In 1921, a British man called Albert Watkins thought he had found the secret of the universe. He had worked out that many important old archaeological sites around the world were all connected along straight lines. The idea that ancient sacred sites might have been constructed in alignment with one another is something that was proposed earlier by the Reverend Edward Duke in 1846, who observed that some prehistoric monuments and medieval churches aligned with each other. The Chinese counterpart to ley lines are dragon paths or dragon lines. Lung mei or the paths of the Dragon are lines of energy discovered by the ancient Chinese. The Heart of the Dragon is said to be found at a knoll standing in a small valley among the hills. From this center heart, the veins of the Dragon current run over the surrounding valleys and hills. Near the Dragon’s heart, the force is strong and active. This is where the Dragon and the Tiger, or the male and female currents merge harmoniously together.
The Yang or male energy of the White Tiger rules sharp rocks, steep mountains and high ridges, while the Yin or female energy of the Blue Dragon rules lower hills and gently rolling countryside. The ancient Chinese believed that these Dragon paths covered the entire Earth. In fact, seasonal rituals were performed to mark the running of the Dragon current through the earth with the corresponding astronomical influences happening in the skies. Mounds were used to predict the timing, while standing stones were erected to mark the path of the Dragon.
When this path of the Dragon runs in straight lines for any distance, the energy that builds up can become a danger to all living things. But, by erecting a barrier such as a stone circle, burial mound or building on such a line, the dangerous energy is diffused into the barrier.
In order to break up these straight lines of energy, the Chinese buildings were built with eaves and roofs of varying heights along a street. Direction men, were given the duty of mapping out the lines of the Dragon path, and decided in what order things should be placed within houses and landscaping to keep the good influences of the energy and dissipate the bad. Today, this practice is referred to as Feng Shui. The influence of these Dragon lines was considered so serious, that any landscape that was found to be inharmonious with the path of the Dragon was respectfully altered. This sometimes meant that mountaintops were flattened or sharpened, or the mountain taken down completely. New mounds were also constructed. Coal Hill, located outside of Peking was a man-made creation on a major path that divides China north and south. Each year the Emperor would climb this hill and perform a ritual to invoke the power of the Dragon for his land.
Several of these lung mei converge in Shensi Province in northern China. A field of over 100 pyramids was discovered here by a western pilot in 1947. The pyramids are believed to have been erected between 10,000 and 5,000 BC.
While standing structures such as pyramids and megaliths around the world are thought to diffuse the Dragon current (into the surrounding area with fertilising and harmonic energies), the inner chambers discovered in many of these structures are thought to act as accumulators of the Dragon power in order to stimulate physical regeneration (healing), increase psychic ability, and attainment of spiritual enlightenment.
Several of these lung mei lines run under the water from China and then across Japan. Along one of these lines, an underwater city was discovered in 1997 near Okinawa. This city appears to have been carved out of an underwater mountain, complete with roads and a pyramid. It has been dated by researchers at Ryukyu University to have been a thriving city around 10,000 BC.
And then, of course, back to ancient Britain, where the Dragon lines became known as ley lines. These lines become straighter, in fact, absolutely straight, running their way through lakes, over steep mountains, through and past stone circles, standing stones, etc. Many of the cup and ring designs carved on these monuments mirror the constellations in the sky overhead, and also point the way to the next standing stone or circle.
Alfred Watkins’ theory on “ley lines” – ancient tracks used for navigational purposes – captured the imagination of a nation. Alfred Watkins penned his book The Old Straight Track in 1925 that posited one of the most well-known theories about ancient Britain of its time. President of a local naturalists’ club, photography enthusiast, beekeeper and avid hiker, Watkins had a deep love for the countryside. When he travelled across Herefordshire by horse and cart for his family’s flour-milling business, he also hauled his heavy camera equipment and delicate glass negatives everywhere he went. In fact, his love for photography led him to invent several photography-related apparatuses, including a pin-hole camera and one of the first light metres (a device that measured the relative intensity of light), the highly successful Watkins Bee Meter.
But it was his ideas about “ley lines” – tracks developed by prehistoric man for navigational purposes – which he believed covered Herefordshire, all of the UK and possibly even the entire globe that brought him fame in the early 20th Century.
On a sunny afternoon in 1921, while he was out riding his horse along the rolling hills surrounding the hamlet of Blackwardine, Watkins had an astonishing revelation while looking out over the landscape, which he later described as being like a “flood of ancestral memory”.
It suddenly dawned on him that a network of lines stood out like “glowing wires all over the surface of the county”. He noted that these grid-like markings ran in perfectly straight paths, crisscrossing at certain locations he called “terminal points”, which usually coincided with sites such as beacons, mounds, holy wells (natural springs considered sacred), churches and ruins.
What he saw on that day inspired him to write his ideas down and create a theory which captured the imagination of a nation and later became the subject of much debate.
Watkins called these tracks “leys” or “ley lines” after noticing that the Anglo-Saxon word “ley”, which meant “a clearing in the woods”, was incorporated into many village names around Herefordshire, such as Weobley and Leysters.
He believed that these leys ran through the land, whether moorland or mountain, traversing “over whatever steep and seemingly improbable obstacles come in the way”.
Before intensive farming had rapidly changed the landscape, prehistoric Britain would have been covered in dense woodland, making it very difficult to navigate.
As imagined by Watkins, prehistoric man used the ley lines’ terminal points as beacons, or vantage points that could be used to scope out the landscape or send signals to faraway places.
According to Watkins, topographical sites that were used for sun and star alignment also rest on ley lines, and he said that Stonehenge, a circle of standing stones, “is a very striking and convincing example of the connection between sun alignment, long-distance tracks and the use of the beacons.”
While many believe Stonehenge to be a quintessential example of a prehistoric sun alignment site, Watkins believed that it was the crossing point of several long-distance ley alignments. He listed four in great detail in his “sun alignment” chapter of The Old Straight Track – one main ley, he believed, crossed the Old Sarum mound and Salisbury Cathedral to the south, while another runs from Bury Hill, the site of a former hillfort, to the east through what he termed the “slaughter stone” at Stonehenge. Several of the alignments passing through the stones also traversed beacons, and so Watkins considered Stonehenge to be a significant hub in the ley-line network. Likewise this theory would support the position of many other ancient monuments.
Ley lines are one of the most enduring earth mysteries. A network of prehistoric pathways criss-crossing the country that some believe to have mystical significance. It is significant that many of the Ley Lines are believed to pass through locations where there have been strange happenings that are described as being paranormal. In the counties of Worcestershire and the Cotswolds there seems to be a wealth of these sites.
It has been claimed that birds, fish and animals use them as 'compasses', helping them find direction back to breeding grounds and to warmer climates during winter months. They have also been said to be vast prehistoric trade routes.
An article in New Scientist magazine, published in 1987, suggested that species as diverse as pigeons, whales, bees and even bacteria can navigate using the earth's magnetic field.
How might this have anything to do with alleged haunted locations? Ley lines are alignments and patterns of powerful, invisible earth energy said to connect various sacred sites, such as churches, temples, stone circles, megaliths, holy wells, burial sites, and other locations of spiritual or magical importance according to Harper's Encyclopedia of Mystical and Paranormal Experience.
The scientific belief, as previously explained, is that these lines are areas of altered magnetic fields. The more spiritual and romantic belief is that they ooze back the energy from all the people who have trodden these mystical, religious paths since time began.
So why are hauntings reported in places ley lines are alleged to pass through?
For the believer it could be said that these areas are likely to have more spirit activity as they are historically of a religious, political and even mystical nature.
It is even believed that UFOs are drawn to these ley lines, making them attractive to investigators of that particular phenomenon.
It is true that more 'paranormal' activity is evidenced in these areas however whether this is of the spirit type or paranormal in its true sense ('unexplained') is still a topic of much debate.
For the follower of the more scientific approach, other explanations for the seemingly increased incidents of paranormal activity are possible.
Generally it is believed that electro-magnetic fields can affect the body and mind. Again this to some extent must be true if magnetic fields affect the magnetite in the human brain.
But other effects of this type of energy are said to be similar to those of static electricity: feelings of 'tingling' on the skin and hairs standing on end.
The energy is thought to produce vibrations on a low frequency which, although inaudible to the human ear, can alter perception and create sensations of dizziness and unbalance. In extreme cases it is thought to be able to cause nausea and headaches.
These symptoms mirror those often described by people who feel the presence of spirits.
A phenomenon often reported during investigations is that of technical equipment behaving erratically. Again, we have to ask ourselves: is this spirit-based or could it be the effect of electro-magnetic fields on the equipment we use? Could energy from the earth itself be tampering with our audio/visual devices causing interference in some way?