The Codex of Editable Wisdom


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"Stones" is a prevalent and well-known song that appears throughout the Ultima series.

In the games, the song is quite popular in Britannia and a favorite of Lord British. Iolo FitzOwen, a renowned bard and close friend of the king, composed the music; his wife Gwenno wrote the lyrics. In reality, the song was written by David R. Watson and Kathleen Jones, the real world counterparts of Iolo and Gwenno.


Long ago ran the sun on a folk who had a dream
And the heart and the will and the power:
They moved earth; they carved stone; moulded hill and channeled stream
That we might stand on the wide plains of Wiltshire.

Now men asked who they were, how they built and wonder why
That they wrought standing stones of such size.
What was done 'neath our shade? What was pray'ed 'neath our skies
As we stood on the wyrd plains of Wiltshire.

Oh what secrets we could tell if you'd listen and be still.
Rid the stink and the noise from our skirts.
But you haven't got the clue and perhaps you never will.
Mute we stand on the cold plains of Wiltshire.

Still we loom in the mists as the ages roll away
And we say of our folk, "they are here!"
That they built us and they died and you'll not be knowing why
Save we stand on the bare plains of Wiltshire.

In Game AppearancesEdit


The sheet music for "Stones," as it appears in the Book of Lore

In Ultima V, "Stones" played a pivotal role in the course of the Avatar's quest to restore Lord British to power. The song had to be physically performed on Lord British's harpsichord in order to obtain the king's Sandalwood Box, a vastly crucial item in securing the king's return. The court composer, Lord Kenneth, was able to teach the hero how to play the harpsichord, if asked.[1] Tim, the bard in residence at Empath Abbey, could also furnish the Avatar with rumors regarding miraculous occurrences linked to the song when played upon a kingly instrument.[2] The actual musical notation for the song could be found in The Book of Lore.[3]

In Ultima VI, it was necessary for the Avatar to join the Artisan's Guild of Minoc, that they might be lent the Rune of Sacrifice by the guildmaster, Selganor.[4] In order to do this, the hero had to perform "Stones" on a set of custom panpipes, which could be commissioned from Julia.[5] Gwenno was able to provide the hero with the correct numerical notation for the song.[6]

In Ultima IX, the Avatar was required again to perform on the royal harpsichord - this time in order to acquire the Ankh of Spirituality. The court musician at the time, Siona, was able to give the hero the sheet music necessary to play the tune once more.[7]


Versions of "Stones" have appeared in the in-game music for Ultima V, Ultima VI, Ultima VII, Ultima VII Part Two, and Ultima IX. Outside the core series, "Stones" has also appeared in Runes of Virtue and Ultima Online.

Ultima IX provided two notably unconventional adaptions of "Stones": a contemporary rock version arranged and performed on electric guitar by Raph "Designer Dragon" Koster that can be heard on the Avatar's radio on Earth, and an electronica version co-written by lead designer Seth Mendelson that accompanies the ending credits of the game.

Two other variations were written for the canceled Ultima Online 2: a traditional composition written by George Oldziey and reminiscent of his Ultima IX arrangement, and an industrial version by Curse Mackey meant to illustrate the environment of the steampunk Juuka homeland. These were later reused for the Ultima Online expansion, Lord Blackthorn's Revenge.

In addition to these official appearances, multiple renditions of "Stones" can be heard in the fan remake projects Ultima V: Lazarus and The Ultima 6 Project.

One of the backer rewards for The Space Bards (aka Recap) Neon Milk album Kickstarter was "Set our course by having us cover any song of your choice". Richard "Lord British" Garriott's requested cover song was "Stones" by David Watson (aka Iolo).

Trivia Edit

  • In each of the versions of "Stones" subsequent to and including the one appearing in Ultima VII, the final verse of the original composition is omitted.

External Links Edit

References Edit

  1. Lord KennethUnderworld Dragon's Ultima V TranscriptUltima V. "composer, court".
  2. TimUnderworld Dragon's Ultima V TranscriptUltima V. "bard, favorite, fine, Iolo, instrument, magic, occurrence, piece, teach".
  3. Garriott, Richard et al. The Book of Lore (Ultima V). Origin Systems: 1988. Page 22.
  4. SelganorUnderworld Dragon's Ultima VI TranscriptUltima VI. "artisan, guild, join, loan, member, rune".
  5. JuliaUnderworld Dragon's Ultima VI TranscriptUltima VI. "board, pan, pipes, yew".
  6. GwennoUnderworld Dragon's Ultima VI TranscriptUltima VI. "pan, pipes, stones".
  7. SionaQuill Dragon's Ultima IX TranscriptUltima IX.

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