This page has more about alignments and the location of ancient sites, including clues about the reasons for aligning ancient sites.
Page summary. It's all about points, not lines, in the landscape. Sites are aligned to create a landscape coherence that integrates menhirs, stone circles, mounds and enclosures into a system, circuitry and wholeness. This makes West Penwith rather like a megalithic intensity-zone, bounded with cliffs.
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 with gaps between them – they are aligned, 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. However the ancients located standing stones, stone circles, mounds and other sites very precisely and deliberately, clearly investing a lot of energy in this. There was clearly a reason for it. We don't yet know what it is.
Presumably it has something to do with 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.
Einstein, its discoverer, called this 'spooky action at a distance'. Quantum physics states that at a deeper level there is no such thing as place or distance. So particles separated in space can nevertheless operate with what physicists call 'quantum entanglement' - synchronously and in harmony.
In other words, the difference between an energy-line and an alignment is that the first functions within or next to the realm of place, distance, time and sequence, while an alignment functions outside it, autonomously of space. Ancient sites can thus relate to each other in at least two ways, one through a medium of connection (an energy line), and usually in sequence (one operates first and the other responds), 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 a mental map we create and agree 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 'here', 'there', 'then', 'now', 'Cornwall' or '2500 BCE' - they are not absolute but relative values.
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 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 they were more here-aware. This started in the forests, where you can easily get lost - creating heres or places was important. Many ancient sites are centres of concentrated hereness, gravitational centres at the heart of reality-fields that radiate out from ancient sites. It is possible to feel this hereness when visiting them (especially if you stop, let yourself float off and just be).
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 experiences, down to detail, in their lives - even when they are unaware of each other's existence. Scientists call this 'pseudo-telepathy', although this notion has problems since telepathy is here conceived of as something that operates over a distance through a medium, thought, which might also not be true in this case. 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 beteen them, but this is non-local and there is no medium of connection such as an energy-line. Though one of 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 cannot be detected by dowsers.
Whatever is the mechanism at work here, one thing is verifiable and factual: ancient sites are arranged in alignments, and 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 can 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 very 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. The same principle works with the 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 exists in the notion of earth-healing: the theory goes that, by working at an ancient site, it can have a wider effect down the network.
There's a chance that acupuncture treatment is non-local too, since the meridians do not exist in physical form. It has been demonstrated that the brain works at least partially non-locally - the connections between brain hemispheres seem to be insufficient to indicate full connectivity, and there is a barrier between left and right brains which seemingly 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 the psycho-geographic reality-fields of the landscape. They are emphasised axes of here-ness.
Dowsers can detect the meridians or energy-lines emanating from ancient sites, mapping out the patterns of energy-lines radiating from them. These tend to 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. These have directionality to them, and they flow. But aligned ancient sites seem to have a non-local connection - it's not there. 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.
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 an unimpressive location is Carfury menhir (photo above 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, with no known alignment to it, and otherwise its 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.
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 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 clicks - 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. It's as if each of these sites, at least the more major ones, 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 is a factor - both the site's visibility and position as seen from elsewhere, and the view from that site of its surrounding landscape. 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 below it.
Most sites were built to be seen - even if, nowadays, many of them are worn down, furze-covered, fallen down, obscured by hedges or buildings, and decontextualised from their original settings. There is an artistic-aesthetic quality to this that we nowadays often miss. But it is visible nevertheless from prominent places.
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 such things happen. There’s a natural magic, an artistry, to this. Try to explain it logically and scientifically, and you’ll get tied up in knots. But magically and intuitively it’s rather elegant.
One other 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, plus the change in our worldview that arose from the time of the Renaissance onwards. All of this has led to a dis-enchantment and exorcism of the magical poesy of the landscapes we live in.
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 depression on the horizon - and some is subjective - myths of giants and their exploits, or association of certain places with Celtic saints.
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 on genius loci, 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's surface and its geo-energy deep down. 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 vertical energy-flow 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 sanctuaries and a quasi-henge such as Caer Brân don't fulfil quite the same function, yet they also have a big-sky and wide-panorama feeling. Meanwhile, springs, wells and fogous lead our attention downwards and inwards, and generally their purpose is not to let in the light but to collect darkness or shade.
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 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.