- The Old Straight Track
The Old Straight Track is a book by
Alfred Watkinsthat was first published in 1925 describing ley linesin the United Kingdom. The full title is "The Old Straight Track: Its Mounds, Beacons, Moats, Sites and Mark Stones".
After he first suggested ley lines in 1921, Watkins searched for ley lines with great precision, using maps and charts. In this book he presented a methodical and thorough exposition of his theories of ley lines, following an earlier much shorter publication, "Early British Trackways" in
1922. The book has a preface, thirty chapters, four appendices and an index. There are many figures, and photographs taken by the author. In the book Watkins claims the straight "Roman roads" were based on earlier ancient tracks. According to the author, these ancient tracks 'criss-cross' the British Islesand were already very old when the Ancient Romans first came to Britain.
Preface to the Original Edition
The preface ends with this statement.What really matters in this book is whether it is ahumanly designed fact, an accidental coincidence, or a"mare's nest," that mounds, moats, beacons, and markstones fall into straight lines throughout Britain, withfragmentary evidence of trackways on the alignments.
A.W. HEREFORD August 1925
Chapter 1 "Mounds"
Chapter 1 begins...Unlike tracks, mounds remain unaltered in site down the ages; in manycases practically unchanged on form. Their antiquity is undoubted, asfor the past half-century a concentration of archæological energydevoted to exploring their burial contents has proved mostof them to be pre-Roman.
It continues....Lasting through scores of centuries of unwritten and written language,it is natural that many different names have become attached to eachstructure, and they are accordingly known by the names - Barrow, Burf,Butt, Cairn, Cruc, Garn, How, Knapp, Low, Mary, Moat, Moot, Mound, Mount,Toot, Tump, Tumulus, Twt. Also less distinctively as Burgh, Bury, Castle,Knowl; these last names being also used in other senses.
Chapter 2 "Aligment of Mounds"
The first paragraph is:In the district under investigation the mounds, or "tumps" as they arecalled on the Welsh border, are, as a rule, few and far between. Butthey do align with each other and their fellow-structures - moats - andalso with other sites of antiquity.
Later:Two alignments, chiefly of earthworks, cross on a ring mound at anacute angle...
Chapter 3 "Leys in Radnor Vale"
A short quote from page 20 (Abacus 1974 edition).Ley M was discovered by noticing that Old Radnor Church aligned in thedistance with a piece of the road up to Burlands...
Chapter 11 "Ley-Men"King Cole was King before the troubles came,The land was happy while he held the helm.
Beneath the light arch of the heaven's spanHe chose to wander earth, the friend of man.
Man hear him on the downs, in lonely inns,In valley woods, or up the Chiltern Wold.
Quoted by Watkins, from
John Masefield's "King Cole" (London: William Heinemann, 1921; New York: The Macmillan Company, 1921).
In this chapter, Watkins takes a different tack. He looks at names, the names of people and corresponding place names. In particular, "Cole" ("Coleman"), "Black" ("Blackman") and "Dod" ("Dodman). These names were associated with the highly skilled and knowledgeable men who created the leys, such as the
"Cole" is also "cold", but there are many other names related to this root. Cole Abbey, Colebatch, Colebreen, Colebatch are just a few of the names he lists. In all, there are about hundred names in the list. Cold Ash, Cold Ashby, Cold Ashton, Coldborough are a few of the names starting with "cold".
He gives "cole" as being a rare term for
jugglerand also makes reference to Old King Cole. Watkins stated that Pugh's Welsh dictionary gives a meaning for "Coel" as omenor belief: one example is "Coelfain" meaning "the stones of omen".
Appendix A "Ley Hunting"
Appendix A is entitled "Ley Hunting" and begins with a quote from Henry VI as follows:
and then continues:All the country is lay'd for meBoth indoor map and outdoor field exploration are necessary. Field work isessential. It is surprising how many mounds, ancient stones, and earthworksare to be found which are not marked, even on the large scale maps. I oftenfeel sure from small indications - such as the knowl marked by a tuft of trees,the two or three Scotch firs in straggling line, the conformation of a roadwith a footpath and then a hedgerow, the general "lay of the land" - that aley exists in a certain direction. But nothing can be done without the map,and for working directions I repeat those given in my earlier book with littlealteration.
You must use Government Ordnance maps. One mile to the inch is the workingscale. Other maps of two or four miles to the inch are quite useless, savefor checking long leys.
Watkins then goes on to say:Maps cut in sections are useless for this exact work.
Some churches in London appear to have been place along "alignments", such as
St Martins-in-the-Fields, St Mary-le-Strand, St Clement Danesand St Dunstan-in-the-Westin Fleet Street. Watkins notes:London church alignments are many, but should not beaccepted as final until the structural history of eachchurch is verified as being on an ancient site.
The book was reprinted as ISBN 0-349-13707-2 on April 2, 1994 by "Abacus". Editions or reprints were published in 1925, 1933, 1945, 1948, 1970, 1974 and 1994. The Abacus edition of
1970was reprinted up to 1999at least, and carries a copyright dated 1970 "Allen Watkins and Marion Watkins".
Alfred Watkins ley
Old King Cole
List of ley lines
* [http://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/ UK Ordnance Survey website]
* [http://openmap.bbn.com/ Open Map]
* [http://uo.space.frot.org/?MapOntology Map Ontology]
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