The Belinus Line is a long-distance alignment, similar to the Michael Line, running the length of the UK from the Isle of Wight up to Inverhope on the north coast of Scotland, passing through Winchester, Birmingham, Manchester, Carlisle, Dunfermline, Pitlochry and Lairg on the way. Like the Michael Line, it has twin male and female serpentine energy currents weaving around the straight line and connecting many ancient sites.
Gary Biltcliffe has been researching this alignment for around 20 years now, and his book documenting his odyssey is almost completed. Have a look at his website for more information. Gary and Caroline were recently visiting Scotland to do some final checks on some of the sites, and were graceful enough to invite me along for the day to dowse some of the sites on the male current.
At the annual Conference of the British Society of Dowsers in 2010, Gary gave a presentation about his research to date. A podcast of that talk is available – click here.
I met up with them on a windy Monday morning at Huly Hill at Newbridge to the west of Edinburgh, right beside a busy roundabout at the start of the M9 motorway. This is an interesting site that was ‘restored’ when the adjacent motorway interchange was constructed about 20 years ago. At that time a spectacular chariot burial, now in the National Museum of Scotland, was found under the site of the interchange, so it was clearly an area of some great significance. Prior to its restoration it was a very unremarkable overgrown grassy hillock and no standing stones were visible. Now, the central cairn boasts a new kerb wall that was constructed during the restoration, and although only three standing stones were found and re-erected, it is thought that it was once a complete circle, probably even a double-circle of stones. Across the busy motorway to the east, a large outlying menhir now graces the entrance to a modern glass-walled office building.
I’ve been interested in this site for about 30 years now, yet astonishingly this was the first time I’d actually visited it instead of just passing it on the motorway. It lies on a ley running from Cairnpapple Hill to Edinburgh Castle first reported by Harry Bell in his 1977 book ‘Forgotten Footsteps’. See my post The De’il’s Plantin Reloaded‘ for a Google Earth map of that network.
The site has suffered a lot of abuse over the years. The stones are liberally covered in graffiti, and I have even heard tales of locals driving quad bikes over the central mound; yet the grass had been very recently cut on our visit and it felt tidy and welcoming, despite the high winds making dowsing a little challenging.
The male current of Belinus was quite easy to pick up as it came in from the direction of Ratho church to the the south-east, and it seemed to be around 16 paces wide as it crossed over the cairn, narrowing a little as it hit the one remaining stone on the northern edge of the site. Curiously, this stone seemed to be set at an unusual angle, neither edge-on or face-on to the central cairn, and this had the effect of deflecting the current northwards towards the next site, Kirkliston. Whether the stone had been that way originally or had been re-erected in the wrong position, we were unable to determine. Archaeologists normally use the position of the packing stones in the holes to establish the correct orientation of a stone for re-erection, but we only had our dowsing to go by, which suggested the former option.
Harry Bell’s ley, entering the site from a westerly direction, was about 6 paces across as it entered the central cairn. I clambered onto the mound to see if there was any interaction between the two currents, but they seemed to pass over each other without any interference. Gary said that he had found this with other ley crossings on the current, e.g. the Michael and Mary currents; it appears that Belinus is on a completely different frequency to these other leys.
Our fingers frozen by the wind, it was back to the car and onwards to our next stop at Kirkliston church. Supposedly the church has connections with the Knights Templar, although you would never know from the very Presbyterian interior, which was in total contrast with the exterior. The spectacular Norman doorway arch on the south wall lies directly behind the more modern post-reformation pulpit, and the male current flowed through the arch, centred on the left-hand side, and although the centre of the flow missed the actual pulpit inside, it did manage to flow through a small lectern positioned at the front of the pulpit rostrum. Whether that placement is by accident or design remains to be established. Sadly, we could see no visible evidence of the original structure inside the church, which had been extensively modernised.
Our next stop was an absolute gem of a church, at Abercorn on the shores of the Forth. Gary had found this on a previous trip by following his dowsing rod tracking the current; it’s in a pretty remote location at the end of a small lane to the rear of Hopetoun House and you wouldn’t know it was there in passing, but it’s a very interesting building. There is a small museum at the gate with a collection of interesting Pictish and early Christian stones including a couple of Viking ‘hogback’ gravestones.This is a religious site of great antiquity, dating back to the earliest days of Christianity in Scotland, and was probably a sacred place even before that.
It is obvious from the outside that this building also has a very ancient past. The side chapel, now closed off from the main building, built in 1603 according to the gable inscription, has a formidable stone-fletted roof and an interior barrel-vaulted ceiling. A tomb set into the east wall bears the superimposed skull-and-crossbones that, according to Gary, represents a Templar grave ( as opposed to the more common grave symbol representing death where the skull and bones are not superimposed). The male current enters the building along the axis of this little chapel.
Farther along the south wall towards the west, there is the outline of a much older Norman arch. Not quite as spectacular as the one at Kirkliston, but still impressive to see here nonetheless. More recent restorations of the church have tried to retain the Norman influence, and there is a fantastic collection of grotesques dotted around the eaves and roof corbels of the building dating from the 1893 restoration.
Inside, the church is dominated by the magnificently-decorated Hopetoun Loft behind the altar; the family had their own private entrance to this at the end of a drive leading from Hopetoun House. One can imagine how nervous the priest felt during services with the Laird glowering at his back throughout the proceedings!
Dowsing inside the church, I noticed that there was no Hartmann grid present. I’ve noticed this before in very old churches, particularly pre-Reformation ones; it seems this grid was deliberately excluded from the structure for some reason; perhaps it brought undesirable energies into the space? The art of doing this, like so many other finer aspects of geomancy, seems to have been lost these days.
The Belinus current leaps across the Forth at this point, but not before crossing another one of Harry Bell’s alignments, this one running from Ben Lomond to Arthur’s Seat. In ‘Forgotten Footsteps’, Harry mentions the site of Abercorn Castle and Hopetoun House on this ley, but surely the monastery or monks’ cell that used to be situated north of the church (and directly on the alignment) would be a more suitable marker?
A swift hop across the Forth road bridge and we were soon heading for our next site, the old Tullibole churchyard near Crook of Devon. Abandoned in 1729, this desolate site is dominated by four large yew trees that completely obscure the Montcrieff memorial obelisk on its little hillock to the south of the church. Only low ruined walls remain of the church and the site is overgrown and uneven, yet it appears to be of great antiquity judging by the egg-shaped enclosure walls containing some positively cyclopean stonework. A laminated interpretation board by the obelisk gives some details about the surviving gravestones and also documents the trials here of local witches in the17th Century, when all 13 members of a local coven at Crook of Devon were sentenced to strangulation and burning. Witchcraft seems to have been widespread in this area, and also on the other side of the Ochil Hills at Dunning, where a coven of 7 witches was recorded and a local witch’s memorial to Maggie Wall still has its inscription repainted by persons unknown every year or so.
The current traverses a remote stretch of the Ochils that is not easily accessible by car, so our next stop was on the other side in Strathearn, at another of St. Serf’s churches at Dunning, where he is reputed to have slain a great dragon. I’ve visited and dowsed this church several times now and Dunning is a fascinating place to visit. On this occasion, we found that the church was closed for renovation apart from the tower. This houses the famous Dupplin Cross, a Pictish memorial stone that once stood on the north side of the River Earn overlooking Forteviot and Dunning. It has a rather nice dragon carving on the side.
The male current, which of course is the ‘great dragon’ slain by St. Serf’s act of foundation here, flows through the square in Dunning, passing through the water fountain outside the churchyard, and then into the tower on a diagonal to run through the Cross and out the north side of the church, where it runs more or less northwards to a standing stone in a field on the edge of town, before swinging eastwards again on its way to Forteviot and Scone, where it is reunited with the female flow. But the weather had closed in by now and it was getting a bit late in the day, so reluctantly I bade farewell to Gary and Caroline and headed back to Glasgow.
My thanks to Gary and Caroline for allowing me to spend the day with them and hopefully contribute in some small way to their research. Gary’s book ‘The Spine of Albion’ is due to be published by the end of 2011.