The Great British UFO Show Review
Leeds Rugby Supporters’ Club, Headingley, Leeds, UK
Saturday 1st October 2005
After the inevitable wrong turn, we arrived at the venue (I can get lost going to the bathroom, believe me!) and found that proceedings had begun without us (how dare they!) and Philip Mantle was on stage as a video played on one of two large screens that had been set up on either side of the stage.
Philip’s lecture was a fascinating journey through British ufological history. He touched on several famous cases, including PC Alan Godfrey’s encounter in Todmorden in 1980 and the famous ‘Ilkley Moor Alien’ photograph from 1987 by Philip Spencer (sometimes wrongly attributed to Alan Godfrey for some reason).
Philip then rounded off his talk discussing the very nature of UFOs and the abduction phenomenon in particular. Are we dealing with real, live alien beings? Are they some sort of spiritual entity? Are abduction experiences nothing more than hallucinations or sleep paralysis-induced fantasies? Are we dealing with folk lore? Perhaps more sinister is the MILAB (Military Abduction) theory, in which unsuspecting victims are spirited away not by aliens, but by our own military and forced to undergo gruelling experiments at some unknown location. Can the phenomenon of earthlights explain the UFO experience? Are what we take to be extra-terrestrial ships actually very terrestrial and originate from within the Earth itself, created by geological processes? Or are they simply all made up stories, one person’s attempt at their fifteen minutes of fame.
Philip’s lecture got the show off to a solid start and the packed crowd (literally, it was standing room only!) showed their appreciation.
After a short break, retired police officer, John Hanson, took the stage. Like Philip Mantle, John covered several historical cases and made the point that as time passed, it became more difficult for researchers to glean information about these incidents, as witnesses passed on and evidence became obscured by the ravages of time.
The cases he described included
John’s next topic was one he covered at length and concerned radar intercepts of a UFO in the 1950s at the Neatishead Tracking Station. This story had a slight twist, however, as the woman on duty at the time had had a UFO encounter several years earlier in 1941. She had seen an object that she at first thought was a barrage balloon that had floated away from its moorings, but on using her father’s telescope, she realised that this was no balloon. She described it as gun-metal grey in colour. It ascended very suddenly and very rapidly.
Fast forward to 20th May 1957. A squadron of US fighters were diverted to RAF Bentwaters in Suffolk. They were ordered to re-arm and scramble to 31,000 feet over the North Sea. It was night time and the use of radar was necessary. The squadron was to intercept a ‘blip’ on the radar that was displaying an unusual flight pattern. They ascended to 32,000 feet at a speed of Mach 0.92. Then the order came for them to fire their rockets at the UFO! Twenty-four ‘Mighty Mouse’ rockets were to be deployed.
The UFO was described from the radar traces as being as big as an aircraft carrier and moving at 800 knots. Twenty seconds before the missiles were to be fired, the radar blip began to shrink and the UFO began darting about all over the place before speeding away. On returning to base, the fighter pilots were informed that the incident was classified under ‘national security’.
John’s next subject was the ‘Mince Pie Martian’ case from January 1979. That day, triangular craft had been seen in the skies all over the country. That night, Jean Higley was visited by three aliens clad in silver tunics and made a zzz-zzz-zzz sound as they floated around. Jean offered them mince pies (it was the Christmas season, after all!), which they took, but they rejected her offer of cigarettes.
John played an audio tape of Jean describing her experiences.
Arthur Shuttlewood is a giant of ufology. His work during the Warminster flap of the 1960s is pretty much seminal. John Hanson touched upon Arthur’s investigations into an ‘ape-like’ humanoid seen in the Warminster area and played an audio tape of Arthur describing a sighting at Cradle Hill, amongst others.
Next up was a case involving a family who were followed in their car from Suffolk to Hertfordshire by a UFO. Another audio tape was played of ‘Marion’ describing the event.
As they drove, she saw what can only be described as red lightning. She put it down to volcanic dust (I missed when John said this had occurred, but I’d hazard a guess that it was in 1980, when Mt St Helens erupted) and they continued on their way. Then they saw a bright, white light, larger than a star, hopping over a cloudbank that had formed. Eventually, they arrived at their destination, but felt that the journey had taken longer than it should have. Shrugging this off, they prepared for bed. Then a saucer-shaped UFO was seen outside. As they watched, it tilted then shot upwards at great speed.
The remainder of John’s talk was about Rendlesham Forest and the photographs that he and his colleagues had taken there. We were shown orbs, streaks of light and mists that they could not explain. To be honest, these kinds of photographs don’t particularly impress me, as I’m of the camp that thinks orbs can be explained as moisture or dust particles in the atmosphere that are illuminated by the camera flash. I have also seen streaks recreated by hair blowing in front of the lens as the photograph was taken. Of course, I am more than willing to be set straight on this matter!
During the lunch break, I checked out the concessions and bought some back copies of UFO Magazine from Rob Whitehead of LAPIS (Lancashire Aerial Phenomena Investigation Society), whom had a table filled with magazines, books, videos and all sorts of paraphernalia.
After lunch, Anne and Jason Andrews took to the stage. Anne gave a fascinating account of the events that surrounded her family when her son, Jason, was born. The events are covered in the book, Abducted by Anne Andrews and Jean Ritchie, but basically, Jason had abduction experiences from a very young age and strange incidents occurred, including animals dying in circumstances that suggested the mutilation phenomenon was at play.
Anne gave an emotional talk as she recalled the tribulations that she and her family had to endure, as the medical authorities tried to explain away Jason’s experiences as psychological or as some form of epilepsy. They were forced to move house several times, but the phenomena followed them. I could almost feel a wave of empathy from the audience as Anne told her story.
Eventually, Jason came to the conclusion that he was of alien origin. He described himself as a ‘walk-in’. When he was born, his body had been on the very edge of death and he, or his alien, spiritual equivalent, was able to inhabit the body and enable it to live. As he grew older, Jason found that he had the ability to heal people and he does this today, but with rules he has put in place. He claims that everybody can learn his technique and each time somebody comes to him for help, he will show them how to perform the healing process for themselves. If they come a second time, he will show them again, but a third session is a no-no.
The Andrews’ story is fascinating, and whether or not you believe the spiritual aspects to the tale, it deserves one’s attention.
Malcolm Robinson, of SPI (Strange Phenomena Investigations) gave an animated and highly entertaining lecture that focussed mainly on what has become known as ‘The Fife Incident’. Before this, however, he explained how that 95% of all UFO reports can be identified as something mundane, while about 3% are probably top secret aircraft flown by our military. This leaves 2% that defy explanation of any kind. His investigations run the gamut of paranormal phenomena, from UFOs to haunted houses and he has seen some pretty wild and scary things in his time.
‘The Fife Incident’ took place on September 23rd 1996 in Newton of Falkland, Fife, Scotland. ‘Mary Morrison’, her ten-year old son, ‘Peter’ and her friend, ‘Jane’ set out from their isolated home to buy coffee from the nearby town. En route, they saw a bright, white light in the sky, but dismissed it as a normal aircraft. On the way back home, they saw the light again, but this time it appeared to follow their car and Peter became very frightened.
At home, they described the incident to Jane’s daughter, ‘Susan’ and they all decided to get back in the car and check it out. As they drove along the narrow, country lanes, they saw lights emanating from a group of trees and they stopped the car. As they watched, hundreds of small figures emerged from a mist. They appeared to be carrying containers of some sort. Some of the beings later appeared inside what were described as ‘soap bubbles’, floating around the car, terrifying Peter once more. Mary gunned the engine and they headed back home.
Later, strange, painful bruises would be found on Mary, Jane and Susan, but not Peter. After this event, Peter began seeing the ‘aliens’ in the house and described them as looking like the classic descriptions of Greys, but with sharp, pointed teeth. Malcolm pointed out that the only similar description he had seen had come from South America.
In all, Malcolm’s presentation was excellent and he utilised his slides to great effect, giving us drawings and photographs of the events and the area in which they took place.
Before the final speaker, Christopher Martin, began, Russel Callaghan told the conference that next year Martin Stubbs, of The Secret NASA Transmissions fame, would be in attendance. This sent a buzz of excitement through the audience.
Christopher Martin presented a video show of UFO footage from around the world in several segments. In between, he recalled the events that led him to become involved with the UFO field. It began when he found that his girlfriend, Vicky, became ‘inhabited’ by alien entities. They had the ability to peer through the veils of time and predicted to Chris that he would one day appear on television and also become involved with UFO conferences.
Other paranormal events happened in their home, with objects disappearing and reappearing, including his watch that somehow appeared on his wrist! Chris eventually asked the entities if he could be shown one of their ships. Soon after, he saw his first UFO.
Then Chris showed a video that he had never released publicly before. One day, his girlfriend began to feel ill and she told Chris that it was due to an implant that the Greys had placed in her body. They were going to remove it that night, she said. Chris decided to set up a camera in the bedroom and see what it picked up. Apart from a light that suddenly shines into the room, nothing much appears out of the ordinary, although Chris claims that at the time of the clip, he and Vicky were talking in bed, but somehow the video did not record that.
The next clip was from 17th September 2005. Chris saw some orbs in the sky and began recording. He commented how he thought they were pretty rubbish and asked for something better. A balloon appeared in the frame and an orb began drifting towards it, performing a sharp turn towards the balloon.
On 28th August 2005, Chris recorded a fleet of objects, but they were hard to make out on the projected video.
Chris’ final clip was from a UFO conference in Turkey. The clip was dated 10th July 2003. The clip was not of the best quality as it had been recorded from a screen upon which the film was playing. There appeared to be a silvery object of some sort nestling in a pine tree forest near the Black Sea coast. The object appeared to exhibit flashing lights and seemed to change shape. Slowly, the object began to rise out of the trees and float away. It seemed to be constructed of a pliable or silvery, cloth-like material. My immediate impression was of a partially inflated hot-air balloon. The Turks’ reactions on the video brought amused laughter from the Leeds audience.
Before the conference came to a close, a video montage in honour of Graham Birdsall was played and it was extremely moving. This man is still greatly missed among the UFO community and his passing in 2003 was a great tragedy. My thoughts and good wishes go out to his family.
The Great British UFO Show was a tremendous success and Russell said that there would definitely be another next year, probably in the larger conference facility at the Headingley rugby ground. If it is half as good as this year’s extravaganza, I can hardly wait!
Well done to all involved for their hard work in bringing the UFO experience back to the masses.
© Steve Johnson - 2005
There are many characters in the UFO field, some famous, some infamous. They range from the wildest hoaxsters to the deeply believable experiencers. Few, though, are as convincing as PC Alan Godfrey.
Alan was a good copper. He was liked by his peers and performed his duties with diligence. In June of 1980, though, his life was about to change forever.
On 6th June 1980, Zygmund Jan Adamski, a Polish-born miner from Tingley in West Yorkshire set out to the shops, a short walk from his home. On the way, he stopped to chat with a neighbour and duly arrived at the store and bought his items. He never made it back home.
Five days later, Mr Adamski’s body was found lying on a pile of coal in the town of Todmorden, twenty-six miles from Tingley. Alan was on duty at the time when the report of the body was phoned in to the police station by the owner of the coal yard. A colleague picked up Alan from his beat in a panda car and they headed out to the location. PC Godfrey describes the coal yard as well known if you live in the area, but not the sort of place a stranger to the town would visit. Mr Adamski had never been to Todmorden in his life.
Upon arriving at the scene, they immediately saw Mr Adamski’s body lying face-up on top of the pile of coal, pouring rain giving his form a silvery sheen. Anybody entering the yard could not help to see this grim sight. The trouble is that workers at the yard had arrived earlier in the day to take a lorry and Mr Adamski’s body was not there.
Alan described Zygmund’s face as one of abject fear. He also noted that his jacket buttons were fastened out of sequence, as though he had been hurriedly dressed after death. His shirt had been removed, leaving only a string vest beneath the jacket. His watch had gone. They also found a tyre mark on the site that belonged to none of the vehicles of the coal yard. On a closer inspection, Alan and his colleague found that Mr Adamski had several burn marks on the back of his head (his hair was cropped very short and they were clearly visible) and a large welt on his neck that appeared to have a jelly-like substance smeared onto it.
The coroner’s verdict was that Mr Adamski had died of natural causes – heart failure. He also noted that due to the contortion on his face, it appeared that Zygmund had either been in tremendous pain or extremely frightened immediately prior to his death. Upon the pathologist’s declaration of the cause of death, the CID dropped the case and handed it over to the uniformed division.
PC Godfrey and his colleague began enquiries in the area, distributing photographs of Mr Adamski in an attempt to find out what might have happened to him. Alan could not understand why the CID did not follow up the case. Mr Adamski had died of a heart attack, but what about the surrounding circumstances? How had he got to Todmorden? Why were some of his clothes missing? How did he get the burn marks?
Later, to Alan’s surprise, he picked up a local newspaper and found that an inquest had been held into Mr Adamski’s death. Neither he nor his colleague had been called to give evidence at this meeting, as they should have been, given that they were the attending officers at the time that the body was found. The man who discovered the body had also not been called.
At the post mortem, it was estimated that Mr Adamski had been dead for around six hours. That gave a time of death of between 11:15am and 1:15pm of that day. According to a local fireman, Peter Sutcliffe, he had been at the yard at 1pm that day and Mr Adamski’s body had not been there. If it had, it would have been clearly visible.
The substance that had been applied to the burns on Zygmund’s neck was tested by a Home Office laboratory and they could not identify it!
Following interest from the Sunday papers, Alan was called in to his superiors and handed a memo with an order for him not to speak with any member of the media about Zygmund Adamski – specifically. The memo, or minute sheet, as it is called, had a heading bearing the stamp of the Official Secret’s Act.
Later, Alan was to receive a telephone call at his home from his Chief Superintendent requesting him to give an interview to a reporter from the Sunday Mirror. Alan agreed, as long as it was agreed that it was all above board and he should have a colleague, such as his inspector or sergeant, present. Everything was arranged and the reporter arrived at PC Godfrey’s home.
No sign of anybody from the police arrived. Alan called the station, but nobody appeared to know anything about it. Before he reluctantly agreed to the interview, Alan asked the reporter who had arranged the meeting. The reporter said that the police press officer had been in contact with him. Fair enough, thought Alan, and the interview went ahead.
The Monday after the publication of the article, Alan was summoned to the headquarters of the West Yorkshire Police in Wakefield and given a dressing down for disobeying orders and giving an interview about the Adamski case! Alan defended himself, but his protestations fell on deaf ears. Godfrey telephoned the Sunday Mirror reporter, John Sheards, and he contacted the Wakefield police press office and informed them of what his next story was going to be about!
Alan was issued with an apology immediately, blaming a lack of communication between departments!
Shortly afterwards, Alan received a memo, informing him that he was being transferred to Wakefield. Usually there is some form of notice or an interview in which such matters are dealt with, but this was simply a piece of paper telling Alan that he must uproot his family and move them to a new town. They even told him the address of the house in which he was going to live!
PC Godfrey had no desire to move to Wakefield, besides his wife had a business in Todmorden and his children went to school there. He wrote a note explaining that if he was forced to move, it would split his family, as his wife had no intention of moving to Wakefield. Thankfully, the order was rescinded and he was allowed to remain in Todmorden.
A short time later, on Alan’s day off, his friend and colleague, Jack, arrived at his home, saying that he had to go with him to Wakefield for a medical. Alan had been injured on duty previously and presumed this was something to do with that. They arrived at Stanley Royd Hospital and Alan was stunned to find out that it was a psychiatric hospital. He told Jack, who was in uniform, to stay by his side no matter what happened.
It turned out that his superiors had asked the doctors at the hospital to examine Alan because they claimed he was having hallucinations. Apparently this concerned an incident in which Alan had a UFO encounter shortly after the Adamski incident (I will cover this later) and that was, by this time, two years in the past! When Godfrey, with Jack backing him up, told them that he was still on active duty, they were furious (with his superiors, not Alan) and sent him home.
A short time later, Alan and his family came back from a holiday to find that he had been transferred to Halifax. Luckily, this town was close enough so that his family did not have to move house. Nevertheless it was a complete surprise. It also came to Alan’s attention, through local gossip more than anything else, that he was no longer welcome at Todmorden Police Station, a place where he had happily worked for many years.
Then the most sinister thing happened. Alan was on duty, guarding the cells at the station, when his sergeant asked if he could borrow PC Godfrey’s flat cap from his locker. They went up to the locker and Alan retrieved the cap for his sergeant. Then Alan returned to his duty area. A short time later, a sergeant and constable from Todmorden arrived and asked the receptionist who was in charge of the control room because they wanted to speak with him.
Later, the sergeant who had borrowed Alan’s cap came down to the cells and asked if the inspector had been to see him with the officers from Todmorden. He told Alan that they had wanted to know where his locker was.
Alan and his sergeant friend went up to his locker and found that it had been broken into and contraband placed inside. Alan was furious. He could have gone to prison for this! He contacted Internal Affairs and began proceedings to clear his name. Eventually, after seemingly getting nowhere, he had a meeting with the Assistant Chief Constable, Keith Hellawell. Alan said he could not have met a nicer man. He was very understanding and made the cryptic remark of: “Why couldn’t they let sleeping dogs lie?”
Alan has wondered who ‘they’ were ever since. The only thing he can think of that has been the catalyst of all the events of his last few years in the police force (he resigned honourably, citing the injury mentioned previously) was the Zygmund Adamski case.
To this day, the file of Zygmund Adamski remains in the archives of West Yorkshire Police under the heading – RESTRICTED.
Now, the other major incident in PC Godfrey’s life, the one that had him sent to a psychiatric hospital two years after the fact, has become famous in UFO lore.
A few months after finding Zygmund Adamski’s body, on the night of 28th November 1980, Alan was in the patrol car in Todmorden, looking for some cows that had gone missing from a farmer’s field. Unable to locate them, he was about to return to the station when, through the rain, he saw a bright light in the road ahead of him. It was about 5am and he thought it might be a local, early morning bus. As he neared, though, he saw that it was a large, oval object that was spinning above the road so rapidly that it was making the bushes at the verge shake violently. He stopped the car and took out his notepad and sketched the object. Then there was a brilliant flash. The UFO had gone and he found himself driving the car, further up the road.
He turned around and headed back to where he had seen the UFO, but found nothing, save for a patch of road that appeared to have been dried into a spiral pattern. It was later learned that he had ‘lost’ about fifteen minutes during that time.
Fearful of making an official report and being classified as a loony, Alan changed his mind when he discovered that somebody else had seen something strange that night. A driver on the same road as Alan, at roughly the same time, but three miles further along, had seen a brilliant white object and had been so affected by it that he had called the police in Todmorden. Also at roughly the same time, police officers from Halifax had seen a bright, glowing object descending from the sky towards Todmorden.
Buoyed by these matching statements, Alan filed his official report. He was surprised when the police released his story to the local papers the following week!
Alan became troubled with the missing time he had experienced, as well as odd, disjointed memories with which he could not get to grips. He had also found at the time that his pristine police boots had a split in the sole and had scuff marks on them as though he had been dragged somewhere.
Eventually, he was persuaded to undergo hypnotic regression. The results of the session were strange and Alan admits that he cannot be sure if they are real. Under hypnosis, he recalls being inside his car as the bright light hit. His engine stalled and the radio and police handset emitted loud static. Then he found himself inside a strange room, with a man dressed in ‘Biblical clothes’, surrounded by small, robot-like things with heads shaped like a lamp. The room appeared like a room in a house and he was surprised to see a large, black dog.
The man communicated telepathically with Alan and told him that his name was ‘Yosef’. Alan was asked questions by Yosef and then told that he would be contacted later. As far as I know, this has not yet occurred, unless Alan’s keeping it to himself.
Despite Alan’s honesty regarding the hypnosis session, being very sceptical of the results himself, it seems that his encounter may have been another catalyst that ended up with him leaving the force several years later.
It is sad when a loyal public servant is seemingly hounded out of his job, even when he does that job to the very best of his ability and speaks the truth, as far as he can see it, about what has happened to him.
Was PC Godfrey’s UFO experience connected with what happened to Zygmund Adamski? Alan has no idea about that himself. What is known is that there were other, independent witnesses that night in November. So we know that something did happen to Alan at that time.
Oh, and by the way, the cows eventually turned up in a completely separate field, somehow leaving no hoofmarks in the ground to betray their passage!
© Steven Johnson - 2005
by Steve Johnson
In around 360 BC, the Greek philosopher, Plato, introduced the world to a word that would reverberate throughout the millennia. That word was Atlantis.
Opinion is divided as to whether Plato’s works that describe Atlantis, Timaeus and Critias, are works of fact or pure speculation. It is obvious, though, that a great deal of dramatic license has been used in both works, with the gods of ancient Greece making frequent appearances.
Plato described Atlantis as a large, island empire that existed beyond ‘the Pillars of Hercules’, ruled by the god Poseidon and the royal family he sired with the mortal woman, Cleito. She bore him five sets of boy twins and Poseidon installed the eldest son, Atlas, as king, with the remaining nine becoming princes of the Atlantean territories.
Nine thousand years before Plato’s time, he said, the armies of Atlantis warred with those that lived within the Pillars of Hercules, mostly notably, Athens. The Atlanteans were defeated and driven back by the Athenians, only for their island to be consumed by the sea shortly after their return.
That’s the basic story, so let’s get down to the details.
Plato gave a very specific description of Atlantis in his works, insisting that it was a real place and not some idealistic, perfect state. Indeed, the rulers of Atlantis were so imperfect that the gods felt compelled to destroy it.
According to Plato, Atlantis lay beyond ‘The Pillars of Hercules’, which is generally taken to be the Straits of Gibraltar, thus placing it somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean, a name also taken from that mythological empire. Some have argued, though that the Pillars of Hercules referred to by Plato may actually have been at the Cape Maleas in the Peloponnese, where Hercules was said to have performed all of his labours. So immediately, we have a grey area concerning Atlantis’ location. However, Plato said that Atlantis faced the region called Gades. We now know Gades as Cadiz in south-western Spain. This is a port on the Atlantic, so for Atlantis to face Gades, it stands to reason that this legendary place must also be located within the Atlantic Ocean.
It has been postulated that Atlantis may have been a small island that once existed just beyond Gibraltar, but Plato was very specific when he stated that Atlantis was an island larger than Libya (the whole of known Africa at the time) and Asia (which generally covered the rest of the Mediterranean and the lands of what was to become the Middle East). Obviously, a small island just beyond the Pillars of Hercules cannot be said to be larger than what was essentially the known world!
Plato then goes on to describe the city of Atlantis itself:
As we can see, Atlantis was a big place! One Greek stade is equal to 528 feet, so the plain upon which the city of Atlantis (remember this is not the whole island) is 300 miles long and 200 miles wide!
It is now known that no vast, island-continent has ever existed within the Atlantic Ocean, so what was it that submerged beneath the sea?
Researcher Jim Allen, in his book, Atlantis: The Andes Solution, believes that Atlantis was what we now call South America, with the rectangular plain lying on what is now the Bolivian alteplano, a huge, windswept region high up in the Andes Mountains. Unfortunately for Allen, though, the Bolivian alteplano is not large enough and he had to fiddle with his measurements, cutting down the stade by half to get it to fit his theory. Despite this jiggery-pokery, however, he makes a compelling case for South America as being the home of Atlantis, citing the many similarities between Plato’s account and the local features around the alteplano and Lake Titicaca.
To the north of the South American continent lie the islands of the Caribbean. This had long been proposed as a possible site for Atlantis, but the case became stronger when a feature known as The Bimini Road was discovered in 1968 and has been the subject of heated debate ever since. The scientific community maintains that the regularly-spaced blocks that comprise the ‘road’ are nothing more than the natural cracking of the sedimentary bedrock, while Atlantis theorists suggest that it is a part of some larger, artificial construction. More recently, in 2003, another contentious discovery was made – that of the Andros Platform, a large, foundation-like structure on the sea floor. Again, opinion is divided in much the same way as it is with the Bimini Road.
Beneath nearby islands, a cave was discovered and photographs were taken of what appeared to be a form of hieroglyphics. It is unknown whether or not these strange markings are genuinely ancient or a more recent addition, however it is yet another tantalising clue in the search for Atlantis.
In 2002 came the next twist of the ‘Atlantis in the Caribbean’ saga. Ocean engineer, Paulina Zelitsky and her team from Canadian-based Advanced Digital Communications, discovered what appeared to be the ruins of a city, 2000 feet down in the waters off western Cuba.
“On the matter of whether the sonar imagery really does show `pyramids, roads and buildings”, Paul Weinzweig, director of ADC, stated: “We had been looking at the images for some months, and keep a picture on the wall showing pyramids in the Yucatan, and let’s just say they kept reminding us of these structures. They really do look like an urban development.”
Little new information concerning this possibly epoch-shattering find has emerged, and, yet again, opinion is divided, but further investigation is promised, culminating in a series of dives on the site.
Back over in the Mediterranean Sea, the island of Santorini holds the most famous claim to being the location of Atlantis. Although it lies within Plato’s Pillars of Hercules, it was a place where a great disaster destroyed an entire civilisation. In about 1650 BC, the island was devastated by a volcanic eruption that destroyed the Minoan towns there and the resulting environmental impacts may even have brought about the end of the great Minoan civilisation that was primarily centred on the island of Crete.
It is widely regarded that the eruption of Thera (as the island was known in antiquity, although the Minoan name is lost) was the basis of Plato’s Atlantis myth. The Minoans were a bountiful civilisation and their passing, their destruction by the gods, as it were, would have become a great legend of the following centuries.
But Thera does not conform with Plato’s descriptions of Atlantis, especially in size.
Was Plato exaggerating to tell a gripping story of what may happen when men think they have become gods? It was common for legends of the age to greatly inflate a hero, an army or a disaster, so was Plato doing likewise? Was the mighty, ocean-spanning empire that invaded the Mediterranean nothing more than a tiny island consumed by volcanic fire? Or is there a nugget of truth in Plato’s descriptions and Atlantis really did exist on the continent we now call America?
With new discoveries keeping the scientific community on their toes, perhaps we will soon find out.
© 2005 Steven Johnson
Galloping across the green English countryside, the Uffington White Horse is perhaps the oldest chalk figure in the United Kingdom, if not the world.
At over 370 feet (112.8 metres) in length, the horse is a major landmark in Oxfordshire and probably dates back to at least 1000 BC.
For centuries, the local people cleaned the chalk that defines the figure in a local tradition known as ‘The Scouring’, but that ended in the 19th century and the Horse became overgrown and almost completely obscured. Now the task of cleaning this popular tourist attraction falls on English Heritage.
Although described as a horse, and indeed its design resembles stylised horses found on ancient coins, local legend tells of it being a representation of the dragon slain by St George. Some researchers have also claimed that the Horse is not an equine animal, given the protrusions from beneath its head that resemble fangs, rather than horses’ teeth.
Whatever its true nature, the Uffington White Horse is certainly the most famous of our chalk figures.
In Dorset stands the provocative figure of the Cerne Abbas Giant. Although thought to date from perhaps Roman times, it is now thought that this 180 foot (55 metres) carving of a man with a huge phallus may actually date from the 17th century and may even be a political parody of Oliver Cromwell!
Despite this, local stories tell of a giant that was killed on the hill, with the chalk figure marking his demise. Fertility rituals have also been conducted on the hill, involving maypoles and to this day, it is said that if a childless couple make love on the carving, they will bear offspring.
Recently, archaeologists discovered a part of the carving that had become obliterated over time. From the left arm of the Giant once hung a feature that may have represented a skin of some kind, suggesting that the Giant was a hunter and bolstering local claims that the figure dates back to an earlier time than the 17th century.
Near Eastbourne in Sussex stands the Long Man of Wilmington. This 227 foot (69 metres) chalk carving looks out over the countryside, supporting himself with two long staffs, one in each hand.
The figure is merely an outline and bears no details that may identify him, although it has been suggested that at one time, the Long Man may have had features similar to the Cerne Abbas Giant (i.e. a large phallus), but this was erased during restorations. There is no evidence for him ever having such a feature, however.
The origins of the Long Man are not clear and his first mention comes from a drawing of 1710. That drawing bears little resemblance to the Man we see today, with a clearly-featured face and feet pointing away from each other, unlike today’s carving. There exists a photograph of the Long Man with his feet in such an orientation; however it is unclear whether this is a genuine photograph or some sort of hoax.
In 1948, a 126 foot white horse was discovered in a field near Marlborough, Wiltshire. It became known as the Rockley (or Rockley Down) White Horse and is long since destroyed. There exists only one photograph of the beautifully-carved figure and its origin is completely unknown.
It is likely that the horse is a fairly recent carving, perhaps even dating from the 20th century, although chalk carvings of horses in England reached a peak in the 18th and 19th centuries.
It was restored in 2002, however, this older photograph (above right) shows more defined edges to the carving.
Finally, we shall take a look at what may be the second-oldest chalk carving in England, or at least the site of what may once have been. On Salisbury Plain lies the Westbury White Horse. The Horse is a staggering 182 feet (55.5 metres) tall and can be seen for miles around. It was restored in 1778 (and has since had the chalk replaced with concrete to prevent it being washed away by the rains), but it has been suggested that the horse may date as far back as 878 and may have been carved to commemorate a great battle that King Alfred won over the Danes.
These are just a small selection of some of the most well-known chalk figures in England, and I apologise for leaving out any of your favourites, such as the Alton Barnes White Horse or the Red Horse of Tysoe (which has become almost as legendary as the Uffington Horse in some circles).
As we have seen, although chalk figures are something of a modern phenomenon, there are examples that the tradition stretches back far into our history and who knows what hidden, artistic treasures our landscape might reveal in the future.
© 2005 Steve Johnson
The above scene could be taken from any book or movie about D-Day and that terrible night as thousands of Allied paratroopers descended into Hell hours before the Normandy beach landings.
It didn’t, though. What you have just read are, what I believe, my final recollections as a soldier in World War II, twenty-three years before my birth. Hard to believe, I know, and it is the only recollection I have from that time that feels like a real memory. Not something I have read or seen on television, but an actual event that may have happened to me in a past life.
I do not know what the name of that doomed warrior was, who his family were or even if it is a real memory, I have only my belief that I died in the cold water in northern France in 1944, only to be reincarnated in 1967.
What makes me think that I have lived this tragic past live? Well, it’s hard to express in words. Feelings ever since childhood, fears and emotions that seem out of place or peculiar at the time. I have always had an abject fear of deep water (i.e. water that I cannot stand up in), but I suppose I share that phobia with many people. Certain noises will spark an inkling of memory, a brief flicker of cognition before receding back into the darkness of my subconscious. Noises that remind me of those terrifying minutes standing by the open doorway of the troop transport.
It sounds peculiar, I know, but the first time I thought, ‘I’ve heard that sound before’, was while watching the movie, Contact, the science fiction film starring Jodie Foster. In one scene, she is waiting to enter a capsule built from alien designs. Beneath her rotate massive rings, the power plant of the machine. The roaring, echoing, thrumming sounds that are used in the film seemed very familiar to me. Not the sounds themselves, but the familiarity of being in that position – standing at a great height with an almost deafening racket going on around me. An over-active imagination? Perhaps.
The real clincher for me was the HBO television series, Band of Brothers. The second episode, Day of Days, in which our heroes are dropped behind enemy lines hours before D-Day really affected me. I was absolutely certain that I had experienced the same thing. I was affected at a guttural level, almost unable to watch as the drama unfolded. And then it passed almost as quickly as it appeared. Was I the victim of a clever film-maker playing with my emotions, expertly depicting what happened on the night of June 5-6 1944? Again, this is a possibility, but I can’t shake the feeling that there was more to it than that.
I am not prone to wild acts of emotion and, while I do have a certain amount of imagination, I really feel that this is not the case in this matter. I have never met anybody else who claimed to have led a past life and I have never even considered trying to find out who the man I think I was may have been. I am not even interested in the history of World War II, beyond what the layman knows. I am also not prepared, for personal reasons, to undergo hypnotic regression to try and get to the bottom of this mystery.
It is an enigma that will live with me for the rest of my life and, who knows, maybe somebody in the future, long after I am dead, will think they were me. God help them!
© 2005 Steven Johnson
Back To Top
Can Ghosts Be Scientifically Verified?
For as long as there have been people, there have been ghost stories. Indeed, the Ancient Greeks were fond of tales of ghosts and spirits and the Far-Eastern cultures of China and the Indian subcontinent were replete with spook-filled yarns. It is not difficult to imagine the earliest humans huddling around their fires at night and telling good, scary stories to the rest of the tribe.
Stories of ghosts and spirits are probably amongst the oldest of human legends, yet even now, thousands and thousands of years after the dawn of civilisation, there is not a jot of definite proof that ghosts exist.
Can the existence of ghosts be proven to a standard that will impress today’s sceptical public?
The modern ghost hunter is armed with a plethora of technical devices that, supposedly, can help him (or her, obviously, but our hypothetical person will be a he from now on) detect the presence of possible paranormal phenomena.
These range from simple, home-made devices like dowsing rods or plumb bobs right up to expensive recording equipment and night vision cameras. In between he may also have an arsenal of laser thermometers, electromagnetic frequency (EMF) meter and audio recording equipment, such as dictaphones or other digital sound recorders.
Yet, even with all of this hi-tech wizardry at their fingertips, there is still not one concrete scrap of evidence to prove that there is some form of existence after death. Sure, there are video recordings of mists, hazy figures, strange shadows or audio recordings of eerie, almost imperceptible voices or strange fluctuations in EMF fields, but none of this stands up to close scrutiny and any number of alternative explanations can be put forward to explain the phenomena captured.
The modern quest to prove the existence of ghosts began with the advent of photography in the 19th century. So-called Spirit Photography was big business and there are many examples littering the internet. Almost all of them can be explained away as simple double exposures or other darkroom trickery. Most of these were made in the days when one had to sit still for a long time to record one’s image onto a photographic plate. When more efficient cameras came along, spirit photography moved along with it.
In the early 20th century, séances became the trendy fad of the day and many so-called mediums arose to fame and infamy. The great illusionist, Harry Houdini, exposed many charlatans and others brought to light the dodgy practices with which these ‘mediums’ duped a gullible fee-paying public.
One such medium was Helen Duncan and she even spent time in prison, convicted under the Witchcraft Act of 1735. Duncan was a medium whom, she alleged, could produce spiritual ectoplasm. However, the ectoplasm was in actual fact nothing more paranormal than muslin that she swallowed earlier and regurgitated during the séance. She also used badly-made dolls in her act. Duncan, to this day (she officially died of natural causes in 1956, although it has been claimed that she died from an inflammation of the bowels caused by the cloth she swallowed) has a large following and many claim that she was a genuine materialisation medium.
Anyway, back to ghost hunters and evidence:
There have been many photographs that purportedly depict ghosts. Some have become very famous, like the Newby Church Ghost or the Brown Lady of Raynham Hall, but are they photographs of genuine paranormal entities? I’ll let you decide:
Other ways in which ghosts can manifest themselves on film (or more accurately on a digital camera’s CCD) is through the phenomenon of Spirit Orbs. Supporters claim that this is an early stage of a ghost manifestation and represents a build-up of energies in a spirit entity. The fact that orbs only tend to appear on images taken with digital cameras only adds weight to the argument that orbs are nothing more than specks of dust or water droplets close to the camera lens that are illuminated when the flash goes off. Their proximity to the lens causes them to be out of focus, therefore appearing as translucent, circular blobs of light. CCDs in digital cameras are more sensitive than film and that's why specks of dust etc. show up more in digital images. Other orbs taken by both digital and film cameras could be attributed to the same and also to lens flare, where a bright object in the frame reflects light back into the lens.
Now we can move on to video evidence. With the rise in popularity of video camcorders, the ghost hunter has been given access to a whole new way of recording paranormal phenomena. These days, a good investigator will possess a camcorder that has 0-lux capabilities, i.e. that can record in complete darkness using an infra-red (IR) filter. Unfortunately, given the ability to sneak up on ghosts in the dark, footage of spooks in their natural habitat is strangely thin on the ground. After all, don’t ghosts like the dark?
The truth is that most ghost images (including the ones displayed on this page) are taken in broad daylight or in brightly-lit dwellings.
It seems that most ghost videos these days come from CCTV cameras in places like car parks! Below are some stills from alleged ghosts caught on video:
Obviously those images captured from video cannot be conclusive proof, but there is no evidence that they were faked. There is also no evidence that they weren’t either! However, one has been shown to be a natural object that just looks like a ghost!
Another gadget that our erstwhile ghost hunter can use is the EMF meter. Many companies now sell these devices as ‘Ghost Detectors’, but they were originally produced to measure the EMF fields in workplaces with lots of electrical equipment. Everything produces an electromagnetic field and it is a widely-held theory that ghosts disrupt this field when they pass through an area. A good investigator will walk through a supposedly haunted area and get a good baseline reading of normal EM conditions. This way, he will also be able to discount any electrical wiring or other natural sources if there is a fluctuation during the investigation proper. Of course, there has never been any evidence produced that a ghost has disrupted the EM field. All that has been noted is a fluctuation in the local field and such fluctuations can often be explained naturally rather than supernaturally. Of course, though, this doesn’t mean that a ghost wasn’t there, but it doesn’t prove that a ghost was there either.
Finally, let’s move on to audio evidence. The phenomenon is known as Electronic Voice Phenomenon (EVP) or Instrumental TransCommunication (ITC), which is really a catch-all term that covers other forms of supposed spirit communication through electrical equipment, such as television sets.
The most common method for our ghost hunter to pick up EVPs is to use a digital voice recorder (these are very inexpensive these days and can store quite a lot of data), walk around a haunted location and ask questions of the ghosts or spirits that are said to reside there. Most of the time, no responses will be heard, but upon playing back the recording, sometimes strange, eerie voices may be heard. Again, like the EMF readings, most of these ‘voices’ can be explained away as natural sounds from the environment, such as distant traffic, animals outside, the wind etc., but sometimes definite, human voices can be heard, often replying specifically to the questions asked. If any skulduggery can be eliminated (that nobody in the next room spoke the words, say), this, in my view, constitutes some of the best evidence for life after death!
So, after all of the technological advances made over the years, the best evidence for ghosts comes not from what we see, but from what we hear.
Do ghosts exist? I think so.
© 2005 Steve Johnson
Africa's living dinosaur?
Deep in the jungles of The People's Republic of Congo, natives tell tales of a swamp and river-swelling creature that they call Mokele-Mbembe. Indeed, there are many tales of strange creatures under many names, but it is Mokele-Mbembe that has become the most famous.
Mokele-Mbembe, which means 'One that stops the flow of rivers', is described as a large, long-necked animal with no fur and rounded, three-clawed feet. Reports of size vary from approximately 15 feet (4.5 metres) up to a whopping 75 feet (23 metres)! It is variously described as reddish-brown to grey in colour, sometimes seeming to have a horn or frill upon its head. Reports conflict about whether or not the animal makes any sounds. Most reports suggest that the beast is dumb, like a giraffe, but others contend that the creature makes loud, roaring noises. The closest animal that cryptozoologists can equate to Mokele-Mbembe is the sauropod dinosaur, such as the diplodocus, cetiosaurus and apatosaurus, of the long-distant Jurassic Age.
Stories of living dinosaurs have trickled out of Africa for years. Just after the First World War, Captain Leicester Stevens set out on an expedition to find 'a brontosaurus' in the Congo. He was eager to win the $1 million reward that The Smithsonian Institute had offered for the beast. Armed with a Winchester rifle, he disappeared into the jungle and was never seen again. In 1932, explorers Ivan T Sanderson and Gerald Russel reported that they heard a roaring noise coming from close to their boat as they navigated the Upper Cross River . A huge, monstrous head rose out of the water, then submerged as quickly.
More recently, in 1980, James H Powell travelled to the Congo with Professor Roy Mackal of the University of Chicago. They had heard the stories of Mokele-Mbembe and arrived armed with drawings of various animals to show eye-witnesses of the beast. Powell would show them drawings of common, native animals, such as gorillas or okapi, which they would identify easily. He would then show them a picture of a bear, an animal not known in Africa, and they would be unable to recognise it. Then he would produce a drawing of a dinosaur, a sauropod. More often than not, the natives would immediately say that it was a drawing of Mokele-Mbembe!
They heard stories from local people about how Mokele-Mbembe would rise out of the water, its long neck as thick as a man's leg.
On May 1 1983, respected Congolese biologist, Marcelin Agnagna, was filming monkeys at Lake Tele when his helpers shouted for him to join them at the water's edge. About 300 yards (275 metres) from the shore, he saw a creature with a long neck attached to a visible 15 feet (4.5 metres) of back protruding above the waterline. Agnagna started filming, wading into the lake as he did so. He got to within 200 feet (61 metres) of the animal, filming all the time, before it slowly submerged. Unfortunately, as happens with many cases of this nature, the film did not come out very well. Agnagna had been filming the monkeys using his camera's macro setting and forgot to reset it. He stuck by his story, however, and almost caused a stampede of expeditions to the Congo, forcing the government to crack down on some parties and sometimes being accused of favouring the more well-funded troupes.
Is the photograph on the right a footprint of a Mokele-Mbembe. It certainly matches the shape of a sauropod print. Real or hoax?
The jungles of Africa are vast and, even to this day, largely unexplored. Could a huge animal such as a living sauropod go undiscovered by Western science for so long? Remember that the Mountain Gorilla of the Virunga Range that borders Congo, Rwanda and Uganda, was only discovered as recently as 1902. Just when you think that all the large animals have been discovered, up pops a new one, such as the Megamouth shark, only discovered in 1976, and only in May of 2005, a new species of monkey, the highland mangabey, was discovered in Tanzania. Admittedly, the monkey isn't as big as a London bus, but its discovery certainly proves that the remote places of the world can throw us a few surprises.
© 2005 Steve Johnson
By Steve Johnson
In 1968, Swiss author Erich Von Daniken’s book, Chariots of the Gods? stunned the literary world by becoming a worldwide bestseller. Von Daniken suggested that extra-terrestrials had visited Earth and took on the mantle of gods by our awe-struck ancestors. His evidence came in the form of archaic writings, Biblical passages and, most imaginatively, ancient works of art, such as sculptures, rock art and jewellery, and enigmatic buildings and structures from ages past.
He was not the first to suggest that aliens had interfered with our history and he definitely was not the last, authors such as Zecharia Sitchin (The Twelfth Planet) and Alan Alford (Gods of the New Millennium) continued these themes with varying success, but he was absolutely the most successful.
Although derided by sceptics, the Ancient Astronaut Theory (AAT) has a healthy following around the world, particularly amongst internet groups and thousands of websites offer articles and images as evidence that our planet has been visited by alien beings across the millennia.
But is there any truth in the theory? Can we prove that aliens did indeed come to Earth and, possibly, caused our earliest civilisations to come into being? This article asks more questions than it can answer!
The Stone Age amulet on the left was found in Ecuador. If it is genuine, it suggests that ancient man knew that our planet was a sphere, long before Europeans made that discovery for themselves. Did the person who sculpted this simple piece of jewellery know for him or herself that the Earth was round, or was this information passed on from extra-terrestrials?
Why would aliens inform a primitive human about the Earth's place in the cosmos and explain how the Earth may be measured using lines of longitude and latitude?
Or is it merely an abstract, religious or decorative device, with no reference to what only seems to be depicted on its face?
The effigy on the right is also from Ecuador and shows a figure that bears a striking resemblance to a modern astronaut (indeed, an actual astronaut is shown as a reference). The being inside the suit appears to be non-human. It bears bulbous, almost almond-shaped eyes and its nose and mouth appear to be rudimentary. Was this an alien visitor, forever celebrated by the creation of this simple figurine? Or is it simply a representation of a shaman or god wearing ritualistic clothing?
It is a well-known device of archaeologists to define anything that has no logical explanation as 'ritualistic' or 'religious'. The principle of Occam's Razor suggests that the simplest and most likely explanation is that the 'astronaut' is an imagining of a human in ceremonial garb. Far more likely than a sculpting of an alien being, no? But what if that is what it actually is, a cosmonaut from beyond the stars?
Remaining in Ecuador for one more example, on the left is the lid of the famous Mayan ruler, Pacal. It was found in his burial pyramid in the ancient city of Palenque and the king's body was discovered beneath, thus suggesting that the figure in the carving is Pacal himself.
Mayan myth explains the depiction as the king falling into the night time Underworld, only to be risen again during the day. The Tree of Life above his head emphasises the king's journey after death.
Despite this description from actual Mayan texts, many researchers have claimed that the sarcophagus lid shows a figure sitting inside some form of airplane or spacecraft. There have even been attempts to recreate the lid utilising technical methodologies, as shown on the right.
A man in a piece of technology, his hands working controls, breathing apparatus enabling him to breathe? Or is it as the Maya themselves say, a representation of the dead king's journey into the afterlife? Surely the Maya know best. After all, they were there!
South America is filled with oddities: the Nazca Lines in Peru, the great Olmec stone heads of Mexico, the enigmatic city of Tiahuanaco, high up on the Bolivian Altiplano. We find great cities built from massive blocks of stone weighing hundreds of tons, seemingly abandoned in an instant and swallowed by the jungle or left to decay in the mighty Andes. But it is some of the smallest artefacts that furrow brows the most.
Explained away as depictions of animals such as birds, fish and bats, the trinkets bear striking resemblances to modern, delta-winged aeroplanes. There have even been claims by some researchers that aeronautical tests have proved that they are perfectly shaped for flight.
Trinkets of animals or scale models of aircraft? We may never know.
On the subject of ancient aircraft, we must not forget to mention the vimaanas of the mighty Sanskrit legend, the Mahabharata. These were described as fearsome flying machines, possessing devastating weapons, that were used by the gods in a great war against their enemies.
It seems, however, that the truth is far more down to Earth. Egyptian boats often had mastheads that were topped with what were probably weather vanes in the shapes of birds. These would tell the crew which way the wind was blowing. So that's one mystery solved at least!
Over in Mesopotamia, the Sumerian civilisation arose in the regions between the rivers Euphrates and Tigris. Great cities such as Nippur, Uruk and Babylon thrived at a time when much of the rest of the world lived in Stone Age ignorance. They produced the first writings, the first mathematics, the wheel and the first laws.
Their legends told us that fish-like beings known as the Annunaki came to Earth and taught them everything they know. The cylinder seal on the right shows 'The Tree of Life' beneath a flying vessel above a crescent moon. Many have wondered why the Sumerians would show a tree in this way. It looks less like a large plant and more like a DNA molecule (the real tree of life).
The Victory Stele of Naram-Sin dates from 23rd-century BC Akkadia. The king is celebrating a victory over his enemies by paying homage to 'the solar disc'. A quick look at the stele, though, shows two solar emblems (at least three, actually if you look closely at the very top, damaged section). Since we have only ever had one sun, what do these other symbols represent?
An astronomical event such as a supernova or planetary conjunction? A comet passing by (Comet Hale-Bopp has been suggested)? Or even extra-terrestrial spacecraft hovering above the victorious king.
This would not be the first time that aerial phenomena have come to the aid of the warring dictators of millennia past. The Bible is filled with examples of Jehovah's angels coming to the assistance of the Hebrews in their battles with their enemies. Alexander the Great was helped by flying 'burning discs' as he laid siege to the city of Tyre and later, his army was dive-bombed by silver discs. If Naram-Sin did receive air support from above the clouds, then it suggests that aliens may have been tinkering with our history throughout the ages.
In the Tassili Mountains of the Sahara Desert, artwork was painted and carved into rocks at least 6000 years ago. Some of these depictions show very curious features that cannot be easily explained. Flying discs, strange animal forms and humanoid figures with bizarre features (such as 'The Great Martian God', left) have been explained away as drug-induced hallucinations or the products of the vivid imaginings of our ancestors.
Yet, amongst these strange forms are accurately-drawn renderings of the animals of the region, such as gazelles, so why include such abstract features? Perhaps the strange humanoid figures are depictions of native people wearing ceremonial headgear? How does this explain the flying discs? Our ancestors were excellent illustrators of nature. They drew what they saw. Is it possible that they saw alien life-forms come to earth and they simply recorded it for posterity?
To the left and right of the Cross there are two flying objects that are piloted by what seem to be humans. The vessel on the right emphasises its mechanical nature by having an insignia painted on its side! One seems to be pursuing the other and the chap on the right seems distressed that he is being chased by the serious-looking fellow on the left.
Is the painting a realisation of something was actually scene by the artist, or described to him by a witness? It is a bizarre piece of art. Beautiful and compelling, yet perplexing.
We have seen artworks from thousands of years ago right up to only a few hundred years ago. There are myriad other examples, but I have concentrated on only a few. Were Von Daniken and his counterparts correct? Have extra-terrestrials landed on our world and affected our history or are all the strange and mysterious representations we have seen nothing more than imaginative renderings by talented artists?
I know what I think, but I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions...
© 2005 Steve Johnson
Hold on to your hats! You could be living in a town brimming with ancient, magical power.
Most people know something about ley lines (or leys, as they are more properly known). These are the mysterious, invisible lines of energy that are said to criss-cross the British countryside.
Over seventy-five years ago, a Herefordshire business man, Alfred Watkins, first suggested the existence of leys. He claimed that he had experienced a vision of a network of strange lines linking landmarks in his home county.
After years of research, he came to the conclusion that the lines were used by Stone Age man as trade routes. Watkins said that these routes became so important that markers were placed along their lengths. These markers ranged from simple monoliths to entire stone circles and pagan temples.
Even after the arrival of Christianity, the leys were preserved (probably accidentally) when churches and cathedrals were constructed on the ancient temple sites.
When Watkins published his theory, "The Ley Hunter's Manual - A Guide To Early Tracks", in the 1920's, he stated that the word "ley" was a Saxon term that meant "a cleared stretch of ground". He in no way thought that they exuded mystical powers. Ironically, he did not like the term that he had invented and tried, without success, to get it changed. But the name stuck and leys entered the modern vocabulary.
For forty years, ley hunters ploughed through old maps and trudged across the countryside in efforts to locate aligned monuments. Orthodox historians and archaeologists said that the Stone Age route theory held no water, but fell short of openly ridiculing the ley hunters as they continued to pursue their harmless quest.
Then, in the sixties and seventies, the term "ley" became inextricably intertwined with the world of the occult. Author John Michell and dowser Tom Graves published a book stating that the leys were tracts of Earth energy. They claimed that Stone Age men built their monuments on these lines because they could sense the power emanating from them (a gift that we have apparently lost). Shortly afterwards, scores of dowsers came forward claiming that they could locate leys using simple dowsing rods.
Another controversial theory was postulated by former RAF pilot Tony Wedd. He deducted that leys are lines of magnetic energy which UFOs use to refuel. He reached his conclusions after a spate of sightings close to known leys.
Modern-day ley hunters started to distance themselves from these fringe groups and attempted to find more orthodox archeological explanations.
Findings in Britain, Germany and France illustrate that in ancient times there were "church paths" or "corpse ways". These were tracks along which the dead were taken for burial. Over time, these paths became sacred and monuments were built upon them.
To the Celts of ancient Gaul, the Earth was a huge, living organism. They believed that its life-force flowed just beneath the surface in a network of subterranean arteries. The energy flowed in what became known as "telluric currents". The Gauls believed that these currents were a form of spiritual energy. Where this energy flowed near to the surface, a marker was placed. This marker could be a menhir, tree, temple or a huge, stone circle and was called a ley. The ancients would often make long pilgrimages to these places as they believed that the energy had healing properties.
If the leys were church paths or corpse ways, this could explain why many churches appear to be arranged in straight lines. A check of a street atlas of my home town did indeed show that many (but not all, I must add) of the churches did appear to lie on connecting lines, centering on the Parish Church in the town centre.
As churches also acted as cemeteries, it is possible that, as the communities grew, more burial sites were required. These were naturally built upon existing paths that led to the original, central graveyard.
Entire towns and cities were built upon ley lines, such was their importance to ancient man. In the north of England, a multitude of communities exist that have the word "ley" as a part of their names.
The towns of Leyland, Burnley, Keighley, Otley and Filey can all be connected by a straight line. Leyland is over a hundred miles from Filey, near Bridlington. A similar line also joins Cleveleys, on the west coast, with Keighley, Bingley, Guiseley and Beverley, which sits near the east coast and also possesses one of the largest minsters in England.
So, as you can see, if you live in a town that starts or ends with the word "ley", then it is a place that the early Britons found extremely important. But if, like me, you don't, do not despair. A check of the local street atlas and the alignments of churches will show you that wherever people congregate into communities, leys become and inevitable feature of the landscape.
© Steven Johnson 1999 -2005
Interview with Gary Heseltine,
editor and publisher of UFOMonthly.com
|Hi Gary, many thanks
for agreeing to this interview.
Mercury Rapids (MR): You are a serving detective with the British Transport Police, a very demanding job. How do you find time to publish a popular webzine, www.ufomonthly.com, as well as maintain your sister site, www.prufos.co.uk, where you have compiled a database of UFO reports by serving police officers?
Gary Heseltine (GH): When Graham Birdsall died, I can't explain it but I felt compelled to carry on his work and get a magazine out there. He had been so supportive to me with the PRUFOS Police Database. He is the person that led me to become an active researcher.
The closure of the magazine was extremely sudden and ill thought. I respected Christine's decision to walk away following her terrible loss but I and many others would have stepped in to secure the magazine with money to continue the printed form. Alas the speed of the closure did not give anyone the opportunity for that to happen.
Sadly I believe that Christine did not want 'UFO Magazine' to continue. I believe that the true legacy of Graham's work was the continuance of that magazine. It was his lifetimes achievement.
In terms of time - I have taken on a great burden in one sense and push myself to create a magazine that I think looks professional and has some of the feel of the old magazine. Fortunately I only need 4 or 5 hours sleep a night and that is very useful!
As far as I can see in the UK there is not a colour e-zine about UFOs that has the look and feel of a real magazine. That is not to say that there are not a number of fine publications done by various individuals and organisations.
MR: What started you on your quest for the truth behind the UFO phenomenon?
GH: My sighting of an unknown object in 1975 when i was 15 years old.
MR: Do you believe that UFOs are extra-terrestrial vehicles or are you of the opinion that there may be a number of explanations for the phenomenon?
GH: I have said on many occasions that a small proportion of UFO sightings represent clear extraterrestrial intelligence. Yes I do believe 100% in nuts and bolts machines however I also believe that the ETI can appear in various forms.
MR: Do any cases of alien abduction ever cross your path and what are your thoughts on the subject?
GH: The only UFO abduction case I've researched is that of former police officer Alan Godfrey. I believe he is telling the truth about his experiences. I have written a feature length screenplay about his experiences, set over a five year period.
MR: What are your views on UFO-related subjects, such as animal mutilations, chupacabra, crop patterns etc?
GH: I believe that some ANIMAL MUTILATION CASES, CROP CIRCLE CASES have a definite ET involvement.
MR: Have you ever seen an unidentified flying object? By that I mean, something that you were sure was not a terrestrial aircraft or natural effect of, say, the weather.
GH: I have had two sightings of my own. My childhood experience in 1975 and an off duty sightings at home in 1999 of a three UFOs flying in tight formation.
MR: There have been many people, notably Bob Lazar, who have claimed that alien technology has been back-engineered by our scientists and military. What are your thoughts on such potentially earth-shattering claims?
GH: I do believe that some ET craft have been recovered and that some of that technology is likely to have been back engineered or at least attempted.
MR: Have you ever encountered anything paranormal in your duties as a police officer? Not specifically UFO related, I mean.
MR: Which do you think will happen first, the official announcement of intelligent life 'out there' (such as the kind searched for by SETI) or the UFO enigma becoming startling fact (i.e. a UFO landing on the White House lawn or governments announcing that UFOs are extra-terrestrial vehicles)?
GH: I do not think that the breakthrough will be as dramatic as landing on the White House lawn. I believe it will not be in the US but in a smaller country where the censorship is less stringent.
MR: You are beginning collaborations with Russel Callaghan and Philip Mantle and their website, www.ufodata.co.uk. How does it feel to be working again with comrades from the greatly-missed UFO Magazine?
GH: I am not in collaboration with Russ and Philip as such. I merely picked up on their conference in Leeds and contacted Russel to say that I would promote it every month in UFO Monthly.com.
I will help any serious attempt to spread the message that a proportion of UFOs are real.
MR: The upcoming Great British UFO Show in Leeds on October 1st will likely be a lively event. Are you planning to attend or even speak at the conference?
GH: I have not been asked to appear at the Leeds conference. I would have done if I had been asked to do so. I hope to be there with a stall promoting the magazine.
MR: It would be great to once again have a major newsstand UFO publication in the UK. Are you confident that this will happen sooner rather than later?
GH: I do ultimately want to see a newstand publication. I hope in time that as more people become aware of UFO Monthly.com that it will generate enough money to warrant the printed version. However I do not see that in the short term.
However if some generous benefactor were to approach me with a view to funding a printed version of UFO Monthly.com I would seriously consider going part-time with the police to devote more time to it. It's all a question of money and security.
I believe that UFO Monthly.com offers the best way forward. Other larger publishers may come in and do a magazine but it will only rehash the past and will not include the input of local researchers. Anyone can contribute to UFO Monthly.com if as editor I believe it merits 'publication'.
I am currently in the process of contacting all the major regional UFO groups asking them if they want to contribute a page each to the magazine. If all the groups did that you could legitimately say that UFO Monthly.com was the national magazine for UFOLOGY. Not even the great UFO Magazine had monthly updates from all around the UK. Time will tell if the groups want to take the opportunity I am offering them.
I will ultimately have editorial control but the idea is sound. Groups should unite behind one 'flag' if they ever hope to see a legitimate newstand publication again. I do not like cliques or internal politics and I passionately believe in sharing UFO news with everyone. The information is already here to convince many people. We - the entire UFO community - SIMPLY has to get its collective efforts together to make a real difference to the way this subject is presented.
MR: Thank you for your time, Gary, and I wish you all the best with UFOMonthly.com. Perhaps I will see you at the Great British UFO Show in October?
GH: Thank you.
Back To Top
Interview with Russel Callaghan, former editor of UFO Magazine
and co-founder of www.ufodata.co.uk
|Hi Russel and thanks
for meeting with us, albeit electronically - heh heh. Off we go. I'll try
and cover a wide range of related topics, so I apologise if my questions
seem all over the place...
Mercury Rapids (MR): You've worked in the UFO field for many years now, most notably on the late Graham Birdsall's excellent and greatly-missed UFO Magazine. How did you get started in UFO investigation and have you ever seen what you would call a UFO?
Russel Callaghan (RC): I have had an interest in this subject from been a small child. I was five or six years old and I remember staring at the old electric alarm clock in my parents’ bedroom, it was about 04:10 and the clock was illuminated by an orange neon lamp behind the face. I had wandered into my parents’ room for whatever reason but as clear as day I recall looking at three little people dancing around the clock. I have often pondered on the experience and wonder if the fact that the neon lamp was oscillating very quickly ‘like a neon tube’ was somehow allowing me to see into a different dimension? And to answer the second part of your question: It was Oct time 1980 when I had a daylight sighting with a work colleague. At the time I worked on the buses as a conductor. My driver and I were taking a quick break as we were a little early, leaning on a wall and looking out over the heavy woollen area of West Yorkshire we were both literally ‘gob smacked’ to see this silver disc shaped object hovering less than a thousand feet above our heads. There was no real detail to it but it was reflecting the late afternoon sunlight when after about seven seconds it was gone, upwards so fast that within a second it was out of sight.
Let nobody tell me these things aren’t real.
MR: Your speciality is analysing images of UFOs. Which in your view is the best footage or photograph that you have seen of an Unidentified Flying Object?
RC: Some of the most controversial stuff came from The Secret NASA Transmissions. The Tether is still an amazing event and one that has never been challenged by NASA, The lights at Spitzburgen another classic video sequence but one that was never really researched. David Spoor filmed some interesting stuff in Lowestoft back in the mid 90’s and some of Christopher Martin’s videos are extremely interesting but there are two sequences that still do it for me.
First is the 1991 Mexican eclipse - if that’s Venus, it’s a lot nearer to us than they are letting on, and secondly, the big red object filmed by Anthony Woods and featured on The Journey only one word describes the two - UFO….
MR: And which is your favourite UFO case from the many thousands, if not millions, that have been reported over the years?
RC: Again I will propose two cases:
It has all the classic content, witnesses etc and I believe in our lifetime we will get to see the evidence that was taken at the time, film was shot, both movie and stills and it is somewhere for safe keeping. All the witnesses reported that the event was documented.
Secondly. The Belgium events of the late 1980’s Giant Triangles in the sky, air force radar tapes and high ranking officials going ‘on the record’. What more evidence do you want other than the landing on the White House Lawn?
MR: There are many theories regarding the nature of UFOs. The most widely-held theory is that they are spacecraft from an extra-terrestrial race (or races), but there are equally-valid suggestions of time travellers, dimensional voyagers or even subterranean civilisations from right here on/in the Earth. Which theory holds the most water with you?
RC: Whoever or Whatever they are come from somewhere. I think we have grown to this planet’s capacity and I think we are fully aware of what resides here. So if these ‘visitors’ are extra dimensional or extraterrestrial they will have come from a time and place that is far ahead of us, so perhaps playing devil’s advocate, time travelling ET’s is a pretty good bet.
MR: The abduction phenomenon plays a large part in UFO lore, with many proponents (Bud Hopkins to name but one). What are your thoughts on this subject and its impact and consequences on our society if it became widely acknowledged?
RC: I have endeavoured to study this subject at the nuts and bolts level, looking for evidence that you can see, feel and hopefully touch. The abduction scenario to those who claim abduction is very real indeed. There are cases where no intervention with hypnosis or self proclaimed councillors has ever occurred, yet the individuals talk of their experience with conviction. To them something happened.
We must remember though there is even less evidence to back up abduction claims than there is to confirm the reality of UFOs. There have been several ‘implant retrievals’ carried out and Dr Roger Leir is recognised as the leader in this field. He claims that universities have published test results suggesting an ET component in the removed implants, but until these are presented to the world as peer reviewed papers by recognised scientists or institutions, it is still just speculation. I applaud the work of Dr Leir and hope it bears fruit for this subject.
MR: It is often suggested that 'the-powers-that-be' know all about alien interventions on Earth and are slowly drip-feeding us information, in the forms of movies and TV series, about what these ETs are up to, readying us for when they become public knowledge. How do you feel about this kind of thing? Are the movies and TV programmes we see about alien invasions, abductions etc. more than just flights of fancy?
RC: If one single world power has ET technology or indeed evidence of the reality then to stop the rest of the world trying to take it from you it has to be kept so secret it will survive in its own world (black budgets) etc.
If the same is using ET back engineering, then again any equipment using it can’t go on public display unless you are prepared to tell all.
Unless you are saving it to save the planet…
Let’s face it, if the USA has such elaborate equipment in its arsenal and has used it recently then its not very good. It took it two years to find Saddam Hussein and it is still searching for Bin Laden.
I do believe all countries have secrets, but just what those secrets are we may never know.
MR: Despite my last question, the subject of UFOs is often reported with derision in the mainstream news media. Journalists and newsreaders deliver their reports of 'lights in the sky' or 'flying saucers' openly smirking at the subject. This annoys the hell out of me and I wish the regular news outlets would handle the UFO subject much more seriously. Do you share this concern?
RC: What is news worthy footage or information?
I wholeheartedly believe the mainstream media have an agenda when it comes to this and other radical subjects.
If you can make the cases presented look weak and have a credible name, put up another answer to what is been claimed, then you have a show.
If you can’t find the answers or nobody can debunk what is being presented, then don’t go there.
Simple as that.
One TV company had put up the money for a channel 4 documentary based on The Secret NASA Transmissions. They were booked into a hotel in Laughlin to meet up with Graham and I only to inform us by fax the morning they were due to arrive that they had dropped the show.
Again you might be familiar with the two live shows I did in 1999 and 2000 when pre-programmed, auto-cued film segments failed to appear on the live show.
Work it out for yourself.
MR: Departing from UFOs briefly, I was reading this morning about Richard Hoagland's assertion that the Saturnian moon, Iapetus, might be a huge, 900-mile wide spaceship or space station. He offered some compelling evidence on his website. This is only the latest example of what might be termed exo-archaeology, where images from space probes turn up extraordinary evidence of possibly intelligently-designed artefacts beyond our planet (the Face on Mars being the most famous example). What are your thoughts on this area of research?
RC: I believe Mars has some very old secrets and that it would warrant serious exploration, but again the areas of interest to all the exo-scientists and archaeologists seem to have been avoided by NASA like the plague.
It was told to me by someone who works in Hollywood in the film industry that when NASA were shown the final edit of Mission to Mars (a movie that they were involved in) NASA insisted that some very costly alterations were made to the end sequence of the film before it was put on general release. The movie makers allegedly complied with NASA’s request. Why?
MR: Staying with the ancient relic theme, there have been countless books written about ancient man being visited by aliens. We all know what Erich Von Daniken's thoughts on this are. Do you think that it's possible that we may owe our present state to the ancient intervention of ET 'gods'?
RC: It would not surprise me if we discovered that there was some sort of intervention 7,500 – 10,000 years ago.
The Human race evolved suddenly or so it seems and over the last 150 years or so it seems that a higher level of understanding might well have been also switched on.
MR: Back to more current UFO-related topics. There are a wide range of paranormal phenomena that may or may not be connected with UFOs. I'm thinking of Chupacabras sightings, crop patterns, animal mutilations, even Bigfoot has been associated with UFOs. Do you think these are all related phenomena?
RC: They are all mysteries and everyone on this planet I’m sure loves a mystery.
I don’t think crop circles are created by bigfoot chasing el chuppa through fields of crop while chewing on an unsuspecting cow. But I could accept that they are all part of the same enigma
MR: Graham Birdsall's sudden and tragic passing and the subsequent closure of UFO Magazine has left a large hole in many UFO enthusiast's lives. Gary Heseltine and yourself created UFOMonthly.com to fill that gap. You left for personal reasons, but Gary is doing an excellent job bringing the e-zine to many readers every month. Now you and your partners (Philip Mantle, Tony Barker and Michael Buckley) have created UFOData.co.uk, announcing that on October 1st 2005, Leeds will host an exciting conference entitled The Great British UFO Show. It's good to see the British UFO scene picking itself back up finally. What can you tell us about UFOData.co.uk and the conference especially?
RC: UFO Data was developed to give something back to the UFO community.
Graham was a gifted writer and charismatic person who wasn’t just known around the global UFO community, he was loved by many and respected by many. Why? Because he worked for others. The magazine was a conduit for researchers and enthusiast alike. Graham had time for everyone.
UFO Magazine wasn’t about Graham W Birdsall it was about the UFO subject. UFO Data is based on that premise. We will give people a voice.
Graham taught me well in the way people are handled and you have to be prepared to listen.
The Great British UFO Show is based on the concept of the fantastic International UFO Conferences held in Leeds for over 20 years. Graham developed the format and I worked on the engineering of the event.
Alas we don’t have the old venue, it is now two smaller lecture theatres. It was also hard on the backside. Our chosen venue for this first show is Leeds Rugby Supporters Club. It’s designed for entertainment and it’s comfy.
So if any of your readers would like more info on the event drop me an email firstname.lastname@example.org
And we will send you out the details.
MR: Under the banner of Quest Publications International, UFO Magazine released dozens of videos and DVDs about the UFO subject and footage from the many conferences that Graham Birdsall organised. Are these still available for purchase anywhere?
RC: When Quest Publications closed 27th February 2004, the business was officially wound up and any products associated with the company went also.
However www.ufotv.com is the website run by a friend of mine in the States Tim Crawford. He has the full catalogue available on DVD and a lot more titles readers won’t have seen too. So it’s well worth a look.
MR: With UFOMonthly.com doing well and UFOData.co.uk up and running, along with the conference in October, do you think British ufology has a brighter future than might have appeared a couple of years ago?
RC: The subject has always ridden on waves and it is fair to say since 2001 and 9/11 the interest in the subject was on a downer. However the magazine was closed by Christine even though it was showing signs of growth and that the interest was beginning to grow again.
She closed the magazine for personal reasons, nothing else. Her husband had died suddenly and she was empty. I respect that choice, her world had just gone and her life was never going to be the same again.
People must remember this was a family affair we were all close to each other and not only did Christine lose a husband but daughters lost their father and grand daughter her grandfather.
So it’s wrong for others to judge.
I would have continued with the magazine but it was not what Christine wanted.
Is the subject on a crest? Well Hollywood has its latest offering, War of the Worlds, out in a few days and the hype is starting.
There is an interest in the subject that is growing, [but] for how long? Who knows?
I and my colleagues will do our best to keep those interested informed and what’s more it’s all free.
MR: Thanks for your time and all the best with The Great British UFO Show on October 1st. Perhaps I'll see you there!
Back To Top
Updated 3rd October 2005