The Buzz

Further reports on the hummadruz

My two-part article on the hummadruz in NE 70 & 71 excited greater reader feedback than we have ever had before in the long history of the magazine. If is quite apparent that we stirred up a hornets’ nest of experiences, and that the hummadruz is one of those damned things whose time may have come round at last!

Though it is not a common experience, our response shows that we have moved from a smattering of isolated reports to an experience that, as Gilbert White noted two hundred years ago, should be accepted as one of the natural – if mysterious – phenomena of the environment.

Several people continue to ask me what I think the hummadruz is, though I have no more idea than they do! I do tend, however, to feel the ‘true’ hummadruz is heard outdoors, and that indoor hums and buzzes are likely to be related to electronic pollution and electro-sensitivity.

My thanks go out to all the people who have sent in their reports, and I hope that some day these and others like them will lead to some further understanding of the hummadruz. In the meantime, channels are still open, and I would be glad to hear of other experiences of and suggestions about this curious sound.

The following is just a selection of the reports we have received; unfortunately, we have had to heavily edit these for space reasons, for which we apologise to our correspondents.

John Billingsley

Anne Hewland, Brighouse:

The hummadruz article (NE 70) was fascinating as my husband and two sons experienced something similar this year

March 29th 1997 at St Non’s Well, near St David’s, Pembrokeshire. I was there too and couldn’t hear a thing. My husband thought it was bees and there were some bees in the gorse, which I could hear; he said he could hear those bees too but that the other buzzing was louder. Of the conditions mentioned – it was a calm and sunny day, we were on hills sloping down to the sea and were of course at an ancient site [the nearby chapel stands within a ring of stones – eds].

Kiri, Newcastle-upon-Tyne:

In response to your article on the hummadruz, here are some experiences I recall from the Yorkshire Dales:

Malham: While sitting beside Janet’s Foss; I had been swimming in the pool at the foot of this small tufa waterfall and was lingering while dressing. I heard what I thought was the sound of a swarm of bees in the distance. In those days, being asthmatic, I was very frightened of being stung by bees or wasps; I sped up the path to the road and no longer heard the sound.

Gordale Scar: The dry valley above which I used to get to Malham Tarn. Sitting down one day eating sandwiches I heard the hum again, but this time as I was in wide-open upland I did not run away. I sat and finished my meal, thinking about the pleasure of the hum and fell asleep. On waking I was aware the sound was no longer there and I felt I had forgotten something special that I had encountered in my sleep.

Ingleton: Near the Ingleton village end of the Waterfall Walk, I was lying back on a bank on a warm summer day. The noise slowly impinged on my mind and ears. I was not afraid, but happy to hear it. As I lay I meditated on nature’s gifts and was at ease.Suddenly I shot upright because the sound was very intense; I walked to the stream and started skimming pebbles. At the water’s edge the sound died away. After what seemed a considerable time it was no longer there.

Andy & Carol Norfolk, Cornwall

I heard the hummadruz yesterday (6-7-97). The Cornish EMG went for one of our summer walks to Zennor Quoit and Trebdrine Hill on the north coast to the W of St Ives. It was a glorious sunny day with a cloudless sky and no wind. We walked up to the Quoit from near Eagles Nest. It is close to the 222m contour. When we got to the quoit it was quiet; I didn’t notice any noise except a lot of chatter. Most of us then walked to Sperris Quoit and then on to the top of Trendrine Hill where there is a trig point at 247m ASL. Carol, who stayed on her own at Zennor Quoit, heard a loud humming/buzzing noise as if there were large numbers of bees or other insects flying around. Of course there were hardly any to be seen. Carol and I have kept bees in the past and the noise was very like a contented hive, but there were no bees nearby. The noise was all around and it was impossible to locate a source.

Luckily, having carefully read the last NE I was able to impress Dionne and Carol by being able to give the noise a name!

C.S.Hay, Middlesbrough:

The article ‘Sites & Sounds’ (NE 70) was of some interest to me, as audio readings in the topsoil have been recorded at many areas, from Duncansby Head to near Penzance to County Wicklow, during the last eighteen years.

Many frequencies within the range 100Hz to 10000Hz were registered. Sine waves from 500Hz to 3.60KHz were normally detected. These frequently inter-modulated; this seemed to disturb the few who heard the sounds. However, the phenomenon is not universal and has to be searched for.

Nick & Carol Ford, Southampton:

The one and only time we have experienced ‘hummadruz’ was in Northern France in June 1990. A piece of the infamous Somme battlefield, between the villages of Beaumont and Hamel, has been preserved in its original state as a memorial. Like all such places, it’s noticeably quieter than similar countryside nearby which hasn’t been fought over.

On a hot afternoon we began to walk across No Man’s Land from the Allied trenches to the German, a distance of only about 400 metres. One of us soon began to experience a feeling approaching panic, which can only be described as a fear of falling into the ground. After a few steps, we became aware that the ground- beneath our feet was alive and buzzing audibly. Our first thought was that there were many underground bees’ or wasps’ nests – but we couldn’t see any insects above ground. The buzzing grew so intense as we walked to wards the middle that we got a gruesome mental picture of millions of flies swarming over rotting bodies…

Andrew Green, Sussex:

Re hummadruz: having heard similar sounds under similar circumstances to the ‘witnesses’ might I suggest the cause of the noise (which I found to be the case in the three incidents I experienced) is either a bumble bee nest or a large nest of flying ants?

Adrienne & David, Bury:

Adrienne told JB on the phone of hearing the hummadruz on 16-8-97 in Grinlow Wood, on the hillside between Poole’s Cavern and Solomon’s Temple (both ancient sites) in Buxton, Derbyshire. True to form, the weather was ‘sweltering’ and still, and they thought it was bees swarming close to the ground, though none were to be seen!

Other resources

Don’t forget to look at the back issues because there are a host of other articles from the catalogue of work to give you an even greater taste of what Northern Earth has to offer.

Published in NE72 (Winter 1997), pp.20-21

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