fun fact, the first reconstruction of the carnyx was built in Scotland in the early 90s, and John Kenny brought it to my dad’s photographic studio (our house) to have publicity pictures taken. I was very very young, but I had a precocious interest in history, and Kenny showed me the detailed boar’s head, which had an articulated tongue that would give the effect of a subtle ululation when it was played. He played it for us in our garden, and I can still remember the sound. It sounded like a trumpet, if a trumpet was a wild prehistoric animal capable of throwing back its head and howling. It sounded like something great and tusked and angry and brass that knew what blood was and wanted it.


I don’t know how old I was when I heard it, I think it must have been after its debut at the museum, but I do remember Kenny telling us we were among a very small handful of people who had heard the carnyx in 2,000 years. I remember my nextdoor neighbour’s pigeons all taking off from his loft, and the wide silence that rang out afterwards, that more often came in the wake of foghorns from the harbour. I wonder, in retrospect, what all those people packed around us in their tenements in the poor part of Leith thought they’d heard. what does an ancient celtic war horn sounds like, floating through the window while you’re doing the dishes?


here’s what it sounds like. holy shit




Now imagine what a whole bunch of these would sound like, played together before the start of a battle.


It sounds like something that ought to be in, like, Barad-Dur’s ambience music

it sounds like the megafauna ancestor of the bagpipe, which I guess it technically is

it sounds very much *alive*


#…it does #history #music #this post was queued because my to-reblog list is too long and I didn’t want to dump it on you all at once

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