Wikipedia define let lines as " alleged alignments of a number of places of geographical and historical interest, such as ancient monuments and megaliths, natural ridge-tops and water-fords."
Perhaps the most famous are the Michael and Mary ley lines linking St Michael's Mount (Cornwall), Stonehenge, Aylesbury and Hopton (Suffolk), passing through a number of other towns, including Royston.
If ley lines exist, what are they and what purpose they serve or served? What is the story of these ancient straight lines that appear to run across Britain and the globe?
The Discovery of Ley Lines - a Flood of ancestral memory
Englishman, Alfred Watkins was the first person to notice these alignments and popularise them. In 1921 Watkins was looking at a map of Herefordshire when he experienced what he described as a 'flood of ancestral memory’. In a sudden revelation he saw that numerous prehistoric places, such as standing stones, earthen burial mounds, prehistoric earthworked hills, and other similar features fell into straight lines which ran for for miles across the landscape. .
Watkins described his revelation thus:
“Imagine a fairy chain stretched from mountain peak to mountain peak, as far as the eye could reach, and paid out till it touched 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 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 cuts so deep so as to form a guiding notch in the skyline as you come up. In a bwlch or mountain pass the road cut deeply to show as a notch afar off. Here and there,
and at two ends of the way, a beaconfire 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 it might be checked when at least once a year a beacon was fired on the traditional day. All these works exactly on the sighting line…”
Watkins did not believe ley lines had any paranormal attributes regarding them as ancient trackways laid down by neolithic peoples, who inhabited Britain before the Celts.
The term 'ley line'
Watkins called these lines ‘leys’after the Anglo Saxon ‘leah’ meaning 'a woodland clearing' or ‘cleared meadows’. The word ‘leah’ in various forms still form appears at the end of innumerable place names, such as Alderley, Bexley, Hinckley, Dudley, Tadley and Rugeley He used the term ‘ley’ from the old Middle-English, meaning 'clearing' as a reference to the practice of clearing the way through forest and shrubland to crate a track or line. Watkins believed a range of natural and man-made features were reliable ley line markers:
Beacon-hills, Mounds, Long-barrows, Cairns, Camps (Hill-forts), Cursus, Churches, Cross-roads, Dolmens, Standing stones, mark-stones, Stone circles, Henges, Water-markers (moats, ponds, springs, fords, wells), Castle, Notches in hills.
The Significance of Underground Springs
In 1935, Captain Robert Boothby had experimented with dowsing and discovered the existence of underground springs under each major site along the course of leylines. These were to be found under every tumulus or barrow.
The discovery that dowsing was a relevant factor led Watkin's son to announce that dowsing might go far to explain why these points were originally sacred or significant.
Further dowsing work was undertaken by two more dowsers concentrating on ancient monuments including stone circles and cairns/barrows. M. Louis Merle and Reginald Allender Smith were both dowsers and could locate underground streams and springs without using scientific instruments. Merle established that ancient monuments were situated over the crossing of underground streams.
Working independently, Smith went further and stated that springs were always present at the centres of stone circles and earthworks and the selection of sites for ancient monuments was a conscious decision based upon the presence of underground water and not random.
Anglesey was the druidic heart of the celtic lands and features many standing stones and burial chambers. The early Christians often built chapels and churches on the sites old standing stones. These ancient 'markers' can be connected in straight lines and continue through other markers on the mainland.
The Nazis and Ley Lines (Heilige Linien)
At about the same time, Englishman Alfred Watkins developed his theories, a similar viewpoint developed in Germany. A Wilhelm Teudt, a German evangelical vicar and academic called proposed the theory that “heilige linien” (holy lines) linked standing stones, churches, crosses, and various other objects of spiritual significance across Germany.
SS Ahnenerbe unit investigates
The Heilige Linien theory attracted the attention of the Nazi’s. With the support of the rising Nazi Party and the personal endorsement of Heinrich Himmler who ordered Teudt to continue his investigations. Teudt joined the Nazi Party in 1933 and worked closely with the Ahnenerbe unit set up by Himmler to investigate and exploit the paranormal and the prehistory of Europe.
Teudt made another discovery of significance. It related to the strange rock formation known as ‘Die Extersteine’ situated in the Teutoburger Wald near Detmond in Lower Saxony.
'Die Extersteine’ - The strange rock
The Extersteine lies at the same approximate latitude as Stonehenge the UK and is a natural site of five sandstone pillars rising 120 feet above an area filled with caves and grottoes.
Local inhabitants believed the Extersteine had strange, magical properties in the form of an energy coursing through it and consequently they used it to cure physical ailments by walking among or rubbing against the stones.
It appears to have been the site of ancient pagan religions and only later was it taken over by Christian monks. It was finally abandoned some time after 1600.
Teudt discovered an ancient chamber constructed within the Extersteine which had a circular window that formed a point where rays of light at the midsummer solstice shone through, and where the moon was visible when it reached its northernmost position. Teudt theorised that Neolithic peoples (before 2000 B.C.E.) had used the site as an astronomical observatory and a calendar.
Teudt suggested that the Extersteine be designated an SS ‘sacred grove’ and acting on Teudt's proposal, Heinrich Himmler established the Exersteine Foundation run by SS-Standardfuhrer Wolfram Sievers.