Monday, 15 February 2010

Great smelly balls of fire...

We have just received a book; The Pseudo-Meteoric Events of The British Isles, from its author, James D. Robinson.

A couple of years ago, Mr Robinson got in touch asking if we knew anything about a supposed meteor falling in Copinsay in the 1670s. After much trawling of the archives, we eventually found a passage in James Wallace's Description of The Orkney Isles which was published in 1693:

"...some few years hence, some fishermen, fishing half a league from land, over against Copinsha, in a fair day, there fell down from the air a stone about the size of a football, which fell in the midst of the boat, and sprang a leak in it, to the great hazard of the lives of the men who were in it, which could be no other but some substance generated in the clouds. The stone was like condensed or petrified clay..."

This event sounds quite alarming until you read the terrifying entry for Widecombe in the moor. Here, the congregation of St Pancreas Church noticed the skies darkening so quickly and so completely, they could no longer read their hymn books. Suddenly, ball lightning entered the church through a window bringing with it a pungent smell described as 'brimstone.' The lightning proceeded to move about the church igniting hair, flesh and clothing and causing much distress. Lime and sand were torn from the walls and the pulpit was ripped asunder. One woman was so badly injured that she required an amputation and more than a few of the congregation died either after the event or during. Sir Richard Reynolds had "his scull rent into three pieces and his brains thrown entire backwards into the next seat behind him."

If you too enjoy reading about horrifying destruction caused by inexplicable natural phenomena, then this book shall be available to view once it has been suitably catalogued. Is there a Dewey decimal number for gory weather?

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