It seems highly likely that ancient people had an understanding of how to find such places based on the lie of the land, and may have been attuned to subtle energies less commony experienced in modern society.
Dowsing is a well-known method of seeking out earth energies with a rod or a pendulum. Many dowsers have recorded powerful reactions at the Rollrights, which have often been described as concentric rings of energy - one dowser has even reported his dowsing rods doing a very good imitation of helicopter rotors. It has been found that each stone is predominantly positive or negative and oppositely charged to its neighbour. There are polarity changes six days after the new moon.
In 1969 Guy Underwood noticed that these sites tend to be meeting places of invisible energy track-lines or “overgrounds.” More recently some dowsers have pointed out that, while these lines are not constant, megalithic sites remain the hub of the radiating energy spokes, which could be partly electromagnetic radiation, but could also be something less tangible. (In some respects this theory could be seen as being similar to Chinese acupuncture, albeit on a national or global scale). Maybe Stone Circles are gathering and distribution points for the earth's enery.
Tom Graves believed that “specific points or areas on sacred sites are polarised or charged: in some cases the polarities may change rapidly....Areas like the enclosures within Stone Circles tend to have regular and concentric alterations of polarity” which manifest themselves physically as magnetic field anomalies. Graves also suggested that there are concentric dowsing-patterns above the ground, which have a normal “resting” state with occasional high-energy pulses strong enough to induce “temporary but severe migraine” in anyone who gets in their way.
For a long time it has been assumed that unknown energies exist at ancient sites. Whether megaliths such as Stone Circles were built at certain places because those places had power, or megaliths have gained their power through centuries of use is a question that will probably never be answered. And maybe it never should be.
In 1975 Eduardo Balanovski, an Argentinian physicist, was invited by the dowser Bill Lewis and the writer Francis Hitching to investigate a large Standing Stone in Wales. Using a gaussmeter (an instrument which measures static magnetic field strength), Balanovski was surprised to discover that significant magnetic anomalies existed around the Stone. He said that “the people who put it there knew about its power, even if they didn’t know about electromagnetism.”
Since Balanovski published his findings, researchers, including the Dragon Project in the late 19s, have looked into the energies present at Stone Circles. However, most of the results have been disappointingly inconclusive. Ultrasonic pulsing has been detected at the King Stone at sunrise, although the levels varied with the seasons. During the Summer Solstice it was observed that there were no ultrasound readings within the Circle, almost as if the Stones were acting as a shield from the low background levels of ultrasound that are normally present in the landscape. (For further information about the anomalies found by the Dragon Project at the Rollrights see “Circles of Silence”; by Don Robins, Souvenir Press, London, 1985)
Radiation occurs naturally in both the rocks around and under us (especially granite) and also as cosmic rays from outer space. The Gaia Programme monitored radiation at 30 sites in 1983(4). Their results showed a far greater variation of readings at Stone Circles than at the control sites. Unfortunately, so far there does not appear to be any decipherable pattern of radiation activity at the Rollrights, although a steady hot spot of beta and gamma radiation has been recorded a few feet from the northern edge of the Circle, underneath the road. There has been a solitary, unexplained alpha radiation reading at the Whispering Knights.
Biologist Harry Oldfield used shrimps to examine magnetism at the Rollrights. The shrimps, which are particulary sensitive to magnetic fields, clustered towards the Stones when their blacked out jam-jar was placed near them, leaving little doubt that there are magnetic fields at work around the Stone Circle.
Charles Brooker, a retired engineer, confirmed that there are fluctuating magnetic readings at the Circle - starting from the centre he realised that he had found a spiral of magnetic change similar to the concentric rings that dowsers have found at the Rollrights.
Leys (or alignments) are straight lines believed to link landmarks such as standing stones and other megaliths, earthworks, tumuli, ponds, churches (which were sometimes built on pagan sites) and natural features. Some are claimed to stretch for just a few miles, others for many hundreds. A German clergyman by the name of Wilhelm Teudt noted what he believed to be an ancient system of straight lines in 1929. Independently, Alfred Watkins had come to a similar conclusion, and in 1925 he published his seminal work, “The Old Straight Track”. Watkins named these lines 'leys' and he believed that they were a network of tracks for prehistoric travellers, marked out by the surveyor or dodman with his two sighting staves, which linked ancient sacred sites.
Three leys have been associated with the Rollrights:
- The first was proposed by Alfred Watkins and runs through Long Compton church, the Rollright Stones, Chipping Norton church and a tumulus near Charlbury before ending at another (un-named) church.
- The second was suggested by Devereux and Thomson in 1979 and follows a route from Arbury Banks in Northamptonshire, across Cropredy Bridge to All Saints church, Wroxton. To the south-west of the church the line crosses Castle Bank camp and Madmarston Hill camp before reaching the Rollright stones.
- The third runs due north from Uffington White Horse .From there the alignment goes - Faringdon Folly Summit - Burroway encampment on the banks of the upper Thames - Brize Norton church - across two tumuli on the West Oxfordshire lowlands - Ascott long barrow - Lyneham long barrow with its single standing stone - Squires Clump round barrow at Sarsden - passing close to the barrow at Churchill - Rollright Stone Circle - Stourton church - and finally, the summit of Brailes Hill, which has been associated with an ancient legend of a straight path linking hills.
New claims about leys have started to emerge over the last few years. These views see leys not so much as prehistoric trackways but as spirit paths, corpse or death roads, dream tracks or flight paths for the faerie folk, which can be found in ceremonial landscapes all over the world.
In his book “The Keys to the Temple” David Furlong expands on the idea that, as well as being the old straight track, leys can also be circular. In the North Cotswolds a circular ley has been claimed, with a radius of just under 6 miles or 1/666th of the Earth’s equatorial radius. The Rollright Stone Circle lies at the most easterly point of this ley-circle which has its centre just south of Moreton-in-Marsh.