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Last edited 14 Sep 2021
Alfred Watkins claimed the Malvern Hills incorporated a ley line along its ridge.
The concept of ley lines is based on the existence of a hypothetical network of lines that criss-crosses around the world. These lines are believed by some to run diagonally and are not part of the scientific grid system based on latitude (running east to west) and longitude (running north to south). Instead, ley lines (sometimes referred to as dragon lines) relate to significant features in the landscape that reflect ancient geometric alignments.
There is some evidence that ancient cultures accepted the existence of paths or connections between the natural and the supernatural world. In the early 1800s, some people in Great Britain referred to certain rural roads as fairy paths. It was believed that these mysterious trails connected portions of the countryside, and humans should not walk on them.
By the mid-1800s and early 1900s, the idea of supernatural fairy paths was incorporated into more conventional religious theories, but proponents did not attempt to justify these beliefs with a scientific explanation.
In 1921, a British flour milling entrepreneur, hiker, photographer and aspiring archaeologist, Alfred Watkins, presented what he believed to be a concrete theory on the existence of ley lines after he made an observation while driving through the hills of Herefordshire. During this journey, Watkins noticed the alignment of certain noteworthy features or vantage points on the landscape. He used an Ordnance Survey map to record each feature and draw connecting lines between them.
Initially, he described these connections as straight travel paths or ancient trade routes that were used for centuries. The points of significance within the landscape were navigational tools to help people find their way or beacons that could be used to transmit messages.
In 1922, Watkins published his book 'Early British Trackways', which is where he first used the Old English term ‘ley’ (meaning cleared space) to label his discovery. He selected this term since some of the areas he identified included the word 'ley' in their names. He presented a more in depth examination of his theory of ley lines in the 1925 book 'The Old Straight Track'.
 Supernatural association
Spanning centuries and cultures (including prehistoric, Roman and medieval) the points of significance identified by Watkins included prominent hilltops, mounds, ancient earthworks, stone circles, natural springs, ruins, holy wells, churches and so on. The trade route theory initially proposed by Watkins gradually became associated with pockets of concentrated energy, magnetic forces, mystic healing qualities, psychic powers, paranormal events and additional supernatural characteristics.
As a result, ley line connections were made between Stonehenge, Chichen Itza, the Pyramids, Machu Picchu and other sites that seemed to defy the laws of architecture that were practised at the time. Ley lines have subsequently been mentioned as navigational tools used by alien spaceships and have become associated with other concepts - including dowsing, crop circles and the lost city of Atlantis - that are not easily understood or explained.
 Deemed pseudoscience
Watkins did not originally propose any type of supernatural characteristics when he came up with the concept of ley lines. These mystical attributes were superimposed by those who wished to use Watkins’ theory as the basis for the creation of separate fields of study.
The appropriation of the concept of ley lines by various groups paved the way for a community of ley line hunters devoted to searching for patterns and justifying their existence to the scientific community. No such evidence has been found, but that has not stopped its believers from pursuing the existence - and power - of ley lines.
Archaeologists have found that 'inexplicable' architectural sites were often built in certain locations due to practical matters such as the availability of natural resources. They have also found that roads were historically constructed in straight lines - when possible - as this is generally the shortest distance between two points.
Statisticians have further explained that there is a reasonable chance of apparent connection between a significant number of random points. Some sceptics have illustrated the illegitimacy of ley lines by using the scenario of pizza restaurants, cinemas and other mundane structures as coincidental “points of significance.”
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