On the 30th June 1921 while out riding near Blackwardine, Herefordshire, Alfred Watkins
noticed that there seemed to be a straight line starting from Croft Ambury
, over hill points, through Blackwardine
, over Risbury Camp
, and through the high ground at Stretton Grandison
, where he surmise a Roman station once stood (look down in the panorama for an indication of the direction). It then struck him that there seemed to be a network of lines (sometimes stretching several miles) connecting standing stones, mounds, fords, cross-roads, barrows, tumps, stone circles, moats, islands, holy wells, beacon points and old churches and castles. Watkins attached no mystical significance to his leys. He took the straightforward view that they were simply tracks. Some of them may have had a certain religious significance, in that they joined old churches and old pagan sites and others may have had some astronomical use, connected with sunrise and sunset. But most of them, Watkins thought, were simply trade routes. A few months later after further investigation he presented his finding to the Woolhope Club, illustrating his talk with his own lantern slides. The following year this presentation formed the basis of his first book on the subject "Early British Trackways
It was not long before people started to claim that these ley lines were more than simple trackways. In Dion Fortune's 1936 novel "The Goat Foot God" she suggested that ley lines are pathways of energy connecting sacred sites of various kinds such as Avebury
. This idea of ley lines of energy, a long way from Watkins original straight track, was immensely appealing to a variety of people and rapidly gained favour. Modern ley hunters generally see the alignments that Watkins found to be more than just the remains of a straight track system, although many of them were used for that purpose. Speculation on possible a connection between leys and "earth energy" suggests that it may be an energy not understood by twenty first century man, but utilised in prehistory for purposes long forgotten or only ever vaguely hinted at in surviving folklore of the sites involved. People feel that this energy can be felt in many different ways, sometimes as a tone in the head or as a tingling sensation felt when touching a stone and is quite frequently detected by dowsing.