The following article was published in Newsletter #70 (June 2022) of the Society of Leyhunters (SOL) www.leyhunters.co.uk
THE YORK LEY: A LINE OF SITES AND A LINE OF SIGHT
On Sunday 27th March 2022 a group of Dowsers, led by Ridings Dowsers Chairman Michael Barwell, met up in York to walk the York Ley – a straight alignment of 8 sites in just under a mile that is oriented almost to true north. From North to South the sites are York Minster Library (originally the Chapel of the Archbishops’ Palace), York Minster itself (also known as the Cathedral Church of St Peter), St Sampson’s Church, All Saints Pavement (one of two Churches dedicated to All Saints in York), St Mary’s Castlegate, Clifford’s Tower (once part of York Castle) and a former Templar Chapel in St George’s Fields, culminating at the confluence of York’s two Rivers, the Ouse and the Foss.
We started in the South at the confluence of the two Rivers. It is this liminal place that Jill Smith felt was the sacred (esoteric) centre of York when she visited on her Gypsy Switch pilgrimage in 1985 and gave a talk to a Society of Leyhunters Moot. From the confluence we walked through St George’s Fields and dowsed the outline of a Templar Chapel that once stood here.
Next, we headed north to Clifford’s Tower which stands on an earthen mound typical of the Norman Motte and Baileys. Gazing Northwards from the top of Clifford’s Tower it is possible to clearly see along the Ley - the tall spire of St Mary’s Castlegate, the octagonal Lantern Tower of All Saints Church and the squat square tower of St Sampson’s Church, stretching all the way to the central tower of York Minster itself which obscures the most northerly point on the Ley, the Minster Library.
The Lantern Tower of All Saints Pavement dates from the 15th Century and was built to guide travellers through the wolf-infested Royal Forest of Galtres which was immediately north of the City. This Church stands at the geographic centre (omphalos) of the City and is the Guild and Civic Church of York as well as the burial place of many of York’s Lord Mayors.
Some of our group were a bit bemused as to what we were actually supposed to be dowsing. They could see how the Church towers and steeples rising up above the York skyline lined up perfectly with Clifford’s Tower and continued in a southerly direction back towards the confluence of York’s two Rivers, but what exactly were the dowsing rods and pendulums supposed to be detecting? Was there any energy associated with this Ley that would warrant it being described as an ‘Energy Ley’ in Dowsing terminology?
Many Dowsers work by visualising what they are dowsing for, and those people who had spent time visualising a straight line of energy running between the sites then drawing it on a map or plotting it on Google Earth, seemed to have rather more success than those who had neglected to do any homework. Some people couldn’t dowse any energy associated with the Ley at all but managed to successfully use their dowsing tools to navigate their way through the labyrinth of small streets to meet up with everyone else outside the Minster. One Dowser had no problem dowsing what they assumed to be the Energy Ley but found that it occasionally changed direction slightly, which departs from the original concept of a Ley always being straight. Interestingly, another Dowser detected several energy flows associated with the Ley that separated into two paths to flow around buildings then reconnected at the other side, much like a River would flow around a boulder, and appearing to form a Caduceus along the line.
The elevation profile of the York Ley on Google Earth shows that the land is relatively flat with a difference of only 12 metres between the highest and lowest points. This suggests that the current line of sight was created by the building of the stone structures rather than being an alignment of sites on natural high points in the landscape.
Most of the structures visible along the Ley today date from Medieval times when York had an influential Templar presence. Perhaps the York Ley was purposely designed to link the esoteric centre of York with its geographic centre and it’s Cathedral Church. Ironically the Templars ended up being tried in the Chapter House of the Minster in 1307, a place that they had helped design only a few years earlier, and then imprisoned in York Castle. On the original diagram produced by the Society of Leyhunters (SOL) the whole thing looks like an arrow, and when its trajectory is followed it seems to be aimed at London where their accusers had hailed from. If we stand in the octagonal Chapter House of York Minster today and look up at the fine artwork on the ceiling, we will see what looks very much like the SOL diagram of the York Ley with energy weaving around the sites – a Caduceus no less. Perhaps those enigmatic spiritual warriors are still inspiring questers today through the medium of synchronicity.
We can conclude that the line of SIGHT along the line of SITES is obvious, but whether there is indeed any dowseable energy connecting them and what form this takes is open to debate and perhaps personal interpretation. This debate will of course continue, but the most important thing is that both the Dowser and Leyhunter alike can have an enjoyable time exploring these alignments.
Further information about the York Ley can be found on the website http://secretyork.com/york-ley/ and also in this article by Brian Larkman on the Society of Ley Hunters website https://www.leyhunters.co.uk/arch14.html
Archaeological information about the Templar Chapel at St George’s fields can be found at https://her.york.gov.uk/Monument/MYO2031
More information about Jill Smith and how to purchase her recent book ‘The Gypsy Switch and other Ritual Journeys’ can be found on her website https://www.jill-smith.co.uk