Perthshire Object (Coupar Angus / Blairgowrie; 1767)

Sid

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#1
A while ago, I came across this early report from '1767' - thought Forteana readers might find it a fascinating report from this period.

File is an extract from:

Rense.com
Gettysburg UFOs Photographed -
UFO Hovers Over Man's
Georgia Home
George A. Filer <[email protected]>
Director - Mutual UFO Network Eastern
MUFON Skywatch Investigations
http://www.filersfiles.com
Filer's Files #34
8-29-00

(* Denotes up-to-date names)

[SCOTLAND UFO REPORT FROM THE YEAR 1767

'Ilias Chrissochoidis' writes, "As a doctoral student in the Humanities, I've been spending much time reading 18th-century British periodicals. In one of them I have found a report of an unexplained phenomenon. I leave it to your judgment and experience to decide its merits as a UFO sighting. Extract of a letter from Edinburgh, Sept. 8, 1767 follows:

"We hear from Perthsire (*Perthshire), that an uncommon phaenomenon was observed on the water of Isla (* River Isla), near Cupor Angus (* Coupar Angus), preceded by a thick dark smoke, which soon dispelled, and discovered a large luminous body, like a house on fire, but presently after took a form something pyramidal, and rolled forwards with impetuosity till it came to the water of Erick ( * River Ericht), up which river it took its direction, with great rapidity, and disappeared a little above Blairgowrie.

The effects were as extraordinary as the appearance. In its passage, it carried a large cart many yards over a field of grass; a man riding along the high road was carried from his horse, and so stunned with the fall, as to remain senseless a considerable time. It destroyed one half of a house, and left the other behind, undermined and destroyed an arch of the new bridge building at Blairgowrie, immediately after which it disappeared. As few appearances of this kind ever were attended with like consequences, various conjectures have been formed concerning it.

Thanks to Ilias Chrissochoidis Ph.D. candidate Stanford University.]
 

feinman

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#2
Interesting! When I was going through the newspapers I ran into various fireballs and luminous flaming phenomena, and you can even see some ancient records of such things in the "Book of Miracles". I did run into a sighting of an object that looked like a ship on fire seen broadside which was moving on the surface of the water. I suspect all of these are natural phenomena.
 

Comfortably Numb

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#3
A while ago, I came across this early report from '1767' - thought Forteana readers might find it a fascinating report from this period.
Oh yes, thank you!

Not one I'm come across before.

My kind of 'old schoo'l UFO report, where all hell breaks loose!
 

Comfortably Numb

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#4
Follow up;

"The letter was written by a man in Edinburgh for the ‘The Annual Register: A view of the history, politics and literature for the year’ – a digest of all things of interest for the Georgian gentleman – recounting a tale he had heard from a man in Coupar Angus".

So... second hand and possibly more than..

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.da...terious-east-perthshire-uncovered-2736887.amp


The Daily Record's transcript reads:

"...and disappeared above Blairgowrie'.

No mentioned of, "with great rapidity"?

Anyway, terrific early anecdote, even if perhaps something of a tale which has grown in the telling!
 

Sid

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#5
Follow up;

"The letter was written by a man in Edinburgh for the ‘The Annual Register: A view of the history, politics and literature for the year’ – a digest of all things of interest for the Georgian gentleman – recounting a tale he had heard from a man in Coupar Angus".

So... second hand and possibly more than..

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.da...terious-east-perthshire-uncovered-2736887.amp


The Daily Record's transcript reads:

"...and disappeared above Blairgowrie'.

No mentioned of, "with great rapidity"?

Anyway, terrific early anecdote, even if perhaps something of a tale which has grown in the telling!
'Comfortably Numb:'
I have also noticed that in this report it states, that it [was observed on the water of Isla (* River Isla), near Cupor Angus (* Coupar Angus) till it came to the water of Erick ( * River Ericht), up which river it took its direction, with great rapidity, and disappeared a little above Blairgowrie.]
The distance that the object would have to have travelled along the river Ericht is some 4 miles. But then you have to add on the distance from where it was first observed, as it states 'until (till) it came to the water of Isla,' which strongly suggests to me that it was observed some time before it actually touched down 'on the water of Isla' - plus the fact that the river Ericht enters the Isla at an 90 degree angle, so this seems to give validation that whatever this object was, it must have been a 'man'(?)oeuevrable steerable UFO! So I guess that would rule-out any thoughts of it possibly being a meteorite as it had to make that 90 degree turn...
Unless... the account of what was reported to have happened is interpreted in another way - as, if the object was crossing/moving over, or followed a line along or over both of these rivers as well as over land? The fact that 'in its passage, it carried a large cart many yards over a field of grass,' and 'a man riding along the high road was carried from his horse,' and also 'destroyed one half of a house and undermined and destroyed an arch of the new bridge building,' could all be interpreted as being within it's flight path.
 
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EnolaGaia

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#6
... Unless... the account of what was reported to have happened is interpreted in another way - as, if the object was crossing/moving over, or followed a line along or over both of these rivers as well as over land? The fact that 'in its passage, it carried a large cart many yards over a field of grass,' and 'a man riding along the high road was carried from his horse,' and also 'destroyed one half of a house and undermined and destroyed an arch of the new bridge building,' could all be interpreted as being within it's flight path.
This interpretation occurred to me, too. I don't see anything at all within the letter's text to clearly indicate the object was airborne. Its path is described in terms suggesting it followed the rivers' courses, and the "above Blairgowrie" bit connotes "upstream from Blairgowrie" just as readily as it suggests "in the sky over Blairgowrie."
 

Sid

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#7
This interpretation occurred to me, too. I don't see anything at all within the letter's text to clearly indicate the object was airborne. Its path is described in terms suggesting it followed the rivers' courses, and the "above Blairgowrie" bit connotes "upstream from Blairgowrie" just as readily as it suggests "in the sky over Blairgowrie."
'EnolaGaia:' I think that the original report that was written back in 1767 seems to have honed-in on stitching together each individual occurrence, as they were gathered together to complete the finished version of the 'full' report, which seems to make sense when considering the period, presumably I imagine, as it would have taken quite a while before all the individual pieces of information/individual witness accounts could be brought together in one complete account of what had actually taken place.

I thought it might be an interesting exercise to dissect the initial 1767 report using today's equivalent descriptive way's that would be used to describe the appearance, and actions of such an object, as follows...

An uncommon phaenomena has been recorded.
First observer/s noticed a thick dark smoke above the surface of the River Isla which soon cleared. As the dense smoke cleared, they noticed what is described as a 'mirror like object' which gave them the illusion of it as being on fire. The object soon took on a pyramidal form, and began to roll forward at speed until it met with the junction of the river Ericht, one of the Isla's main tributary's.
The object swiftly continued on it's way moving up and along the river Ericht eventually disappearing just above the bridge in Blarigowrie.
The verbal reports from various witnesses of this objects journey along the river, had been previously unheard of. On route, it is reported to have tossed a large cart a number yards across a field of grass, met up with a gentleman out riding his horse along the high road, throwing him from his horse for a significant period of time he was made senseless by the severity of his fall.
On it's journey along the river, it also took-out half of a house leaving the other half still standing, then slammed into and destroyed one arch of the new Blairgowrie bridge building before eventually disappearing from view.

Few encounters of this kind have previously been heard of with such consequences. Much speculation has since emerged.
 
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EnolaGaia

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#8
'EnolaGaia:' I think that the original report that was written back in 1767 seems to have honed-in on stitching together each individual occurrence, as they were gathered together to complete the finished version of the 'full' report, which seems to make sense when considering the period, presumably I imagine, as it would have taken quite a while before all the individual pieces of information/individual witness accounts could be brought together in one complete account of what had actually taken place. ...
I'm sure the letter of 8 September represented a collection of vignettes associated with the time of the incident, lumped together as if coming from a single source. There's no telling how much time passed between the alleged incident and the letter. There's also no way to ascertain how many different persons' reports were blended into the letter's account of the sighting(s), and there's no way to confirm that any of these vignettes were actually associated with the observed whatever-it-was.
 

EnolaGaia

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#9
Attention to the 1767 Perthshire sighting didn't begin with Chrissochoidis' report in 2000.

The 1767 Annual Register item on this incident was cited (though somewhat paraphrased rather than strictly quoted) in Ivan Sanderson's 1970 book Invisible Residents.

Sanderson's book was cited as a source within the UFO listings on thecid.com, which cursorily summarizes the incident in terms not evident in the 1767 accounts at all:
In September 1767 - Isla Nr Cupar, UK
In September 1767 :
Isla Nr Cupar, UK

Physiological effects.

Angel hair was found. Physiological effects were reported. One object was observed by several witnesses at a lake. A noise was heard.
Hynek rating: CE2
Vallee rating: CE5
SOURCE: https://thecid.com/ufo/uf08/uf5/085906.htm

I cannot locate any reference to these different claims (angel hair; physiological effects, lake location, or noise) in any of the 4 sources listed for this entry.
 

blessmycottonsocks

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#10
The smoke and destructive effect made me think of cannon fire.
Given that this account was a mere 20 years or so after the Jacobite rebellion and that elements of resistance carried on well after the battle of Culloden, is it feasible that a small band of rogue Jacobites with a salvaged cannon, took a potshot or two at the castle over the river, which had become a symbol of British rule?
 

maximus otter

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#11
Here's the area from Google Maps. The River Ericht flows through Blairgowrie from NW to SE:



James Dorret's map of 1750:



Here's the area from the Ordnance Survey Six Inch series, 1843-1882:



maximus otter
 

EnolaGaia

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#12
The noise (cannon fire) angle BMCS brings up relates to the explanation that IMHO seems to best fit the largest number of fragmentary bits comprising the story as it was specifically related in writing in the September 1767 letter.

Here are some key points from the letter's own text and / or background facts, some of which I tracked down from local historical accounts:

- The earliest observations are related as occurring "on the water of Isla" at Coupar Angus.

- The final observation is related as occurring at or "above" Blairgowrie.

- There's little or no chance any individual observer witnessed the entire incident from start to finish (including the cart, house, and rider bits).

- None of the 3 auxiliary effects (cart, house, and rider) occurred upon the river(s) per se, but on land (i.e., the house site, the high road, and wherever the cart was sitting).

- We are given no clues as to where these 3 auxiliary effects occurred, meaning they could well have occurred anywhere in the local countryside between or surrounding Coupar Angus and Blairgowrie. They could have occurred in close proximity to each other or at widely separated locations.

- Nowhere does the text claim these three auxiliary effects resulted from direct impacts with the object, and none of these three incidents are claimed to have been witnessed as they occurred (save for the thrown rider's first-person testimony, such as it's related ... ).

- With the possible exception of the rider's experience, the cart / house / bridge incidents' descriptions could well represent post hoc explanations rather than realtime observations.

- The object resolved or emerged from smoke.

- The object was described as "pyramidal" - implying a polyhedral or irregular shape with apparent vertices.

- The object was "luminous".[1]

- The object "rolled". That's it; that's all. Nowhere does the text claim it "rolled upon" (the ground or the rivers' surfaces).

- There was no (finished; functional) bridge spanning the Ericht at Blairgowrie until 1777 (ten years later). This was apparently the "original bridge" repaired in the first decade of the 1800's owing to flood damage and completely replaced when destroyed by floods in the 1840's. The few references I can find for this "original bridge" suggest it was a rubble-filled arched span similar to the other substantial bridges in the area.

- This "original bridge" was built by local subscription prior to the period during which there was a widespread military bridge building campaign in the region.

- This "original bridge" would have been in a quite rudimentary stage of development ten years prior to its completion.

- It's unclear whether the "immediate disappearance" upon damaging the bridge under construction means (a) the object spontaneously vanished versus (b) the object simply traveled onward until lost to view.

- The letter containing what was probably a compiled collection of observations and claims was dated 8 September and sent from Edinburgh. Considering the time necessary to collect the story's tidbits, convey them somehow from Perthshire to Edinburgh, and finally write the letter it's anybody's guess when the incident actually occurred. It would probably have been days - or conceivably even weeks - prior to 8 September.

[1] This clearly contradicts UFO accounts referring to the object as "silver" and Sid's (admittedly creative) reinterpretation of it as being "mirror-like." "Luminous" does not mean "shiny" - it means "shining" (as in glowing, giving off light, incandescent, self-illuminated).
This story has sometimes been treated as a USO incident, as if the object arose from the River Isla and traveled on or along the Isla and Ericht watercourses. This surface level elevation and riverine path are consistent with the letter's opening statement the phenomenon was "observed on the water of Isla." This phrasing has been pretty consistently treated as if it meant the phenomenon emerged / appeared and traveled within, upon, or in very close proximity to the rivers.

However, there's another defensible interpretation of the phrase "observed on the water of Isla" - i.e., that it refers to the earliest observer's / observers' position(s) and vantage point(s) rather than the location of the object itself. "On the water" could have meant the earliest observers were fishing on the river. In a more figurative sense, it could have meant they were at or adjacent to the river.

I suspect the letter describes a meteor associated with the recurring Perseid, Kappa Cygnid, or Aurigid showers. It was first observed from somewhere adjacent to the River Isla near Coupar Angus, and was subsequently viewed as tracking northwestward as if following the River Ericht. The descending meteor had an initial smoky / dusty trail from which an incandescent irregular shape emerged and was observed to tumble in flight.

I suspect the cart, house, rider, and bridge effects resulted from a sonic boom or airborne concussive blast caused by the meteor breaking up. (I've witnessed such booms; they do indeed resemble the cannon fire BMCS mentioned.) For example:

- The house half-collapsed;
- The cart was shaken into rolling a short distance; and ...
- The fragile still-being-constructed proto-arch of the bridge simply collapsed [2] in response to an abrupt vibrational shock.

The rider may have been thrown in response to this hypothetical boom, but it could also have resulted from the sight of a prominent meteor / bolide passing overhead (e.g., spooking his horse).

[2] I suspect the letter's use of the term "undermined" is a red herring representing the reasonable impression one may retain from hearing about something collapsing rather than being visibly impacted - i.e., it must have been destabilized from below.
Finally ... There's indeed a remarkable aspect to this otherwise mundane hypothetical interpretation ... It would mean the 1767 meteor's fall bore a close resemblance to a proven meteor (with meteorites recovered) following a very similar track 150 years later in 1917:

https://www.nms.ac.uk/explore-our-collections/stories/natural-world/strathmore-meteorite/
 
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#13
I'd suggest that what was described was not a meteor, but a tornado, which would account for people and objects being 'carried' and the damage to the bridge. For some of its track, it was apparently over water - taking on waterspout-like characteristics, it would have created the impression of 'dense smoke' seen over the river. And it assumed the shape of a pyramid - perhaps an inverted one, but no matter: tornadoes which are broad at the base and narrow aloft are not unknown.

The fiery, mirror-like appearance? Well, that could be down to illumination of the condensation funnel by the sun.

Difficult to know of course at this distance in time and given the very different perspective of an eighteenth-century observer.
 

Ermintruder

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#14
(I've missed this thread until now, and, until reading it, was totally-unaware of this reported incident).

I've walked the banks of the River Ericht many times: Blairgowrie and the whole of Strathmore are beautiful parts of the country, with Blair itself being a frequent starting-point for the challenging Cataran Trail.

As well as the intriguing nature of the incident itself, I'm interested in all the comments about bridges over the Ericht (as well as in Blairgowrie itself). I need to re-read the thread content and references above, but just to add a wee bit of context, here's a local video of the (now gone) Kitty Swanson's Bridge, a few miles upstream from the main Blair bridge (at Blairgowrie itself, the Ericht becomes a massive raging torrent)


I'd suggest that what was described was not a meteor, but a tornado
This is a very-intriguing comment. Oddly, the only place in Scotland where I've seen mini ground twisters & dust-devils has been Blair & Rattray. Possibly a complete coincidence.....but....maybe not
 
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#15
If it was a tornado, it wasn't a 'mini' one because it apparently caused substantial structural damage. If the bridge was of light construction like the one in the video, that wouldn't be a big deal: but if it was the main bridge in Blairgowrie (new in the 18th century), that's of rubble-stone construction and would imply a tornado of EF2 or EF3 intensity - very rare in the UK.

https://canmore.org.uk/site/28746/blairgowrie-bridge
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fujita_scale
 

EnolaGaia

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#16
If it was a tornado, it wasn't a 'mini' one because it apparently caused substantial structural damage. If the bridge was of light construction like the one in the video, that wouldn't be a big deal: but if it was the main bridge in Blairgowrie (new in the 18th century), that's of rubble-stone construction and would imply a tornado of EF2 or EF3 intensity - very rare in the UK. ...
As I noted earlier, the original main (stone) bridge in Blairgowrie was almost certainly under construction at the time of the incident (it didn't open until a decade later).

If the foundation was still incomplete, it may have relied upon (e.g.) scaffolding or other less substantive means to remain erect. My point is that there's a good chance any force that caused a collapse in 1767 needn't have been sufficient to bring down the finished structure.
 
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#17
Sorry, I was getting over-excited! I clearly didn't read your post carefully enough, and you're quite right that a bridge under construction would have been vulnerable to a much lesser amount of force. The link I posted mentions upward extensions to the bridge to form 'refuges' - they could well have been constructed of something other than stone, and if they had been or were being built at the time they could have been the weakest parts of the structure.

'Half a house' could mean anything of course (a house of straw, a huff and a puff and that's it), so although I still think a tornado is a good candidate here, I doubt it was as significant as I suggested.
 

EnolaGaia

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#18
I actually like the tornado hypothesis quite a bit.

The tornado scenario may require some further explanation or stretching to accommodate the "pyramidal" and "rolling" aspects of the published description.

On the other hand, it avoids having to assume the mystery object was airborne / aloft.

This story has been repeated / regurgitated many times over the years, and its allegedly quoted presentations don't always match. I take Chrissochoidis' version (cited earlier) to be the most accurate reflection of the 1767 account's exact phrasing, because it was gathered in the course of scholarly research and it's the only version I've seen that explicitly claims to be quoting the 1767 source.

I mention this because the Chrissochoidis version doesn't ever mention anything clearly indicating the mystery object was overhead or aloft.
 
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