The enigma of ley lines
Background to Quicksilver:
Background to Serpent's Gold:
A ley alignment marked out on an airphoto at Saintbury, in the English Cotswold hills. The line follows the general line of an ancient track, and passes through a medieval cross, a Saxon church, and prehistoric burial mounds beyond.
Photo: Paul Devereux.
Copyright: © Paul Devereux, 1996
Long Man of Wilmington
In 1922 an amateur archaeologist and pioneer photographer called Alfred Watkins was riding across the hills of Herefordshire when he pulled up his horse to look out over the landscape.
He says that in a sudden flash he became aware of ‘a network of lines standing out like glowing wires all over the surface of the country,’ intersecting at the sites of churches, old stones, crossroads, sacred pools, hills and forts. He called them Ley lines, an Anglo Saxon word meaning meadow, which he was sure had once indicated an ‘old straight track’. He spent years studying maps and plotting the sites of prehistoric monuments, convinced that their positioning on long straight lines running from hilltop to hilltop, mountain ridge to mountain ridge like a ‘fairy chain’, could not be a coincidence.
Watkins had a theory that these pathways were marked out by ancient surveyors or ‘Dodmen’ ( named after the old English word for snail because their trade mark marking staves looked like snail’s horns.) He claimed that the mysterious Long Man of Wilmington etched in chalk on the South Downs was a Dodman and it’s interesting that the purpose and origins of this giant figure have baffled historians for centuries.
Some ley hunters insist that these lines merely mark the prehistoric trackways that enabled our ancestors to travel the country without maps while others insist that they mark the grid of the Earth’s elemental energies, which our ancestors were attuned to but which we have lost the ability to sense.
Many ancient cultures refer to similar lines of earth energy often linking them to serpents or dragons. In China they are called Lung-mei, the paths of the dragon and in Ireland they are known as fairy paths, which must never be blocked. The Aborigines of Australia believe that the Gods of their Dream Time traversed the country along lines that are still remembered in song and painting. Some years ago pilots flying over the Nazca plains of Peru noticed a curious geometrical pattern laid out across the landscape by a vanished pre-Inca race so that travellers walking down them at the equinox or solstice would see the sun or a star rising or setting straight ahead.
Watkins initial work on ley lines spawned a whole ‘Earth Mysteries’ industry. There are now thousands of books and theories all with a slightly different take on the subject, some even linking them to the paths of UFOs!
The most famous book on ley lines is the late John Michell’s ‘The View Over Atlantis,’ in which he plots the world’s most well known and possibly most intriguing ley line, which he named the St. Michael Line. It passes through an extraordinary number of ancient sites including ten churches dedicated to St. Michael or St. George (both legendary slayers of dragons and serpents) and also through Glastonbury, Avebury and Bury St.Edmunds. This line also appears to be constructed to align with the May Day sunrise, one of the most crucial dates in the ancient calendar.
Other researchers have discovered equally fascinating connections between astronomical alignments and ley lines all around the world.
Perhaps such alignments really are no more than coincidence. But if they are man-made it is extraordinary to think that our megalithic ancestors were able to achieve such precise terrestrial engineering over such a vast distances using only staves and stones to mark the way.
For theories about megaliths, ley lines and Earth energies have a look at the books of John Michell - particularly Megalithomania and The New View over Atlantis, the books and website of Paul Devereux www.pauldevereux.co.uk and The Old Straight Track by Alfred Watkins, the ground - breaking book about ancient trackways that has inspired generations of ley hunters.