A Recent Skywatch at Warminster
John Harney

From Merseyside UFO Bulletin, Volume 2, Number 6, November-December 1969

On the evening of January 3, 1970, Alan Sharp and I attended the regular Saturday night skywatch on Cradle Hill, Warminster. The night was frosty, but cloudy at first, with only a few stars visible now and again.

As we reached the gate, we could hear the party of watchers walking towards us down the road from the guardhouse. Mr Shuttlewood car came over and spoke to us and we asked him about the significance of the spot known as Heaven’s Gate, on the Longleat estate. He told us that one of the usual “breaking points” for Cradle Hill UFOs (i.e., the part of the sky in which they first appear) was on a line with Heaven’s Gate. He repeated his opinion that it night be a place where different dimensions meet. (1) It was also reputed to be the meeting place of an all-male coven of witches. Three was some talk of strange smells and atmospheres noticed by observers on Cradle Hill and at Heaven’s Gate.

Eventually most of us, including Mr Shuttlewood, set off up the road to the guardhouse As we passed the copse on our left we were told that horses refused to go near it. We continued to walk for a few hundred yards on to the ranges. On our way back we decided to investigate the copse. An undentified odour was noticed immediately we entered it and after much sniffing, Alan Sharp traced it to a barrn full of hay, just outside the copse. With that little mystery solved we resumed our walk back to the gate where the cars were parked.

By now, the sky was clearing and Arthur Shuttlewood told us to watch the Plough, which was behind us as we walked down the road. We walked on, glancing back now and again, but Arthur hung back and was soon lost to view. Suddenly, when we were about half-way to the gate, there was an outbreak of exclamations from members of the party. A bright, flickering, orange light was seen from somewhere up near the Cradle Hill copse. Most of us saw it. One or two people leapt over the barbed wire fence and raced off in its general direction.

“It’s like somebody lighting a cigarette,” I said. Someone else said it looked like “rapid Morse”.

People shouted to Arthur, asking if he had seen it. An affirmative answer floated faintly back on the frosty air. However, when he rejoined us he said he thought at first that we had seen what he had seen, which was an object moving horizontally across the lower part of the Plough. The object was something like a shooting star, except that it flashed on and off.

Meanwhile, people were scrambling over the barbed wire fence and running up to the Cradle Fill copse. Less energetic watchers strolled down to the gate. I eventually joined the party up by the copse. The sky was quite clear now and many meteors were seen. The strange light was generally agreed to have been someone lighting a cigarette.

We were told that, before we arrived that evening, a strong smell of sulphur was noticed on Cradle Hi11, near the gate. It seemed to be wafting from the direction of the copse and it persisted for about a quarter of an hour. We were unable to explain this odour, as we had also been baffled by the experience of John Rimmer, when he and I visited Warminster last September. On that occasion he became aware of a smell, “like scented soap,’ which he detected on Cradle Kill in an area extending from the gate to about 80 yards down the road. The strange thing about it was that not one of the other people present was able to detect it.

Finally, back at the gate, the skywatch seemed to be coming quietly to a close, as the frost grew more penetrating. Mr Shuttlewood shook hands and said goodnight. Suddenly he turned and pointed: “Look, over therel”

“Where, where?” everyone shouted.

Our gaze was directed to Battlesbury Hill where we made out a faint light twinkling just above it. Mr Shuttlewood and some others thought it was noving up rather rapidly. Perhaps it was the same thing as a rather puzzling object which had been seen in the same direction during a BUFORA skywatch last June? However, the light soon shone out clearly and steadily and Alan Sharp quickly identified it as the star Arcturus.

Mr Shuttlewood conceded this, but it certainly seemed to some of us that it rose rather rapidly at first over the crest of Battlesbury. As the star rose higher, the group of watchers broke up and drifted away down the hill.


1. Arthur Shuttlewood. ‘The Latest Warminster Landing’, Merseyside UFO Bulletin, vol. 2, no. 4, July-August 1969/



Our Visit to Warminster.
Dave and Natalie Gould

from Merseyside UFO Bulletin, volume 3, number 6, December 1970

MUFOB’s interest in the Warminster phenomena drew this contribution from two visitors to the little town, who give an interesting account of the skywatching scene on Cradle Hill

After reading various literature on Warminster we decided to spend several days there.We were lucky in that the weather was good and our first night took us to the famed Cradle Hill, where we joined a couple from London. We watched the sky for most of the evening, but apart from a couple of satellites, saw nothing of note. We did however have a very interesting conversation with the Londoners, who, it transpired, were fortunate enough to be present several weeks previously, when some very good photographs were taken of a sighting. They did, in fact, show us some blown-up prints of these photographs, which were most impressive. They were later published in Flying Saucer Review.

During the days whilst we were in Warminster, we visited various places of prehistoric intcrest, and walked up endless hills, such as Clay Hill, Glastonbury Tor, Windmill Hill, and even Cadbury Hill.

We found it a most intriguing idea that many sightings appeared to follow lines of alignment between tors and/or barrows. This theory appeared to be generally accepted by the local crowd, and we began by day to investigate certain barrows.

cradle-hillThe second night was again cloudless. But apart from the usual satellites and a couple of shooting stars it was an uneventful evening.The next evening on Cradle Hill there were several new faces and much exchanging of news and experiences. At about 9.30 p.m. we saw our first UFO. It was boomerang-shaped and very large, and had five white lights spaced along its length. Not a sound came from it, though it was reasonably low. It moved parallel to Cradle Hill, and after about half a minute banked to the right and went out of sight. It was most eerie having no sounds particularly as a few minutes earlier we distinctly heard the sound of a plane which we saw as a speck in the far distanice.Shortly after this we were joined by Arthur Shuttlewood, who arrived just in time to see a large white object race across from east to west.

On the Friday before we left there was quite a crowd gathered on the Hill. There were several of our new acquaintances of previous evenings — Bob Strong, Arthur Shuttlewood and his group, plus twenty-odd Scouts from Swindon, and some BUFORA observers.

Two or three objects were sighted — but not with complete certainty were they thought to be UFOs. However Arthur Shuttlewood, who was situated in a much better position than most of us, claimed them to be definite sightings. The Scouts seemed impressed anyway.On our final evening there was a good crowd, mostly regulars. Two very good sightings were observed by everyone except us. We just seemed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time; as many of us were walking up and down the road, talking.

We found our few days in Warminster most informative. Arthur Shuttlewood seemed a nice, genuine person. It was interesting speaking to people of their experiences regarding poltergeist activitiesq strange smells, ghostly footsteps and stories of witchcraft, all connected with the area.



Arthur Shuttlewood’s “Warnings from Flying Friends”
A Book Review by John Harney

Warnings from Flying Friends Arthur Shuttlewood, Portway Press, Warminster, 1968

A review by John Harney

“UFOs not Bourgeois Journalist Fabrications”, “Young Drug-Takers Groped and Grovelled”, “Earth Time is Desperately Short – Warning”, “Anatomy of a Holocaust — and Dying Fishes”

These are some of the exciting chapter headings in the second UFO book to come from the inimitable pen of Mr Arthur Shuttlewood. The book contains photographs of UFOs and poems by Pauline Roberts and Veronica Cadby. The author writes in his foreword: “We hope you will like the poetry and not consider it totally irrelevant.”

I suppose that this work falls into the category which the more esoteric ufologists call “New-Age” literature. Much of the book is devoted to recording the views of various people who have communicated with Mr Shuttlewood since he became wellknown for his investigations of the Warminster “Thing,” It seems that most of these people are sincerely convinced that the world as we  know it is likely to come to an end in the near future and this event will be followed by the dawning of a new “Golden Age” of spiritual enlightenment and enhanced awareness of man’s relatiozzshib with the universe.

This is the general sort of idea behind most of the messages quoted but they are, inevitably, heavily embroidered with pseudo-scientific speculations, apocalyptic visions and vague verbiage.

shuttlewoodAlthough most of the visionaries appear to be basically sincere, it is obvious that some of them, apparently lacking a sense of humour, fall easy victims to the leg-pullers. One of these elaborate jokes is quoted in detail and Mr Shuttlewood gently indicates, to the perceptive reader, that he appreciates the jest — I think. I must point out here that we will probably get letters from his more obtuse readers earnestly requesting further details. It seems that Mr Shuttlewood was approached by “a charming Norfolk man with honest blue eyes, humble approach, disarming candour and integrity, sparking his personality.”

This gentleman reported that a philological expert to whom he sent a tape of the Venusian language and a sample of Venusian script went into raptures over them.

The philological expert came to some hilarious conclusions such as: “Sound production is diphasic: this means that the two lungs are accurately out of phase with one another, thus enabling the creature to speak for a long time without taking breath … The script: this is quite uncharacteristic of anything found on earth except possibly the Sacred Boggah Script of the Abluti Indians of Paraguay,..” and “From an application of Reinmann Phoneme analysis techniques — first stage, naturally — it can be concluded with fair certainty that the creatures in question possess a large hand, possibly with all thumbs…” I feel sure that many of us know beings who have these characteristics and whose terrestrial origin is not in doubt.

I was agog to read Mr Shuttlewood’ s version of the memorable events of May 27th and 28th, 1967 at Warminster, in view of the fact that Alan Sharp and I were there at the time and had published our version of that weekend (Report on a Visit to Warminster, by John Harney and Alan W. Sharp, Flying Saucer Review Vol.3, No.5}. Disappointingly, he only mentions in passing the controversial skywatch of the night of May 27th-28th, whein we saw lightning and he saw the ‘Thing’. He goes into considerable detail, though, about the visit of the ‘Aenstrian’ to his home on the afternoon of May 28th. He was in a bad mood just before: the Aenstrian’s visit and this was due to lack of sleep and the fact that: “With Bob and Sybil, I shared weariness of libellous comment over the integrity of our team and Warminster witnesses that had gained unmerited headlines in ill-informed magazines published by a certain group of ‘armchair’ ufologists begrudging our experience.”

The magazine referred to is possibly MUFORG Bulletin, of which I was editor, in which we had published a rather critical review of Mr Shuttlewood’s lecture on the Warminster phenomena delivered at the 1966 BUFORA Northern Conference in Bradford. We learned indirectly, that Mr Shuttlewood was very annoyed about the article in question, even though the Bulletin had only a very small circulation.

From the depths of my armchair I recommend this book to all connoisseurs of the Warminster phenomena.


Note: click on the title at the head of this article to order a copy from Amazon.

The Wrath of Shuttlewood

Vol. 4 No. 5 of Merseyside UFO Bulletin (December 1971) was entirely devoted to an article by Alan Sharp which attacked unscientific approaches to the UFO phenomena. On Warminster, he had this to say, amongst other things:  “Gullibility, wishful thinking, belief in the supernatural and sheer ignorance are prime factors in the generation and acceptance of UFO reports. The new ufologists devote much energy to the encouragement of these human failings,which can be seen in operation at almost any gathering of UFO enthusiasts, but nowhere better than at Warminster where contactee, author and journalist Arthur Shuttlewood has directed affairs for several years and has worked up a fine air of mystery and an enormous collection of spurious sightings have now been generated.”

This provoked the following letter which was published in our next issue (Vol. 4, No. 6). It should surely be regarded as a classic of its kind.

A Letter From Mr Arthur Shuttlewood

shuttlewoodOne notes, with a quiet and understanding chuckle, that Alan W. Sharp looks out from his sacred ivory tower and INSISTS that ufology “must be studied in a logical, objective manner, or not at all.” This has the ring of dictatorship about it. You’ve got to be sharp to out-sharp Sharp, eh? But let’s be democratic.

His vision-restricting attitude, in face of swelling testimony globewide, will get neither him nor more earnest research students anywhere at all as to the true nature of this important subject. It is a matter which – by virtue of numerous facets and aspects that bewilder and befog scientific concepts of today that are universally inadequate in vision – will always defy the approach he advocates – nay INSISTS – must fit his puritanical rather than pure terminology.

I see, too, we are back to scurrilous attacks on personal character and integrity, rather than objective presentation of facts, in your latest abysmally trite issue. Out with the scalping hatchets and carving knives to cripple those whose views (because they have had considerable experience of the phenomena) are more valid, sensible and fair than your own, which are strangled in a one-sided web of ignorance.

Those whom you try to intimidate (and I’m positive we have no fear of a trio of critics, especially armchair variety, of earth, when we dare to walk among the unknown!) are amused and share welling pity for MUFOB content and policy; for they have enjoyed a privilege none of your home-bred correspondents (or so-called editors) have known. At least, they have had more than casual brushes with UFO manifestations and assess them accordingly. Has it ever struck your rather feather-pated attitude that it needs a great deal of moral courage to stick one’s neck out and affirm: “I have seen something inexplicable”? It does need enormous courage, equal to that I knew on the battlefield in the last war, to do this, knowing one will automatically be branded a liar, crank, hypocrite or worse. This courage deserves respect, instead of MUFOB belittling and crude criticism far removed from human decency.

“Those people from the north who are blind to reality” is a description I have frequently heard

Without our experience, such puny puppets of Condon thinking are sunk without trace; and the MUFOB MOB (“those people from the north who are blind to reality”, is a description I have frequently heard) is drowning in deep water with no public interest in their dogmatic and dreadfully dull viewpoints based on personal INEXPERIENCE only.

Anyway, why should we suffer the short-sighted, visionless, prejudiced and self-inflating pontificating of three stick-in-the-mud scribes whose active research in operational fields of practical work is practically nil? A trio whose pompous and pedantic phraseology is boring and lifeless, because it is not chained to links of personal experience? Who on earth do Sharp, Rimmer and Harney think they are; and whom do they represent so bovinely in the face of weighty evidence that shrieks: “UFOs are for real.”? Why do they persist in bedevilling instead of aiding the UFO cause in credibility? We know, of course, but are too polite and gentlemanly to speak so bluntly and cruelly!

What acid-tongued and one-track-minded minority groups like MUFOB fail to appreciate is that their voices are mere squeaks against the leonine roars of the majority. Therefore, they are freaks who cannot understand that statistical weights of evidence are more valid than the infamous Condon report which blew up into nothingness because not one of the “experts” (??!!) had ever seen anything unusual. MUFOB comes into the same abysmal bracket of ignorance.

I say this not unkindly, for I have always stressed one has to see to credit or believe in UFO manifestation.

I could not sink to the intolerance of Sharp, whose constant and petty allusions and sniping about Shuttlewood mistaking a thunderstorm for a UFO have appeared in print so many times with monotonous repetition. Has it ever entered your devious minds that poor old Shuttlewood, knowing full well even at that early stage that MUFOB carried scalping knives everywhere they went to try and kill off valuable evidence at source, said this deliberately in order to get rid of the dragging influence of disbelieving MUFOB MOBsters? Think it over… Look at yourselves for a welcome change and note the many human failings in contradistinction to “judge not lest ye be judged”. You have cast enough stones, but soon they will rebound. Mark my words, uttered without malice aforethought like those crawling over your bulletin like aimless spider-legs!

A feather-brained attitude of mind always fights a losing battle against the better-thinking majority. So wake up! Start to really live (there’s a nice split infinitive for purist Rimmer to grip onto) and go out among your fellow beings in search of that which DOES exist, despite your nagging doubts and at times character-savaging mania.
Yours not unkindly, Arthur Shuttlewood, Warminster

P.S. Happy New UFO Year!

P.P.S. After your next issue, please DON’T send me any more! I want HELPFUL aids, NOT destructive nonsense, in MY search for UFO truths.


Disenchantment. John Harney

This article on Warminster was published in Merseyside UFO Bulletin, Vol. 4, No. 4, September/October 1971

It has always been a tacitly agreed policy of this Bulletin to try to keep in touch with developments at Warminster. We occasionally visit the place, time and funds permitting.

The latest visit took place on 9 October (1971), when your Editor and his travelling companion, Mr Brian J. Hall, arrived by train in the afternoon. Mr Hall had never visited Warminster before, so a conducted tour was undertaken. Our first visit was to Cradle Hill. There was nothing doing up there that Saturday afternoon, apart from desultory Army activity. Someone had provided a litter bin which was placed by the hallowed gates. On it were painted the following embarrassing legends: “LITTER. WE leave no sign we’ve been here, why must YOU?”, “Space junk only”, and “This bin was donated to commemmerate (sic) the invention of time travel, 2026 AD”.

A litter bin, obviously unofficial, but surely the first sign that the UFO aspect of Warminster is becoming popular? By this I mean that holiday visitors to the Lions of Longleat will soon be fitting Cradle Hill into their itineraries as a matter of course.

You see, the Warminster “Thing” is now history. Arthur Shuttlewood has completed his trilogy with publication of UFOs – Key to the New Age and has retired from active participation in local ufological activities.

That evening, suitably fortified, we ascended Cradle Hill again in order to witness the traditional Saturday night skywatch. There was nobody there when we arrived at about 2150. A few minutes later a convoy of cars arrived. Arthur Shuttlewood was conspicuous by his absence. However, the watchers did their best. They seemed hesitant at first and just sat in their cars, or loitered by the gates. We decided to set an example. We scrambled over the gate and strolled up to the Field Barn copse. On the way back we found that the other watchers were emulating our example to such an extent that when we got back to the gate we found ourselves alone.

Eventually we were asked had we noticed a light over there in the sky. Yes, we had. We pointed out to the enthusiasts that if they continued to look in the same direction they would see similar lights again and again in exactly the same position. This was because they were not UFOs, but simply car headlights on a distant hill which was itself invisible in the haze and darkness. This evaluation of the sighting was rapidly confirmed: the watchers were plainly disappointed.

However, they were still working on it – still trying to conjure up the old Shuttlewood magic. Back at the gates, looking at the altocumulus clouds illuminated by the moon, one ufologist declared: “It’s just like the Northern Lights, only the other way round,” (whatever that means). “I know about the Northern Lights”, he added, “I’ve been to Alaska”. This not being strong enough meat for the enthusiasts, there followed talk about the clouds “revolving about a central point”, (they were plainly not) and all the usual nonsense was talked.

It was a good try, but it did not come off. It can never be the same again at Warminster. Shuttlewood has published his findings and wrapped it all up. Sightings still occur and are now being faithfully recorded by Ken Rogers in his Warminster UFO Newsletter. But to no avail. Most copies are sold to the tourists – just another souvenir.
Nothing can bring back the old magic. There are changes every time we visit Warminster and never for the better. It is becoming a town for tourists. Remember the “Farmer Giles Guest House”, for example? In the good old days it catered for lorry drivers and filled up with ufologists at £1 a night. On our last visit it had been tarted up, and so had its prices. And this time it was even more tarted up and calls itself “The Farmers’ Hotel”.

On Sunday morning we went for a walk down to Boreham and passed the famous telephone box in Boreham Field. It was occupied by an ordinary earthman. Either that or the Aenstrians are well disguised these days.

“Great Truths Forming in the Void?” was the title of one of Arthur Shuttlewood’s last articles submitted to the UFO magazines. Well the “truths” have been presented to us. Take them or leave them. UFO sightings continue at Warminster, but they are no longer vested with the old significance. Cradle Hill is now a national monument, just another stop on a conducted tour. Unlike the Longleat Lions, there is no charge for a visit. But for how long?



Warminster Revisited. John Rimmer

An almost lyrical view of the Warminster skywatching scene in the 1960s is presented here in an article which appeared in Merseyside UFO Bulletin, Volume 2, Number 5, September-October 1969.

Some Personal Observations 

Nestling in the valley of the River Wylye the town of Warminster presents an image of England that seems ever stable and tranquil: the old buildings of local stone in the main street, the dark, pipe-smoke matured beams of old pubs, and all around low, gentle, wooded hills, and the rich, summer green farmlands of Wiltshire. Sit in the public bar of one of those pubs, horse brasses gleaming on the panelled walls, and drink a pint of Usher’s Best Bitter. Lean across to one of those honest, weather-worn farmers of stout Wessex yeoman stock, whose gentle, lilting accent sounds with such quiet authority, speaking with generations of native experience of the good earth, the cycles of spring and sowing, the heavy autumnal reaping and the black, fallow lands of winter. Lean over and ask him:

“Have you ever seen a flying saucer?”

“Floin’ saucer, never ‘urd such rubbish. You’ve been talking to that Shuttlewood. ‘E’s doin’ all right out of it. Bah.”

The worn, nut-brown face settles into an expression of utter scorn, and the farmer crosses to the bar for another pint of Usher’s Best. The subject is closed.

Walk up the steep, hedgerowed road to Cradle Hill. Pause at the gate at the top and look around. The lights of Warminster Barracks are visible in the gathering twilight, glimmering in the valley. The town itself is hidden by the tree-crowned shape of Cop Heap. Across the valley the stepped sides of the hill-fort of Battlesbury are silhouetted against the darkening sky. Higher up the hill, past the gate, a rough track leads to a copse. Of evil repute, this copse, a place of sudden, chilling winds and low, fell noises.

In the other direction Salisbury Plain, empty, desolate, with the lonely, lifeless village of Imber and further, brooding, Stonehenge, the awakening point of a national consciousness. Here, one feels, is where it started. Stone Age men grubbed and hunted; Bronze Age kings in barbaric panoply fought deadly futile wars over a few hills; Roman legionnairs saw and conquered; Saxon invaders settled and farmed. Here is the land of White Horses and Dragons, of great earth tombs, and a deep, natural English magic. Look down the lane again. A Land Rover is coming up, three men, soul brothers of the farmer in the pub, look at you. They know why you are there. They come up here to tend their fields. Others come up for only one reason. They know.

“You come up here to see the flying saucers, then? We’ve just ‘ad a message, they’re landing at six o’ clock. Over there.” They laugh, open the gate and drive away over the ridge of the hill.

Night-time now. The lights gleam from the valley. Above, the stars are displayed against the black velvet sky. The last dying glow of the day is fading away to the west, to be replaced by the dim lightening of the sky from some other little town across the hills. A small group of people stand about by the gate, talking quietly. Further down the road some cars are parked, darker shapes against the shadow of the hedge. A sudden noise and a flash of light as someone strikes a match. A brief glimpse of huddled, earnest faces. Someone is carrying a camera: someone is pouring coffee from a flask. Darkness and quiet settles again on this little community. Some more people are walking up the lane, from where they have parked their car. Let us follow them, and move into the heart of this mysterious gathering.

“We were up here a few weeks ago and we saw something very remarkable, coming from over there, just by the golf club. A great shape, opalescent, moving slowly, it went across there, like a sword, moving across, and then it turned upright, and we could all see it so clearly, like we could reach out and take hold of it. Wonderful.”

The voice is Arthur Shuttlewood’s. A voice as soft and gentle and rounded as the hills of southern England, a voice quiet and sincere, that holds the gathering enthralled. As he talks he points out the familiar landmarks: the golf club, Cop Heap, Battlesbury and the copse: the people listen with awe and admiration, fascinated by the strange wonders that this man describes. He is tall, wearing an open-necked shirt and no coat, even in the bitter wind that blows from the north. He has the face of a countryman, a face that expresses the open air, the clean fresh breezes that blow across the acres of ripening grain, as tough and rugged as the open plain, as warm and honest as the tint villages of thatched and whitewashed cottages that wait round corners of the twisting Wiltshire lanes. The little group of people hang attentively on every word, gasping with amazement at some incredible detail of his experiences, or chuckling at some good-natured send-up of a learned, scientific figure.

It is well past midnight now, and the wind blows cold. Coats are pulled tighter, some stamp their feet or jog around to get warm. Another flask of coffee is brought out and passed around, hot, dark, sweet. The moon has set now and the darkness is deeper, stiller. Some lights low down to the south cause a moment of speculation, but Arthur settles the speculation by explaining that it is the headlights of cars carrying brightly for miles from some distant hill. Arthur Shuttlewood has been out on Cradle Hill skywatching, literally thousands of times over the past five years and knows every trick of light, every road and street light. As the night passes some of the small group drift away, walk back down to their cars and in a sudden burst of noise and dust drive off down the lane back to the sleeping town. The others wait, through the long hours of the night; talking, listening, walking around, drinking coffee or eating sandwiches. All the time Arthur is talking, describing his own remarkable experiences, and those of his colleagues.

It is Arthur Shuttlewood above all who is associated with the Warminster phenomenon. Without him the phenomenon would not exist as it does now. It is doubtful if it would exist at all. This statement needs some explaining. I am not stating that Arthur Shuttlewood has invented the mystery, or is keeping it going for his own ends. Those people in Warminster, like the farmer in the pub, who say that he is “doing all right out of it” are quite wrong. Shuttlewood has had no material benefit from his activities. One assumes that as his second book was privately published the first one could not have realised a great profit for himself and his publishers. One member of his small team has severely damaged his health through prolonged skywatching under adverse conditions. The one lasting impression that a visitor gains of Arthur Shuttlewood is his sincerity. He is no fraud.

What then do I mean by stating that the phenomenon is dependent on Shuttlewood? He has conditioned the development of the mystery. Not consciously, but as a result of his own nature and character. In the “purple prose” passages above, I have deliberately exaggerated my impressions of the place and the man. I have in a way parodied Shuttlewood’s own style of writing in his two books. The Warminster mystery has remained so alive after such a (comparatively) long period partly, I am sure, because of the way he describes sightings. Other people see lights. Arthur sees them “coruscating”, “diamond-shot”, “amethyst”, the language of a skilled professional writer. He is not trying to deceive by doing this, it is just his normal, skilled method of writing. The fact that here is a professional journalist involved in the very heart of a ufological event cannot help but give it much wider, more forceful circulation, even though this is done quite innocently, without any deliberate “publicity stunt” aspect.

In his books Arthur Shuttlewood refers to himself as a hard-bitten, cynical journalist. This, with due respect to the man, is not true! He is an extremely sentimental and emotional person, or so it appeared to me on my brief acquaintance with him. On our skywatch he told a story of five little orphans that nearly brought tears to the eyes of some of the people there. I think it does not detract from his sincerity to remark that he told this story in an extremely professional manner. And this brings me to my major point. To be on Cradle Hill, on a skywatch, listening to Arthur Shuttlewood, is a very remarkable experience. He speaks with the smooth assurance of a professional commentator, his voice is carefully modulated to sound clearly over the noise of wind and cars. He is a persuasive, not a dogmatic person. He will point out some minor effect of the light: “There’s a very remarkable thing – it’s just a phenomenon, of course, but we often see things like that up here.” How much more convincing that is than a dogmatic assertion that there is some incredible thing. As he speaks it is easy to fall into a generous, easy attitude of acceptance. It is easy to suspend disbelief on Cradle Hill at two o’clock in the morning after listening to Arthur Shuttlewood for a few hours. I think it would not be too extreme to say that some of the occurrences reported on skywatches at Warminster could be attributed to some mild form of hypnotic suggestion. Cradle Hill at night is a spooky place. Arthur Shuttlewood is a convincing speaker, a sincere convincing speaker whom it is hard to doubt. Almost anything is possible under these conditions. I was quite convinced that it was inadvisable to walk a few hundred yards along the road to an allegedly “strange” copse.

To sum up, then, I would say:

  • Because of the strong subjective and emotional conditions involved, reports of skywatches at Cradle Hill should be regarded with a considerable amount of caution.
  • The Warminster mystery involves no deception on the part of any of the principals. However, the opinions and natures of many of the people involved have resulted in an undeliberate distortion of many of the basic facts.
  • The value of any organised skywatch must be doubted because many of the conditions involved at Cradle Hill are also valid for other locations.


The Latest Warminster Landing. Arthur Shuttlewood.

We published much comment about Shuttlewood’s skywatching techniques in the good old days. Here, in a report published in Merseyside UFO Bulletin, Vol. 2, No. 4, July/August 1969, the man himself reports on one of his skywatches.

shuttlewoodThirteen people were in our skywatching party at Cradle Hill, Warminster, on the evening of Wednesday, 27 August 1969. An unlucky number? Not so far as a dramatic double UFO sighting and landing were concerned, on this auspicious occasion, anyway! Accept or reject the following – that is your prerogative.

My team mates, Bob Strong and Sybil Champion, left the hill at 9.30 p.m., after we had been observing for about an hour. They went off to Starr Hill, midway between Battlesbury and Scratchbury, other well known viewing points locally. The remaining 11 were:
Ex-naval commander’s wife, Mrs Kathleen Bent; her friend Mrs Eileen Keck, of Winchester; Mr Ian Cowan and his wife Kathryn, Bournemouth; American Mrs Gwen Smith, of Seattle; Mr Christopher Trubridge, Gosport; his friend Mr Robert Coates, Yorkshire; an American-speaking visitor who calls himself Diophantes, from Sirius 6 (his own claim, not mine); Mr Julian Butler, Mr John Alford and myself, of Warminster.

At 10.10 p.m. the attention of several pairs of eyes was caught by what Mr Butler described as “a burning bush”, about 600 yards south-west of our vantage point on Cradle Hill. It is a little right of the West Wilts Golf Clubhouse and a few hundred yards short of it, at a point near a long and straggling hedgerow.

Frankly, I suspected it was rubbish being burnt by the farmer, Mr Geoffrey Gale (it is his land); but we all commented how strange that this circular flame should suddenly erupt, without warning, and no smouldering or smoke noticed prior to this by our keen-eyed group.

Chris and Bob immediately tore across the intervening land. Others, self included, climbed the white gate and followed at a more leisurely pace. (Perhaps because we are older?) The burning effect “died” on the ground and we were instantly aware of a large orange ellipsoid that hung stationary over the top of the lighted clubhouse at low altitude – we estimated somewhere around 100 feet at most. It was immobile for a good three minutes, according to my watch.

John said: “It’s far too big and brilliant for Mars, although it’s the same colour.” Julian said: “No – Mars is away to the left, higher over Cop Heap.” And there was no lingering doubt when the object, increasing radiance, started to move to south-east, across Cop Heap and away over the shoulder of Battlesbury towards Starr Hill.
It was huge! It moved slowly, sedately, throwing off a brightful and fitful halo around the main body of the craft.

We had now picked out a second, similar shaped object, much higher than the first, smaller because of this factor and a dull mat white in hue. It was keeping pace with the bright orange UFO, tailing and trailing it. But our attention was abruptly dragged from the visual treat…

I had sped back to the main group of watchers, eager that one in particular – she is over 80 years of age – should see the second and smaller UFO, too. She was so thrilled as I pointed it out, able to view it easily with the naked eye. The others had spotted it and I heard cries coming from the field – and tearing towards us, ashen faced, were Chris and Robert.

They drank hot coffee to recover from shock and shattered composure. Then they blurted out an amazing story. When they reached Kidnapper’s Hole, where the hedge ends, they saw the flame or “burning bush” peter out; and in its place was a tall figure, dressed in a tight-fitting black suit that had a sheen reflected in their torchlight. A gold-coloured “sash” or “bandolier” (the youths’ terms) was around its neck and shoulder, winding around the waist.

Bob is 6 ft 1 in tall. He thought the figure to be a good foot taller than he. Chris confirmed this. Long, dark hair falling to the shoulders, bright eyes – and rather “feminine” features, the lads felt. The figure did not move – but they, overcome by fear, could not approach nearer than about 30 yards from it. Courage and nerves failing, they ran back to the hilltop.

The two were closely questioned by the rest of the watchers while I made my way across the field, bathed in moonlight. I had a torch and was beaming a friendly message in morse code in front of me, to relieve my own apprehension and any felt by the visitor. My knees were knocking, I admit, yet one can never reach understanding of the unknown when fear triumphs over genuine love and concern for all others…

Nothing was seen of the figure from then on. Chris, Bob, Julian and John revisited the spot near Kidnapper’s Hole where it had stood: they all saw the hedgerow, clubhouse, two trees on the skyline; none smelled smoke or ashes.

Perhaps in the general excitement, because one is caught in the thrall of something truly inexplicable and unworldly, one says peculiar things at times like these, which are inordinately charged with human emotion. “I’ve an idea they will be back, but not in the same form,” I recall predicting to the watchers.

Events at around 11.45 p.m., extending to about 1 a.m., on Thursday, 28 August, were probably more puzzling than the earlier sightings and landing. Forming a triangle in themselves, in a perfectly clear sky shot by a full moon’s rays and a myriad stars, three cigar-shaped formations appeared. They were cloudlike, yet having a density and “roundness” to them, quite plasma-like.

One was over Battlesbury, to the east, the two others over the Cradle Hill copse area. Two vanished after a while, then the third – over the copse – broke in half. The bottom portion cut away, separated from the rest, and was transformed into a pyramid shape, symmetrical and of a three-dimensional quality in the atmosphere.
It was at times completely opaque and solid, at others transparent, so that one could see through it and view the interior. It was startling – and provides another facet to the whole subject and significance, maybe, of ufology. The only one of the 11-strong group not witnessing this pyramid was Mrs Bent, asleep in her car after a long journey, a tiring day and night…

Bob Strong and Sybil, meanwhile, watched the two UFOs glide gently overhead from their sighting point near a farm barn near Starr Hill. They curled away east, winking lights seen at ground level by the two observers – Bob is a former RAF bomber crewman – at a spot near the horizon to the east.

Ground-to-air communication between earth base and craft? We can only surmise and theorise on this possibility. But 13 witnesses of the two objects – noiseless and gliding slowly until they spun at swifter speed upward – are far better and more convincing than one poor soul on his own.

The area around Kidnapper’s Hole (the name has an ominous ring to it, yet the landing there was open and probably coincidental) showed one small patch of burning the following morning. Even so, it did not appear to be recently caused, and no rubbish had been ignited there for days.

So – back to square one in the giant jigsaw puzzle of the Great and Spectacular Unknown that these craft constitute? Not quite… This sighting and landing were in keeping with sundry strange incidents around Warminster over the past five years; especially the singular case of the “flying sword” UFO and “phoenix bird” sighting that hovered overhead for three minutes, amethyst in colour until duck-bobbing away, when it changed to crimson. These stories, true and with witnesses present, will have to “keep” for the time being.

We are inclined to believe, from available evidence that has steadily accumulated on the local UFO front, that there exists at Heaven’s Gate, on the Longleat Estate near Warminster, a point on our earth where a “window” or “gate” exists that allows two dimensions to converge, meet and – who knows – even communicate. What our scientists would term a “time warp”, in effect. More of that anon…

Of one thing we are sure: although I am an Essex man, reared there and born in Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire, Warminster is a place which will be remembered for many years. It could be that – whatever is designed to happen in future – it will be a focal point of any big cosmic operation affecting our planet. May I leave you with a sobering thought?

If any big power on earth developed a metal that cannot be detected by radar, resisting and not affected by radio waves, this would create the biggest threat yet to present world peace. It would further heighten nuclear buildup dangers. It just might be that such a metal has been perfected – and near future years will prove much.
But we can be quietly confident that a greater intelligence from a different dimension on our earth, in concert with extraterrestrial travellers who are more enlightened in universal knowledge, will be keeping a wary eye on these threats – and could even neutralise the launching of nuclear warheads onto unsuspecting peoples in the next decade.

No bets taken – but it is worth thinking over, carefully…


A Visit to Warminster. John Harney and Alan Sharp

This article annoyed some believers, but Charles Bowen thought it sufficiently interesting to reprint in Flying Saucer Review.

It appeared in the June 1967 issue of MUFORG Bulletin.

We arrived at Warminster on the Saturday afternoon (27 May) and soon discovered that there were other ufologists staying there that weekend, including Nigel Stephenson, Ken Rogers, Jimmy Goddard and a party of NICAP/GB members.

That afternoon we learned that the NICAP/GB party had claimed to have sighted two, reddish cigar-shaped objects the previous night from a vantage point on Battlesbury Hill. This sighting took place, we were given to understand, in fulfilment of a prediction obtained during a sort of table-turning session. As we were not present at these events and have no further details at the time of writing, we have no comments to make on them.

During the Saturday afternoon and evening there was talk of a general expectation that “something big was going to happen” that night. We did not share this feeling, so the reason for it remains obscure to us.

shuttlewoodArthur Shuttlewood and his friend, Bob Strong, had organised a skywatch for the Saturday night. Apparently their intention was to take advantage of the Army ranges being open that weekend and to make an excursion to the deserted village of Imber. We joined the convoy in Warminster at the appointed time and soon perceived that some sort of argument was going on. It was not made clear to us just what the trouble was, but it seemed that Arthur Shuttlewood or Bob Strong thought that there were too many people in the convoy and, presumably, it was thought that the UFOs would be put off by the presence of a relatively large number of skywatchers concentrated in one group.

The leading cars in the convoy drove off unexpectedly and were soon lost to view, so the rest of us decided to drive up Cradle Hill, which was near at hand and as good a place as any for observing UFOs, by all accounts. Arrived at the top of Cradle Hill, we found that the rest of the party had gone there after all. A great argument was taking place: apparently some proposed to stay at Cradle Hill and others wanted to go to Imber, and among those who wanted to go to Imber there was disagreement over which route to take. Also, various wild rumours were being bandied about, one of them being that “the Army would shoot Shuttlewood if he drove on to the ranges”. The whole business was very confusing and we would hesitate to pin the responsibility for this muddle on to any particular person or persons.

Eventually some of us left Cradle Hill and drove up to the ranges. When we reached the guardhouse, Shuttlewood and his friends were already there, having taken a short cut. We then followed some cars across the range to Imber and drew up about half a mile beyond the village to commence skywatching. The sky was rather cloudy and only a few stars were visible. Nothing unusual was to be seen for a time until one of us noticed a flash of lightning on the horizon in an easterly direction. The flashes continued to the east and south east. No thunder was heard, so the storms must have been a long way away.

The other cars went away, one by one, so we finally returned to the guardhouse to see if we could learn if Mr Shuttlewood was having any luck. There were several cars parked there when we arrived and we were told that Shuttlewood had got quite excited when the lightning commenced and said that it was definitely not lightning, but a manifestation of the “Thing”. He had then driven off into the night, hoping to view it at closer quarters.

After some time Shuttlewood’s car returned and he was soon giving the most extraordinary descriptions of what, to us, was merely lightning (1) produced by distant thunderstorms. His car then drove off. We remained a while longer and left at about 1.30 a.m., when it began to rain.

Shuttlewood’s reactions to the display of lightning did nothing to diminish our scepticism concerning many of the UFOs allegedly seen during Warminster skywatches. If ordinary lightning can be transformed when seen with the “eye of faith”, into something out of this world, one might perhaps be forgiven for supposing that other phenomena, both natural and artificial, are regularly being misinterpreted in similar fashion during such skywatches.

However, when this was suggested, in a review of Mr Shuttlewood’s lecture at last year’s BUFORA Northern Conference (2), great indignation was aroused. The opinions expressed in that review were based on information received from people with experience of skywatching at Warminster. For example, one report received from a reliable source (3) was an observation of a certain, very well-known ufologist pointing at a star and calling it “a definite UFO”.

That weekend there was some discussion about a report by Arthur Shuttlewood and Bob Strong of  a landing at Starr Hill. An account of this alleged incident had been published in the latest issue of SUFOA. (4) We learned that since this incident, different groups of enthusiasts had been to Starr Hill and had investigated a house from which “strange” lights were said to emanate. Some said the house was deserted and some said it was not. So, on the Sunday (28 May), Alan Sharp visited the place in question and found it to consist of a settlement of several farms and about a dozen workers’ houses. It was discovered that the “deserted” house was merely not regularly lived in by the owner, who has a place elsewhere, but employees keep an eye on the premises and he pays visits. The rest of the dwellings in the vicinity are occupied.

The owner of the nearest farm to the east of the “deserted” house was interviewed and he said that he had never observed anything odd in the vicinity. he regarded the stories of strange lights, etc., with tolerant amusement and seemed to regard the Army as the source of genuine “unknown” observations. Various startling UFO incidents are said to have happened in the vicinity of a copse known as Colloway Clump. We visited this area and Alan Sharp enquired at New Farm, only a few hundred yards away from the Clump and in full view of it. The farmer and his son said they had never seen anything unusual in the vicinity of the copse and suggested that some well-known locals were overworking their powers of imagination. They also said that of all the people who had been poking around in the vicinity, not one had approached the farm for permission to investigate. A visit was made to one of the houses where strange noises (the “Warminster Sound”) have been heard. The occupants were interviewed and samples were taken from the garden and the gutters. By all accounts, these reports of strange noises appear to be genuine. Some people have attempted to explain them away as being due to the activities of helicopters, but this theory is unconvincing in view of the descriptions given. On the other hand, it would seem to be somewhat rash to accept the popular notion that the noises are due to the activities of alien space craft before other possibilities, such as atmospheric electrical phenomena of an unusual nature, have been adequately explored.

On Sunday evening we learned that Mr Shuttlewood claimed to have had a “contact” that afternoon. Apparently, one of the “Aenstrians” telephoned him and Shuttlewood told him something to the effect that he would have to see him in the flesh if he was to be absolutely certain that the “Aenstrians” were not just hoaxers and slammed the phone down. A few minutes later there was a knock at the door and a spaceman was duly admitted. This being had a very high forehead and blue lips and had one or two things to say, including the prediction that a third world war would break out shortly. The apparition was also seen by other members of Shuttlewood’s family.

Earlier in the day, Alan Sharp had been treated to a demonstration, by a sceptical Warminster resident, of the technique of making local calls from a coin-box phone without putting any money in the box. The reason for this demonstration was Shuttlewood’s statement that the space people claimed to telephone him from a public box, but he never heard any money going in. (6) However, Mr Shuttlewood’s latest claim would seem to dispose of the necessity of studying the technicalities of the telephone system. At this stage there is no useful comment we can make on the new contact claim.

Later that Sunday evening we went skywatching on Cradle Hill, accompanied by Ken Rogers and Nigel Stephenson. It was a clear night and we saw one aircraft, four meteors and a satellite, but no UFOs.

To sum up, then, the strange noises which originally drew attention to Warminster were almost certainly genuine observations. Also it would appear that there have been other observations in the area which are worthy of further investigation. However, there can be little doubt that the majority of UFO reports from Warminster are spurious. Our own experiences and a careful reading of published reports indicate that many ufologists seem to leave their critical faculties at home when they go to Warminster.

Notes and References

1. According to the Daily Weather Report of the British Meteorological Office (No. 38538, 28 May 1967), lightning, but no thunder, was reported during the period 2100-0300 GMT on the night of 27-28 May at Boscombe Down. A glance at the midnight (GMT) reports from other stations revealed that thunderstorms had been widespread in the southern half of the British Isles that evening.

2. “Warminster’s Contactee”, MUFORG Bulletin, October 1966

3. Private communication to the editor

4. Barry W. Woodgate, “Return to Warminster”, SUFOA, March/April 1967

5. We hope to publish more about these observations in a future issue of the Bulletin.

6. Arthur Shuttlewood, “The Warminster Mystery”, page 187




Warminster’s Contactee. John Harney

Several members of Merseyside UFO Research Group attended the BUFORA Northern Conference at Bradford on 10 September 1966. Arthur Shuttlewood was the main speaker and John Harney wrote the following review of his lecture, which was published in the October 1966 issue of MUFORG Bulletin.

shuttlewoodAs the audience settled down to listen to Arthur Shuttlewood’s lecture at the Bradford Conference, no doubt many were expecting merely a sort of roundup of the sightings and incidents which have occurred there. If so, they were due for a shock.
His talk began reasonably enough, with details of some of the better-known incidents which focused public attention on Warminster. He said he had not seriously considered UFOs until 28 September 1965, when he saw one himself. He attacked the cynics who alleged that the whole business was deliberately cooked up to act as a tourist attraction. He also vented his spleen on the editors of the national newspapers. He claimed that a representative of one of them (not named) had offered him £500 for a UFO photograph, saying that it didn’t matter whether it was genuine or faked.

Then he went on to assert that he had seen 288 UFOs since February and had obtained over 70 photographs of them in the same period. “Witnesses have come to Warminster, knowing we can guarantee a sighting,” he said.

Mr Shuttlewood does his saucer spotting on a hill near Warminster. He claims to have spent every clear night there since February of this year, equipped with camera and telescope, sometimes alone, sometimes accompanied by other sky-watchers. Indeed, a friend of his is said to have sighted no fewer than 322 UFOs. Out of Warminster’s population of 11,000, over 800 are said to have seen UFOs. Sceptics see and are “converted”.

There is much more to it, though, than just looking out for UFOs and listening for the “Warminster sound”. There are the space people themselves. “By next May,” says Shuttlewood, “the whole world will have to believe in the people above.” From what he has heard and “sensed” he is certain they (the space people) can monitor our thoughts. Not content with merely monitoring his thoughts, however, the spacemen have taken to ringing him up on the telephone. They are human and more evolved than us and they are concerned about us. They wear balaclava helmets and they are getting into the habit of hurling themselves in front of motor cars on lonely roads near Warminster. When the shaken drivers get out, they vanish. This alarming procedure is apparently intended to convey a message; it means “Don’t you commit mass slaughter”.

To convert people they sometimes use unconventional electrical methods. However, they are not “extrovert” unless they want to convert you. They are “the greatest levellers of society.” They are also sincere. Shuttlewood, too, is sincere. “I am as sincere as you are”, he told us.

There was much more – he spoke for two hours. The foregoing is just a brief summary. Some will say we are being unfair to Shuttlewood with our sceptical, tongue-in-cheek approach. But never mind, some other UFO magazine will quite likely print an account describing the lecture as “thrilling and inspiring”. If we may say one thing in favour of the lecture – a number of members of the audience found it very amusing, but were too polite to laugh out loud.

As a result of the activities of Arthur Shuttlewood, confusion about what really goes on at Warminster has increased. For example, there is the Cradle Hill incident of 17 August. Present were Arthur Shuttlewood, Eileen Buckle, Chairman of BUFORA’s Contact Section, and Philip Rodgers. Mr Shuttlewood alleged that a UFO was seen and landed in a field for a few moments. There are at least two published accounts to date. They give rather different impressions of the incident. One account gives the impression that the UFO was brought down by Shuttlewood flashing signals from a torch and the other suggests that the witnesses were probably mistaken. Other, verbal accounts that we have heard allege that it was cooked up by Shuttlewood who, with Miss Buckle, was watching a satellite, then suddenly pointed in the opposite direction and chased after the alleged UFO. It seems that only Shuttlewood actually claimed to have seen it land and then only for a few seconds.

From other accounts it seems that Shuttlewood’s usual technique is to point out a satellite, calling it a UFO. Then, when the satellite disappears in the earth’s shadow he directs the observer’s attention to a nearby star and says that the UFO is now hovering. It also seems that he manages to generate a great deal of excitement on these skywatches and impresses people with his charm and apparent sincerity to such an extent that stars and satellites become magically transformed into flying saucers.

There are, of course, a number of unexplained sightings and other incidents in the Warminster area, but to suggest that genuine UFOs are to be seen night after night there is a gross exaggeration. If this were so, the mystery would be practically solved by now. More sophisticated instruments than simple cameras and telescopes would have been brought to bear on the objects. The light from them would have been analysed and full details of their flight characteristics, etc., would be known. There would be a mass of useful data for the scientists to work on. So far there is nothing of the sort.

Whether Mr Shuttlewood has made up the more fantastic details of his story, either to make money, or to enjoy the resulting notoriety, or whether he has got himself into the state in which he honestly believes all the fantastic things he describes are really happening, readers must judge for themselves. However, anyone who believed every word of his Bradford lecture must indeed be a credulous person.