Three Old Fellas
Along with Chris Street and others I’m giving a talk for the Ley Hunters’ Moot at Friends Meeting House Brighton on 24 April 2010 at 1pm (Details at The Society of Ley Hunter’s website here. They are having a field trip the next day, led by Stuart Mason of the Antiquarian Society). Here is a note about the talk:
Three Old Fellas
It is a most intriguing and fascinating hobby. In these days when rambling over hill and dale is such a popular amusement, there should be countless opportunities for young people to discover markstones and other reminders of bye-gone days, and to trace out possible alignments from them on the maps when they return home.
Mark Culling Carr-Gomm, The Straight Track Club (1938)
There is a mystery that connects Sound and Place that those who have researched the acoustics of sacred sites and ancient monuments know well, but I would like to explore another connection between these two phenomena. There is a way in which our experience of Place is bound up with Memory and Story, which is why English Heritage can charge us to walk over an empty field at Battle. We know a great story unfolded there, and even though nothing obvious to the naked eye remains, it is enough for visitors to know the Battle of Hastings happened there, to justify travelling a great distance simply to stand on that field. It is as if the story and the place are woven together – an idea which those who are psychically sensitive will affirm is more than simply a metaphor.
This weaving is what I would like to talk about at the Moot in April. There are the great stories that occurred in the landscape that we can tune into, but there are also our own personal stories that relate to the landscape which bind together memories of people and experiences along with the land itself. This is the great gift of the oral tradition and of folk-memory: the tales of place that are also of tribe and ancestor. When we talk in this way it can sometimes sound distant or impersonal, when in reality we are talking about the land we live on and love, and the tales of our own ancestors and the people we love. So in my talk I’ll show you some objects that relate to this theme and were significant to me from childhood, and which I’ve now inherited. They remind me of three old fellas – elder-figures – who made the magic of the landscape and of ley lines come alive for me: the old Chief Druid Ross Nichols, the late John Michell, author of the seminal ‘View Over Atlantis’, and my grandfather, who was a friend of Alfred Watkins and helped to found the ‘Old Straight Track Club’. Ley lines and the land of Sussex play a part in my experience of all three, and leys are a phenomenon that connects people with the landscape within the warm embrace of story…