Line of sight

Paul Deveraux, and Ian Thompson. The Ley Hunter's Companion. Thames & Hudson, 1979.

This book deals with one of those subjects which have been hovering round the fringes of ufology since the late 50's. The original interest probably dates back to Aimé Michel's ideas on 'orthoteny', the alleged alignments of UFO sightings. The idea was taken up and allied with Alfred Watkins' leys by British researchers like Jimmy Goddard and Philip Heselton

Although there seems to this reviewer to be nothing inherently impossible in our distant forefathers wishing to build their various monuments and structures in straight lines across the landscape, the idea has always provoked derision from the orthodox archaeologists. As with conventional 'debunking' of UFOs, the arguments of the establishment have often been more unscientific than the 'pseudosciences' they condemn.

Deveraux and Thompson go a good way to bringing ley-hunting in from the fringe. Their arguments are rigorous, and the examples they present in a splendidly illustrated. gazetteer of leys are impressive. Perhaps the single most striking image in the book is a photograph of an indisputable 'old straight track' stretching for twenty miles across the rugged terrain of the Bolivian Andes. By any definition this is a 'ley' on a heroic scale, and the existence of these markings settles once and for all the debate as to whether such organised marking of the surface of the earth formed an important part of the ritual of early societies.

Actually seeing clear photographs of such a line allows one to understand the tremendous symbolic and even artistic power of such large-scale works. I am reminded of the powerful symbolism of national unity that was present in the chain of 'Jubilee Bonfires' that burned across Britain in 1977, and wonder whether such a concept was able to inspire the drawing of unseen lines uniting land and man, village, tribe and nation?

Or are we dealing with an artistic expression? A vast conceptual artwork that uses the very planet as its canvas? The book has its faults. We feel that the authors are too ready to introduce a UFO element into their considerations. The information content of most UFO reports is too unquantifiable to allow them to be used in a consideration of a subject like leys, where evidence must by its very nature be founded on accurate delineations.

If not totally convinced, I am impressed -- John Rimmer, Magonia 2, Winter 1979/80

No comments: