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The Old Straight Track: Its Mounds, Beacons, Moats, Sites and Mark Stones [Paperback]

Alfred Watkins
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
RRP: 14.99
Price: 10.34 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

1 Jan 1988

First published in 1925 THE OLD STRAIGHT TRACK remains the most important source for the study of ancient tracks or leys that criss-cross the British Isles- a fascinating system which was old when the Romans came to Britain.

First in the Herefordshire countryside, and later throughout Britain, Alfred Watkins noticed that beacon hills, mounds, earthworks, moats and old churches built on pagan sites seemed to fall in straight lines. His investigation convinced him that Britain was covered with a vast network of straight tracks, aligned with either the sun or the path of a star.

Although traces of this network can be found all over the country, the principles behind the ley system remain a mystery. Are they the legacy of a prehistoric scientific knowledge which is now all but lost? And was their purpose secular or religious?

Frequently Bought Together

The Old Straight Track: Its Mounds, Beacons, Moats, Sites and Mark Stones + Leys: Secret Spirit Paths in Ancient Britain (Wooden Books Gift Book) + Earth Grids: The Secret Patterns of Gaia's Sacred Sites (Wooden Books Gift Book)
Price For All Three: 20.82

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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus (1 Jan 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349137072
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349137070
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 51,707 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


** 'A remarkable book... it will not be long before Alfred Watkins is recognised for what he was, an honest visionary who saw beyond the bounds of his time.' JOHN MITCHELL, author of THE VIEW OVER ATLANTIS

About the Author

Alfred Watkins was born in Hereford in 1855 and was an enthusiastic early photographer, the inventor of much apparatus, including the pinhole camera and the Watkins exposure meter. His revelation took place when he was 65 and caused violent controversy in archeological circles.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Excellent, early-century guide to the fascinating ley lines that criss cross Britain. These lines were amply pushed by creating notches in mountains, clearing land to view old church centers and of course the pagan mounds we all know so little about. Watkins's book is a delight and inspiring. Go back in time when people had to rely on contours and landmarks from many miles away. Sometimes older is better. Check it out!
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still the definitive book on ley lines! 9 Feb 1999
By A Customer
"The Old Straight Track" probably has influenced more seekers of "true" Britannia than any single book. It single-handedly began the ley-line craze, and probably is responsible for most of the current interest in barrows, megaliths, and "mysterious Britain." It's still readable, too. Good photos. Good arguments. Cool conclusions. Even if you don't believe, Watkins will make you WANT to believe. The truth is out there ... and it's been under our feet all the time!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Original thinking on a facinating subject 21 Jun 2009
By Peter Buckley VINE VOICE
My casual interest in ley-lines stems from my teenage years, when I, like others, found it possible to connect ancient sites on OS maps in the way Alfred Watkins describes. I found it worth investigating, and discovered 'The Old Straight Track' to be far more coherent in explanation of ley-lines, and related features, than much of what has been written since.
I believe man in prehistoric times to have been more sophisticated and well-travelled than customarily thought, although in consideration of ley-lines as so-called 'energy conductors', I rate with alien visitation and black magic, a bogus hindrance to honest investigation.
Alfred Watkins writes with clarity and a love of the Herefordshire countryside he lived in, and thus in reading his book, you have the bonus of almost stepping back to a gentler era. He paints a broad and sweeping picture that is hard to criticize. I cannot see the point of highlighting errors, for the simple reason it is so easy today, with the internet, to compare other sources. He is never dogmatic in any case, often giving alternatives to his preferred explanation. It is interesting that he sees in British place-names a link with the ancient near-east, particularly Babylon, this fits well with more recent investigators, such as Alan Wilson and Baram Blackett. A worthwhile read.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The classic book on ley lines 8 Mar 2002
By A Customer
A thorough and fascinating investigation of ley lines in Britain, particularly Herefordshire. This is a classic in all senses of the word: it's an old book (written in 1925), the first to cover its subject (Alfred Watkins coined the term 'ley lines'), and doing it so comprehensively and logically that any other book on ley lines is almost superfluous.
The chapters and snippets on the origin and derivation of words, place-names and surnames are particularly interesting. For example, the modern meaning of the word 'black' is completely opposite to its ancient meaning!
This is the best book on history - ancient or modern - I've ever read.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Fascinating if over-detailed book (Watkins' 'The Ley Hunter's Manual' is I think better). Poor Watkins is misrepresented by both friends and enemies - the latter mostly professional archaeologists.

Trying to summarise: Watkins realised (he was among other things a commercial traveller around Herefordshire, and was well aware of the problems of finding one's way round, and the importance of landmarks) that prehistoric man had a problem of transport. To take one example: salt. There are local deposits of this in Britain; but projecting time backwards, how could the stuff be moved around? There were no motorways, or even roads; no tarmac; no motor traffic; no bikes; no maps; not even weedkiller to keep paths clear... obvious points which many people seem unable to grasp.

Watkins' theory was simply that straight tracks were laid out by line-of-sight and marked by whatever method was feasible - dug-out notches on the skyline (early man could do earthmoving on quite a scale), upright stones arranged in pairs to point the way, perhaps church steeples, large stones by the pathside - of types not found locally, to remove doubt. Watkins thought some large flat stones marked with cup and ball marks might be in effect maps of local 'hill forts'. He thought Silbury Hill was built specifically as a landmark. Trees were another possibility, though obviously they would be visible now, if at all, only by traces.

Another of Watkins's examples was water: springs of clean water were presumably a useful asset (and some contained health assisting minerals, though obviously we're in eras predating chemical knowledge). Paths to them might be marked out.

And much more in this vein, including signalling by means of beacon fires.
Read more ›
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful and thought provoking 31 July 2007
This delightful and easy-to-read book outlines the author's gradual realisation that certain well known, yet ancient, features of the (mainly) English landscape, link up to form straight lines called 'leys'. This leads to the author wondering who built them and why? Alfred Watkins presents his findings in a down-to-earth and thought provoking way, inviting the reader to join him in the quest for answers. Anyone with a love of nature and social history will not be disappointed.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars A poor quality edition compared to some
This is the first edition of the Old Straight Track which I ever had, and it isn't an especially pleasant book to handle. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Peasant
4.0 out of 5 stars A classic text
It's 30 years since first reading this book and it made a huge impression at the time. Perhaps it spawned a generation of unorthodox ideas and odd theories, but Watkins had been... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Elginson
5.0 out of 5 stars An old classic
Alfred Watkins was a man of many talents: pioneering photographer, amateur archaeologist, miller, magistrate, inventor, brewer and business man. Read more
Published 19 months ago by L. Llewellyn
5.0 out of 5 stars Ancient Lore
I have had this book for 40 years, I have misplaced it. It is such an interesting book I would recommend anyone to read it, though there must be a better explanation for the... Read more
Published 21 months ago by Singingg
3.0 out of 5 stars The New Age Bible To Nonsense
I must say I do have to agree totally with Mr Thumwood's review above, "The Old Straight Track" is a complete load of old tosh yet it is still a delightful read, taking the reader... Read more
Published 23 months ago by Mr Chairman
5.0 out of 5 stars Go straight on...
Other than hearing the mumbo jumbo mystical types banging on about force fields and magical lines, I had no idea of what a Ley really was until I read the erudite Mr Watkins... Read more
Published on 27 Nov 2010 by Gkwells
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant follow on in depth for the 1st book
This is a more in depth look at ley lines about a year later than the previous book by Watkins which were field notes. Read more
Published on 31 Aug 2009 by J. J. Rowley
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Book that stands the test of time
Alfred Watkins was a visionary. A Herefordian who invented some major inventions and also discovered "Ley Lines". This book gives countless examples of such ley lines and theories. Read more
Published on 20 Nov 2008 by M. Richards
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining nonsense
Like the other reviewer, I thorougly enjoyed reading this celebrated book that sought to make sense of the numerous tumuli, sunken roads, ancient fortified sites and stone circles... Read more
Published on 1 May 2005 by Ian Thumwood
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