Soundmarks Aldborough


Soundmarks is an art/archaeology collaboration between Rose Ferraby and Rob St. John, using sound and visual art to explore and animate the sub-surface landscape of Aldborough Roman Town, North Yorkshire, UK.

This innovative project sought to offer people new ways of imagining the often invisible elements of the past in the landscape. The archaeology of Roman Aldborough extends far beyond the bounds of the English Heritage museum. Tantalising glimpses are visible in the village and surrounding fields. Rose drew on her deep knowledge of the site having grown up locally, and more recently as co-director of the Aldborough Roman Town Project.

Exploring this through visual art and sound offered not only new ways for audiences to imagine. The processes of making sound recordings, photographing, filming and making use of different kinds of data, allowed new and inspiring conversations to emerge about the nature of landscape, lost histories and resonant memory. You can read more about Rose and Rob’s creative process in the project blog.

Soundmarks is currently being exhibited at DIG in York. Entry is free and you can visit every day from 10am – 4pm.

You can explore the Soundmarks art trail and listen to the sound pieces here.

You can view the visual art here.

Watch a film about the project here.

Listen to a podcast with Rose and Rob about making the work here.

A limited edition book and postcard set can be purchased here.

The project was funded by Arts Council England and in partnership with the Friends of Roman Aldborough and English Heritage.

“We tend to think of the underearth as a silent space, but of course it is rife with sounds both live and archived. Soundmarks lets us hear what happens when we lay our ears to a landscape; the voices and utterances that surface into the skull. It is itself a conversation between two human makers, St John and Ferraby, but its other authors are air, soil, rock, water and time. Together they have all made a fathoming – a sounding-out – of one place that is also many places.”

– Robert Macfarlane

“In Soundmarks, Ferraby and St John have become shape-shifters, sound-sifters and time-drifters. In smudging the boundaries between visual art, sound art, archaeology and creative writing, they also somehow unsettle the identities of the things they discover and create: the paintings seem to have soil clinging to them, the sounds have physical presence in the world, the words they use are as precise and particular as tools, and the earth below our feet is revealed in its storied, supple stratigraphy.”

– Caitlin Desilvey