Lines, tracks, ancient locations, spiritual sites. Send us your poems to celebrate 100 years of Ley Lines! Invented in Herefordshire!

Alfred Watkins - Arthur's Stone

Alfred Watkins – Arthur’s Stone

The idea for these invisible connective lines across the landscape came to Herefordian, Alfred Watkins in a flash. According to his theory, these trackways connect ancient, spiritual sites from old churches and hilltops to standing stones.  Amateur archaeologist, inventor, photographer and entrepreneur, Watkins first outlined his concept in a pamphlet called Early British Trackways and then in his book The Old Straight Track. Watkins’ revelation had an enormous impact: in the 1920s and 1930s it drove thousands of people to the countryside; a 1960s revival made links with the mystical and even UFOs, whilst in the 1970s it influenced the land art movement and artists such as Richard Long and Hamish Fulton.

Ledbury Poetry Festival has commissioned poet Rhys Trimble to write the opening poem, Ley Hunt. Please do send your poems using the form below. Lines, tracks, ancient locations, spiritual sites – there is much to inspire and many directions your poems could wander in.

Ley Lines Poetry Entry Form

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Ledbury Poetry Festival is collaborating with Hereford Museum & Art Gallery and Visit Herefordshire to mark this significant 100th anniversary with a county-wide celebration.

Rhys Trimble

Rhys says, “When I think of ley lines I’m split between the rather mystical energy highways that they have come to represent and the prosaic techniques that Watkins suggests in ‘The Old Straight Track’ as an archaeological method in grouping finds along a line of sight. I borrowed some terminology from both Watkins and editions of Ley Hunter which represent the emerging spiritualization of leys when the hand made magazine was published in 1969. Lines also represent other things in art, mark-making suggests the line as the smallest unit of a piece of art. I used techniques like cut-up to find words that sounded well together, evoking prosaicity in some of the terminological words and the spiritual in a litany-like repetition of line, the line, the line.”

LEY HUNT  rhys trimble

   with inspiration from Watkins, Ley Hunter Magazine

deccan traps or three patches of scorched earth
live saccade, a divinity in self-similarity

portal to their othered mirror & mythos
undepth it charged corridor with meaning

meander parish on barish, treiglad
sheeptrack to mainstreet

superhighway embanked
kernel wave tide particulate dualism

axilation and boundary bisector
light the beginning

line:FORTEANA
line:Hexerisk on air
line:Bishops Wye
line:the tumps

deerfold purpose graphite on folded paper
boxing the compass S/ SW/SSE
N/NNE/NSW

golds above the station
virgo’s sheaf an alluvium: oak indicator

ink dead:line
hirfaen:line
unbroken circle:line
second from north:line

earth necklaces run
CAPLAR on magic

alignments radiating in all directions
mark stones, glyphic telegram dischord

line:Hergest transaction
line:parliament at Offa’s
line:gospel proximity

hierophany: psychic brachiform
neuronal shovelful, rods cross cones

line:one stone fell, line:protractor in mid-air
line:mythico religious arca, line:earthforce charlatan

look up: chord, markmade in cartographic sway
a birdsong of points


Your Poems

Steps in Time
by Samuel Mackereth

A metred note is filtered
by branch and ragged leaf, and yet
unnatural in its regularity.
Somewhere beyond the two walls of the old barn, walls on older walls,
the treasure seeker swings
the culprit detector left, right; left, right
and steps in time.
There are layers in nature, and human use of nature.
The flats and troughs of the dingle are unwashed leftovers,
houses and drains that shaped an ancient helping
of spring, brook, wood and rich pasture.
The note hastens and halts. A blade penetrates
the membrane of older worlds where coin and brooch and ring and tool,
Medieval, some Roman, lie covered.
This time a false alarm, a bolt,
aged but not ancient;
perhaps no older
than broken bottle-glass beside the wall.
Younger: the flapping blue of tangled sheeting,
the upturned bucket, cracked and half swallowed yet
long to digest.
Our layer is placid: absent the bustle of coin or coach or cottage.
Only a few sheep, huddled, share
the brook, the wood, the sculpted hill. Turning
I walk the sunken coach road, nettled,
my footsteps lonely on the shrunken path.
The bolt is cast aside, unwanted metal.
The rhythm resumes:
beep, beep;
left, right

Foot Prints on Worm Hill
by Judy Dinnen

Soft marks of human passing,
Invisible people, no heartbeat,
no coloured scarf or cheery nod.
Here your presence and yet absence.
Your marks pattern wet mud,
slither and stride in the daily walk.
They climb the slope of Worm Hill,
amongst harsh, brown stalks,
between green signs of new life.

You are the crowd of human passing,
the tide of coming and going.

We tread the crossing path,
through the hedge gaps,
over the style, following you
mystery folk. Now I see you
have a companion, a large canine,
a rosette of paw marks shows
his place in the blur of yesterday.

You are the crowd of human passing,
the tide of coming and going.

We look back at the spread of hills,
the dark, smudgy winter sky.
Rain drips onto the wet ground,
fills the prints of man and dog.
Our prints add to the muddle
of human walking, following
the neat line from one village
to the next. We are part of the
crossing crowd, the human flux
of lockdown people.

We are the crowd of human passing,
the tide of coming and going.

Creation Myth
by Jodie Duffy

These times are dressed
in different clothes
but buried beneath
are the same bones

as the solstice arrives
just before sun rise
I step into the shadows
of the standing stones

I tread the ancient path
the instinctive network
it still exists
under this modern skin

I chase a golden thread
as it disappears
into the smoke rising
from the burning within

at each hilltop
I look for the next
thread a new bead
on my quivering string

the horizon breaks open
the sky glows red
in the crowning pause
we are beyond everything

when the light softens
we are wrapped in relief
I hear bird song
trilling of our birth

soil clings to my palms
under my fingernails
my blood soaks
into the earth

Walkabout
by Bob Woodroofe

Down the dreaming tracks
spirit children linger
in the footprints of ancestors.
Poets of your own creation
you sang the world into existence.

Sacred to the wandering tribe
the tune remains the same.
Words haze and mingle,
cross boundaries and borders,
map the contours of your land.

Earth gives forth life eternal,
wound the earth, wound yourself.
That is the way of the land.
It takes you back when you die,
go back in, dream time.

Follow your own song line.
Search for pasture
where you do not have to ask
to be at home and yet
are free to leave.

The Dodman
by Bob Woodroofe

I am the Dodman come to mark the way
you must search for my signs along the ley
the old paths embedded deep in the land
measured by me with twin rods in my hand

They can be read if you trouble to look
lain down on the land like an open book
just follow the line back deep into time
the track leads straight on as upwards you climb

My ways are slow made with a measured tread
like the snail with twin horns upon his head
over ridge and furrow from mound to mump
through plough or fallow tumulus to tump

Notch on the skyline for you to follow
gleam of pond or stream down in the hollow
crest the summit close by castle and church
then for the next sign you carefully search

The sunlight glitters from moat or from mere
shows the way that leads down both straight and clear
follow the line to bury burgh and moot
on past how and knap till you reach the toot

There are endless paths that you can follow
walk one each day another tomorrow
until the day when you run out of time
and have finally walked your last ley line

Sleeping girl, Rhynie
by Mandy MacDonald

adream in her stone-lined cist
still as still
she has lain for centuries
curled
waiting

her small body melting
slowly
to a ghost print
engraved by peat

she is a feather, a breath
so quiet among
the clay moulds for cloak-pins
the fragments of Frankish glass
things wrought
things brought

no grave goods blessed
her passage to whatever afterlife
she had feared or hoped for

her being
narrowed to one tiny bone
that rang, almost beyond hearing
almost by accident
against a student’s trowel

— I have lived so many lives
here in my waiting:
I have been beetle, earthworm, mite
microbe
I have diminished
I have enriched
at last, the sky —

speckle-dark, a merlin
dashes over the dig, is gone

ley lines lie
by Eithne Cullen

Along the ley lines
lie the Great Pyramids
of Giza, Chichen Itza
and Stonehenge:
ley lines’ mystery deepens
all wonders of the world
connect, surprise archaeologists.

Along the ley lines
lie wonders that defy
the laws of architecture
defy the gravity of situation.
pockets of energy –
supernatural. Crisscross
round the globe

like lines of latitude and
longitude that transverse
and intersect. And meeting
throw up energy to form
landforms that surprise,
monuments that belie
realism and the prosaic.

Ley Lines
by Bess L

He wasn’t completely wrong
Ley lines do criss-cross these nations
Watch the sun set through the ruins
Of Whitby Abbey high above the bay
Be still as it rises beyond
The sarsens on solstice day
Pause to turn skyward
On Giant’s Causeway
And at low tide on the Gower, admire
The wrecks exposed by the receding waves
Then tell me you don’t sense them too
But what he should have mentioned
Is no map will ever be adequate
As ley lines surpass dimensions

Norse Code
by Hélène Demetriades

On Uig Sands I walk along the tide line
of an empty beach collecting shells
in wonder at the salmon pink of tiny clams,
the indigo of mussels, the yellow of the periwinkle,
the blanched breastplate of a sea urchin
double perforations running up a seam.

I press these fragments back into wet sand,
make a collage, lose myself.
My daughter jitters on, The shells are pretty,
I see that. Are we done?

We walk up and down the shifting dunes,
watch a cloud of starlings chasing sheep.
We come across a Uig chessman, giant replica
of his kinsmen found buried in the sand.
A solemn seated king, a sheathed dagger
like a sacred scroll in his upturned hands.

A circle in the round
by Hélène Demetriades

Here at Castlerigg,
in a bowl of green mountains
a stone circle celebrates.

Can we go now?
my daughter asks intermittently
as we trudge the grass.

Once I was a meaning maker
who looked for sacred moorings to confirm her,
now silence is replacing me.

Can we go now?
my daughter insists, scuffing the grass.
I turn my back on the megaliths.

Standing Stones
by Yvonne Marjot

We walked this track,
stumbling over tree roots,
the air thick with moisture
and scent of pine.

It took hours to find
the standing stones:
the way tangled, half-lost,
marked with a raven feather.

We thought we’d last forever,
leaning in,
I mossy – you lichened –
shoulders to the storm.

Now you are gone,
the forest felled,
stones bared to the sky.
I can never go back.

Dowsing at Polsethow
by Penelope MacBeth

What would you make of us
Rambling with our tatty coat-hangers
Across your sacred field
To find
The buried well of Glasney?

In our rainbow stripes
Laughing at our own audacity
Yet drawn here
By the same
Saint’s whisperings

That prompted
A rare vision
All those years ago
Charmed by the same willow tree
And the murmuring of the same tumbling stream

Which running over remaining stones
Whets our appetite
Not for the future
But for the past
For the fallen splendours

The vast soaring vaults
The scribes
The well stocked gardens
And the marvellous habitations of Polsethow
Assembled for a while and now dissolved

Now spread like the ashes of the departed
To scent the air
To warm the breeze
With the dust of former ages
A taste we know but cannot bring to mind

So let us surrender to these sticks
And by their crossing
Name the place
Where living waters still rise underground
Within the mire of our subconscious selves

Provenance
by JLM Morton

and to the crowd control barrier
blocking the footpath to the lake
I say what is your provenance

do the pig iron and ores
in the nursery of your bones
age the carp by the thickness of its scales

can your chain of custody hold
spike rush, speedwell, fleabane, bedstraw
in the un-historied lines of your cage

you cannot certify the emeralds
of the Beautiful Demoiselle
threading hope through the reedbeds

this place cannot be detained
from soothing the torrents,
weighing each tusk, each tooth,

each mammoth rounding things out
with the flow of Churn, Coln, Leach
and an abdominal love

teaching me pity
for the conceit of your claim
on the memory of water.

Ley Lines
by Sue Moules

Feel them
although they are hidden
under mud and grass
strings pulling
forward and back
tracks across landscape
where our ancestors walked
power spots
triangles of churches
hillforts
wells
carved white horses
standing stones
join imaginary dots
magnetism and water
pulsing earth
reveal a picture
of land currents
telluric lines
song-lines
dragon lines
rivers of energy.

Growing Wool
by Gary Liggett

Without a shepherd
windblown grasses sing
through endless blades
of monoculture.
Gathered sheep ruminate
upon heefed carpets,
pinned by ancient lore
to a megalithic portal.

Soft light on England’s pastures,
where men hauled sarsen stones
for ceremonial rites
over miles of chalk —
makes you wonder
how they did it.

The weatherman mentioned rain.
‘though sheep tuned in,
They listened to instinct
on a different channel
via Avebury’s giant crystal set,
while growing wool
for your carpets and clothes.

Full moon in Libra, 2018

White Leaved Oak
by David Thomas

In the end it was a spark
That tore your heart
Out, as it melted glass
And blackened pennies;
Turned ribbons to dust.
Five hundred lifetimes once bound
Together, suddenly unwound –
Released back to a hot wind
And the red earth,
To begin again in hope and sorrow.

From Acorns
by Tamsin Pearce

Across Chase End
Ragged Stone Hill
Your silver boughs
Guardians of land

Malvern backdrop
Valleys of legend
Ley lines crossed
Folklore present

Centuries aged
Mighty roots held
Circles of voices
Myths were told

Summer solstice
Embers died out
Memories linger
White leaves unfold

* A poem celebrating the history of a white leaf oak tree, five hundred years old, which was sadly destroyed in a fire last summer near Eastnor

The Keswick Stones on the Longest Night
by Charles Lauder, Jr

Hunched over in the rain that points heads
toward the center shoulders and arms rounded
as a cradle hands as cups for rattling dice
(in the corner a craps game has started) the circle
is called to order the agenda announced:
trains are to be made to run on time
parking spaces assigned the number of crisps
in a packet defined. Two stand guard
at either end of the circle collecting passwords
and handshakes (under the knee with rumps bumping)
—the first to greet and let through sunlight
upon its return three hours from now. In anticipation
thirty-eight get drunk on a five-finger punch
of power jostle to next hold the speaking stone
and vow reduced waiting at the checkout
speed limits on mudslides and cyclones
the onset of menopause delayed another ten years.
Tributes to the poor and destitute recited
as sonnet or sestina move the group to tears
—if only there were more of them to help bury the dead.
They hold rolling races down into the next valley
and try to count the number in their circle
but the number keeps changing: the luckless are topless
(having lost their shirts in a snake-eyed throw) topple
over dead while the legless crawl away to sleep it off
dream of chasing the local birds
heifers and sheep included and wake rock hard.

Riddle
by Jenny Hope

I lick my face from the plate of the moon,
come clean to reflect on the fleece-white glow.
I’ve not time for sleep, much to do. Livestock
ought a hex or two; perhaps a visit.

Sailors curse me; at sea I cause a storm,
while on land if I hold straight, scare-wits
shiver. I speak with stark, ungodly cry,
run long bones ragged, cut through the parish.

Another trick? I make chaste brides turn from church;
let stretched shadows hound me from my form.
For thirst I’ll suck your cattle, bone and dry;
but to sup my flesh may snare both sorrow

and despair. Life furrows the old straight track
as I shift, from buck to doe, buck and back.

Drawing a Straight Line
by Jane Harland
(After ‘The Weirdstone of Brisingamen’, Alan Garner
and The Legend of Alderley)

Why is it always a day at October’s end,
always a farmer travelling to Macclesfield,
a white horse, late afternoon?
Why in each version does the same route apply
in the same sequence:
Thieves Hole, Seven Firs, Golden Stone,
Stormy Point, Saddle Bole?
And why near Alderley at all –
neither the straightest or the only road?

Why does he not take the facts
at face value?
why dig through layers of soil
to answer questions most of us
take for granted,
describe procedures irrelevant to most,
and then refute their relevance?

Is it his craftsman’s heritage
which takes him to such lengths,
that his great-grandfather’s carving
is stamped still on a sandstone hill
on a Cheshire plain
and that men of few words
pick and choose with care
through fear of waste?

Or is it the desire to forge a truth
with words
as white and pure as metal
which his forebears hammered into shape?

 

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