Life of Ley Hunting
THE CAULDRON AND THE
The legends of Mother Ludlam and the Frensham Cauldron by Chris Hall
In the year 1216 the monks of Weverley Abbey had a problem The spring which had supplied them since the Abbeys foundation in 1128 hed dried up. According to the "Annals of Waverley Abbey", the spring was called "Ludewell". This is the first written reference to the place which, almost eight centuries later, has become surrounded by an intriguing tapestry of folklore involving a witch, the devil, fairies, a sacred hill, a great stone, the landscape of Surrey and a medieval church. The last issue of Touchstone published one version of the legend of Mother Ludlam's Hole, but this is a mere fraction of the tale. What follows is the legend as I have pieced it together from a variety of sources, but the full story is yet to be told.
With the exception of Stony Jump, all of the places mentioned can be visited. Admission to Waverley Abbey ruins is free. They stand in a meander of the River Way two miles south east of Farnham. The cave is beside a bridleway through Moor Park. The Devil's Jumps are now part of a nature reserve open to the public provided visitors keep to the paths, and Kettlebury Hill is on land used by the army but on which the public may walk. Frensham is three miles south west of Waverley.
The problem was solved by a monk named Symon. He searched the area at length, until he discovered a "living spring". With "much difficulty and invention... labour and sweating" he enlarged it and, by means of a system of underground channels, brought the water to the Abbey. The new spring was named St. Mary's Well (also, incidentally, the dedication of Frensham Church). Although the "Annals" do not make it clear, it has been assumed by modern writers that the two springs were in fact close together, and that Symon dug into the hillside nearby to find water. If so, he created the cave we now see, overgrown with ivy but with a moderate sised entrance. It rapidly contracts down to an extremely low arch through which a small stream flows. It is no longer set out with benches and pavements, as described by Grose in 1785, (last issue), though stone walls can still be seen. It is perhaps a third of the way up the hillside. Higher up, a little to the south, is a much smaller cave which can only be entered by crawling and ends after a short passage. It is said to be the original Ludwell, but today goes by the name of Father Fooke's Cave.
After Brother Symon's endeavours in 1216 no more is heard of the cave until 1673, when antiquarian John Aubrey visited Frensham to collect information for his book on the county of Surrey (published in 1718). He was told by "a Gentleman" that Ludwell was named after Lud, King of the South Saxons, who went there to bathe his wounds after a battle. He adds that the monks of Waverley "made it their Helicon, where they met their Muses". He then appends the full text (in Latin) of the discovery of the well by Symon.
Separately Aubrey gives an account of "an extraordinary great kettle or cauldron'. to be seen in Frensham Church. There was a belief that it had been conveyed there by the fairies long, long ago. Frensham Church is medieval: it was dedicated in 1239. This account of the cauldron is interesting, not least because it had not at this telling been linked with Ludwell.
The fairies carried the cauldron to Frensham from a place called Borough Hill, which Aubrey tells us was a mile distant, in the tithing of Churt. Churt is to the south, but there is no Borough Hill on modern maps. On the hill was a cave where "some have fancied to hear music", and "a great stone lying along, of a length of about six feet", Anyone in need of something would go to the stone, knock upon it, state what it was they needed to borrow and when they would return it, A voice would be heard, telling them when to come back. At the appointed time the item would be found by the stone. The cauldron was borrowed in this manner, but not returned at the agreed time, When the borrower eventually came back with it, it was not received, nor was anything ever loaned again. Aubrey adds the intriguing remark that "the people saw a great fire that night", but tells us no more except that it was not the heath on fire. He believed none of this, however, saying that the cauldron was an ancient utensil used by the villagers in Love Feasts. The cauldron is mentioned again in 1736 in Salmon's "History of Surrey". He mentions the story that it was brought to Frensham by the fairies and also that it had come originally from Waverley Abbey. He accepts neither, writing that the cauldron was of a type commonly used for the entertainment of parishioners at the weddings of poor maids.
The account by Grose (1785) is given in full in Touchstone 11. By this time the cauldron is linked with Ludwell, where lived a witch called Mother Ludlam. She helped the fairies in much the same way as the fairies of Borough Hill, by lending utensils, but note that the cave must be vIsIted at midnight, the borrower must turn around three times and repeat three times their requirement. They must also promise to return it within two days. (The fairies apparently were in the habit of loaning things for a year or more), The transference of the legend to the cave is all the more interesting because it has now gained characteristics more usually associated with standing stones and stone circles, (For examples, see "The Secret Country").
Since then the story has gained even more variations, some of them linking back to earlier forms, This may suggest more than one version was current at the same time and that the differing forms became confused. It seems possible that an original story concerning fairies who lived in Borough Hill became muddled with a later story concerning the white witch Mother Ludlam. The name "borough" can denote hill, earthwork, tumulus and so on, There are folklore accounts of fairies living in mounds or tumuli, entered by moving aside a great rock. I wondered if the three tumuli on the ridge across Frensham Common may be Implied, but there is no large stone here now, They are just under a mile to the east. However, later forms of the legend not only become distinctly bizarre, they also suggest the probable true location intended by Aubrey.
The Farnham Herald in 1985 published a classic eye-catching headline. Under the title "Condemned to be Chased by a Three-legged Cauldron" Reg Baker recounted a version of the legend during his boyhood in Frensham in the 1920s. The cauldron could be borrowed by climbing the hill south of the village called Stony Jump, and whispering to the fairies who lived there through a hole in the huge outcrop of rock on the summit. All went well until, as usual, the cauldron was not returned on time. The fairies refused it and condemned the unfortunate borrower to have it follow him wherever he went. Eventually, tormented by the presence of this three-legged pursuer, he sought sanctuary in the village church. There he collapsed, dead, leaving the cauldron trapped. This is similar to the version given in an account in the church porch, though Mr. Baker mentions there were other versions current in the 1920s.
Stony Jump is the highest of the Devil's Jumps, a series of hills just over a mile from Frensham, near Churt village, just as Aubrey described. Unfortunately it is now privately owned, the top has been flattened and a house built on it. The rock has presumably been destroyed. Another local legend has the Devil leaping from hill to hill when he is seen by the god Thor. Thor threw an enormous stone at the Devil, which became embedded in the hilltop. There can be little doubt that this particular rock was a natural outcrop. Being prominent on a hilltop, it in all probability would become a place sacred to early man. Somewhere in these legends may he folk memories of an ancient ritual. All that is lacking now is a version of the story to directly link Mother Ludlam, the cauldron and Stony Jump/Borough Hill. In fact there are two, both given by Matthew Alexander in his second book of Surrey folklore.
A version originally written down in 1869 has the cauldron originally standing in Mother Ludlam's cave. Anyone with a need had only to drop a coin into the cauldron and Mother Ludlam would grant their desire. All was well until one night the Devil stole the cauldron. He made off with it towards the Devil's Jumps but dropped it as he leaped from hill to hill. Naturally it fell onto Kettlebury Hill where it was found later, which is how the hill got its name.
An elderly lady who lived until 1937 gave another version. Mother Ludlam was a witch and a herbalist. People came to her for potions which she prepared in a large cauldron. One day the Devil came and asked if he might borrow the cauldron, but Mother Ludlam saw his footmarks in the sand and refused. At this he seised the cauldron and made off, with Mother Ludlam chasing him on her broomstick. The Devil made seven great leaps, and wherever his boots touched the ground a hill arose, forming the Devil's Jumps. He left the cauldron on the last. Kettlebury Hill, and disappeared, forming the Devil's Punchbowl at Hindhead as he did so. Mother Ludlan then took her cauldron and put it in Frensham Church for safety.
The cauldron stands there still, resting on its tripod. It is of hammered copper, three feat in diameter, and 19 inches deep. In the church guidebook its real use is said to have been to contain ale drunk at festivities in the Middle Ages. Whatever its true origin and use, it has spawned a fascinating collection of folklore full of motifs to intrigue the earth mysteries researcher, closely linked as they are with the very landscape round Frensham.
In "Men among Mankind", Brinsley Le Poer Trench (Lord Clancarty) describes an amazing structure in Lebanon:
The ruins of Baalbeck lie at a height of 3,500 feet, to the north-east of Beirut. The Romans built magnificent temples to their gods upon, in the words of Mark Twain, "massive sub-structures that might support a world almost. The material used is blocks of stone as large as en omnibus...
The main ruins consist of the Great Temple, as well as the temples of Venus, Bacohus and Jupiter... The Great Temple was raised on a high platform, approached by steps which led to a dodecastyle Corinthian portico "in antis".
The massive sub-structures, referred to by Mark Twain, are truly amazing. He wrote that one stretch of the platform, composed of only three stones, was nearly 200 feet in length.' They are thirteen feet square, two of them being sixty-four feet end the third sixty-nine feet long, end built into the massive wall twenty feet above the ground. No-one, so far, has come up with the answer to who built the massive platform at Baalbeck, upon which the Romans are known to have constructed a very long time afterwards their wonderful temples.
The quarry from which these colossal stones at Bealbeok were taken is a quarter of a sile away from the platform and at a much lower level. Mark Twain relates how in a pit lay a similar stone, "the mate of the largest stone in the ruins". What is more, it lies there, "squared and ready for the builder's hands, a solid mass fourteen feet by seventeen feet wide and seventy feet long". What caused that tremendous block of masonry to be abandoned, leaving the work unfinished?
These immense stone blocks are not, of course, the only huge stones to have been moved around in ancient times, though they must be among the heaviest. How could they have been transported? The answer may lie in an effect which is surprisingly well-known yet, amazingly, never fully investigated.
In November 1988, Bob Swift, a work colleague and member of Surrey Earth Mysteries Group, brought the following extract to my attention. It is from "The Mysterious Unknown" by Robert Charroux:
The experiment may be called "Diminution of Weight" or "The Pyramid of Hands." To carry it out, five people are needed: one man simply to sit on a chair or stool, and four others (men, women or children), to lift the man, who shall be called "P". The important point is that P is to be lifted solely by means of two fingers of each of the four "lifters", that is to say, the weight of his body will rest entirely on the top two phalanxes of the four pairs of index fingers.
A dummy run is made by choosing positions around P, and trying to lift him using the two fingers of each person, to show it can't be done! Regardless of P's weight, he can be lifted at ease following this simple method: The four people will pile their hands one above the other, the first touching P's head. NOTE: the hands must be placed so that no two consecutive hands belong to the same person. All eight hands are now resting on P's head. No pressure need be exerted, contact alone is sufficient. The important thing is that contact should last about twelve seconds, but preferably twenty-five to thirty.
Then at a given signal the four lifters get quickly to their previously chosen positions and lift. He rises like a bird! The experiment is successful 10 times out of 10, and 100 times out of 100. It can even be done by children.
At the next group meeting we discussed the effect. Two members present had previously experienced it - in the variation described by Paul Baines the lifters shouted "Allah, Allah" while the hands were piled, suggesting it may have come to us from the Moslem world, though this invocation is quite unnecessary for the effect. Charles Refoy mentioned a case where someone rose so quickly they forcibly hit the ceiling, causing the people concerned some anxiety!
Having sufficient people, we decided to try it. At first we made a mistake and tried to lift the person with only one finger from each person. There seemed to be a small effect, but very little. When the same experiment was tried with two index fingers from each person under each lifting point, a much stronger effect was noted, and the person was lifted to about head height. We then tried with an inanimate object (a table) which seemed considerably lighter when lifted after the pyramid of hands. Finally, the experiment was repeated as previously with the seated person, but without me in the circuit. There was an extremely strong reaction, with the person lifted almost to the ceiling.
We came to the conclusion that the piling of hands was acting as a kind of battery for the mysterious energy involved, but is this energy accumulated by the object or the lifters? The fact that two index fingers are required (a kind of circuit) suggests the latter. The fact that my presence in the circuit seemed to partly inhibit the effect suggests that life force may be involved - certain previous indications have seemed to show that mine is less than most people's.
Further experimentation was hampered by the fact that no-one outside the group seemed willing to co-operate in the project. However, I did a number of interesting lone-wolf experiments using the scales in my department at work, which were just right for the purpose as they were quite sensitive, yet capable of weighing quite heavy objects. I tried piling my two hands on various objects on the scales, then touching then with two hands, and found to my surprise that there did seem to be a very slight weight loss. I later found piling the hands prior to the touching to be unnecessary - the piling with the group of people seemingly simply accentuates an already innate effect.
I tried the experiment with a number of different objects on the scales of varying materials and weights. The materials of the object had no effect at all - it was noticeable on wooden objects, wooden cases containing metal items, and metal containers such as silica gel drums. However, the weight of the objects seemed very relevant. When weights of objects were plotted on a graph against weights apparently lost, there seemed to be a proportional loss gain with increase in weight - in other words, the heavier the object was, the more weight it lost. There were fluctuations, but the points on the graph were a fair approximation of a straight line. It must be realised that the scale was graded in pounds, and so differences of less than a pound had to be estimated. Object lost, very approximately, three ounces per hundred pounds. The lightest object to give an appreciable reading was a drum of silica gel weighing 49 lbs, which seemed to lose about an ounce, and the heaviest was a pallet of equipment weighing 420 lbs, which lost 14 lbs.
At the January meeting, there were insufficient people to do further experiments due to the snow, but Richard Pywell brought forward a possible objection to the findings at work. He said there was a possibility that I could be subconsciously slightly lifting the objects while my fingers were on them, despite my conscious attempts not to. I felt this was unlikely, partly because the losses increased with weight, whereas an unconscious lifting would probably have stayed the same or been even less with heavier objects. If my subconscious was working it out mathematically it is certainly better than my conscious mind, which is not capable of mental arithmetic to the extent of the calculation necessary. However, I decided the matter should be tested, so I put two boxes on the scale with a combined weight of 120 lbs. Between the boxes I put a duffel coat with the arms protruding from the sides. Holding the arms loosely (I found it impossible to lift the box in this position without lifting my arms quite high) I found the boxes seemed to lose about four ounces.
However, there were still difficulties. When Bob Swift did the experiment with me on the scales, there seemed to be no weight loss. Also, no other scale or balance seemed to be suitable. The letter scale in the department did not weigh heavy enough objects, only going to 30 lbs. The big scale that is used suspended from an overhead crane weighs heavy objects, but is not nearly sensitive enough to register the small weight losses. A chemical balance borrowed from my wife's school, on the other hand, was too sensitive - the slightest touch sent it reeling about drunkenly, and even using wooden stabilisers and fabric to link with the object this was not properly overcome.
At the February meeting, we did further experiments, hut once again the attempt to show weight losses empirically was thwarted. Firstly we had a member standing on the scales while the pyramid of hands was made on his head. This was not satisfactory, however, as the lifters had to stretch and there was the possibility of cross-contacts. Nothing was shown on the scale when the person was touched with the fingers, but this was not conclusive as the scale was found to be faulty - it kept giving different readings for the same person and tended to stick. It was a bathroom scale.
Then we repeated the former "classic' experiment with the seated person (after the usual dummy run) with the usual successful result. Then the same was tried with the pyramid of hands not on the person's head. Once again there was success - indicating that the accumulation of energy was in the lifters, not the object or person lifted. We did not have enough people to do the opposite experiment - the pyramid of hands on the head followed by attempted lifting by another four people - but we deduce that it would have been unsuccessful. Then Daniele Hart suggested linking hands in a circle instead of doing the pyramid of hands. There was a very strong reaction which seemed to take the lifters by surprise as the person found himself travelling halfway across the room At one person's suggestion that concentration might be the answer, the lifters concentrated on the person without making hand contact - but this time there was no effect, just as with the dummy runs. The final experiment was with a linked circle around a person on the scale - without any effect on the scale when the person was touched, but, as mentioned before, this is inconclusive because the scales were faulty.
What conclusions can we draw? Whether or not there is an actual weight loss (this cannot be ascertained without both co-operation of others and adequate instrumentation) there is an effect whereby using and accumulating some kind of energy coming from the hands, objects become much easier to lift. What they are made of seems to make no difference, only the hand contact either in the pyramid or the circle. We have had previous indications that there is some kind of energy in the hands. Eeman's copper circuits linking people's hands, head and base of spine were said to have healing effects - but this was not just faith healing, for if polarities were reversed (or if one person was left handed and had not compensated by reversing the wires) the opposite effect (tension) was obtained. In seances hands are linked in a circle, and in the Reiki radiance technique and in church spiritual healing the hands are used to promote healing. Somehow, this energy can also seemingly be used to help people lift heavy objects, and this may well have been used in the past (possibly with a great many more people involved) at such places as Baalbeck.
by Rob Stephenson
The abbey will be one of the sites visited on the joint field trip to Mother Ludlam's Hole by the Surrey Earth Mysteries Group and the London Earth Mysteries Circle. Waverley Abbey and Moor Park have an interesting past, with many literary assooiations.
William of Gifford, Bishop of Winchester, founded the abbey in 1128 with twelve monks from Normandy. He gave lands so that it could "be situated by a stream and away from the conversation of men.'. A quiet haven though occasionally flooded from the River Wey, the monks unfortunately sleeping at ground level. It was the first Cistercian house to be founded in this country and was a reaction to the easy rule of St. Benedict at Chertsey Abbey.
Henry III supported the order and it became a large and flourishing establishment, building itself a huge church between 1203 and 1278. The abbey shoemaker was arrested for murder by King's Officers in 1240. However, they made the mistake of doing so in the Abbey precincts. The Dean and Vicar of Faroham, appalled by this violation of sanctuary, flogged them in Fambam churchyard. And even after this ill-treatment they were still required to ask a pardon from the Abbot.
The monks also owned Wansborough Church, holding a fair there on feasts of St. Bartholemew and building a big tithe barn next to it in the 14th century.
Sir William Temple (whose heart was buried in a silver box in Moor Park in 1700) laid out the gardens in a mixture of Dutch, French and English styles. He changed its name from Compton Hall to one of an admired estate in Rickmansworth. A Roundhead, statesman, scholar and certainly a diplomatist, for he was married to Dorothy Osbourne, who was a Royalist. An Irish relative of hers, who became his secretary for ten years, was none other than the young Jonathan Swift. Sir Walter Scott fell in love with the place while researching for a life on Swift, naming his first historical novel "Waverley Abbey". Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in another historical novel called "Sir Nigel", writes about the abbey and has his hero living in nearby Tilford.
William Cobbett, who was born at Fambam in 1763, grew up and worked as a boy at Woor Park. He became well-known later for his "Rural Rides". These accounts of his country journeys acquiring into farming and local matters make fascinating reading - Surrey being well featured. On October 27th, 1825, he visited the area and got permission to look over the estate with his ten-year-old son Richard. Showing him around his childhood haunts he relates some of his early memories. One of these must be the first account on record of a sighting of the Surrey Puma. It tells how, when "a very small boy" (which must have been about 1767-70), he saw a large cat "as big as a middle-sized spaniel dog" enter a hollow elm tree. Unfortunately he got a beating for sticking to this story, but said he would still be prepared to take an oath on it. While travelling in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia he saw tha great wild grey cat called the Lucifee, which seemed identical to him - this is in fact a lynx.
Sadly, as we know, the monastic system would become a casualty of the megalomania of the less sympathetic King Henry VIII. The great walls that once surrounded 60 acres ended as a stone quarry for people like Sir Thomas More of Loseley.
THE MOTHER LUDLAM'S HOLE FIELD TRIP
In spite of a few minor setbacks, the field trip was quite successful. We met with the London Earth Mysteries Circle as planned, and a number of interesting things were found. The main ley of interest in the area is the one linking Sandy Cross cross-roads, Mother Ludlam's Hole, Maverley Abbey, a junction nearby, the Millbridge cross-roads and Fransham church.
At the junction outside Waverley Abbey there was a weir under the road, where there was the familiar middle-C sound of rushing water, and it is exactly on the ley. The age of the water channeling is not known.
The abbey being closed until 2.00, we made our way to Mother Ludlam's Hole along a very pleasant wooded track. The cave is very spectacular with its seventeenth century entrance arch, its trickling stream and mysterious cavernous depths. At the entrance and at right angles to it there are two natural-looking fissures which run vary deeply into the rock. They are aligned with each other but are not on the line of the Fransham ley. The main cave is large, but narrows towards the back to a very narrow passage through which the stream flows.
After visiting the cave, a small group scaled the hill to reach the much smaller Father Fook's Cave, higher up and completely dry. It too had side alcoves, though these were smaller and looked man-made. The "Mithraic Temple" at Chiddingstone has similar alcoves at the entrance.
There is a group of three Scots pines above Father Fook's Cave, but Chris Hall told us they had been put there in the seventeenth century. During this and the following century many "ornamental" clumps were placed on hilltops. Chris regards these as red herrings, but I tend to feel there could have been a strong subconscious urge to build them, to re-mark the leys.
There are three possible origins of the Ludlam name, Chris informed us. One is from Lud the Saxon king of Ludgate fame. It could also come from a Saxon word for meeting place, or one meaning "loud". The sound of the stream at Waverley Abbey came to mind then. I tend to favour the "loud" possibility, for the original name was Ludwell, and the derivation of Ludwall in Wiltshire is "loud stream". It does not seem likely that the stream through the cave was ever loud, but it flows into the Wey near the very loud wair mentioned earlier.
I was asked by one of the LEMC members if I had the sandjar, and if I still used it. The answer is no, not because it has become less effective, but because of the rogue variable of health. My health has deteriorated somewhat, and the energy accumulated by the cork seams to flow back into me (going from higher to lower potential) instead of going into the quarts and activating it. This renders it ineffective to me, but it would not be so for a younger person in good health.
We proceeded from here to the Millbridge cross-roads near Frensham, where the ley passes through. We found a small stone near the fence of a house (a little way down the road), and one of the LEMC members asked the occupier if he knew anything about it. He turned out to be the local historical society chairman, and he told us that the stone, broken by gas workers, was not old, but an older one had existed by the cross-roads - exactly where the ley passed through! (It had been removed by the council to make room for some rather ugly bollards).
After a pleasant lunch on Frensham Green, we went to Frensham church, which, like the well, is dedicated to St. Mary. No visual alignment was in evidence, but the bend in the river the lay passes through confirmed the line of it, and two double trees were adjacent though not quite on it. There is a group of four Scots pines in line with the west and of the church, and some interesting external window grotesques, including a pig, a skull and a demon! A window of St. George and St. Michael by the altar was evidence of the church's ley importance. The church was founded in the thirteenth century.
The cauldron we had all come to see was a huge metal bowl about three feet in diameter on a separate three-legged trivet. The writer of the church history, though recounting the legend, says the real purpose of the vessel was to contain ala drunk at "church ales" in the middle ages. There was said to be a mineral spring nearby, but there is no evidence of this today.
We then want back to Waverlay Abbey and looked around the site - beautiful on a sunny afternoon, with blue damsel flies skimming over the river and forgat-me-nots by the water's edge. At this point our group had to leave as some of us were feeling the effects of the heat. We called in on our member Brenda Spinney in Grayshott on the way back, and had a pleasant chat to round off the day.
THE EVENING PART OF THE MOTHER LUDLAM'S FIELD TRIP
by Robert Stephenson
After our joint exploration of Waverley Abbey ruins was completed it was time to take a peaceful rest in the sunshine. This is a tranquil spot, with the River Wey curving placidly round the abbey meadows. Most of us were drawn to the water's edge and on this day many damsel flies were darting across its surface. It was now getting on for late afternoon, and the Surrey Earth Mysteries contingent had to take their leave. So we said farewell, and on a final look round the position of the church high altar was found. Close by a magnificent yew tree was growing from the ruined east end; this, like the other large trees growing from the walls, testified to the length of time since the abbey's dissolution.
Chris Hall, who has researched the area, stayed on to guide us through the evening. A lashing of string was quickly improvised to secure his bicycle to the mini-bus roof rack. The next stop for us was, however, at a garden centre refreshment house for a leisurely round of tea and cakes But it was not too long before we ware parked on Frensham Common and climbing the sandy slope to see the tumuli. Standing on the highest gave marvellous views over miles of common, with the vast Frensham Great Pond unmistakeable in the valley below.
We drove south to our final destination - Stony Jump, one of the Devil's Jumps whose folklore significance has been given in previous Touchstones. Only after walking some distance was it possible to fully realise the ascent ahead of us. Standing at the bottom of this natural eminence one could look up and see a great staircase of log foot steps stretching up into the sky. A long but enjoyable climb brought us to the rocky outcrop on its summit - from this craggy cyrie a splendid panorama was spread before us. We looked for crevices in the rock to contact the fairies through and watched the sun sink closer to the horison. I think it was about nine o'clock when we finally left.
LEY HUNTER'S PARADISE
No-one can deny that Wiltshire was a major neolithic centre. The evidence is everywhere visible, and so we decided to pay the area a visit this year. The cottage where we stayed was not incongruous - a small thatched house that must have been several hundred years old, though with later additions. The garden was bright with flowers and heavy with the scent of lavender. Within yards was the extremely powerful church of St. Mary, Bishops Cannings, and Avebury circles were only a few miles away.
The church, a tall, spired building, was of Early English and Norman design, and its similarity to Salisbury Cathedral was due to the influence of the Bishops of Salisbury, who once had a palace here. It contains a medieval meditation desk with rather depressing writings about sin and the shortness of life, but the church nevertheless had quite a happy atmosphere and there was considerable head-hum. In fact, this was noticed in the cottage too, and even outside it on the side facing the church.
The east-west axis of the church cuts through one corner of the cottage and the churchyard cross has been erected on this alignment. It is not an acceptable ley mapwise though, but there are indications that it may be a ley, for it passes through a tumulus north of Roundway, the summit of Milk Hill near the white horse there, a spotmark between Brombam and Rowde and a stretch of straight road in Melksham.
There are, however, two better alignments passing through the church. One links it with the centre of Avebury and the Norman church of St. John in Devises. It also goes through some tumuli, cross-roads and cross-tracks. There is also a stone on this line, on the bend in the road near the church. It is clearly not ancient for it is not deeply embedded (it rocks when pushed), but something must have caused someone to place it right on this line, which also goes through a field gate visible from here.
The best of the three alignments through the church goes through a cross-tracks with church in Trowbridge, Seend church and nearby junction, Bishops Cannings church, a tumulus on Easton Hill, another on All Cannings Down and one south of Overton.
On Tuesday, the day after our arrival, we visited Barbury Castle, a hill-fort and country park near Swindon. Although disappointed that the information displays had bean removed to make way for a toilet (!!) we found the site very beautiful and a haven for the botanist, being covered with flowers of every hue. There was a good all-round view from the ramparts; two large clumps were visible, whose alignment skirted the hill. On checking the map, I found they were not barrows as I had thought, though they aligned with one nearby. They were probably planted in the eighteenth century, as many Wiltshire clumps were, during what must have been am upsurge in the subconscious impulse to re-mark the leys. They certainly mark a good alignment, which skirts Windmill Hill neolithic camp, goes through Chisledon and Rowde churches, and a cross-roads-tracks ley centre which is also crossed by the base-line of Doug Chaundy's White Horse Triangle.
On the way back from Barbury, we saw an alignment that would have gladdened the heart of both Tony Wedd and Alfred Watkins. Two small Scots pine clumps clearly aligned visually with a tumulus on a ridge, and a straight track joined them. The map showed that where the alignment crosses the road it also crosses the track of the Roman Bath road. It goes through Hilmarton church, a wall near Bradenstoke Abbey, and the main cross-roads at Great Somerford.
On Wednesday, Emma's sixteenth birthday, we decided to celebrate by seeing the sunrise at Avebury. We just managed to get to the north-east quadrant in time. The circle seemed much more powerful than during the day - and we were not alone, for two others were also on the bank, patiently waiting for dawn.
The following morning I had an early morning walk to try to get to the Kitchen Barrow, a nearby long barrow which has a protruding stone. I could not reach it, however, for the footpaths were blocked. I did, however, get to the barrow on Easton Hill, from which the church is visible, and saw the Wansdyke, which is quite impressive. Devises Museum, which we visited later in the day, is extremely interesting and there are some beautiful model reconstructions of Avebury, Woodhenge and Stonehenge, as well as various hillforts and camps.
Our last day, Friday, was taken up by a visit to Lacock. This National Trust village is very picturesque and reminiscent of Chiddingstone (also NT) on a larger scale. The thing I noticed first was a lovely clump, mainly of horse chestnut, by the junction leading into the village, with many trees having pronounced spiralling. The photography museum and the Abbey and the church were interesting, but I could not explore them as I would have wished as the children were rather irritable that day.
On the way back from Lacock we had a good view of the Cherhill White Horse, one of Wiltshire's famous stable of chalk horses that stare haughtily at the motorist. Doug Chaundy, in the sixties, found that they form a fairly precise isosceles triangle with a perpendicular. Uffington, the only horse known to be ancient, forms the apex, and the base-line is made of the Cherhill, Alton Barnes and Pewsey horses. These were cut in 1780, 1812 and 1937 respectively, and no previous horses are known on the sites, though prehistoric sites are near two of them. Also, the Alton Barnes horse is a little off the line, though still near enough to make the triangle remarkable.
A few miles up the western side of the triangle is another horse, at Preshute Down, and if a line is drawn to Pewsey it crosses the perpendicular west of Lockeridge. A line from the Cherhill horse through this point also goes through the two junctions south of Avebury (on roads approximating the two stone avenues that existed there) and skirts the base of Silbury Hill. Also, if a line is drawn from Uffington to Westbury, where there is a modern horse on an ancient horse site found by T.C. Lethbridge, the line seems to pass through the centre of Avebury. There is no horse where this line meets the other side of the triangle in Savernake Forest; if the Narlborough horse was intended for this it was misplaced.
All the white horses are best visible from the air, which led to the idea that the area enclosed in the triangle is of very special significance and the horses are to mark this for extraterrestrial visitors. The newness of some of the horses need not bother us too much, for we are quite familiar with the phenomenon of subconscious siting by now.
Meeting of the ways
This summer I was pleased to have the opportunity of visiting Royston, a most interesting little town not far from Cambridge. I had heard of it due to a mention in a taped lecture given by Tony Wedd; it is the crossing-point of the Roman Ermine Street and the Icknield Way, and, as I was to find out, of a number of leys as well. Also, the original county boundary between Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire ran along the Icknield Way at this point, though when the town grew it was diverted so all the town would be in Hertfordshire. It then grew further into Cambridgeshire, however, and the boundary seems to neatly cut the school in half! The crossing-point is quite impressive on the map with the straight Ermine Street leading into it (though it does not seem so straight when driving along it). The Royse Stone has now been moved unfortunately and is on a brick plinth nearby. It was the base of a cross (or a cross was built on it) traditionally by a Lady Roysia in the middle ages. In Roman times the cross-roads had no settlement; this did not come until the medieval abbey was built here. Near the cross-roads is a mysterious but obviously man-made cave beneath the street with religious drawings on the walls. It has been associated with the Knights Templar, but whoever built this unique structure must have been acknowledging some inherent sanctity of the place, as did those who built the long barrow and round harrows on nearby Therfield Heath. The impressive Grand Avenue of Wimpole Hall aligns on this hill; the house and a folly tower to the north have also been placed on this alignment. One of the best alignments through the cross-roads goes through a large clump outside the town, visible from the road, very near a triangulation point half a mile further on, to Goffer's Knoll, a tumulus on a ridge with a very large clump and an old double tree nearby on the alignment. It then goes through another clump, a cross-roads, a stretch of straight track near Duxford marked with a public footpath sign but now cultivated over, an unnamed earthwork near Balsham and Weston Colville church. The alignment going through the abbey church goes through five points in about five miles; the cross-roads and stone, the church, a milestone at Barley, Little Chishill church and "Mill Mound". Clearly Royston is a most important place and would repay further study.
A Welsh ley
I found a remarkable ley when camping for the weekend in Wales with my family recently. It runs through the village of Cenarth, not far from Cardigan - a beautiful place beloved of fisherman, with a rushing river, a waterfall and an old watermill open to the public in which I was intrigued to see a sack on display stamped with the name of Watkins Flour Mills, Hereford.
St. Llawddog's church, nineteenth century but on an older site, is on a hill, and below it across the road is a mound called "Parc-y-domen" (field of the mound). This is called a motte in the guide book, but there seems to be some doubt as to whether it is the site of the castle it is supposed to be - so it may be an ancient mound. The lady in the craft shop in front of it seemed strangely reluctant to tell me about it, though grudgingly let me go through her garden to photograph it, but said I could not go to it as it was on private land. I noticed in her garden there was a large standing stone, but due to her reticence I did not ask about it (it was not on this alignment). The mound is crowned with a deciduous clump.
In the churchyard, aligning with the mound and east end of the church, is the Gellidywell stone, not in its original position but apparently subconsciously re-sited. It was taken from its original position near the church (whether on the alignment or not cannot be determined) to be a headstone for the favourite horse of the squire! It was moved to its present position in 1898.
The alignment passes through a church in Hawen, a junction near Brongwyn, Parcycastell mound, the three points mentioned above, a junction with a mean-following track, Foel Drygarn settlement on Mynydd Preseli with two cairns and a triangulation point on the alignment, and a standing stone a little further on. (There were also a number of minor junctions and possible clumps). Preseli Mountain is, of course, the supposed source of the Stonehenge bluastones, and, though no doubt Paul Davareux will be cross, I drew a line on a small-scale map from the above settlement site to Stonehenge, and was intrigued to see that it seams to go through the site of Westhury White Horse (site of an older hill figure). So there is tenuous evidence of a link between Wales and Wiltshire, and of the universality of the ley system.
Putting the 'stone' in Addlestone
At a recent meeting of the Addlestone Historical Society, I was shown this extract from "Chertsey Cartulary", giving reference to a stone in Addlestone, which may have been connected with the name despite the 'Attel's Dane'. derivation deduced from other sources. It is a survey of the boundaries of Godley Hundred:
"Metes and bounds of the Hundred of Godley, perambulated and surveyed by the lord John Hermondesworth, Abbot of Chertsay, William Sydenay his steward, Ludlow esquire and keeper of the forest, with a multitude of people of the whole countryside convoked therefor on the 7th day of the month of June, 24th year ot' the reign of King Henry VI.
'First from Waymouth a mydde the Streme to Waybrigge endelonge the highewey to the crosse in hammemore. Fro that crosse to Wobourbrigge as the hyawey ledith, And fro Wobourbrigge endelonge the borne to the Wythis in Stampulonde. And fro the Wythis endelonge the borne to the pole above Crocfordbrigge and so over to the Stone and fro the Stone to the Way in Marfeldehethe that cometh fro Wobourne and ledith to Spynnecrosse, and so forth to Spynne crosse..."
It has to be said that a seventh century survey of the boundary does not mention the stone; nevertheless the mention here is interesting, as is the implication of crosses at Hamm Moor and Spinney Hill. The survey is quite explicit about the boundary for part of the way, but does not specify where "the pool above Crockford Bridge" is, where the boundary meets "the way in Marleheath" (Church Road) or its route crossing between the two. Chertsey Museum do not have maps of the hundred of any accuracy, but another member of Addlestone Historical Society mentioned that the manor boundary as shown on the enclosure map displayed on the museum wall would probably be the same. This seems to be the case (there are no glaring deviations); it travels along the Bourne to a point above Crockford Bridge, then crosses to Parklands, a cul-de-sac adjoining the Liberty Lane cross-roads before going obliquely across to Church Road at the junction of The Grove. It does not go straight across, however, but makes a turn part way along its length.
Where would we expect a boundary stone to be on this line? There are two logical possibilities; at the Liberty Lane crossroads or the other point where the boundary changes course. We know there is no stone at the crossroads today, but I decided to "walk the bounds" as far as possible with my son Peter, to see what I could find. The 1:25000 map shows, very interestingly, that although now a residential area, the property boundaries have been strongly influenced by the old manor/hundred line. Three cul-de-sacs terminate on it (Burleigh Close, Audley Close and Fieldhurst Close); however, the most spectacular part of the boundary on the ground is the point where it changes course. This is accessible from Caselden Close, to which there is pedestrian access from Brighton Road. Just past the bend is a green path on the right leading to a small park with a disusad swing frame. On entering the main part of the park, turn sharp right and the boundary is marked by a chain-link fence directly ahead, and a hedge separating two private gardens at an angle to it. It was certainly amasing to me to realise, standing here, that these overtly twentieth-century structures marked a boundary over a thousand years old - though of course the real markers were the invisible lines of property which have greater permanence than any tangible marks. Was Attel's Stone on this junction? We may never know for sure, but certainly Abbot Hermondemworth and his "multitude" must have "perambulated" this way.
I was interested to see that the Liberty Lane cross-roads is on the alignment that goes through Ottershaw and Weybridge churches and the Samaritan Centre clump, mentioned in a previous Touchstone. There is also another interesting one going through the course-change point - this goes to Spinmey Hill, perhaps through the site of the cross mentioned.
Readers of "Cosmic Friends" will remember my feelings that St. Augustine's Church is on the site of a stone circle. Although modern, two people have independently said it has the feeling of a much older church. Several alignments pass through it, including a midsummer sunrise line.
In addition to this, Stan Eaves, a local historian, has found yet another stone on an old map - near Ongar Hill, Addlestone.
In "The Cabinet of Arts and General Instructor", by Hewson Clark Esq., of Emmanuel College Cambridge, and John Dougall, A.M., published in 1817, the term "leys" is given as an old chemical term referring to solutions of alkalies.
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