The early morning mist rises on Hambledon Hill, revealing the spectacular Blackmore Vale below it. It is the perfect time for walking before the heat of the day arrives. Treading through the uneven ground and ancient ridges, it is easy to imagine others taking the same route thousands of years ago. But there’s something more about the hill with its magnificent ridges and views that runs deeper than time itself.
Hambledon Hill is one of several places in Dorset sitting on a Ley line. There are hundreds of them all over the world linking landmarks from the Pyramids of Giza to Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. A century ago in 1921, Alfred Watkins was standing at a viewpoint in Herefordshire and noticed how certain hills and settlements appeared to run in a straight line. He went on to write The Old Straight Track in 1925 detailing his thoughts on Leys. But what exactly are they?
A Ley line is a straight route across the landscape, generally invisible to the naked eye, but one that connects landmarks together. Trees, ponds, church spires, cathedrals, castle mottes, and standing stones are examples of features on Ley lines. Alfred Watkins saw them as prehistoric trading routes or navigational markers. Once the concept emerged, they fuelled the public imagination around mystical things in particular. It wasn’t long before druids and other spiritual believers saw them as powerful energy lines. Many scientists dismissed Watkins’ theory, stating the lines were purely coincidental and completely unconnected with the spiritual ways of life.
North Dorset’s Ley Lines
It’s no secret that the Blackmore Vale is one of the best places to live but the area is full of Ley lines criss-crossing he landscape.
Hambledon Hill, once a neolithic burial site and Iron Age Hillfort, has several Ley lines traversing it. It is one of the six apex points connecting the mystical Wessex Astrum to Stonehenge, Avebury, and Glastonbury. Stand at the top of the hill, and several landmarks are in alignment from Hod Hill to churches. Child Okeford is also reputed to be at the centre of several Leys, in its position at the foot of Hambledon Hill.
Considered one of Britain’s largest neolithic sites, the Dorset Cursus is an ancient processional route running six miles in length along two parallel tracks on Cranborne Chase. Although there are a few neolithic barrows left in place today, it can still be walked. The Cursus is aligned to Ley lines and also with views of the winter solstice.
Close by is the neolithic henge complex at Knowlton, famed for its Norman church inside the ancient structure. There was quite a community here in medieval times but the village was decimated by plague in the 15th century and abandoned. Several Leys run through the henge and it is believed to be one of the most atmospheric and haunted places in Dorset. What drew believers of different faiths to the area across the ages? Was it the views of the equinox sunrise from the nearby Great Barrow or an unseen energy of aligned places? Or, was there some deep sense of spirituality here?
There are all kinds of theories surrounding the Cerne Abbas Giant, but the hill above the iconic landmark is on a Ley line. In the village itself a sacred spring and the church is also aligned with the Ley. The Cerne Abbas Ley runs seven miles cross country to Holwell and to St Laurence’s Church in the tiny parish, named after a holy well.
Coincidental places or deep spiritual energy? Whatever your thoughts on the Ley lines and their connections, there’s one thing for sure. These lines are among some of Dorset’s most beautiful places and a good excuse for getting out and about and appreciating more of the county.
By: Rachael Rowe