LivingTravelLaw lines in Ireland

Law lines in Ireland

Ley lines are, at the most basic extreme, alignments of places. These can be of geographic, historical, or mythological significance, depending largely on the ley line theory to which you subscribe. Or even if you just call them “leys” (which are already “lines”), as their discoverer (or inventor) did. At the beginning of modern ley line theory, only established (physical) places like ancient monuments and megaliths, natural peaks, and fords were relevant. These were the places that the amateur archaeologist Alfred Watkins connected with what he called “leys” (from 1921, in his books on “Early British Trackways” and “The Old Straight Track”).

Alfred Watkins and the discovery of Leys

The very name and our modern concept of ley lines began with Alfred Watkins. While he turned to earlier sources and read about possible astronomical alignments of ancient sites (similar to those found, for example, at Newgrange or Stonehenge), his personal observations of Blackwardine in Herefordshire began in 1921 and formed the basis of his theory. They came across him as a kind of sudden revelation, and he was skeptical at first, not trusting his map alone. Checking from a higher point of view, he found that the crossroads, the ford, the standing stones, the crosses on the road, the causeways, the hill forts, and the old churches (mostly on the mounds) seemed to line up in a way that formed a definite path through the landscape.

The line thus created was named “ley” by Watkins (“ley lines” is therefore a redundant tautology), since many of the lines discovered by him simply passed through places with names containing the syllable “ley” ( or spelling variations of this) In their theory, the “dodmen” established “leys” to help travelers cross the countryside (then quite wooded). That some roads still ran (and, in fact, still ran) on these laws was further evidence to Watkins.

It is noteworthy that Watkins saw sets up as a “road network” with signs, nothing more. It should also be noted that Watkins’ laws were not highways from Land’s End to John O’Groats, but local affairs.

Establish reaction

However, his theory was shot down by established archaeologists and historians, mainly on the basis that the surveyed field has a large number of (possibly) relevant objects and that any grid with a generous help of randomly placed dots will have a large number of “Alignments”. Basically, the argument against laws goes, it may all be due to chance. Which was “proven” by the famous archaeologist “Telephone Atys” that Richard Atkinson “found” by connecting the dots marking the telephone booths on a map.

A counterargument may well point out that phone booths are generally placed next to the busiest roads, which may again be operating in old laws …

To the point: while Alfred Watkins’ theory of laws is both fascinating and frustrating, it has not been frowned upon. On the other hand, it is almost impossible to prove the nonexistence of something.

New Age Renaissance

While Watkins’ original work was no longer seriously discussed in established academic circles after a few years, a new interest in his theories came with the dawn of the Age of Aquarius. In 1969, writer John Michell single-handedly revived “ley lines” as a subject of study, now with a definitely mystical and New Age twist.

Michell took Watkins’s realistic theory from the local to the global level, mixed with a dose of Chinese feng shui (at least as understood or interpreted in the West) and created a highly spiritualized version of the basic idea, which has been adopted and expanded by many other authors and applied both to local landscapes and to increasingly extensive alignments throughout the continent. Which, on closer and less enthusiastic scrutiny, often falls literally flat due to simple map-making or reading problems (a globe isn’t flat, after all) and loses point literally by miles (due to alignments that the size of small countries are drawn on small-scale maps between “dots”).

While Watkins’s theory ultimately cannot be disproved and has the physical evidence to back it up, Michell’s theories (and much more the even more exotic ones of his latter-day followers) are often based on perceived importance. of certain points and certain belief systems. From amateur archeology and landscape observation, ley lines have progressed to a quasi-religious state.

Irish Leys?

Ultimately any visitor to Ireland can observe a myriad of alignments (in the local, Watkins way), whether these are marking ancient footprints, or even more, it is because of what the observer wants to believe. But it’s a fun way to explore the landscape, and you may never know where the next law might guide you.

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