For Whom the Drum Beats

The famous and mysterious Drumming Well was located in the lovely English village of Oundle.


Soldiers who camped in the area commented that the mysterious drum beats mimicked the cadence of famous marches. 

In ancient England, in the central part, there was once a deep, intrusive, drum beat that commenced, it seemed, in the days before important British happenings.  The eerie drum beats often continued for weeks before events such as the deaths of Charles II and James II, the kings, and other important people.  The noise was present before deaths of prominent nearby village members.

     The drum beats also preceded England’s deadly battles with France and other countries.  What did they sound like?  Soldiers who camped in the area where the drum beats were first heard, commented that the beats mimicked the cadence of famous marches.     

     It took a while to actually get to the cause of the drum beats.  Science had to evolve.  It was an underground well, forty feet below the surface–opening on the side of a hill.  It was a bizarre coincidence that the drum beats could only occur when the forty foot well was filled with six to eleven feet of water. 

The sounds were made by trapped bubbles caused by the filtered-down falling rain-water.  When the bubbles rose to the surface they created resonance in the underground chambers that seemed to amplify when reaching the outside.  Were the predictions being caused by heavy rains, then, instead of by the drumbeats they generated?  Maybe rain did have a connection with death and battles.

     The Helmholtz Resonance is the effect named for Hermann von Helmholtz in the 1850s—drumming pitch is determined by the size of the opening and the volume of air.  The Drumming Well at Oundle became a famous legend, as it truly did seem to have powers of prediction.  One day it was covered over, for safety precautions.

     In Northhamptonshire, today’s Oundle is a lovely market town constructed of salvaged stone.  The River Nane goes around it on three sides and the location of the old Drumming Well is behind the Talbot Hotel.

     Sometimes capping a well creates even more strange noises, as the Lavacicle Cave in central Oregon.   Hairline gaps in the well cap have caused whistling noises that confuse unaware bystanders.  The whistling is produced by the air currents, tiny winds, beneath the earth.

     In fact, many of these whistling, drumming wells exist in Oregon, because of the geology of the area.  One creative woman has piped well-air into her greenhouse to create a constant temperature.

    It may seem odd, but you will understand if you have ever lived in an old house with very old plumbing.  Sometimes the hammering seems to continue long after the water has gone through the pipes.

Sara Marie Hogg is the author It Rises from the Pee Dee. Please click HERE to find the book on Amazon.

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