In New View Over Atlantis, writer John Michell gives this description of an influential inspiration that took place this day, some ninety-two years ago:
One hot summer afternoon, 20 June 1921, Alfred Watkins was at Blackwardine in Herefordshire. On a high hilltop he stopped and looked at his map before meditating on the view below him. Suddenly, in a flash, he saw something which no one in England had seen for perhaps thousands of years.Watkins saw straight through the surface of the landscape to a layer deposited in some remote prehistoric age. The barrier of time melted and, spread across the country, he saw a web of lines linking the holy places and sites of antiquity. Mounds, old stones, crosses and old crossroads, churches placed on pre-Christian sites, legendary trees, moats and holy wells stood in exact alignments that ran over beacon hills to cairns and mountain peaks. In one moment of transcendental perception Watkins entered a magic world of prehistoric Britain, a world whose very existence had been forgotten. 22-23.
Alfred Watkins (1855-1935) was an Englishman who delighted in traveling the countryside of his native Herefordshire, and in the country people he met and the stories they told -- stories that were often handed down for generations. His keen eye and open mind (he was also an accomplished photographer and inventor) and his love of the countryside of his native England enabled him to perceive the network of alignments running for miles and miles and connecting ancient megalithic sites, landmarks, monuments, and natural features such as mountain peaks and high hills. He called these lines "ley lines," or "leys," because (as Michell explains):
A peculiar feature of the old alignments is that certain names appear with remarkable frequency along their routes. names with Red, White and Black are common; so are Cold and Cole, Dod, Merry, and Ley. The last gave Watkins the name of the lines, which he called leys. 24.
As Michell goes on to explain, "The idea of leys found little sympathy among Watkins's archaeological contemporaries. It contradicted all their assumptions about the nature of prehistoric life" (25). If that was true in 1921 and in 1969 (when John Michell published his first edition of View Over Atlantis), it is still true today. The idea of leys turns on its head the conventional timeline of human history. How could such precision and vision and engineering capability be possible to the "primitive" denizens of the British Isles in the days before Stonehenge and Avebury were even contemplated? Note that this system must have been created before Stonehenge and all the other ancient sites in Britain were erected, since it ties such sites together with perfectly straight lines that would be impossible to design after the fact.
While these straight leys are often attributed to the engineering skills of the later Roman invaders, Michell notes that many Roman roads have been found to have much older paving stones underneath the layers of Roman construction, indicating that the Romans found the lines when they arrived and then sometimes built on top of them. Also, leys are present in Ireland, where the Romans never conquered.
Modern skeptics continue to try to write these alignments off to mere coincidence, or the human mind's tendency to find patterns in random sets of data. For example, the Wikipedia entry on ley lines makes sure to cast frequent aspersions on the original concept and on John Michell's later examination of the phenomenon, saying: "Both versions of the theory have been criticised on the grounds that a random distribution of a sufficient number of points will inevitably create 'alignments'." The Wikipedia entry then goes on to cite critics who say that "given the high density of historic and prehistoric sites in Britain and other parts of Europe, finding straight lines that 'connect' sites is trivial, and ascribable to coincidence. A statistical analysis of lines concluded that 'the density of archaeological sites in the British landscape is so great that a line drawn through virtually anywhere will 'clip' a number of sites." "
While these criticisms sound valid if Wikipedia is your only source of information about this concept, the interested reader is invited to read through John Michell's books (as well as the earlier books by Watkins and his contemporaries, and the many others that have been published since) and analyze the evidence for himself or herself. The aerial photographs in Michell's books alone should be sufficient to dispel the notion that these alignments are the product of coincidence or trivial "dot-connecting" -- lines can be seen going for miles and miles and disappearing into the distance, and incorporating hilltops, gates, church steeples, and other landmarks.
Further, as John Michell demonstrates, this phenomena is by no means isolated to the British Isles, but can be found around the world. He provides extensive evidence from China and from North and South America to support the idea that the ancients appear to have created ley line grids around the globe. Previous blog posts which have touched on the undeniable world-wide geodetic networks apparent in ancient monuments and sites include "Did mankind known the precise size and shape of our earth many thousands of years ago?" and "Rock Lake, Wisconsin and the Code of Carl P. Munck."
Again, this is a subject where individuals are encouraged to examine the evidence and analyze the situation for themselves. The conclusions drawn by Alfred Watkins (and expanded upon by John Michell) have profound paradigm-shifting implications. It is a subject too important to simply ignore, or to "outsource" to someone else to decide.
Surely June 20th is an appropriate day on which to spend some time in consideration of the important subject of ley lines!