Dean Traylor is a freelance writer and teacher who writes about various subjects, including education and creative writing.
What Are Ley Lines?
Describing ley lines is not easy. They’re invisible and highly suggestive. However, some researchers insist that they are real.
New Age thinkers believe they are “sacred” alignments of ancient sites and religious places on imaginary lines. Other paranormal investigators claim they hold significant psychic and magical powers within a geographical grid created within the boundaries of several manmade and natural landmarks.
However, to professional archeologists, researchers, and scientists, ley lines have been given the dubious title of “junk science” or “pseudoscience.” By all accounts, ley lines have not been professionally studied or examined and have been based on what several amateur archeologists and paranormal researchers have observed. The evidence for them—some will argue—is based on the way ruins aligned with each other over a large swath of geographical territory. Professional researchers, on the other hand, point out that much of what the latter group sees is highly suggestive and lacks any real evidence. Or, at best, the evidence for the lines is inconclusive.
So, are ley lines real or not? Before anyone can come to any conclusion, it’s important to know what they are and how they came into existence in the public eye.
Birth of Ley Lines
The belief in these lines started with the 1920s publications of Early British Trackways and The Old Straight Track by a self-taught amateur archaeologist and antiquarian named Alfred Watkins. His discovery started with an observation he made from atop a hill (most likely Millvern Hill) near Blackwardine, England. There, he observed many footpaths that seemingly led from several ancient sites to another landmark within the region.
Later, Watkins studied a map of Blackwardine and the surrounding areas and discovered he could draw a straight line to several significant ancient ruins and natural landmarks. In 1921, Watkins coined the phrase when he called these drawn lines on his map “ley” which means “clearing” due mainly to the fact that the original footpaths he spotted (and included in his map drawing) were physically clear paths that could be seen from a certain height.
Also, according to Watkins, these straight lines on the map (along the way, the real footpaths faded from the research) were anchored by what he called “ley-markers”. These markers were either natural formations or man-made objects. In most cases, the man-made objects were ancient structures such as mounds, churches, notches made in hills, castles, and Stonehenge.
Watkins surmised that he had discovered ancient trade routes or roads that offered easy access that may have dated as far back as the Neolithic era. His research, however, would lead others who read his book to come up with different conclusions.
New Age occultists, dowsers, and ufologists have made similar claims that these lines hold mysterious energy.
Alternative Researchers Join the Ley Line Craze
Some people had varying views on ley lines. For example, another researcher in the matter, Paul Deveraux, suggested that all structures with the “henge” in their title were ley-markers for one or several ley lines (Ancient-Wisdom.com, 2009). His interpretation was mild. That’s not always the case with other researchers.
In 1969, writer John Michell wrote in his book, The View Over Atlantis, that ley lines had spiritual and mystical qualities that seemingly affected the alignments of landforms. He based this concept on feng shui, an ancient Chinese concept pertaining to the spiritual powers of items placed in strategic locations.
Michell’s book was a significant moment in the ley line concept. For one thing, it revived the term after it was all but forgotten by the public.
Secondly, it led other spiritually-minded researchers and groups to believe that ley lines had magical qualities. New Age occultists, dowsers, and ufologists have made similar claims that these lines hold mysterious energy.
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One of these groups, the ufologist community, made claims that the ley lines were meant to be landing zones for aliens. Others claimed that they were supposed to represent some form of portal from which these aliens would someday appear. In other accounts, they believed that the ley lines’ perceived connection to ancient ruins (such as Stonehenge) was actually a code to indicate when the aliens will arrive.
Beyond England and Beyond the Ruins
The ley lines concept has been expanded beyond England’s ancient ruins. In some cases, geological sites around the world are included. Mt. Everest, Ayers Rock in Australia, the Great Pyramid of Giza, Sedona in Arizona, and Mutiny Bay are among the places believed to have special powers created by ley lines.
Many within the New Age groups believe that these lines not only connect religious sites with each other; they connect areas of anomalies in the magnetic field. What these powers can do is uncertain. Some claim it improves health while others believe they’re portals to other universes.
What Does Research Suggest?
Watkin’s original assertions (and possibly the most plausible) indicated that these lines existed as ancient foot roads to numerous landmarks in England. Spirituality or cosmic powers were never considered.
Still, Watkins’s conclusions have been criticized for not ruling out incidental and coincidental alignments of the thousands of landmarks and structures within the English countryside.
Michell’s ideas, however, have been resoundingly rejected by the scientific community. As many Internet sites including The Skeptics Dictionary point out, there’s absolutely no scientific evidence (let alone anything concrete to study) that affirms the magical properties of these lines.
Still, despite the lack of evidence, there are many who claim they have solved the mystery of the ley line. An example was the New Age group called the Geo Group. They were paid $5,000 by the Seattle Arts Commission to do a ley line map of Seattle. The group used a photograph that resembled a hybrid satellite photo of the city. The group claimed it confirmed that Seattle was in tune with its ley line system. Exactly how was conclusion was arrived at was never elaborated.
Finally, ley lines have gone beyond their origin and have been used to explain other ancient concepts such as the Nazca Lines in Peru. Again, how and why are never fully explained.
In the end, however, the theories associated with ley lines have gone away from one person’s rational (and plausible) concept and entered the realm of pseudoscience.
And with that, one can conclude that ley lines are imaginary lines, but not magical portals.
Another Topic of Interest
- Kaimanawa Wall: Ancient Wall from Lost Civilization or Natural Formation?
In the forest of New Zealand, a curious "wall" has many thinking there was once a lost civilization there. But, do the evidence stack up? Or is there some other ulterior motive at work here?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
Question: Do the Nazca lines match the ley lines for Peru? I have been unable to find a map of Peruvian ley lines or even South America. Does a map of the ley lines of Peru exist?
Answer: I don't believe the ley lines are the same as the Nazca lines of Peru. The Nazca lines tend to be large images of birds and other animals whereas the ley lines supposedly connected important sites in Europe (and later) and throughout the world.
© 2016 Dean Traylor
Dean Traylor (author) from Southern California/Spokane, Washington (long story) on September 03, 2019:
Take some milk of magnesia, that makes the stomach less queasy, Mike. Or better yet, use those ley lines to find the good stuff to quell that nausea. I'll wait.
Ryan on June 27, 2018:
Now york city