John Michell's Cornwall Leys

John Michell (author of "A View over Atlantis") proposed this example as confirmation of the ley theory in the August 1970 issue of The Ley Hunter. Let's take a look at these. Michell doesn't make it easy to follow his work. I would have liked to have seen grid references for all the key points, which would make the job of replicating his work both easier and guarantee it true to his original ideas. I have had to derive many of the marker locations from his description and locating the points on a computer version of the OS map, and these references as in brackets - others are straight from Michell's text. I only went for the four-point leys, which had four common points shared across two of them.

Michell offered a bet of £50 (worth nearly £700 in 2016)to Antiquity magazine that these would be found significant but it wasn't taken up.

Modern ley plotting is a lot less destructive on maps than it must have been when Michell did the original. The West Penwith peninsula has a particularly high concentration of megalithic sites, so statistically there is a higher chance of finding alignments anyway.

John Michell's waypoints (items in brackets derived from his description and OS map)

Boscawen-Un SW412274
Stone Cross  
Tresvennack Pillar (SW44162787) 
St Piran's (SW53772955)
Boscawen-Un SW412274
Stone SW 42652671
Boscawen-Un SW412274
Stone SW44802661
Traditional site
of St Clement's
Tregeseal SW386324
Longstone (SW40023290)
West Lanyon Quoit (SW42303377)
Stone/Courtyard Ho (SW45353495)
Men-An-Tol (SW42633493)
Stone SW45933495
Chysauster (SW47213503)
ley Intersection (SW45353495)
Stone SW440340
(Tumulus) (SW403313)
(Tumulus) (SW380296)
Tregeseal SW386324
Lanyon Quoit (SW43003368)
Stone SW440340
Chysauster (SW47213503)

John Michell's letter outlining this, from the August 1970 issue of The Ley Hunter

The Survey.  The area chosen for a survey was the Penwith peninsular at
the extreme west of Cornwall. There are several reasons why
this area was an obvious choice, quit apart from the lux-
uries of the Penwith bed-and-breakfasts. It contains more
ancient sites than any other area of corresponding size in
Britain, and several stone circles which were analysed for
their astronomical properties by Sir Normal Lockyer earlier
this century. His conclusion, based on the evidence of ast-
ronomy, folklore and surviving customs, were published in
his book, "Stonehenge and other British Stone Monuments
Astronomically Considered (2nd. ed. 1909). The area is 
almost surrounded by sea, and small enough to be covered by
a few sheets of the 6" O.S. map placed together.

 To avoid any possible dispute, the only sites taken into 
consideration in this survey were those of undeniably 
prehistoric provenance, stone circles, standing stones and
dolmens. These stones are each represented on the map by a 
small dot. A 3 ft. steel ruler was used to plot their align-
ments, allowing no visible margin of error. The maps used 
were prepared by Stanford's of Long Acre.

Evidence for the existence of long distance prehistoric

  The alignments given below were described in part by
Lockyer in the second editions of "Stonehenge..", and were
found by him to have astronomical significance. Lockyer
took a bearing from the centre of a stone circle to an out-
lying stone in order to calculate whether the outlier might
have been erected to mark the rising point of the sun or of 
one of the six notable time-keeping or warning starts an a 
day corresponding to  one of the chief festivals of the May
year in about 2000 B.C. He used only one sheets of the 25"
or 6" and did not concern himself with the poss-
ibility that the same line might be extended over other
prehistoric stones not visible from the circle. The results
of extending some of Lockyer's astronomical lines are as

A. Boscawen-un stone circle, SW412274 (see p 280 2nd. ed.
1. From circle to stone cross AZ78°. Capelle 2250 B.C.
   The stone cross is exactly one mile from the centre of 
   the circle. About 1480 yards beyond the cross on the 
   same line stands the tall stone known as the
   Tresvannack Pillar, a fact not noticed by Lockyer.
   This line may be further extended to St Piran's 
   Church, Perrannuthnoe, evidently an ancient site, for
   it is the terminal point of several other megalithic 
   alignments in this part of Cornwall.
2. From circle to standing stone, AZ 113° 30'. November
   The tall outlying stone is nearly two thirds of a mile
   from the circle and exactly one third of a mile beyond
   it is a large stone at SW 42652671. This stone is not
   visible from the road and has not previously been
   noticed although it is a boulder of considerable size.
   It stands at the junction of several other megalithic
3. From circle to standing stone, AZ 276° 30'. September 
   Pleiades 2120 B.C.
   The outlying stone is about 2 miles west of the circle.
   The eastward extension is the same line through the
   circle, crosses a point marked 'stone' on the 6" O.S. 
   map (ref. SW448266) which proved on inspection to be
   a fairly large prehistoric pillar, one of two close
   together. The line continues to a traditional site
   of St Clement's Chapel on an islet off Mousehole, the
   whole length of the line beng about 6 miles.
B. The eastern Tregeseal circle SW386324 (Stonehenge p280)
 1.From circle to Longstone, AZ 66° 38'. May sunrise.
   The Longstone is a prominent landmark, about 10 ft.
   high and visible from the circle nearly two miles
   away. From the Longstone and exactly on the same line
   can be seen the famous dolmen, West Langton Quoit at 
   a distance of 1½ miles. Two miles beyond the quoit the
   line terminates at a site, not yet visited marked as
   'Courtyard Houses.' At a particular spot on this site,
   marked 'Stones' (SW45353495) the line intersects two
   other lines - details given below.
 a.From prehistoric structure, Men-an-Tol, through 
   intersection described above to standing stone
   (SW45933495), terminating at the centre of Chysanster,
   a prehistoric village which, from its exposed position,
   was probably an observatory settlement. The same point
   at Chysanster is also the terminus of another line
   from Tregeseal, given in 2. below.
 b.A remarkable alignment of five smaller boulders marked
   'Stone', a tumulus and a large standing stone
   (SW440340) terminating at intersection described above.
   Five of the stones in this alignment occur within a 
   distance of just over one mile. The total length of
   the line is about 5 miles.
2. From Tregeseal circle to Lanyon Quoit about three miles.
   This line was not noticed by Lockyer and no astronomical
   value has yet been suggested for it, but it is included
   here on account of its obviously deliberate construction.
   From the circle and Lanyon Quoit it extends to the large
   standing stone mentioned in (b) and terminates at the
   same point as Chrysanster as (a).
   Notes and Comments

   Readers of "The Ley Hunter" may be disappointed that the
alignments in this survey have not been traced further than a
few miles, but on account of the practical difficulties in 
setting up many consecutive sheets of the 6" map, this has
not been possible. In any case, the point at issue is not
the length of a ley, for it has been pointed out that
almost any line drawn for a sufficient distance across a 
map will touch a number of ancient sites of various sorts,
but the quality of the evidence on which the ley theory 
rests. In this survey the evidence is at least as good as
that accepted by archaeologists for astronomical indicators,
since in the first four examples given here the lines were
not arbitrarily selected, but represent extensions of lines
already noticed by Lockyer as having astronomical signi-

   The sites accepted for the purpose of this survey were
all of undoubtedly prehistoric stones, the only exception
being the stone cross mentioned in A(1), which was believed 
by Lockyer to have been placed like many others on the
former site of a megalithic stone, probably cut from its 
material, and which is also situated on a number of other
megalithic alignments. For example: Aire Point - stone
SW381280 - stone SW417277 - cross - stone SW450275 - 
Roskilly Point. Total length, 7 miles.

  Churches and ancient Celtic chapels, though not direct-
ly considered in the survey, are frequently situated on
megalithic alignments. Apart from those already given,
examples include Sennen church, the most westerly in 
England, where an ancient stone cross stands in the graveyard,
from which a straight line can be drawn through two tumuli,
the stone at SW381280 and the centre of Bartine Castle to
the stone already mentioned at SW440340.

   Straight stretches of road and old track sometimes
coincide with megalithic alignments. The line from
Boscawen-un(A.1.) leaves the circle along the existing 
banked approach, evidently a former processional way. The 
straight Cape Cornwall Road is directed towards the centre
of the square at St Just. The line continues down the axis
of the church and along the path to the vicarage to a stan-
ding stone 3½ miles to the east.

   All the stones mentioned above, in fact virtually all
the stones marked on the 6" map of West Cornwall, are sit-
uated on more than one megalithic alignment consisting of
3 or more stones and in many cases, thought not always, 
radiating from a stone circle. The same pattern can be found
in every other part of Britain. From the precise similarity
between the monuments and legends of this area and Brittany,
it must be inferred that the system of alignments exists
there also. The ancient language and customs of Cornwall
are the same as the Breton. The stones in both countries
were obviously erected by the same people and the local
stories about their former magical properties are also
identical. Nor are these monuments and their associated
folklore limited to Northern Europe, for stone circles,
menhirs and dolmens are found all around the Mediterranean,
North Africa, the Near East, India, China and on islands 
far out in the Pacific. In can scarcely be doubted that
these identical structures were erected for the same 
scientific purpose by a civilisation that was once univer-

  Unfortunately, apart from the well known examples, the
ancient stones of West Cornwall and elsewhere are protected 
only by the tolerance of their owners. Farming methods are
changing and the introduction of heavy machinery now con-
stitutes a serious threat to their survival. Many smaller
stones are not recognised as ancient; others are mistaken
for rubbing posts, erected for the benefit of cattle, for
it is noticeable that cows are attracted by these stones 
and like to gather round them. Stones were undoubtedly
put up for this purpose, but not all stones now assumed 
to be rubbing posts are modern. A clear example of an
ancient stone is to be found on the extension of line 
A(1), west of the Boscawen-un, at SW403273,. This is
a small stone which may soon be destroyed, as recently
have other ancient stones on the same farm. Yet it has the
extraordinary quality that, as one approaches it on a direct
line from the circle, it appears to grow taller, the effect
of another pointed stone rising in view behinmd it.

   There is need before it is too late of a through
megalithic survey of this whole area by those qualified to
undertake it. The leading local archaeologist professes
complete indifference to the fact of megalithic alignments
and is concerned only with the booty which may sometimes be
gathered by digging round the foundations of the stones.
Many previously unrecorded stones have recently been mapped:
others have gone and the process continues. Prof. Thom, the
authority on megalithic astronomy, writes that even insig-
nigicant boulders about the countryside should be recorded
before being removed, if this has to be, for he finds that
many such were placed as markers on astronomical lines. In
exactly the same way, Alfred Watkins observed that smaller
stones, often featurinbg in local folklore, stand on leys.
There are also many large uncut boulders which are not gen-
erally recognized as ancient, artificial structures. Of
these the author of a popular textbook on geology writes,
"In many places great rocks can be found which are quite 
alien to the district, and these occur as the result of
glacial action. We know this because no other agency could 
have placed them where they are" On such tenuous assumpt-
ions many of our great sciences are based.

   Anyone who cares to check the examples given here of 
the megalithic alignments in West Cornwall can scarcely
deny the existence of the ley system or the value of Alfred
Watkins's remarkable discovery. Relying, in the first inst-
ance on his own intuition, Mr Watkins took the first steps
towards the recognition of an advanced scientific civilization
in Britain which flourished some 2,000 years before the
invasion of the comparatively barbaric Romans.

  The important question concerns stone circles. It has
always been assumed by those who investigated their
astronomical properties that they were simply built as obs-
ervatories. Yet this theory fails to explain the existence 
of great stones, continuing the astronomical lines far
across the country. Obviously some further principle is
involved of which we are still ignorant, yet which was so 
highly by men of the ancient civilization, that 
they devoted their entire resources and technology to the
construction of a worldwide system of aligned megalithic
instruments. The mystery awaits further investigation.