An Introduction to Ley Lines
Old Straight TracksLey lines were initially a mainly British interest, however ley research has now spread to most countries of the world - and beyond! The word "ley" derives from "lea", an area of open country.
What Are Ley Lines?The concept of ley lines (although he didn't like that name) was first suggested by Alfred Watkins in 1921 then popularised by his 1925 book The Old Straight Track. Watkins noticed whilst out walking in Herefordshire that a number of significant places were in clear visual alignment. On studying detailed maps of the area he went on to find a number of other such strange lines on the landscape - what we now call ley lines.
Watkins was not the first to notice these remarkable alignments. He himself referred back to a paper by G.H.Piper which noted:
"A line drawn from the Skirrid-fawr mountain northwards to Arthur's Stone would pass over the camp and southern most point of Hatterill Hill, Oldcastle, Longtown Castle, and Urishay and Snodhill castles."
What Do Ley Lines Mean?The existence of ley lines is undeniable. You can find your own simply by taking a detailed map of an area and marking points of significance. You will probably see quickly that there are very clear lines to be found - ancient sites often fitting on to a perfect straight line between natural features.
The weird lines certainly exist. What - if anything - they actually mean is a more difficult question.
Ley lines today have taken on a high degree of mystical, new age and sometimes paranormal significance. Some people even like to associate them with UFO phenomena and ley lines on other planets have been investigated. Remote dowsing has sometimes been used for this purpose.
Watkins himself considered ley lines to be simply an anthropological artefact rather than anything weird, psychic or spiritual. He theorised that ancient Britain had supported a network of travel routes. For ease of navigation, these were generally straight lines which went between clearly visible landmarks. As travellers used these routes, so other sites were naturally built along them - much as service stations are built along major roads today. The people who created these travel routes were called "dodmen".
The Mystical Significance of Ley LinesThe more mystical approach allocates to these lines some deeper significance or power. It is hypothesised that this power could be sensed - consciously or otherwise - by the mystics and seers responsible for selecting the ancient sites. An alternative mystic view reverses the causality and suggests that the presence of the sites on the ley lines actually creates a power.
A system of ley lines which converge on one particular point - of which Glastonbury is a famous example - can thus be seen either as ancient builders recognising a place of power or as a place gaining importance from the focus of lines of power.
What could that strange power be? Different people have different opinions, covering everything from fluctuations in the earth's magnetic field through to psychic resonance from alien UFO landings.
The Sceptical ViewThe Skeptics, of course, prefer to dismiss it all as coincidence. Whilst accepting that ley lines exist they argue that if you place enough points on a map then you will be bound to find some straight lines purely at random.
The Society of Ley Hunters