Musical Stones of Skiddaw

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The Musical Stones of Skiddaw at the Keswick Museum and Art Gallery

The Musical Stones of Skiddaw are a number of lithophones built across two centuries around the town of Keswick, northern England, using hornfels, a stone from the nearby Skiddaw mountain.

The first documented lithophone from Keswick was built in 1785 by Peter Crosthwaite, an eccentric inventor who became interested in the musical properties of the local stone. However, this kind of instruments became widely known only decades later, when in 1840 Joseph Richardson, a local stonemason and self-taught musician, built a larger, eight-octave lithophone with which he and his sons toured the UK and Europe giving numerous concerts, including one in London for Queen Victoria.[1]

Richardson's lithophone, later enhanced with steel bars, Swiss bells and various other percussions, survives to this day and is on display at the Keswick Museum and Art Gallery.


  1. ^ "The Musical Stones of Skiddaw". Allerdale Borough Council. Retrieved 13 Jul 2014.