Edward Hunt's Forest of Dean Miscellany

Fact, Fiction and Fantasy

Ley Lines


(The Old Straight Track, page 26)

The two stones in the district reputed to be sacrificial stones are in natural positions apparently, and can scarcely be classified as mark stones. The first is a stone a few yards from Buckstone, near Staunton, Forest of Dean. The Buckstone is a Logan or rocking stone, an obviously natural product. The adjacent stone, with a rock basin cut in the top of its flat surface, has also a notch the size of a man's neck cut in one edge of the basin, and there is a draining channel. I think these basins may have been used for beacon purposes.


(The Old Straight Track, page 98)

Then there is the case of the Logan, or Rocking Stones, the centre, all over the world, of superstitious interest. Even where they are "perched blocks"; placed by glacial action they are not placed by man.

The Buckstone near Staunton in the Forest of Dean is a rocking stone; it is on the edge of a steep escarpment, not perched above other rocks, but on a level with them, and clearly of the same structure and formation.

It is certainly a natural feature due to the wear and tear of ages. It commands extensive views, and a ley passes through it, the Long Stone, and the Berry Hill cross-road.

The remarkable thing about it is that adjoining, within 7 yards, there is an artificial stone basin cut in the top of one of the natural rocks, which are grouped around, the basin obviously made for some purpose or ritual. Any suggestion of pot-hole; caused by water action is ruled out in this case.

At first a sacrificial purpose suggests itself, and the curious notch in the side seems suitable for a man's neck. But I now think it is quite probable that this rock basin was a recess in which was burnt oil or fat for beacon use.

There is the unexplored possibility that burnt sacrifices utilizing the fat of rams. in some way was linked up with the beacon light, and that the two purposes are compatible.

These matters are touched upon in other chapters; the point here concerned with us is that two objects of prehistoric and reverence are together, that both are naturally placed rocks, that a ley goes through or to the spot, which is therefore an initial point.

Courtfield Mound

Working on the track and following up a Ley often leads to disappointments, but vivid and strange bits of coincidence and verification are so frequent, and so convincing in their logical sequence, that it seems necessary to quote a few.

Visiting The Hermitage adjoining Courtfield, Herefordshire (the birth place of Cardinal Vaughan), in order to prepare for a visit by our local club, I not only found it to be an unmistakable sighting mound, but precisely on a ley (detailed in my earlier book as through the Bewell Well, which, south of the Wye, runs as follows: Palace Ford, Dinedor Camp, Caradock Homestead, Pict's Cross, Hom Green Cross, Walford Church, Leys Hill, Hermitage at Courtfield, Speech House. It also (on another ley) aligned with Dixton Church, Monmouth Castle, Dingestow Church and the early mound (the Citadel of Raglan Castle).

On this Woolhope Club outing, driving through the sighting cutting at Marstow (already shown in plate V of "E.B.T.") I asked members on coming back through the cutting too look out for a distant sighting point in alignment, as I had not worked out the matter. Simultaneously two members caught sight of a clump of trees on a hill point in alignment Cole's Tump.

May Hill

Mrs. Leather ("Folk Lore of Herefordshire") cites a Nonagenarian writing in 1879 whose memory went back eighty-seven years: "We used to go every may-day to Broomy Hill, and dance round the May-pole, and play stool-ball and have cake and cider, and the milk-women used to dance with pails on their heads."

There are other instances of a May-pole on high points, although in late years it was put up anywhere.

At May Hill, a well-known landmark on the Hereford-Gloucester border, there was, according to Rudder, "on the first of May, a custom of assembling in bodies on the top of that hill from the several parishes, to fight for the possession of it." Such a procedure, in the view of young manhood, would probably come under the head of recreation.

Symond's Yat

This reminds us that in very old names "gate" was not a barrier on a road, but the road itself, and that there is an older form still - "yat" - which survives in the dialect word "glat" for a gap in the hedge.

Black Yat is among the Radnorshire hills, and Symond's Yat a well-known beauty spot on the lower Wye. Why Symonds should give his name to several places was a puzzle until a very evident ley passing over Symond's Yat (a high mark-point) and lying on the very direct road past Berry Hill and through Coleford, was traced down to the ancient seaman's port of Bristol. A Seaman's Corner was noted in the New Forest, and Symond's Yat stood revealed as the seaman's road.

The above excerpts are taken from "The Old Straight Track" by Alfred Watkins (publisher: Methuen 1925)

Edward Hunt