Sacred Sites, Crop Circles and Ley Lines
In the geographic area covered by this website, central southern England, crop circles and sacred sites seem to go together. Quite often the two are intermingled where a crop circle will align itself
to a particular site. All sacred sites, ancient settlements, churches and cathedrals in this area are positioned on what are termed ley lines, straight lines of dowsable energy that criss-cross the landscape, and possibly the entire planet. If you stand on the southern ramparts of the iron age settlement of Old Sarum (Old Salisbury) and look towards the south, down upon the City of New Sarum (Salisbury), you will have a wonderful view of the City and its Cathedral. But if you look beyond the Cathedral you will see a copse of trees on the horizon where sits another ancient settlement, Clearbury Ring, situated on the southern edge of the City. You will see that all three of these sites are in a line. If you were able to look north and visibly see Stonehenge, it would also be on this line. This is just one visible example of a ley line. So, it is worth keeping in mind that, although we have modern roads and sophisticated lines of communication today, knowledge of these curious straight lines, perhaps also used as a means of communication, has existed since stone age Neolithic times. In our technological world today, this ancient knowledge has been largely forgotten, until written about in 1921 by Alfred Watkins, who coined the word ‘ley’.
Here is a guide to most of the sacred sites in the area of central southern England, also known as Wessex, meaning West Saxon…
Avebury Stone Circle – Wiltshire
It is said that if Stonehenge were a church, then Avebury is a cathedral. The stone circle and surrounding bank form just part of a massive prehistoric complex, which includes nearby Silbury Hill, West Kennet Long Barrow and the Sanctuary. The chalk bank that surrounds the circle must have been well over twenty feet high when first constructed, which is what it is now. Inside, a thirty foot deep ditch encloses a central circular platform, which at one time had 100 or so gigantic sarsen stones, Avebury’s outer circle. Inside this were two smaller circles. Avebury also had two stone avenues, but only one survives today and leads to the Sanctuary. Unfortunately, many of the stones were used to construct the village of Avebury, which partly covers the complex. Avebury Stone Circle was constructed a couple of centuries before Stonehenge and certain researchers suggest it has links to the Cydonia region on Mars. I must say the evidence is extremely compelling. Admission is free, to Avebury that is.
Barbury Castle – Wiltshire
Not really a castle as the name suggests, but more an Iron Age hill settlement, of which there are many in this area. In fact, there is just about one on top of every single hill. I mention this one as it is a good spot to view crop circles from, and over the years many famous ones have appeared below it. To get to it, go north from Marlborough on the A345 Swindon Road, and after about 5 miles turn left to the village of Chiseldon and follow the signs. As with most of these settlements, entry is free.
Cadbury Castle – Somerset
A massive Iron Age hill settlement, thought to date back to 500BC. Legend has it that this was the site of King Arthur’s Camelot. The site was later used by the Wessex King, Alfred the Great, in his battle with the Danes. It is a little out of the way from the crop circle area, but if you are going to Glastonbury, or to the Cerne Abbas Giant, then you may well want to visit. It is situated just south of the A303 between Wincanton and Sparkford. Turn off towards the village of South Cadbury and follow the signs. Entry is free.
Cerne Abbas Giant – Dorset
The county of Wiltshire has a number of landscape carvings, including seven white horses, and a few other oddities. These figures are placed on the sides of hills and are made by removing the surface soil and grass to reveal the chalk underneath. One of the strangest of all these carvings, though, is in the neighboring county of Dorset. Situated on a steep hillside above the village of Cerne Abbas sits this figure, otherwise known as the “Rude Man of Cerne Abbas”, as you will see when you visit. Take the A352 south from the town of Sherbourne, and the village of Cerne Abbas is about 5 miles on the left. Turn through the village and follow the signs.
Chalice Well, Glastonbury – Somerset
Tel: (01458) 831154.
Open daily; April to October 10:00AM to 6:00PM.
November to February 11:00AM to 5:00PM
March, December and January 12 Noon to 4:00PM.
If you visit Glastonbury then don’t miss the Chalice Well, set in quiet gardens at the base of the Tor. It is said that the waters of the Well have curative powers and that Joseph of Arimathea hid the Chalice of the Holy Grail here. You may take a drink from the white and red springs, and the gardens have quiet areas for meditation. There is a small admission charge for the Chalice Well.
Glastonbury Abbey – Somerset
Tel / Fax: (01458) 832267.
Open every day (except Christmas day) 9:30AM to 6:00PM ( or dusk if earlier).
Situated on Glastonbury’s Magdalene Street, the beautiful ruins of the Abbey, largely destroyed by Henry VIII’s Protestant Reformation, is the legendary resting place of King Arthur and Queen Guinevere. It is also home, as legend has it, to a living descendent of the tree that produced Jesus’s crown of thorns, brought to this area by his uncle, Joseph of Arimithea. Admission fees are charged, but only a few Pounds.
Glastonbury Tor – Somerset
Situated on the eastern edge of Glastonbury, you cannot miss this inspiring landmark. Sitting on the powerful Michael and Mary ley lines, this natural, but sculptured hill, rises to 525 feet above sea level. Considering that most of the land around it is below sea level, you can see why this area, before it was drained, may have been the actual and legendary Isle of Avalon. The Tor is topped by the tower of a ruined medieval church. Visitors are reminded to walk to the Tor from Glastonbury, or to catch the ‘Tor Bus’ (pun not intended) service that runs in the Summer, as parking near the Tor is extremely limited. If you walk you will go past the Chalice Well. It can be a steep climb to the top for the unfit, but well worth the view, as well as the experience.
Knapp Hill – Wiltshire
Situated on the southern edge of the Pewsey Downs and the northern edge of the Vale of Pewsey, Knapp Hill overlooks the village of Alton Barnes and the Barge Pub, a former gathering place for “croppies”. The wheat fields below have been the location of many famous crop circles in past years, including the Double Helix in the famous East Field and the Koch Snowflake. Popular for night watches because of its vantage point, on a clear day you can see Salisbury Cathedral, a good 20 miles to the south. The Hill is also the site of stones and burial mounds of ancient Neolithic settlers, and most amazingly, forms part of the goddess landscape of the area, Knapp Hill being part of a massive landscape structure of a pregnant woman, complete with an umbilical cord running down into the East Field. From the village of Alton Barnes travel north up the hill towards Marlborough. At the top there is a car park on your right. Walk back across the road and enter the field, turn left and walk to the top of the hill.
Miscellaneous Standing Stones
Apart from Stonehenge and Avebury Stone Circle there are several other smaller, less complex, and older stone circles and standing stones, dotted about the landscape. People often believe that the stone circles in general were part of the Druid religion, but this is far from likely. The Druid religion did not reach its peak until about 1000 years after most of the circles had been completed. Here are some of these stone circles you may wish to visit;
The Nine Stones Circle of Winterborne Abbas (Nr. Bridport, Dorset)
These are situated just off the A35 just a mile or so west of Winterborne Abbas, which is about 3 miles west of Dorchester. One of the smallest stone circles in Wessex. Legend says that the stones are the resting black cats of an old local witch, patiently awaiting her return, no doubt to be fed.
The Devil’s Den – Wiltshire
Like so many pagan relics, these sites were often associated with the devil, or with witchcraft, by the early Christians, who even built their churches over some of them. This explains why today we find many churches and cathedrals aligned along straight lines across the land, as they were built on the same ley lines that the original pagan sites were build on. The Devil’s Den is off the A4 between Marlborough and Avebury on Clatford Downs, and is the remains of a Neolithic burial chamber.
Old Sarum Castle – Wiltshire
Tel: (01722) 335398.
The central castle area is open daily.
April to November 10:00AM to 6:00PM (or dusk if earlier).
November to March 10:00AM to 4:00PM. (closed over Christmas).
The outer area is open all the time, but the car park closes at 6:00PM.
The massive Iron Age hillfort of Old Sarum (Old Salisbury) was reused by the Romans, Saxons and Normans. It grew into one of the most flourishing settlements in medieval England, before being abandoned in favor of Salisbury’s present site, in the valley below, in 1226. The site comprises the Norman ruins of a royal castle, palace and cathedral. Travel north from Salisbury on the A345 Amesbury Road and you will see it on your left as you leave the city. You can’t miss it. There is an admission charge to the central area. The outer area is free.
Salisbury Cathedral – Wiltshire
Tel: (01722) 323273, Fax: (01722) 330699.
Open daily, May to August 8:00AM to 8:15PM.
September to April 8:00AM to 6:30PM.
This is the only medieval cathedral in England to be built in the same English style throughout. Started in 1220, it was completed in 1258, except for the spire, which was added a generation later, and which, at 404 feet, can be seen for miles around. The Cathedral houses one of only four remaining copies of the Magna Carta, the ‘great charter’ of English political and civil liberties, granted by King John in 1215. A suggested donation is asked on entry.
Silbury Hill – Wiltshire
The largest man-made hill in Europe at 130 feet. Silbury Hill shares a common ancestry with West Kennet Long Barrow and Avebury Stone Circle, its nearest neighbors. Despite more than two centuries of investigation, its purpose remains a mystery. Named, apparently, after a certain King Sil, his (or anyone else’s) remains have not been discovered at the site. Curiously, from the air during Winter time, one can see the form of a goddess figure outlined in the ground by various irrigation ditches dug into the water meadow and ancient field boundaries that are still in existence today, next to the Hill. This figure, because of the changing vegetation, cannot be seen during the Summer months. Although Sillbury Hill is fenced off and members of the public are not allowed to climb to the top, people do so anyway, but you did not read that here. It can be reached by travelling west along the A4 from Marlborough for about 5 miles, you can’t miss it. There is a car park on the right, just past it, and there is no charge. Also, Silbury Hill is a great viewing spot for UFOs and crop circles.
Stonehenge – Wiltshire
Tel: (01980) 624715 (information line only).
Open daily April to November 10:00AM to 6:00PM (or dusk if earlier).
November. to March 10:00AM to 4:00PM. Closed at Christmas.
The great and ancient stone circle of Stonehenge is one of the wonders of the world, and as old as many of the temples and pyramids of Egypt. It stands as a prehistoric monument of unique importance, a World Heritage Site, surrounded by the remains of ceremonial and domestic structures, some older than the monument itself. Many of these features, which include earthworks, burial mounds and other circular ‘henge’ monuments are accessible by road or public footpath. Just 3 miles west of Amesbury on the A303, again, you can’t miss it, but keep your eyes on the road if you are just driving past. There is an admission charge to get close to the monument, but special arrangements must be made to enter the stone circle itself.
The Sanctuary – Wiltshire
Part of the Avebury complex, the Sanctuary is situated at the end of the only surviving stone avenue that runs from Avebury Stone Circle. There are no standing stones left at the Sanctuary, just markers, though it is still worth a visit. This monument stands east of Avebury on a hill, near the village of West Overton. To reach it from Avebury, drive east along the A4 past Silbury Hill for about a mile. A small car park can be found on the left. Cross the road to the monument, but be careful of high speed traffic on the road. Admission is free.
Wells Cathedral – Somerset
Situated in the center of the City of Wells, just 4 miles north east of Glastonbury, this Cathedral is probably the finest example of early English architecture (12th to 14th century). Major features include the magnificent West Front, the inverted arches of the Nave, and one of the oldest working mechanical clocks (c1390).
West Kennet Long Barrow – Wiltshire
About fifty bodies were found buried within the chambers of West Kennet Long Barrow. The bodies appeared to have been buried over a period of about 1000 years, before the structure was finally sealed. Most of the bodies were minus skulls and thigh bones. This barrow itself is over 300 feet long, Neolithic in origin, and was in use about 4000 years ago. Part of the Avebury complex, it can be reached by crossing the road opposite Silbury Hill, walking east for about 50 or so yards and walking up a footpath for another 50 or so yards. Admission is free.
Throughout the Wessex area there are eight White Horses, all cut into the sides of hills in the same manner as the Cerne Abbas Giant. I mention them because, not only are they unique to this part of England, they also seem to play a curious role with the location of some crop circles. Many formations over the years have been found in the fields below these horses.
Cut in 1812, 180 feet high and 167 feet long, this horse is on the southern edge of the Pewsey Downs and looks south over the Vale of Pewsey. It is in fact a few hundred yards west of Knapp Hill and can be seen from the Barge Pub, and on a clear day, from Old Sarum Castle, Salisbury.
Cut in 1780, this horse is situated under the ancient earthwork known as Oldbury Castle, and is visible on the left a few miles west along the A4 from Avebury.
Cut in 1837 to commemorate the coronation of Queen Victoria, this horse is best viewed by driving north from Avebury along the A436 (Swindon Road) for about 4 miles, and then turning right at the village of Hinton, towards the village of Rockley. The horse will be seen on your left, facing west.
Cut in 1804, this horse is on a hill just to the south west of Marlborough. It is not easily visible from any of the local roads, but can be seen from a footpath along the river that runs from the village of Manton to Marlborough.
Cut around the year 1815, this horse overlooks Weymouth Bay in Dorset. It differs from all the rest in that this horse has a rider, generally believed to be King George II.
Cut in 1785, this horse faces north, overlooking the Vale of Pewsey. Take the Evereleigh road south east from Pewsey; it can be seen about 1 mile on the left.
By far the oldest of all the horses, cut in about the year 871, this horse differs significantly in style to the others. Thought to have been carved to celebrate the Danish defeat by Alfred the Great, it can be seen from anywhere in the Vale of the White Horse, from Swindon to Abingdon, and is situated on the northern edge of the Downs, off the B4507, above Uffington village, Oxfordshire.
Cut in 1778, this horse was preceded by a much older version at the same site. Legend has it that the original was also cut to celebrate one of Alfred the Great’s victories over the Danes, at the battle of Ethandun in 878.
Winchester Cathedral – Hampshire
Tel: (01962) 866854.
Open daily 7:15AM to 5:30PM.
This famous 900 year old Norman Cathedral was built on an earlier Saxon church and is similar to Salisbury Cathedral, but without the spire. It is the longest Cathedral in Britain and is the burial place of many Saxon monarchs. The Cathedral is situated in the center of Winchester. Admission is a voluntary donation.
Woodhenge – Wiltshire
Between the town of Amesbury and the village of Durrington sits the Neolithic structure of Woodhenge. This monument dates from 2300BC and consists of 6 concentric oval rings formed by timber posts enclosed by an irregular ditch and bank. The long axis of the ovals are aligned towards the midsummer sunrise. Nothing, of course, is left of the wooden structure, which is marked by concrete slabs. The monument is situated on the left, just fifty yards from the northern edge of Amesbury on the A345. Admission is free.