The Early Movers

When looking for roots, I (Sig) could go way back to ‘people’ like Thoth in ancient Egypt, but in more recent history, I come from the school of geomantic dowsing that might be said to have begun with the archaeo-astronomer Sir Norman Lockyer. While there are always earlier examples of geomancers, of the three major aspects of the construction of sacred space – astronomy, sacred geometry and dowsing and the Earth Energies – Sir Norman explored two; his astronomical work in Egypt and then at Stonehenge showed the astronomical connection. While working at Stonehenge, he found other alignments like the ley that runs from a round barrow north of Stonehenge near the Cursus, through Stonehenge, and on to Old Sarum, and on through Salisbury Cathedral to two further Iron Age hill Forts. This was twenty years before Alfred Watkins' “The Old Straight Track.”

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Alfred Watkins was a rennaissance man. His interest in photography led him to invent a light meter that made photography possible on a British Antarctic expedition. He was a salesman for his father's grain business, but most of all, he loved the British countryside, and grew to have an intimate knowledge of it as a result of his travels from his father's business. As his son describes it, one day he had a vision that sacred sites lined up in long lines. He spent much of the rest of his life investigating the leys. (Notice I didn't say 'ley lines' – Watkins never used that term.) His book, "The Old Straight Track", first published in the nineteen-twenties, is the seminal book on straight lines in pre- and early history.

Alfred Watkins
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R.A. Smith

© British Museum

Reginald Allendar Smith (dowser who first reported water under sacred sites), was born in Highgate, north London on July 4th, 1873. He attended Christ's Hospital school in east London, where he excelled academically and earned a scholarship to University College, Oxford in 1891. He worked for the British Museum and was promoted in June 1908 to Assistant (First Class), a post he held until 1921. During 1925 Smith became the Trustees representative on the Ancient Monuments Board for England, a position previously held by Sir Charles Hercules Read. From the 21st of December, 1927 to the 4th January, 1938, when he retired at the age of 65, Reginald Allender Smith was Keeper of the Department.

In early 1936, he was asked to attend the International Congress of Prehistoric and Proto-historic Sciences at Oslo on behalf of the Trustees, and with the agreement of the Foreign Office, he was accorded the status of an official representative of H.M. Government. His major contribution to the Earth Mysteries was that he was one of the first to publish articles in the BSD Journal stating that he was finding water under all of the ancient sacred sites that were also exciting the ley hunters. This major contribution was made after Smith retired - and was no longer accountable to his scientific collegues. Many discoveries in this field have been made by retirees. They don't have their reputations to be concerned about any more, so why not say what's been on their hearts all these years? Alexander Thom is another example.

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Alexander ThomProfessor Alexander Thom held the chair of Engineering Science in the University of Oxford from 1945 until his retirement in 1961. It was during a sailing trip in the western isles of Scotland that he first became aware of the potential of astronomical alignment, when he saw the Sun setting behind a standing stone to the west. While it was known that the Sun rose behind the heel stone at Stonehenge, Thom's “Megalithic Sites in Britain,” and his subsequent “Megalithic Lunar Observatories,” and “Megalithic Remains in Britain and Brittany,” woke up archaeologists to the reality that astronomy must be considered every time a neolithic sacred site was excavated. I had the same difficulty as most archaeologists had with Thom's work. I didn't feel that I knew enough math to follow his work. It took me two years after purchasing his books to screw up the courage to read them! But it was worth the wait. Using the technique of reading until I didn't understand the math, and then skipping as little as possible and taking up the thread again, I found that there was no doubt about it, Thom had shown that our neolithic foremothers and fathers ‘gnew’ about astronomy.


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