The Spine of Albion Gary Biltcliffe and Caroline Hoare
Two decades of a life is long time to devote to one book. When I first heard about Gary’s work, around the turn of the century, our mutual mentor – the late Hamish Miller – was commenting that the Belinus line project had been underway for a very long time and he was unsure when, or even if, it would ever see the light of day. But Hamish was also a great supporter of Gary’s work and, I am sure, he would have been hugely excited by the output to date.
Like many dowsers of a certain age, Gary and myself can truly be described as being part of The Sun and The Serpent generation. The rediscovery of the Mary-Michael complex of earth energies inspired different people, with differing heritage and aspirations, to seek new ways of understanding the reality that surrounds us. In the case of Gary Biltcliffe and Caroline Hoare, their destiny was to emulate the Miller-Broadhurst quest, by mind-mapping a similar alignment that stretches from the Isle of Wight to the north of Scotland. Some quest!
As a youngster, Gary had become fascinated by the folklore of his native Brigantia (aka Lancashire), which hinted at a long straight route once forged by the legendary local Monarch, King Belinus. Having moved to the exotic south, and been given the impetus of the insights of The Sun and The Serpent, Gary set off on his own ethereal journey of academic enquiry and personal development.
While the search for the route of the alignment is only one strand of the tapestry, it’s the thread that holds the whole edifice together in a comprehensible format. To set it in time and space, the Ellen-Belinus complex of ‘earth energy’ lines, enters the UK via the southern cliffs of the Isle of Wight, makes its way through the ancient English capital of Winchester, past the Dragon of Albion on the chalk hills of Oxfordshire, through Shakespeare’s Stratford, subsumes the powerhouses of Birmingham and Manchester, and forges on to the equally fascinating citadels of Scotland, including the capital of our Celtic cousins at Edinburgh – and also its predecessor at Dunfirmline – through mysterious and little known (at least in southern England) parts of the Highlands to Faraid Head on the north coast of Scotland , a kind of pictish Carn-les-Boel.
In many ways, Gary’s work has taken up one splinter of the baton that Hamish bequeathed – and that’s exactly what the Cornish Scot would have wanted. While The Spine of Albion doesn’t set out to reproduce The Sun and The Serpent, it inevitably makes good ground using some of the same tyre-tracks. Ellen and Belinus weave a serpentine pattern around a ‘ley of consciousness’, corroborating the Mary-Michael pattern – but Gary and Caroline have imbued their own work with a deepening understanding of how the practical geography and the social history of the places that they have come to know, have interacted with the non-physical realms, to leave a wonderfully complex mélange of forces and phenomena for the reader and the journeyman to experience.
Gary and Caroline have the insight to see through the modern edifices on the nodes of the line, and to unveil a deeper appreciation of their significance. As a Hampshire lad, I had only ever thought of the Isle of Wight as somewhere that elderly gentlefolk retired to, to wait for their calling. Gary and Caroline experienced it as one of the most spiritual places on the quest – an off-shore haven of myths, legends and ghosts. To me, Stratford seemed a hackneyed tourist honeypot (and I am somewhat ashamed to say that I have never even got out of the car there). In The Spine of Albion, it becomes one of the beating historic hearts of our ancient land. Birmingham and Manchester are transformed from down-at-heel rail hubs for Premiership football teams into vibrant places at great wealth-through-fortunate locations – cities with a proud history and a striking presence in perpetuity. (Although interestingly, the Belinus current passes alongside Villa Park, now the ground of Aston Villa FC, where Gary’s grandfather was once a professional player. But then dowsing is shot through by such strange and unexpected co-incidences.)
The whole saga is something of a travel agent’s dream in that it breathes new life and provides new meaning to places that have been remaindered in the waste paper basket of post war Britain. Places most people will never have heard of suddenly become important staging posts on a timeless pilgrimage through the land of the Hyperboreans.
Such is the depth and scope of this work that it is all-but-impossible to compress even the essence of it into a Sunday afternoon lecture. In this incarnation, we only reached the West Midlands. However, we had heard enough to whet the appetites of anyone interested in the matrix of energies and the etheric undercurrents that bind our ageless island home to the rest of the cosmos.
The printed output of The Spine of Albion is a fascinating and hugely readable book (and there were unsought testimonies from members of the audience to this effect). Yet the SoA project was always going to be so much more than that. Gary and Caroline have been out on the road around the country for over a year, and there is no sign of interest in the concept waning, nor book sales tailing off. They have met large numbers of fellow travellers and researchers, and have made new friends wherever they have stopped long enough to draw breath.
While the SoA is in part a historical landscape compendium and in part a spiritual travelogue it is, just as importantly, also an introduction to seeing the world around us as a living, evolving realm, of which we are vital co-creators. We may just be passing through it for a few short years, yet our deeds – and maybe even our thoughts and intentions – will live on as part of that greater tapestry. It’s both a sobering thought and an exciting revelation.
Many thanks to Gary and Caroline for taking the time to visit us. From the questions at the end, and the reluctance of the audience to disperse into the fading light of a spring afternoon, it was apparent that many had gained something important from both the presentation and the ideas that underpin it.
Nigel Twinn Tamar Dowsers March 2014