Russian Fireball Weirdness, 1663 March 8, 2014Author: Beach Combing | in : Uncategorized
Really, UFOs are so often so boring. How many times does the mother ship of the Krill turn out to be a dead mosquito smudged on the kitchen window? But every so often a sighting comes along where you think: what on earth (or rather in the sky)… There follows one of the very best dating back to 1663 and the Russian Empire and Robozero (Vologda Province). I’ve included the English and the Russian in the hope that the translation can be improved or at least checked. This letter apparently first appeared in print in 1842 in Akty istoricheskie, sobranye i izdanye 4 1645-1676, 331-332. Subsequently Yury Roszius claims to have found the original letter which was photographed and published in Aura-Z 4 (1994), 10. I have not checked any of these references, they all come from Bullard’s The Myth and Mystery of UFOs (a fine volume that goes into the psychology of sightings): 122-123. A crucial point is the exact date of the letter as opposed to the event: there is some muttering online about early eighteenth century, that would be important and worrying. The translation below with some very few silent changes comes from Ausbeck and Vallee via Wonders in the Sky 215-217. The Russian is the original.
It would be so great to patronisingly write this off as some Russian hill-billies who had been in their Orthodox church thinking about Mary a little too long. But, the nineteenth-century publication and the original letter suggest that the only real danger is any fantasy prone tendencies of the author of the letter. If we assume that the account is a confused description of a natural phenomenon… Well, you see for yourself.
To His Highness the Archimandrite Nikita, to His Eminence the Starets Paul, to their Highnesses the Starets of St. Cyril Monastery, Most Venerable lords, salutations from your humble servant Ivachko Rievskoi. The farmer Levka Fedorov, from the village of Mys of Antusheva of your monastery estate Losy, has related to me the following facts: On this Saturday, the 15th day of August of the year 7171 [since creation i.e. 1663], the faithful from the district of Bieloziero, Robozero volost [administrative region], had assembled in great number in the church of the village of Robozero, in the present holyday of Assumption of the Virgin Mary. While they were inside, a great sound arose in the heavens and numerous people came out of God’s house to watch it from the square. There, Levka Fedorov, the farmer in question, was among them and witnessed what follows, which, for him, was a sign from God. At noon, a large ball of fire came down over Robozero, arriving from the clearest part of the cloudless heavens [what would be the clearest part of a cloudless heaven?]. It came from the direction whence winter comes [i.e. north], and it moved toward midday [i.e. south] along the lake passing over water surface. The ball of fire measured some 140 ft from one edge to the other and over the same distance, ahead of it [not behind it?], two ardent (burning?) rays extended. The people seeing the terror of God gathered in the church and prayed to God and the Blessed Virgin, with tears and crying, and the big fire and two smaller ones disappeared. [did they fly away or just vanish?] Less than an hour later, the people again came out to the square and the same fire suddenly reappeared over the same lake, from the same place where it first disappeared. It darted from the south to the west and must have been 1500 ft away when it disappeared [so the ball just vanished rather than going away?]. But it appeared, in a short while, back again, from another place, moving this time to the west; the third time the same fireball appeared more terrific in width [so it grew], and disappeared, having moved to the west, and it had been remaining over Robozero, over water, for an hour and a half. And the length of the lake is about 7000 ft, and the width is 3500 ft. As the fireball was coming over water, peasants who were in their boat on the lake followed it, and the fire burned them by the heat, not allowing them to get closer. The waters of the lake were illuminated to their greatest depth of 30 ft and the fish swam away to the shore, they [the people?] all saw that. And where the fireball came, the water seemed to be covered with rust under the reddish light; it was then scattered by the wind and the water became clean again. And I, your humble servant, sent a message to the priests in Robozero district, exactly for this reason, and they responded to me with a letter confirming that they had such sign in that day. And you, most Venerable lords, would know about this. And this Robozero district is about 6 miles away from Antusheva village of your monastery estate Losa.
Государю архимандриту Никите, государю старцу Матфею, государю келарю старцу Павлу, и государем старцом соборным Кирилова монастыря, ваш, государи, работничек Ивашко Ржевской, Августа в … день, челом бъет. Вашие, государи, монастырские вотчины Лозы, села Антушева, деревни Мысу крестьянин Левка Федоров сказывал мне: в нынешнем де во 171 году [т.е. в 7171 “от сотворения мира” или в 1663 по современному] Августа в 15 день, в субботу, Белозерского уезду, Робозерския волости, розных поместий и вотчин, стояли де они у обедни у приходцкие церкви в настоящий праздник Успения пречистыя Богородицы, приходцкие тое церкви и околных волостей люди, многой народ; и как де учали молебен петь, и в то время от небеси учинился шум велик, и многие люди из церкви на паперть вышли, а он де Левка стоял тут же на паперти и видел Божие посещение: с зимнюю сторону, от светла небеси, не из облаку, вышел огнь велик на Робозеро и шел на полдень, вдоль озера над водою, во все стороны сажен по двадцати и более, а по сторону того пламени дым синь, а впереди его сажен за двадцать шли два луча огненные ж; и народ де видя страх Божий, собрались в церковь и молились Господу Богу и пречистой его Матери, со слезами и с плачем, и того де великого пламени и двух малых не стало; и минув де мал час, как народ вышел в другой пяд на паперть, то ж де огненное пламя в другой ряд появилось над озером, от того места где сперва скрылось, с полудни на запад с полверсты, тем же образом, да и померкло; и после того в мале ж де времени, от того другого места, столко ж к западу подався, в третье тот же огнь явился страшние перваго широтою, и поник сшед на запад; а стоял де тот огнь над Робозером над водою часа с полтора, а того де озера вдоль две версты, а поперег с версту; а как де тот огнь над водою шел, и за тем огнем невейгласи обстрашились, ехали в лодке крестьяне, и от того де огня пламенем опаляло, близ не подпустило; а в озере де и до дна свет был в болшей глубине, среди озера сажени четыре дно, и рыба от пламени как в берег бежит все они видели; и которым де местом огнь шел, и то место воду палило, аки ржавец поверху воды, и ветром по озеру разнесло, стала де вода по прежнему.
Of course, the very great value of this is that we have an apparent case of something in the sky long before modern UFO mythology sank its fangs into the west’s overtaxed jugular. Perhaps as interesting is the fact that this description isn’t much good for the Virgin or Peter the Great or Slav emancipation or any other late seventeenth-century Russian obsessions. I would like to say meteorite, but unless there are badly garbled memories here this was not a meteorite. The boat-folk being burnt as they went close to the fiery ball, the size… They are all wrong. My next gambit would be ball lightning but you read the description and just give up. What on earth was happening? Drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT comBeach Combing | in : Uncategorized
Today’s post on medieval robots. 1) Viking Massacre in Dorset: fascinating that they seemed to have been second-class 2) Arabs Ate Lizards? Don’t tell the Emir 3) Hating Andrew Jackson: early polemics 4) Humans Shaping Forests 11000 Years Ago? Pre the Neolithic Revolution… 5) The Dark Side of Vesuvius: Away from Pompeii 6) The Vibratorium: […]
Brazen Heads and Medieval Robots? March 7, 2014Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern
In the Middle Ages there emerged two kinds of artificial humans into the Christian imagination: the real thing needs, unfortunately, to be dismissed with Aztec jet planes and Pharonic nuclear bombs. First there were moving statues, brass and gold figures that were somtimes found guarding treasure hordes or, what might loosely be called, fairyland. These […]
History Roundup 30: including Stonehenge as Glockenspiel March 6, 2014Author: Beach Combing | in : Uncategorized
Today’s post on fairies and arson… 1) Stoneghenge is a Glockenspiel: stone xylophone? 2) English Sense of Humour Viking? NO! 3) Ancient Greek Theatre and Climate: did it rain on the spectators? 4) Stone Age Irish Finds: Excarnation? 5) Egg in Pot: Ritual in Archaeology 6) Man vs Neanderthal: on the Danube? 7) More on […]
Fairies, Arson and Banknotes in Co. Donegal March 6, 2014Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
One of the great things about fairies in traditional communities is that they make for the perfect alibi. If someone pushes down the landlord’s fence then, of course, it was the fairies that did it. If a man is a beaten out walking along a midnight lane then the fairies did it. If a boy […]
History Roundup 29: including God Food March 5, 2014Author: Beach Combing | in : Uncategorized
Today’s Beachcombing post is on WW2 magic 1) God Food: ambrose et alia 2) How Not to Commit A Perfect Murder: c. 1880 3) Nazi Jet Plane: thank god not around in 1940 4) What Really Happened to the Library of Alexandria: blame Caesar! 5) 1879 UFO?: over New York 6) Did Neanderthals Talk: or […]
Jasper Maskelyne and Magic Machine Guns in WW2 March 5, 2014Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
***Dedicated to Moon Man who put me onto Jasper Maskelyne*** Jasper Maskelyne is a fascinating character from the ranks of fighting WW2 Britons. A stage magician, he found himself in the Royal Engineers at the start of the War and gave himself over to camouflage work. His book, Magic Top Secret (1949), which I’m itching […]
History Roundup 28: Nazis in LA March 4, 2014Author: Beach Combing | in : Uncategorized
And look out for today’s post on ‘confused paternity‘ 1) Abandoned Nazi Site in Hills of LA: ‘all rainbowy’ 2) Roman House in Arezzo: Tuscany, Italy 3) Live Like Lenin, Be Buried Like Hitler: Mausoleum 4) Sacrificial Altar: Neolithic Chinese city 5) Buried Treasure at Point Dume: Spanish gold? 6) Teaching Colonialism: 1940s Boardgame 7) […]
Whose Child? March 4, 2014Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Modern
The machinery of human reproduction means that (save in exceptional circumstances) there may be doubt about the father, but there can be no question as to a baby’s mother. But the whole doubt about the father thing is a serious issue, particularly if you live in a society where blood lines are taken seriously. This […]
History Roundup 27: Alcatraz’s Hidden History March 3, 2014Author: Beach Combing | in : Uncategorized
And look out for today’s post on Indian mapmaking 1) Hidden History at Alcatraz: beneath the prison… 2) Second Oldest Church in Germany: early medieval… 3) In Search of Broadmoor: Victorian Mental Hospital 4) Apocalypse Now: from Taoism to Nuclear War 5) Women can be taught!: wonderful stuff… 6) When the Chinese Didn’t Discover […]
American Indian Map Making: A Rare Talent? March 3, 2014Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
Mapmaking is often seen as a modern, even a western preoccupation. But, of course, map-making, albeit with rather different rules, has existed in other cultures from the earliest times. This is true even in hunter-gatherer societies where permanent records are slighter and more difficult to achieve. After all, the hunter-gatherer depends more on knowledge of […]
McConnel’s Passing: An At Death Encounter? March 2, 2014Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
11 December 1918 was a sad day in the McConnel family. Eighteen-year-old David McConnel (aka M’Connel in some publications) had perished four days before in a plane crash: just three months after the end of the worst war in history, at a time when his family might reasonably have hoped that he would be safe. Flying from […]
Beachcombed 45 March 1, 2014Author: Beach Combing | in : Beachcombed
A fairly pleasant month has been overshadowed by internet service has exploding in my corner of the Italian countryside. So as most of this has been tapped out on a phone must be brief. Thanks particularly to all those who sent links in for the roundups. None of those for a couple of days while internet […]
History Roundup 27: The Oldest Cheese and the Tarim Mummy February 28, 2014Author: Beach Combing | in : Uncategorized
Note that in Feburary, as an experiment, we’ll be releasing history links roundup most days at 12.00 GMT. If you want the proper post on the index biography (still no winner). On a much more serious note our internet provider is down and will likely be a for a few days. Expect service to be intermittent […]
The Index Biography #4: Prize = A Good Book February 28, 2014Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
***It took 15 hours but KR got it: for answer scroll down*** The Index Biography is a new form of biography pioneered by this blog and introduced in a previous post. The creator must find a biography of a famous individual from history, they must turn to the index and write down eight peripheral facts about […]