The Church, It’s Crypt and the Ley Lines

Tradition tells us that St. Mary’s church lies on a ley line and it is never wise to dismiss folk tales, legends or traditions as they are usually based on some fact from which they originate.  So – what is a ley line?   It’s properties can be scientifically verified as being lines of natural energy coming from the earth’s crust at it’s weaker points, and this has certainly been known to man from Megalithic times and is not confined to our western cultures.  The energy was quickly associated with the powers of good and evil and religious monuments were built on them with ground sometimes having to be purified by sprinklings of amethyst, quartz, jasper or flint.  Ley lines are readily identifiable from O. S. maps or aerial photographs but every pathway we see at ground level is not necessarily a ley line as many are the result of boundary marking, connecting foot paths or drove roads.  Neither are they always straight, as they cross each other, form a network (known as a web) or simply gather at one point (known as a node).   Blakey topping, for instance, not far away from Lastingham has more than 12 lines radiating from it and Clifton, York has possibly the largest node in the country.  Armed with this information, what do we know of the ley line said to pass under our own church?

The late Guy Raglan Phillips researched the area very well and found the line running from Pike Howe to Castleton Church – Botton – Lastingham – Appleton-le-Moors – Friars Hill and on to Great Habton.

Devereux and Thomson have a tumulus on a spur of moorland just above Hutton-le-Hole and along part of the road to Lastingham, touching the N.E. corner of the church, then down past St. Cedd’s well and on to Black Park Lodge, Black Howe, Bridestones and ending at Dargate Dikes on Forestry land.

John Timpson’s more conversational book contains his theory that a ley line began in Appleton-le-Moors, meandered through St Mary’s churchyard, past St. Cedd’s well and way onto the moors which he describes as a ley hunter’s paradise with it’s wide selection of barrows, standing stones and crosses.  Here he becomes selective and ends his ley line at Three Howes, near Bank Top on the Rosedale Road.  He does not think, however, that a ley line ran specifically through any part of the church since the choice of a site for this first Christian monastery was, according to Bede, Cedd’s own choice in an area, John Timpson says, anything but sacred and devoid of locals – the Christian practice being to build on top of a sacred pagan site to attract the local population to the new religion.  Well, he might be right, but it is always possible that St Cedd, who travelled about, knew more that we are told.

     We tend to look at our beloved crypt through rose-coloured spectacles but remember – Cedd’s original little building was done at a time of famine, disease, bloodshed and tribal warfare much as we see in parts of the third world today.  Christianity, too, was taking away the old faiths which had been the only stabilising factor for the people.  Good and Evil were not the abstract concepts that they have become today but were real, simple and almost tangible forces governing daily life.  The tailpieces to this short article on our own ley line are as follows:

1.    Most of the people I have met over the years who have visited the crypt emerge with a feeling of great peace and spiritual renewal.  One lady who came each year on holiday always visited the crypt to offer a prayer and lay a little sprig of heather on the alter because she thought “it was appropriate.”  But I have met one or two who could not stay as they said they felt there was something evil there.

2.    Guy Raglan Phillips took a clairvoyant into the crypt who said it was a very peaceful and holy place except for one corner from which she got bad feelings.

3.     Paul Screeton, former editor of the ‘Ley Hunters Companion’ is quoted by Devereux and Thomson as having detected ley power as a physical sensation while in the Crypt.  No mention of either good or evil

Ley lines are older than Christianity.  Do you think they still exist?  If so, have they any influence on our daily lives?  Are they just imagination?  Is anyone who believes in them ‘away with the fairies’?  What about our crypt?  Shall we put the question aside and carry on as before?

            Elizabeth Lester