Authentic bullroarer from Northern Europe

In Objects by Skjalden

A bullroarer is an oval-shaped musical tool with a small hole in it, in which a piece of string can be threaded. A bullroarer has most likely been used in shamanism to perform ritual ceremonies, as a musical instrument, and as a communication tool over great distances. The sound can travel many kilometers on a quiet night, and possibly even farther when used on hills or in a valley surrounded by mountains.

Many cultures around the world have used a bullroarer, and it is therefore not associated with any specific group of people. It has been used since the Stone Age (12.500 BCE – 4.000 BCE), but it fell out of use in Northern Europe at the end of the Viking Age.

The knowledge of their usage in Scandinavia was lost and forgotten until recent times when the soil revealed the secret from the past. Luckily for us, it was made from a piece of bone from a deer, which is why it has survived until the present day.

The bullroarer is called a brummer in Scandinavia.

The humming sound of the North was once again echoing throughout the Scandinavian forests, awakening the spirits and spreading its ancient and mysterious sound into the distance.

How to use a bullroarer

When you swing the bullroarer around, either over your head or at the side of your body, the instrument will start making the roaring sound. If the sound does not come at first, don’t worry, just keep spinning, and the sound will eventually begin.

How to make a bullroarer

In order to make an authentic bullroarer, you should pick one of the following materials, bone, wood, or stone. The sound will be slightly different depending on the material, but that will also be the case according to the size, shape, and weight. Every one of them will have its own unique sound unless they are all manufactured with a machine to be exact copies of each other.

You will need five things to make a bullroarer, a piece of wood, a pencil, a knife, an ax, and a piece of cord. If you live in the city, it will probably be easier to just buy a wooden plank than find some firewood.

how to make a bullroarer
Bullroarer illustration
  • Split a chip of a piece of firewood.
  • Draw the outline of it with a pencil, make sure that it is symmetrical, and thickest in the middle with pointed edges.
  • Use the knife to cut it out from the wood.
  • Drill a hole in one of the ends, and pull a string through it, as it is shown on the illustration.
  • If you have some sandpaper, you can polish it to make it look neat.