Deskford carnyx (reconstruction by John Creed). The carnyx was a Celtic war trumpet, known throughout northern Europe and as far east as India. Fragments survive in France and Germany; it is shown in full on the Gunderstrup bowl (c 200 BC) and it appears on many Roman period coins. But the original of this particular instrument dates from about 200 AD and was found in north-east Scotland. It, and John Creed’s brilliant reconstruction, can be seen in the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.
 
 
 
Smoo Cave Carnyx
(John Kenny: Deskford carnyx)
Track 23 from The Kilmartin Sessions: The Sounds of Ancient Scotland (excerpt) 1:40
 
 
The carnyx is one of the most sophisticated musical instrument of all time. The incredible workmanship in the hand-beaten bronze tube leads up to the superbly stylized image of a wild boar’s head with raised crest, gaping moveable jaw, lolling tongue, alert ears and red enamel eyes. Head vertically, the sound issues from about four meters above the ground, over the noise of battle. The power of the tone makes this one of the loudest instruments ever made, eminently suited warfare. But it has an attendant majesty, as well as many more unearthly qualities, fully exploited here by John Kenny in the eerie acoustics of Smoo cave, complete with running water and startled birds (from the liner notes of the original booklet).
 
© 2015 EMAP - European Music Archaeology Project

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