Alfred Watkins

There are some people who believe that our planet is interlaced with an invisible matrix of magnetic – and perhaps magical – lines of energy. In China they are called ‘Dragon Paths’, in Ireland ‘fairy paths’. In Peru they are ‘Spirit Lines’ and in Australia ‘Song Paths’. In Germany they are ‘Heilige Linien’ and in Britain they are ‘Ley Lines’, a name conjured up in 1921 by amateur archaeologist Alfred Watkins.

Alfred Watkins had noticed that these ‘lines’ linked places of geographical or spiritual significance, such as churches, ancient monuments or standing stones as well as ridges, wells and fords. In his books ‘Early British Trackways’ and Straight track ‘The Old Straight Track’, he sets out to identify ancient trackways in the British landscape developing the theory that these alignments were created in Neolithic times for line-of-sight navigation.

There are other explanations for ley lines, including pre-Christian processional ways, ghosts and goblins, crop circles and even as a navigational aid for extra-terrestrial space craft. In 1969 the writer John Michell said that they could be tied in with the Chinese philosophy of ‘feng shui’. Others are much more sceptical. Archaeologist Richard Atkinson suggested that there are so many ancient sites, churches and geographical features in the U.K it would be impossible not to link them up in straight lines. He proved his point by linking up red telephone boxes in ‘telephone box leys’. A similar experiment was made linking up public toilets in ‘pee leys’.

Whatever the truth of ‘ley lines’ – simple natural phenomena like the earth’s magnetic field or arcane mythical ‘fairy magic’ -believers will tell you that there are plenty enough in Britain, plenty enough to investigate.

Buckingham Palace Ley

Our own local ley line is called the ‘Buckingham Palace Ley’ and runs (distance) from Charing Cross in Central London and finishes at St Edwards Orthodox Church in Brookwood, the shrine of the early Christian martyr St Edward, True to the ley legend, the ‘Buckingham Palace Ley’ runs through a number of significant sites -down the Mall to Buckingham Palace, where dowsers say the ‘power stream’ is 23 paces wide and then across Chelsea to Fulham Palace. After crossing the Thames it enters Richmond Park at Roehampton Gate, passes over Leg of Mutton Pond, 200 metres to the west of Pen Ponds and White Ash Lodge. It leaves Richmond Park over the site of Neolithic settlements on the escarpment by Pembroke Lodge, passes into Teddington and enters Bushey Park by the Stockyard – once a medieval farm. St Edwards Orthodox Church Leaving Bushey Park the ley continues to St Mary’s Church in Walton on Thames which has stood on the site for around 1000 years, to the Tudor Palace at Oatlands and onto all Saints Church in Woodham which stands in a circular prehistoric bank-and-ditch site. The final leg of the Buckingham Palace Ley is through St Mary’s Church in Horsall and out to St Edwards Orthodox Church at Brookwood.

The Mall

It is impossible to say if the Buckingham Palace Ley Line has any influence of our own lives here in St Margarets. There is evidence that ley lines are the traces of prehistoric pathways as Alfred Watkins suggests, helping people to navigate by named places on their route – “Go to the church, continue to the hill, cross by the lake” and so on. It raises the question – what came first? The ley line or the significant place? Could it be possible that the legendary ‘significant places’ like historic sites, palaces and the like could have sprung up along these old trackways in the same way that service stations spring up beside motorways?

Roehampton Gate

Hard science once said that ley lines do not exist as energy sources and could not be detected by magnetometers or similar equipment. Today however curious science is associating ley lines with sub atomic particles and their ability to copy each other although light years apart. Dowsers, diviners and other sensitives warm to this idea. They say that ley lines can be detected as positive signals and their paths precisely followed. Even the less sensitive claim they have detected ley lines by ‘head hum’Leg of mutton Pond a sometimes irritating sound or buzz in the head that only disappears when they move away from the source. If you take a stroll across Richmond Park from Roehampton Gate to the Leg of Mutton Pond and your walking stick starts to jump up and down and your head starts to buzz – then you’ve arrived! …and watch out for extra-terrestrial space craft. They may be lost.

— from Martyn Day