This page has more about alignments and the location of ancient sites, including clues about the reasons for aligning ancient sites.
It's all about points in the landscape, not lines. Sites are aligned to create a landscape coherence that integrates menhirs, stone circles, mounds and enclosures into a complete system, a circuitry and wholeness. This makes West Penwith rather like a megalithic intensity-zone: megaliths are found across Britain, but there are a number of intensity zones, and Penwith is one of them - and in the Southwest, Bodmin Moor and Dartmoor are the other two such zones.
They're alignments, not really lines
Although we draw lines across maps to identify alignments, it doesn’t mean they actually are lines. All we can genuinely assert is that these are carefully positioned points that are aligned with each other. Imagine lining up Lego blocks or similar items on a table with gaps between them – they are aligned to each other, but there’s no actual line there. It's their arrangement in alignment that matters: look at the aligned points, not at the lines themselves.
Drawing a line on a map is thus figurative and representative only - it shows that the sights on that line are aligned and helps us see its accuracy. The ancients located standing stones, stone circles, mounds and other sites very precisely and deliberately, investing a lot of energy in this. There was clearly a reason for it. We don't yet know what it is. But it's there.
Presumably it has something to do with energy-resonance – setting stones and mounds in such a way that they interact and cross-resonate with each other. Yet there is no connecting medium between them: dowsers do not pick up these alignments in the way they can pick up on water lines or energy-leys, except in cases where an alignment and an energy-ley coincide. This happens only in a minority of cases.
An intriguing principle exists in physics: non-locality. With non-locality, two entities can respond to each other at a distance even when there is no connecting medium between them - and they respond instantaneously and synchronously, not in sequence. That is, they aren't actually responding to each other; rather, they are operating with the same cycles, periodicities, intensities and qualities to each other, simultaneously.
Einstein, its discoverer, called this 'spooky action at a distance'. Quantum physics shows that there is really no such thing as place or distance. Particles separated in space can operate with what physicists call 'quantum entanglement' - synchronously and in harmony. They behave as if they are connected but they are not.
In other words, the difference between an energy-line and an alignment is that the first functions within the realm of place, distance, time and sequence, while an alignment functions outside it, with aligned sites operating autonomously yettogether.
Ancient sites thus relate to each other in two ways, one through a medium of connection (an energy line), and usually in sequence (one operates first and the other responds, since there is a flow or energy-exchange involved), and the other without such a medium, yet simultaneously or synchronously.
Our concept of 'here' exists in relation to other places, since here is not there, according to the logical mental map we tend to create in order to locate ourselves - and we agree this with others. This agreement is called learning and education - an agreement to see and describe things in similar ways to others. Our perception of any place or phenomenon relies heavily on the acceptance of such frames of reference, which we call 'there', 'then', 'now', 'Cornwall' or '2500 BCE' - they are not absolute but relative values to 'here', in time or in space.
Also, our experience of anything, such as 'Penzance', varies according to our mood, intentions, subjective experiences and state of consciousness at the time we refer to it.
Here is thus experiential - we can see it and stand on it - while there is theoretical, based on memory, concept or imagination. Today, we are very there-aware, with our thoughts elsewhere, or siphoned off by our mobile phones, while in ancient times people were more here-aware. This perception started in the forests, where you can easily get lost: creating heres or places was important.
Many ancient sites are centres of concentrated hereness. They're like gravitational centres at the heart of reality-fields that radiate out from them. It is possible to feel this hereness when visiting ancient sites, especially if you stop, let yourself relax and just be. At that moment you are at the centre of the universe, as you perceive it at that place and moment in time.
Then there is the matter of identical twins. Identical twins separated at birth and brought up in different environments nevertheless have uncanny synchronicities and shared life-experiences, even down to detail - and even when they are unaware of each other's existence. Scientists call this 'pseudo-telepathy', although this notion has problems since a form of telepathy is probably involved - the kind of telepathy that family members can have. Identical twins have an innate connection arising from within, in their genetic patterning.
So ancient sites, arguably, are aligned with each other to create an energy-relationship between them, but this is non-local and there is no medium of connection such as an energy-line. This said, one or two dowsers do talk of 'consciousness lines' set up by thought, and some ley-hunters, not least Alfred Watkins himself, have reported having visions of a thin line of light passing along an alignment. This might, however, be more allegorical than literal. These alignments are usually not detected by dowsers.
Whatever is the mechanism at work here, one thing is verifiable and factual: ancient sites are arranged in alignments. There is clearly a reason for this. We need to find out why, and how it works. Archaeologists need to address this evidence without skirting or ignoring it.
Alignments and the positioning, geometry and mathematical proportions of sites such as stone circles contain major clues to understanding the people of the neolithic and bronze ages. They knew something about subtle energy-resonance, going to great lengths to build stone and earth structures in order to work with it.
Insights from dowsers
Dowsers detect energy-flows moving around and betweenancient sites. Some straight, above-ground energy-lines indeeddo coincide with alignments, but they don't automatically do so. Dowsed energy-lines and alignments are different things, though there is some overlap.
What proportion of them overlap, no one has systematically researched, but it’s likely to be more the exception than the rule - at a guess, 20-30%. But that doesn't mean they're the same thing.
Boscawen-ûn stone circle
Tom Graves, in his book Needles of Stone, likened standing stones to acupuncture needles - this was a breakthrough idea in the 1970s. If you have a stomach problem, an acupuncturist might stick needles behind your knee or in the back of your ears. According to his theory, the same principle works with the landscape - place a megalith at a certain place and it will affect the wider landscape.
This makes no sense unless we understand how acupuncture meridians pass through the body - so a needle in the back of the ear will affect the stomach through the meridian connecting them. A similar principle seems to exist with energy-lines, working as a circuitry of 'etheric wires' between those ancient sites they stretch between. This can create an integrated system across the landscape.
But there's a non-local, unconnected energy-system too, rooted in the precise siting of ancient sites, positioned in such a way that they interact with each other non-locally. It has been demonstrated that the brain works at least partially non-locally - the connections between brain hemispheres are insufficient to indicate full connectivity, and there is a barrier between left and right brains that exists to shield one from the other. So the relationship between brain hemispheres seems to be non-local too - at least partially.
Men Scryfa, decontextualised by fields and walls
We experience ancient sites to be special places because they are like gravity-centres in a tapestry of psycho-geographic reality-fields in the landscape. They are emphasised centres or nodes of here-ness.
The meridians or energy-lines that dowsers detect emanate from ancient sites, and dowsers can map out the patterns of energy-lines radiating from them. These lines generally follow two main patterns (though different dowsers perceived things differently): radials emanating outwards, more or less like rays, and spirals moving round a stone, winding out vortically, more like energy-fields.
The lines have directionality to them, and they flow. But aligned ancient sites have a non-local relationship where there's no connection. Yet somehow they are intentionally connected. Many menhirs have clearly been erected to act as connectors and relays, to a current that isn't there - by dint of being aligned with each other.
While many ancient sites have visually impressive locations, this is not always the case, and visual sight-lines between sites apply only in some cases. The ancients didn't stick to categorical rules.
An example of a relatively unimpressive location is Carfury menhir (photo higher up the page and map left). It's a significant alignment hub, sitting on a valley side in a position one would not guess to be a great place for a menhir.
It has a fine view of St Michael’s Mount, yet there is no known alignment to it - so this is a line of sight only - and otherwise the menhir's landscape positioning is unremarkable.
Yet its nodality as an alignment hub suggests that this menhir is important. A dowser might have a few things to say about its energy-location and character too, and there might be as yet unresearched geometric or astronomical factors affecting its location.
Actually, Carfury was most likely a double menhir, and the second menhir now lies built into the hedge (wall) not far below the menhir. However, if alignments are anything to go by, then its true upstanding location might well have been where the 'C' is on the map above, where two red alignments cross the yellow backbone alignment.
Lanyon Quoit from Bosiliack Barrow (telephoto shot)
But then, go west over the hill to nearby Bosiliack Barrow, half a mile away, and you’ll see remarkable visual connections with several sites from there, including Lanyon Quoit (see right), Carn Kenidjak, Mulfra Quoit, Sancreed Beacon and Watch Croft (Penwith’s highest hill). Bosiliack Barrow is brilliantly located, offering a classic landscape view. Move 20-30 paces in any direction and this panorama disappears.
From a distance, it’s not always clear why an ancient site is placed precisely where it is. But go to the site itself and something often 'clicks' about its placing - though sometimes fields, hedges and buildings established long after the megalithic period obscure the site's sense of place. Nevertheless, in many cases you can see or feel a site's positioning. It feels as if you're standing at the centre of the universe with everything revolving around you. You are here.
That's a key secret to these places - the ancient Greeks called them an omphalos, a psychic gravity-centre from which everything seems to spread out. There's a reality- or consciousness-vortex centred on each ancient site, with a psycho-gravitational field that bends perceived reality around it, subjectively speaking. It's as if each of these sites gathers hereness to it and informs our perception of the landscape with a sense of centrality.
Since the days of dowsers Guy Underwood, T C Lethbridge and Tom Graves, we’ve been aware of the patterns of underground water and subtle energy that contribute to the location of ancient sites.
Then, on this website, we highlight ancient site alignments, which have some relationship with underground water and subtle energy, but not a direct one.
There are other factors too, and a remarkable confluence of these factors seem to determine the location of many sites. Generally, at least three or more factors will be demonstrated at any ancient site.
Trink Hill with Rosewall Hill behind, from Trencrom on summer solstice
Visual sighting or intervisibility is a factor. With some sites, one can be seen more easily from the other than vice versa. This can be quite precise - that is, a particular view can be visible only from a quite specific location and at a certain height. Or the site might be located so that it is visible on the horizon when seen from another site.
Most sites were built to be seen - even if, nowadays, many of them are worn down, furze-covered, fallen, obscured by hedges or buildings, and decontextualised from their original settings 4-6,000 years ago. There is an artistic and aesthetic elegance to this that we nowadays sometimes miss.
Another factor is astronomy and the rising and setting points of the sun, moon and possibly the stars, aligned to features in the visible landscape. That is, the site is located precisely at a point where, as seen from there, the sun or moon rises over a certain noticeable point, such as another ancient site or a landscape feature on the local horizon, at certain key moments in time. There’s a natural magic to this. Try to explain it logically and scientifically and you’ll get tied up in knots. But magically and intuitively it makes a certain poetic sense when you walk in the landscape and see how it works. Astronomically oriented or aligned sites were thus located to capture time and in some way fix that time down in space - nailing it down on the ground.
Another factor is the naturalistic, poetic and mythic context of an ancient site. Much of this level of meaning has been diluted owing to deforestation, agriculture, field walls, roads, houses and other relatively modern appurtenances, as well as the removal of ancient sites by landowners and miners up to recent decades.
But there's also our worldview, which changed radically around the time of the Renaissance 500 years ago - scientifically, we began seeing ourselves as dispassionately and emotionally-uninvolved objective observers of the world around us. All of this led to a dis-enchantment of nature and an exorcism of the magical poesy of the landscapes we live in. We no longer saw rocks as beings - we saw them as objects.
All the same, every place had its stories and associations, a history of events that happened there, and its place memory. Humanity has for long endowed places with significance. Some of this is objective - such as a site where the sun rises over a bump or a depression on the horizon - and some is subjective - myths of giants and their exploits, or association of certain places with Celtic saints, or folk tales of events that happened long ago.
All of these factors knit together to contribute to the sacred geography of the megalith-builders, with their prehistoric form of feng shui. For more about this and on genius loci, or the spirit of place, see here.
Before we move on, remember that one of the most important alignments in Penwith is up-down, vertical. Upright stones are there to connect the heavens with the Earth. Energy-flows through such stones can go upward or downward, fluctuating at different times of the year or with the phases of the moon - dowsers see this as a spiral or helical energy-flow winding upward or downward around an upstanding menhir. One important area of future research is to study the cycles and periodicities of such tidal energy-flows.
Some sites such ashill camps, cliff castles and a quasi-henge such as Caer Brân don't fulfil quite the same function - they act as spaces, as do stone circles. Meanwhile, springs, wells and fogous lead our attention downwards and inwards, and generally their purpose is to collect darkness or shade, or the deeper seeing that comes when the senses are deprived of inputs.
Chambered cairns, with their horizontal chambers, evoke an inward-outward form of attention - they seem to be intended to let in light, especially at sunrise or sunset at key times of year, or to encourage an interiority which nevertheless looks outwards when one sits inside the chamber.
Many sites are thus concerned with the encouragement or transforming of different kinds of consciousness - up, down, in and out. This was clearly a significant factor behind megalithic engineering.
In the case of quoits, with their capstones, they seem to cap up-welling energy from inside the Earth to trickle it out across the landscape through the gaps between the vertical stones holding up the capstone. This might be specifically directional or more splayed out.
Perhaps they also harvest landscape energy through the gaps, sending it down into the earth. This might be a tidal flow, involved with the rising and falling of seasonal energies throughout the year or at different phases of the moon. It could be that the neolithic quoit-builders saw this as both feeding and harvesting the energy of the earth.
Dowsers demonstrate how subtle energy is localised into energy-streams, with their up-flows, down-flows and their horizontal radial and spiral energy-patterns. This is a subtle energy distribution network that the ancients engaged with by locating ancient sites at places where such interactions in nature were strong.
Being at an ancient site always changes your mood and state, often leading to insights, resolution of problems, relaxation or similar awareness changes. Whether or not this happens consciously depends on the inner orientation of the perceiver. But it happens nevertheless.
This is one of the main reasons why many people enjoy visiting ancient sites. These are places where the veils between levels of reality and consciousness are more permeable. Hence that the bodies of the deceased were buried at some sites, or their bones were used there for ritual purposes. To connect with the ancestors or with higher beings outside time and space, it was best to do this at places where access to such realms was easiest.
The resonance fields set up or amplified by building ancient sites played a part in helping the ancients formulate their world and play a proactive part in working with seasonal change and spinning the wheel of time.