Home              Ley Lines

In 1925 an antiquarian, Alfred Watkins introduced the theory of "Ley Lines" in his book The Old Straight Track. This concept evolved from Watkin's study of place- names ending in -ley.

According to the theory, Watkins traced out straight lines throughout Britain joining such places. Many criss-crossed each other. The "leys" he saw as ancient grassed tracks.
-Ley or -Leigh place-names are generally accepted to represent an enclosed field but Watkins suggested these name-place endings meant " a grassy track across country". No occult claims were made by Watkins as some groups do today.
The idea may have developed from observation of the system of Roman roads which crossed between major Roman centres of Britain, these were often straight stretches of road, deviating only to skirt difficult terrain. When Watkins joined landmarks on a map near Leominster, Hereford/Worcestershire, he perceived that these lines followed 'ancient British' tracks. He saw high-points & hilltops as being sighting points.
That light travels in straight lines and may be reflected from points may have offered the inspiration for such structures.

Ley Lines for parts of West and South Yorkshire:
The Western Parts of Yorkshire are covered with place-names ending in -ley. This is probably a relic of p; Anglian colonisation, for with the later incursions of the Danes, Anglian place names further East seem to have been replaced by Scandinavian/Danish ones.
See map showing areas  of Yorkshire [orange colour] with place names ending in -ley.

When places ending in -ley are plotted from maps, a less than random pattern appears. Not all follow straight lines however. Some such as the Ilkley-Otley line seem to follow the colonisation/trade route of Wharfedale. Others such as those around Dewsbury appear to link to other staighter lines. This latter example appears more like the "winding English road" between Anglian settlements. Dewsbury was an early Anglian ecclesiastical centre.

Places ending in -ley found in W. & S. Yorkshire which appear to form a pattern.

Some, as around Loxley, and Leeds [Loidis] appear to have no particular pattern but the density of such settlements may indicate other cultural reasons.
Very strong -ley lines run through :
1. Chisley and West Midgley, through  Warley, Exley, Bradley, Lilley, Whitley, Midgley East,
    Coxley, Woolley and Brierley. For the most part this appears to follow Calderdale and thus represents a pattern of
    westward Anglian migration.
2. Crossley, Longley, Shepley, Shelley, Emley, Midgley East, Coxley, Stanley, Scholey and Methley
    and Astley.
3. Keighley, Bingley, Moseley, Cottingley, Shipley, Calverley, Bagley, Headingley, Burley and
4. Beamsley, Ilkley, Wheatley, Burley, Otley & Guiseley, Moseley, Alwodley, Hobberley.
    Essentially following Wharfedale.
5. Farnley, Leathley, Castley &Weardley form and arc from Otley to Alwoodley

The pattern is distinctly trapezoidal. The ley place-names do not lie directly in line but on either side.
There appears to be a bend in the ley near Kirklees/Bradley/BattyFord. Battye Ford was a fording point on the river Calder.
Were these ley lines land boundaries along which travel could occur? Are they Anglian in origin? Do they represent the direction of colonisation by Anglian settlers?  Were existing vantage points previously colonised by people of the Iron Age used for Anglian ley surveying?  Were the lines set out using magnetic North at the time#? Whether in fact these structures occur at all is contentious. Certainly, I do not suggest occult or paranormal reasons for these apparent patterns. Rather, they are relics of possible Anglian social organisation, after all, Old English is the origin of  place-names ending, -ley.

# Note: Magnetic North is constantly changing. At the present time it is 11 degrees west of  True North and decreasing easterly.

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1. Watkins, Alfred. Early British Trackways, 1922.
2. Watkins, Alfred. The Old Straight Track, 1925, in print 1989.
3. Watkins, Alfred. The Ley Hunter's Manual 1927.
4. Healey, Tim. The World's Most Mysterious Places, Readers Digest Assn Ltd., London, 1996.

© Copyright Tim Midgley 2002. Links revised June 2009