Order form for Early British Trackways, 1924

Watkins sold his first book on leys, Early British Trackways, partly through his Watkins Meter Company. The order form, a 4-page leaflet, contained many quotations from readers who had confirmed his findings. To emphasize this, Watkins had a rubber stamp made with the words “Note the independent confirmation here detailed” (see the image).

For Baden-Powell’s and scouting interest in leys, see Adam Stout, Creating Prehistory, Blackwell 2008, p. 186.

The praise from Marjorie and C.H.B. Quennell was short-lived. Later editions of their books dropped references to Watkins, probably because they had learned that he was not approved of by academic archaeologists.

Order form, Early British Trackways



Quarter bound cloth, 8 x 6, paper covered boards, with two-colour cover jacket and subtitle, and 22 pages of photographic illustrations by the author.

Fellow and Progress Medalist (for 1910) of the Royal Photographic Society;
Past President (1919) of the Woolhope Naturalists Field Club.

To be had through all Booksellers.

Hereford: The Watkins Meter Co.
London: Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent & Co., Ltd.

 Autumn, 1924.

    Little more than one quarter of the above edition, published in 1922, remains unsold. That it gives new information which has led to results is shown by the subjoined reports by independent investigators in all parts of the Kingdom. It is desirable that those interested should obtain a copy at once, for it will not be reprinted, and although more books on the same archæological framework are certain to follow, this poineer sketch, “cleverly and beautifully illustrated and printed” (as the Newcastle Weekly Chronicle notes) will always have a special interest, and many of the illustrations will not be reprinted. It can be ordered through any bookseller or if preferred direct on subjoined order form.



(For use only when inconvenient to obtain through a bookseller.)

To be addressed to The Watkins Meter Co., Hereford
(not to the author).

Please send me by post, EARLY BRITISH TRACKWAYS, by
Alfred Watkins, f.r.p.s.      I enclose 4/6.

Signed. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Address. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .



Mr. John Masefield writes:—“It is one of the most delightful books I have read this year, full of suggestions and strangeness and romance; you make the past alive, and bring back the Britons for us. I don’t know any book so kindling or so queer in its suggestions of what this country once was. I am delighted with it and shall go Ley-hunting here.”

Sir Henry Rider-Haggard writes:—“I think it highly probable that your discoveries as regards the Ley are correct.”

Sir Robert Baden-Powell writes:—“Thank you so much for the remarkably interesting book with the fascinating suggestion, which I shall certainly pass on to the Scouts.”

From a F.R.S.—“It came as a great surprise. I had been expecting the ordinary re-print of learned Society Transactions—you have given the subject its much more impressive setting. I congratulate you very sincerely upon the achievement.”

From another F.R.S.—“I am grateful for the stimulation of the discovery you have made. It certainly makes one look at the country in a new way.”


These are extracts selected from many to explain the character and scope of the book.

“A beautifully-illustrated booklet treating of early British trackways, moats, mounds, camps, and sites, and will appeal, not merely to antiquaries, but also to nature lovers, and that growing class of pedestrians who seek their pleasure in discovering the early conditions of life in this country. Many new facts are disclosed, especially the revelations of a systematic planning of prehistoric trackways. The author’s discoveries are that the moats, mounds, churches, etc., range in a straight line with a hill peak at one end, some of the elevated view points being artificial. Besides his wealth of photographs, he gives maps of certain areas which bear out his conclusions, to prove the soundness of his deductions.”—South Wales Daily News.


“The author has worked it out carefully and convincingly. The book is a valuable original contribution to the subject.”—Aberdeen Journal.

“A complete and simple theory—may have a great influence on skilled observation, and solve many of our topographical mysteries.”—Liverpool Daily Courier.

“ Mr. Watkins . . . . . . seems to have substantiated his claim in these pleasant pages. It is to be hoped his ideas will be carefully and generally followed up, for it looks as though they were capable of throwing not a little new light on pre-historic Britain.”—Country Life.



Independent testimony from observers as to the reality of the main facts and principles stated in the above pioneer book.

Mr. W. A. Dutt, author of “Highways and Byways of East Anglia,” and an experienced investigator, writes:—“I have spent much time in testing the ley system discovered by Mr. Watkins by applying to the earthworks and burgh sites of Norfolk and Suffolk, and I must say that the results arrived at have surprised me. For instance, taking the Tasburgh hill-fort as a high sighting point, at least fourteen leys connecting it with ancient earthworks at Attleborough, Ovington, Wormegay, Wymondham, Mileham, North Elmham, South Creake, Smallburgh, Ilketshall St. John, Bungay Denton, Rumburgh, Eye, Kenminghall, Garboldisham, Lidgate, Bunwell, New Buckenham, Burwell, and perhaps Ringland . . . . . . . . I have almost daily found evidence in support of the ley theory. . . . . . .. A study of the inch to the mile maps of Norfolk and Suffolk reveals innumerable place names supporting the ley theory.” In another letter Mr. Dutt says:—“It would take a long time to tell of all the tests I have applied—and it would take much longer to relate the interesting discoveries resulting therefrom—I found after tracing some leys on the Suffolk maps that I had ruled my lines through several earthworks not marked, and of which I had no knowledge until I read of them in the Victoria History of the County after aligning the lays.”

Rev. E. E. Rees, Cirencester, writes:—“For the last year, in preparing a history of my parish, I have been considering the Cotswold tracks and ways, and have been irresistibly led to conclusions on the basis of your own discoveries.”

Mr. Arnold Cook, Frome, says:—“Several trackways had already suggested themselves, and stones at fords and names had proved very confirmatory. Also from some of our “castles” and “camps” I had already obtained neolithic flints—Holiday at Georgeham, Barnstaple—from the first I have been on the track of sighting points.”

From Mr. Harold A. Barnes, Farnworth.—“I am quite sure we have a host of leys. Within a few yards of my garden is one which from Worsley Old Hall runs through Great Lever Hall, Hall i’ th’ Wood, and a Druidical Circle. Another has Wardley Hall (moated), Kenyon Peel Hall, Hulton Park, conical hill in Haigh Hall Park, Writington Hall, and a tumulus on the straight line. A third through Blackrod Church, Leyland Park, Hindley Church, Kenyon Hall, a tumulus, Myddleton Hall, and Latchford Church.”


Mr. C. L. Davies, writing in the Westminster Gazette, says:—“I am no antiquarian but sufficiently interested to see whether support for Mr. Watkins’s contentions can be obtained from my local map. The results are rather remarkable. I find that a line from St. Albans to Pulpit Hill, on the Chilterns, touches the following points (from east to west): a ford over the Ver; a “camp” in the centre of a wood; church and cross-roads at Leverstock Green; Hawridge (mound and other ancient remains); high ground at Leigh Gate; church at Dunsmore, and finally the Camp on Pulpit Hill. Near St. Albans my son and I discovered a grass-covered sunken pathway leading from the direction of St. Albans to the Camp in a wood on the above ley; it was quite clearly marked, but evidently had not been used for many a long day.” Mr. Davies also describes four other leys in this district.

A writer in the Leicester Mail takes as a starting point that “the important roads radiating from the City of Leicester proclaim the Castle mound as a most important road centre,” and refers to “the series of minor mounds along the highway from Melton Mowbray to the great mound of Leicester Castle, and the scores of well known mounds, with or without a moat, to be met with in fields.” He gives instances of the successful application of the ley method to the above district, and says that “an application of Mr. Watkins’s methods to Leicestershire will be found to yield a key to many of our own local problems.”

Mr. M. Paul Dare, of Leicester, writes:—“I was frankly sceptical concerning the conclusions you arrive at, so I set about testing your remarkable theory to see if it could be substantiated here in Leicestershire. You will be pleased to hear that my own investigations entirely support your results, and the trackway lines I have obtained even so far are amazing.”

A Chelmsford correspondent (E. M. Slader), writes:—“This is a country with very ancient earthworks, innumerable moats, mark stones, stocks, mounds, camps, etc., and working out results in my own county has proved a perfect mine of discovery and verification. Practically all the Essex churches lie in absolutely straight lines with outstanding sighting points at each end of the line; and almost every suggestive name such as Merk-stones, Mark’s LeyProbably an error for Mark’s Tey, Stock, Cross Leys, etc, lies along these lines.”

A reviewer in the Cyclists Touring Club Gazette says:—“I find that it fits the London District with astonishing results. There is no doubt whatever about the facts; vast numbers of certain classes of objects fall into remarkably straight lines.”

Mr. and Mrs. Quennell in their “Everyday Life in the New Stone, Bronze and Early Iron Ages” find the ley confirmed in the Chilterns:—“We found that from where the Ridgeway and Fairmile descend the Berkshire Downs and come down to the Thames by the Ferry at South Stoke, if a straight line be drawn on the map, from the trigonometrical station of the Ordnance Survey on White Hill 293 above the Ferry, to the camp at Ravensburgh Castle in the parish of Hexton in N. Herts., about 40 miles away, it picks up many interesting points. There is another trigonometrical station on Harcourt Hill 610, then Whiteleaf Cross out in the chalk near Monk’s Rizborough, and the mound on Pulpit Hill. From Beacon Hill above Aston Clinton you look down on the moat at Pilstone as a reflection point at a lower level; and to the N.E. can see Icknield Way coming over the shoulder of Beacon Hill at Ivinghoe. Then again the Five Knolls tumuli by Dunstable point the way to Ravensburgh Castle, and Icknield Way meanders along the escarpment of the Chilterns, sometimes on the line, and sometimes a little below it. It can hardly be coincidence.”