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No. 26: Mar-Apr 1983

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Archeology in britain: straying from the party line

In the final 1982 issue of New Scientist, Paul Devereux and Robert Forrest relate the history of leys in England. Leys are supposedly the intentional spotting of megalithic sites along straight lines extending several kilometers. Some alignments occur through chance, but several leys seem statistically significant. The puzzle is why ancient peoples bothered to align their edifices -- assuming they really did.

Most professional archeologists believe leys to be figments of the imagination of amateurs. This being so, they must be incensed by the claims made two weeks later in New Scientist. There, stimulated by the earlier report on leys, a retired engineer presented his measurements of the magnetic fields around the Rollright Stones. He maintained that he was able to magnetically detect several converging leys and, in addition, a spiral pattern inside the stone circle. A psychic accompanying him independently perceived the leys and spiral.

(Devereux, Paul, and Forrest, Robert; "Straight Lines on an Ancient Landscape," New Scientist, 96:822, 1982. Also: Brooker, Charles; "Magnetism and the Standing Stones," New Scientist, 97:105, 1983.)

Comment. Psychics, especially dowsers, have long maintained that megalithic sites are the foci of mysterious forces, notably spirals. This is pretty wild stuff for a respected science journal to print. The editors would be well-advised to send someone with a magnetometer down to the Rollright Stones to straighten out this matter.

Magnetically located leys and spiral at the Rollright Stones, England. Magnetically located leys and spiral at the Rollright Stones, England.

From Science Frontiers #26, MAR-APR 1983. 1983-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987