January 23rd, 1974 started out as an ordinary winter evening. It was a cold, clear and otherwise quiet evening in the Berwyn Mountains. Then all of a sudden, residents in the surrounding North Wales villages of Llandderefel and Llandrillo heard a thunderous explosion. It was so tremendous that it shook the walls of their homes and caused their windows to rattle.
Fearful that their houses were about to collapse from the tremors, many villagers ran from their residents. In their escape, they observed something strange along the mountainside.
Some said it was a meteor shower… but others believed it was the fiery wreckage of an alien ship.
What they actually saw that evening is still hotly debated to this day – but this strange saga of events has infamously become known as the Berwyn Mountain UFO incident.
Immediately following the explosion, police and other emergency workers made their way to the Berwyn Mountains. They claimed they were not searching for UFO crash wreckage; many believed that a small plane or helicopter may have crashed there, resulting in the impact felt and fiery glow described by witnesses. Crews searched the area thoroughly – but no wreckage was ever found.
So if there was no crash of any kind, what logical explanation could there possibly be for such a large disturbance? Even in the years since, the Ministry of Defence has maintained that the incident was caused by two unrelated, yet completely natural phenomena: an earthquake and a simultaneously occurring meteor shower.
The Institute of Geological Sciences supported the earthquake claim. They reported that a magnitude 3.5 earthquake occurred at 8:38 p.m. that evening over a large area of North Wales, and that the impact could be felt all the way through Liverpool.
Since earthquakes of this magnitude were fairly uncommon in that area at the time, it was not immediately recognized for what it was. So when emergency operators received hundreds of complaints about the disturbance, they sent the police to the Berwyn Mountains range to investigate.
While the earthquake explains the disturbance, the strange lights that coincided with the seismic activity are a little bit harder to clear up. There are a couple of different explanations for the unusual lights witnessed that evening. These include:
– Meteor Flashes
On the evening of January 23rd, what is believed to be bolide meteors were reported in the sky over the Berwyn Mountains. Bolide meteors are essentially fireballs; they appear as very bright pulses of light and burn so hot that they can appear to be blue or even green in color. Some can also explode very loudly, mimicking the sound of an explosion. Due to their strange color and violent combustion, bolides are frequently mistaken for UFOs or airplane distress signals.
– Earthquake Light
This is a lesser known natural phenomenon, but may better explain the unusual lights seen on the Berwyn mountainside that evening. After all, what are the odds that an earthquake – a rare geographical phenomenon – perfectly coordinates with a meteor shower – an ever rarer astrological phenomenon? As their name suggests, earthquake lights are strange, luminous concentrations that reportedly appear in the skies during or immediately following seismic activity and volcanic eruptions. Science has no perfect explanation for why these lights occur – but they do recognize the fact that they happen.
Berwyn Mountain UFO Theories
There are many logical explanations for what happened in the Berwyn Mountains on the night of January 23rd, 1974. However, there are also a number of eyewitness reports of strange activity that the British Government never bothered to explain. This has led conspiracy theorists to suspect a military cover-up of an alien crash-landing.
Here are some interesting witness reports from the Berwyn Mountain incident:
- Reports of the mysterious object and display of sights on the hillside are incredibly vivid… and also incredibly eerily unlike meteor flashes or anything else. Witnesses consistently report that the light was “coal fire red” and changed colors. They also stress that it was a perfect circle “like a big bonfire”. Bolide meters typically have a fire-colored tail, but the circular shape of them is usually blue, white or green. These meteors are also round, but not perfectly circular in shape.
- Pat Evans, a local nurse, heard the reports of a possible crash and headed to the mountainside to help. She reported seeing a series of pulsating lights surrounding a round object. This description is mostly consistent with the bolide meteor theory… but Evans also said she witnessed more lights moving in a perfect zig-zag pattern toward the round object with pulsating lights. Emergency crews were still miles away from the site at the time, so there is no clear explanation for this other strange array of lights.
- Shortly after the disturbance, an increased British military presence was reported in the area. There were reports of helicopters flying overhead and roadblocks toward the mountains. This increased activity was considered highly unusual for an earthquake that caused no actual damage.
- Many of the area residents also alleged that they received visits from strangers whose descriptions fit the infamous “Men in Black”. These mysterious men showed up at their homes and questioned them about what they had seen, but did not identify themselves as being with the military.
What Really Happened in The Berwyn Mountains?
So was this occurrence evidence of extraterrestrial life? Or was there a plausible, earthly explanation for what happened that night? After nearly 40 years of mystery, it seems to boil down to the word of eyewitnesses versus a whole lot of scientific evidence.
Unfortunately, witnesses accounts tend to be unreliable… simply because people don’t always remember things they see correctly. There have also been several declassified Ministry of Defence documents released in the years since that support the fact that an earthquake happened, earthquake lights or a meteor shower took place at approximately the same time… and a whole lot of confusion occurred in the moments afterward.
In short, it’s doubtful that the Berwyn Mountain UFO incident is actually proof of alien existence. However, it’s still a very interesting case study on UFOs and how these matters are investigated by scientists and conspiracy theorists alike. And even if the incident isn’t a true UFO encounter, it is still widely regarded as the second-most prolific UFO sighting in the history of the United Kingdom.