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Observations placeholder

Lethbridge, T C – Witches: Investigating an Ancient Religion – Dowsing for volcanic ditches



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Lethbridge, T C – Witches: Investigating an Ancient Religion – Dowsing for volcanic ditches

Years ago, I was asked to go to Lundy Island to investigate some burials which were supposed to be Vikings. I went with a geologist, named Dollar, who had been working on the island for some time. The burials were duly located in a small grass field enclosed by stone walls and occupied by a young bull. He disapproved of our activities, tore up clods of earth with his horns and had to be slapped at intervals on his rump with the flat of a spade. Still, the burials were found and examined. They were not Vikings, for they had been buried through a layer of medieval rubbish. I have wondered whether they were some of the unfortunate prisoners who were to have been shipped across the Atlantic as slaves after the battle of Sedgemoor, but are known to have been dumped somewhere on the way.

In any case, Dollar and I were left with time on our hands till the boat from Bideford called again to take us off. Amongst other activities, which included an attempt at air-photography from a kite, it was suggested that we should experiment with dowsing. We worked out fields of force round a sheet of corrugated iron lying on the ground, which were similar to those made by a bar magnet.

Then, as I was rather good with the thing, Dollar proposed that I should try to locate volcanic dykes, which passed through the slate rocks at the south end of the island. These dykes, being covered with humus and grass, were invisible on top of the island. Dollar blindfolded me and, as he had no occasion to wish me ill, I walked quite happily along the path on top of the cliffs holding the twig.

Every now and then the twig would turn violently in my hands for a few paces and then stop. When this had happened several times, Dollar stopped me, took off the handkerchief and said, 'You have located every one of the dykes.  If I had known you could do that I should never have brought down a magnetometer from Cambridge.

Now, this was magic, but it was also a scientific experiment. Since that time I have been successful on several occasions in locating ancient ditches and graves hidden in the chalk.

The source of the experience

Lethbridge, Thomas Charles

Concepts, symbols and science items




Science Items

Activities and commonsteps