Photo from

Photo from

Lines, lines, lines, a fascination with lines.

Of course man needed them to navigate; of course he did. And so latitude was born, and longtitude. And the Equator and the Tropics. Total inventions of man’s mind, wishful willing the globe into submission. Encasing Mother Earth in a suffocating, methodical, navigable corset.

And then there are the even more wishful lines: the ley lines, begun when amateur archaeologist Alfred Watkins floated the idea that neolithic man had created points of navigation, between which straight tracks ran. The lines were further mysticised by British author John Michell. The ley line became something which was not just ancient, but had special powers. These days, places where ley lines cross are supposed to have properties. Qualities. Unsettling behaviours.

Some say ghosts flock there, and paranormal activity thrives on these lines which are not there, except in the imagination of water-dowsers and warlocks.

And I have written before about man’s ability to percieve organised patterns. Lines on the land, linked by standing stones or any other feature, are no exception.  Prehistorian Richard Atkinson contributed memorably to the whole Line debate by taking telephone boxes and drawing lines between them, thus creating ‘telephone box leys’ with about as much mystery as the General Post Office could muster.

Man has made visible patterns, of course. The white horse canters across the Oxfordshire hills- how did they ever create something that big? And if they had tried to create the Cerne Giant in modern times I posit they would have been arrested in the very act:

Pic from

Pic from

They are called Geoglyphs; great lines and pictures on the land. Man’s attempt to make his mark.

And the inclination to leave great lines on the landscape has not dwindled. Look at the Britglyph movement: an audacious coordinated attempt to leave an image on the biggest landmass of the British Isles.

Masterminded by creative technologist Alfie Dennen – a master linesman, it seems -, the idea was simple enough to work. Between December 2008 and March 2009, ordinary people took rocks from where they lived and travelled to specially designated points in the British Isles. They put down their rock. They took a picture. And thus they built a great picture of a chronometer, in memory of the man who cracked the problem of longitude and navigation of the seas with the Chronometer H5.

You can see the finished map and line-drawing here. 

Lines. It’s all about lines.

Which is why I am fascinated with the first episode of a story being written over the next few weeks. Blogger and writer Michael Carnell has been tagged by that writer of fictions, Cameron Garriepy. Cameron is the perfect hostess. She  runs a ‘story circle’ every now and then; a game of story tag which keeps the reader guessing week on week for three weeks.

Michael has begun a story which plays right in to the fascination we have with lines on the earth. I’ll leave you to read it here.

And dauntingly, I must continue the line next week.

We don’t have a third line-drawer yet, someone to bring the line full circle.

I wonder what will happen next.


26 thoughts on “Lines

  1. I’ve had a little fascination with the Peruvian Nazca Lines, Kate. They posit that perhaps the Nazca people created the figures to be seen, from above, by their gods. Earthworks just fascinate me. I am not really familiar with the Cerne giant! I am delighted to make his acquaintance and will look forward to reading what comes next with your writing round-robin. You are a talented lot! 🙂

  2. I have seen photos of lines creating a huge drawing and wondered just how was it created. They might have been in South America. I see Three Well Beings refers to the Peruvian Nazca Lines. I’ll have to check it out and see if they’re the same ones.

    Thanks for your thoughtful post, Kate.

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