Haunted Yorkshire

They're Closer Than You Think!

Ley Lines Explained

Ley Lines : were 're-discovered' by a man called Alfred Watkins (1855-1935), on the 30th June 1921.  'Ley lines, or Leys, are alignments of ancient sites stretching across the landscape. Ancient sites or holy places may be situated in a straight line ranging from two to several miles in length.  A ley may be identified simply by an aligned placing of marker sites, or it might be visible on the ground for all or part of its length by the remnants of an old straight track.'

Watkins noticed a straight line that passed over hilltops through various ancient points of interest, while he was looking at a map for features of interest.  At the time Watkins didn't really have a theory about what he had found; instead, on that June afternoon, "in a flash" he saw 'a whole pattern of lines stretching across the landscape.'  His vision is described as follows in a book he titled, The Old Straight Track, which appeared four years later in 1925. 

"Imagine a fairy chain stretched from mountain peak to mountain peak, as far as the eye could reach, and paid out until it reached the 'high places' of the earth at a number of ridges, banks, and knowls. Then visualise a mound, circular earthwork, or clump of trees, planted on these high points, and in low points in the valley other mounds ringed around with water to be seen from a distance. Then great standing stones brought to mark the way at intervals, and on a bank leading up to a mountain ridge or down to a ford the track cut deep so as to form a guiding notch on the skyline as you come up.... Here and there, at two ends of the way, a beacon fire used to lay out the track. With ponds dug on the line, or streams banked up into 'flashes' to form reflecting points on the beacon track so that it might be checked when at least once a year the beacon was fired on the traditional day. All these works exactly on the sighting line."

At first Watkins hypothesized that these ley lines or straight tracks could be what was left of some prehistoric trading routes.  Later he associated ley lines 'with the Greek god Hermes (the Roman Mercury, the Norse Woden) who was the god of communication and of boundaries, the winged messenger, and the guide to travelers on unknown paths. Watkins identified Hermes-Mercury with the chief god of the Druids.'  Watkins argued that:

"A Celtic god, Tout, or in its Romanised form Toutates, is supposed to be what Caesar referred to, and this name has been found on a Romano-British altar. It is a fact that sighting mounds called Tot, Toot, Tout, Tute and Twt abound all over the Kingdom, and the root is probably Celtic... The fact that such mounds are mark-points on trackways strengthen the link..."

Despite the number of ley lines that 'traveled up prohibitively steep hillsides', Watkins was only prepared to associate the identification of leys with ancient traders' routes.  Since Watkins death in 1935, speculation about the actual meaning and purpose of ley lines has carried on.

Today, there is a belief that ley lines are "lines of power" linking prehistoric sites. This idea, according to Paul Devereux, can be attributed to an occultist called Dion Fortune who made this link in her 1936 novel titled: The Goat-Foot God (republished in 1971 by S. Weiser, New York, and in 1989 by Aquarian Press, Northamptonshire).  Since then, ley lines have been associated with UFO sightings, they have been thought to follow cosmic lines of energy in the earth, and some people believe that they can be detected by a method called dowsing, which is done using dowsing rods.

In 1969, in his seminal book, The View Over Atlantis author John Mitchell took up the subject and discussed it within the context of geomancy.  By 1974, Geomancy, ley lines and any other esoteric earth related subjects were now collectively referred to under the term of Earth Mysteries.