Saturday, February 19, 2011
Ley Lines #1
The concept of "ley lines" is generally thought of in relation to Alfred Watkins, but the stimulus and background for the concept is attributed to the English astronomer Norman Lockyer. On 30 June 1921, Watkins visited Blackwardine in Herefordshire, and went riding a horse near some hills in the vicinity of Bredwardine, when he noted that many of the footpaths there seemed to connect one hilltop to another in a straight line. He was studying a map when he noticed places in alignment. "The whole thing came to me in a flash", he later told his son. It has been suggested that Watkin's experience stemmed from faint memories of an account in September 1870 by William Henry Black given to the British Archaeological Association in Hereford titled Boundaries and Landmarks, in which he speculated that "Monuments exist marking grand geometrical lines which cover the whole of Western Europe".
Watkins believed that, in ancient times, when Britain was far more densely forested, the country was crisscrossed by a network of straight-line travel routes, with prominent features of the landscape being used as navigation points. This observation was made public at a meeting of the Woolhope Naturalists' Field Club of Hereford in September 1921. His work referred to G. H. Piper's paper presented to the Woolhope Club in 1882, which noted that: "A line drawn from the Skirrid-fawr mountain northwards to Arthur's Stone would pass over the camp and southern most point of Hatterall Hill, Oldcastle, Longtown Castle, and Urishay and Snodhill castles." The ancient surveyors who supposedly made the lines were given the name "dodmen". He believed that the lines themselves had been called "leys" because so many of them passed through locations whose names included the element "ley", stating that that philologists defined the word (spelled also as lay, lea, lee, or leigh) differently but had misinterpreted it.
Watkins published his ideas in the books Early British Trackways and The Old Straight Track. They generally met with skepticism from archaeologists, one of whom, O. G. S. Crawford, refused to accept advertisements for the latter book in the journal Antiquity