Sound mirror talk and exhibition in Ramsgate

Sonic reflections

09/09/2020 | 5 p.m.

East Cliff Bandstand, Wellington Crescent, Ramsgate

This talk will see guest speakers discussing their experience in researching the history & archaeology of sound mirrors & acoustic detection in Kent. Please be aware the event will be subject to social distancing.


Peter Osborne was involved in publishing Richard Scarth’s important work on acoustic detection “Echoes From the Sky” & has conducted much personal research on the subject for books & articles.

Robert Hall has researched sound mirrors & contributed to publications on acoustic detection. He was also instrumental in assisting the National Trust’s excavation of the Fan Bay sound mirrors in Dover, 2014.


….is happening along with

Echoes: sound mirrors exhibition

10/09/2020 | noon

East Cliff Bandstand, Wellington Crescent, Ramsgate
This exhibition assesses the history of Kent’s coastal sound mirrors & their role in an unusual history of acoustic detection, for which the East Kent Coast played such a crucial part.


Sound mirrors at the Ramsgate Festival of Sound 2020

The East Kent Coast Discovery Programme has received Arts Council funding to host an exhibition and installation on sound mirrors as part of the Ramsgate Festival of Sound.

Echoes explores the archaeology of sound by looking at Kent’s coastal sound mirrors, spherical dishes built in the early 20thC to reflect & concentrate soundwaves. Providing an early warning system against incoming aircraft they could approximate location & distance, helping to pave the way for radar positioning. By inviting guests to interact live with an immersive installation & sound piece using built acoustic mirrors, Echoes raises questions about sound, archaeology & human experience.

The event will be at the Eastcliff Bandstand, Ramsgate, CT11 8JL, from Thursday 10 September until Sunday 13 September 2020.

Re)collecting (f)ears sound mirror art events

re)collecting (f)ears is a series of site-specific performances at fallen sound mirrors across the Kent coast. The project will culminate with a publication produced by Well Projects and an exhibition of photographic & film documentation, exhibited at ]performance s p a c e [ (Folkestone) and Well Projects (Margate).

These sonic remains are physical manifestations of pre-war tensions and fears – initially built to provide defence, they are now succumbing to elemental erosive forces along the coasts of England. As relics of an early warning system that never came to fruition, their failure to serve their intended function could be seen to occupy the space of a fossilised mourning for a future that never came.

More on Facebook and at selinabonelli‘s website. It seems there is something happening in Folkestone on 14 and/or 21 September 2019.

There have been events on Thursday 15 August 2019 at the Warden Point sound mirror from 13:45 to 20:08:

And before that at the Hythe sound mirror from 12:00 to 17:10 on Sunday 15 July 2019, at and Abbot’s Cliff from 11:08 to 18:34 on Sunday 16 June 2019.

Sound mirror poem

Sound Mirror, a Denge sound mirror inspired poem by Derek Adams at Places of Poetry:

“It does not stand on the marsh.
It does not sit in the landscape.

Places of Poetry “aims to use creative writing to prompt reflection on national and cultural identities in England and Wales, celebrating the diversity, heritage and personalities of place. The site is open for writers to pin their poems to places from 31st May to 4 October 2019.”

“Bombing the Channel Ports” by Eric Ravilious, then and now

A comparison of the 1941 watercolour painting “Bombing the Channel Ports” by war artist Eric Ravilious, and the same view of the Abbott’s Cliff sound mirror on 13 August 2017.

Bombing the Channel Ports
Bombing the Channel Ports © IWM (Art.IWM ART LD 1588)

The painting is described by the Imperial War Museum as showing “a deserted coastal road that leads past an ‘acoustic mirror’ early warning device. In the top right of the composition there are searchlights beaming up into the sky, and a large circular glow of light to one side.”

Abbot’s Cliff sound mirror art review

Abbot’s Cliff Sound Mirror – Strait of Dover is a picture of a “sound mirror” built during the World War II era for the purpose of amplifying the noise of approaching aircraft. […] Beam’s camera translates light and shadow into a negative, and then a print, the sound mirror takes what is unheard out of thin air and translates it to something we can hear. The old Zen question about the tree falling in the woods is meditative, but it is also scientific: If there is no one around to hear it, it definitively does not make a sound. Similarly, if there is no eye, there is no image.

The effectiveness of Beam’s pursuit is deepened by Section of Abbot’s Cliff Sound Mirror, prints made from charcoal rubbings of the stone mirror itself. […]
Source: “Robert Collier Beam: Scry” at Pump Project, The Austin Chronicle, 26 May 2017.

Covenant names new single Sound Mirrors

Covenant single Sound Mirrors

Swedish band Covenant has announced that its new single to be released on 26 August 2016 will be called ‘Sound Mirrors’. Music publisher Dependent says:

Covenant’s new single ‚Sound Mirrors’ gives us a first impression of their forthcoming album “The Blinding Dark”. For the first time ever, the Swedes address distinctly topical events in world politics: the refugee crisis with its accompanying hysteria and the anxiety about the future of a European continent that looks forward into uncertainty.

Sound Mirrors were acoustic mirrors that looked like giant stone ears, placed along the Englisch coast between 1916 and 1930 in order warn of approaching planes or war ships. Their elliptical shape bundled acoustic signals, and they were considered to be both technological and constructional masterpieces. Faster planes and especially the invention of radar made sound mirrors obsolete later on, so today, they are merely stone witnesses of bygone times along the southern and north-eastern coasts of England. The reference tot he refugee crisis and creeping radicalisation of Europe becomes particularly obvious when hearing Covenant’s lyrics for the corresponding song.

Musically, the band does not miss out on anything, delivering a club smasher that harks back to single classics such as ‚Stalker’ or ‚Last Dance’. While unusual splashes of colour enhance the overall picture, ‚Sound Mirrors’ is bound to become an enduring earworm that will soon set dancefloors aflame.

Band member Joakim Montelius wrote on the band’s Facebook page on 25 June 2016:

I was reading an article about this British pre-WWII project for early warning from attacks across the Channel, called Sound Mirrors. They were designed to amplify incoming sound from enemy aircraft enough to allow the defence to take them out before they could pose a serious threat. It was an elaborate and ingenious design, expensive as well, and it was rendered obsolete by the advent of radar.

My reading coincided with the refugee situation in Europe. The fact that we all knew about the reasons for it since years, without doing anything to help, made me think of this pattern. How we, humans in general, do everything in our power to try and predict future threats. That ability to anticipate possible scenarios is of course key to our survival, from an evolutionary point of view. [More…]