THE SPEYER CATHEDRAL LEY - Ulrich Magin
The Romanesque Cathedral of Speyer in Palatinate is the largest in Europe. Erected on a hill by the River Rhine, its monumental walls of red sandstone are an impressive sight. The Cathedral was completed in 1061, but has suffered from the usual catastrophes and barbarism (being used as a shed by French revolutionary troops).
It is aligned with the Kalmit mountain, the highest peak in Palatinate, by a ley running strictly from the E to the W, and has a second, modern alignment cutting through it in a rough N to S direction - Speyer Cathedral lies at the intersection of two alignments pointing at all cardinal points (see sketch). The roughly W to E and N to S alignments at English holy hills has been noted as a pattern in TLH 100 by Paul Devereux.
The second alignment, described in detail by Nigel Pennick (1987:20), was intentionally laid out in 1715 and includes the Cathedral the Baroque Castle of Mannheim (with its street grid formed by squares framed by a semi-circle). It starts at the main axis of the city of Karlsruhe (which is circular, to represent the power of the absolute Monarch). By means of this modern alignment, the new palace in Karlsruhe was joined with the old at Mannheim, with the ancient Cathedral in the middle.
The first alignment may be a ley and could date back to prehistory, or at least the early Christian period. As Palatinate was dotted with menhirs in pre-Celtic times, and some even remained until later near Speyer (the Heiligenstein, or holy stone, for example) there is the possibility that the Speyer Cathedral ley goes back to megalithic ley out and is actually an evolved alignment.
The various sites included are:
1) SPEYER CATHEDRAL: Though today's building dates back only to the eleventh century, the site had been considered sacred far longer. Speyer, called Noviomagus by the Celts, and Civitas Nemetum by the Romans, had always played an important role in the region. The Romans had a temple dedicated to the Celtic goddess Nantosvelta at the site (Pfalzer Heimat 1950: 106) The earliest Christian church was constructed in 360 AD. (Klimm 1966: 3) Consequently, the site of the Cathedral has now been considered sacred for 2000 , and was probably the place of worship even before the Roman temple was built.
From the Cathedral to the east, the ley crosses the Rhine - according to legends, this spot is where the dead German Emperors of the Middle Ages cross the River with their ferry.
2) ROAD ALIGNMENT: To the west, the mediaeval town axis links the main portal of the Cathedral with the
3) OLD CITY GATE, The Altportl. It dates from the thirteenth century. This road is exactly on the ley. Speyer was nearly completely destroyed by Louis XIV's troops in 1689, therefore, I can't decide how old this alignment is, yet it seems logical to connect the city gate and the Cathedral by a straight road.
4) THE CHURCH OF DEDENHOFEN
5) THE CHURCH OF HANHOFEN
6) THE SQUARE MOAT Of the Hanhofen Castle (now completely disappeared). The northern ditch of the moat is exactly on the ley.
7) AN ANCIENT CROSSROAD: I can't exactly determine how old this crossroad is, but it is on the ley, and one of the roads is marked "Hohlweg" (hollow road) - usually these are at least mediaeval constructions.
8) THE KALMIT Mountain. This is the highest mountain in the region. I have not encountered any indications that it had ever been considered sacred, but with so many historical records lost, such a statement can never be seen as exhaustive. Though Fester (1981) thinks that "Kall" is a pre-Indo-European word and indicates points on leys, the name Kalmit is actually derived from a mixture between the German kahl (bald) and the French Mont (mountain), describing the mountain with its rocky peak, according to Christman, the expert for place-names in Palatinate. There are no Roman remains on the mountain, though some have been reported, but never confirmed, in earlier books on the region.
I do not know if this is a genuine ley rediscovered, or just coincidence. The high number of churches, the Cathedral - road alignment, all point towards its being both ancient and deliberate. The strict E to W direction of the ley confirms Paul Devereux's holy-hill patterns in Britain, and the alignments towards the cardinal points, coming from the Cathedral, echoes Teudt's ideas about the old German holy hills (though I do not regard Teudt's work as reliable).
FESTER, RICHARD: Die Steinzeit liegt vor deiner Tur. Kosel, 1981 KLIMM, FRANZ: Der Kaiser-dom zu Seyer. Jaeger, 1966. (booklet)
PENNICK, NIGEL: Landscape Old England. Runestaff 1987.
PFALZER, HEIMAT, 1950 (on FESTER'S linguistics see DER SPIEGAL 2/1/89