9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on September 3, 2012
Alfred Watkins was a man of many talents: pioneering photographer, amateur archaeologist, miller, magistrate, inventor, brewer and business man. However, what he is perhaps best known for is his theory of Leys. He was living in a time when there was still considerable resistance to anything considered occult, while mainstream archaeology had a very limited view of what our ancient ancestors were capable of. That said, Watkins presents a theory that leys were man-made, initially for utilitarian purposes such as trade lines, but later took on religious and spiritual significance due to their strong and significant placements within the landscape, and in relation to astronomical factors, especially, as he indicates, with the arrival of the astronomer-priests and druids. So while The Old Straight Track does not propose a mystical theory or origin of Leys as such, it does talk about the existence of leys as interconnecting pathways between landmarks of political, practical or (later) religious significance, such as mounds, moats, megaliths, barrows, castles and stone circles.
As well as being pioneering, what is important about the book is that it is not merely theoretical, but details extensive and thorough fieldwork, at various sites and locations of interest. Despite the fact that it was said that he saw the concept of a network of leys in the land in a single intuitive flash, from that point on he seeks to be strictly scientific throughout. This is backed-up by a fascinating in-depth analysis of place-names and etymology of terms. He points out for instance that mark stones (marking positions of leys) appear to have etymological connections with words like "markets" as traders used the leys as trackways to the markets, and he postulates that the Mercury) and Merchant are words etymologically linked to Marker/Mark-stones. The book is also useful in defining the term "ley" and showing how and why it is probably etymologically linked to words like "lea" and "light".
Mounds and beacons (since they are found on the lines) are thoroughly defined and their relevance discussed. Place-names containing "cole", "black" and "white" Watkins shows are most likely related to the light of the beacons ("cole" and "black" related to charcoal/coal that fuelled the beacons, and "white" relates to the shining light produced , essentially the light-path of the ley. Whether you choose to believe that the light of the ley was simply based on the beacons lighting the pathway, or whether you feel that the ley contains light in the mystical sense of being a pathway made of spiritual, guiding light (a "spirit path") running through the earth, this research of Watkins is significant.
There is also a chapter on Sun alignments, which looks at leys which appear to run from the points in the horizon where the midsummer Sun rises and sets. Watkins, includes in this analysis a discussion of Stonehenge, which he shows to be built at the junction of several leys, one of which being a Midsummer Sunrise line.
The Old Straight Track is the book that really launched our modern understanding and interest in leys. While, unlike many modern ley hunters, Watkins (apparently) didn't dowse for leys or promote any sort of mystical theory behind their existence, his book is an ideal starting point for anyone interested in leys.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 26, 2012
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
The Seller receives five stars ***** for a perfect and timely transaction. Book is in excellent shape and reading condition. It is the first book I've read on what I've heard to be "ley lines' and is a great study providing the basic knowledge and theory about a anomaly that was new at the time, which is quite accepted today as part of the Earth's mysterious properties. Treat yourself to this book, especially if you have a growing curiosity into Mother Earth, the metaphysical, and Mother Earth's spiritual side, which is oh! So subtly visible to those of us on the physical plane.
on January 16, 2013
This was the first serious look at pre-Roman technology in Britain, what it would take to achieve apparently highly complex tasks, and the relationship of sites that - until then, and far too often today - were/are treated entirely in isolation.
Since this book was written, we have found evidence of pre-Roman paved roads out of London, wooden walkways between wooden circles at Flag Fen, and a wooden bridge linking Norfolk and Suffolk. Roads, then, existed. People did not idly walk between places by any old route. A claim archaeologists seriously contended into the late 90s.
We have also found these roads were not terribly straight, but were designed to be easy to make and maintain. However, I contend his reasoning still holds and that his powers of observation and deduction were comparable to any detective, real or fictional. I also contend that a scorecard of 50% is superior to that of any archaeologists as
on March 1, 2014
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
If you want to know what ley lines are all about, this is the book that started it all. Watkins was a commercial traveler before he retired and wrote this book about the alignment of various ancient stones and old pagan worship centers in England. A bit dry, but worth the price.