Spooklights

David Clarke, and Granville Oldroyd. Spooklights: A British Survey. Privately published by the authors, 1986.

David Clarke and Granville Oldroyd are easily the most industrious British researchers into a wide range of fortean reports. As might be expected of them there is a solid concentration on the stories themselves rather than making them conform to their own theories. Most of their sources are neewspapers, but these are supplemented by material from magazine and books on folklore, as well as some on-site investigation. Lacking the sensationalism that clutters many UFO and Fortean books, Spooklights makes an easy and entertaining read, that shows intelligent use of its material.

Most of the booklet deals with the 'luminous owl' scare that took place in Norfolk in the winter of 1907/1908, and the lights which plagued the Burton Dasset hills in early 1923. In addition there are cases from Ireland that preceded the 1913 British phantom airship scare; lights over Dartmoor in the summer of 1915 thought to be caused by German spying activity; lights observed at the same time as the 1905 Welsh reports; and lights off the Durham coast that caused shipwrecks from 1865-66.

The introduction and one short chapter survey the various explanations that have been offered, and although the compilers quote favourably Hilary Evans's suggestion that these lights might be the manifestation of some form of intelligence, at the end they express the hope that more work will go into attempting to solve this mystery.

Perhaps the authors could have spent some time discussing why or how these mysterious blobs of light get mixed up with stories of black dogs, cloaked figures, witchcraft, ritual murder, enemy spies and airships, fairy treasure, spirits of the dead, religious revivals, earth tremors, megaliths, ghostly battles, apparitions, etc., all of which are noted in the booklet. However this is a minor criticism. Whatever your theoretical orientation, this is a great source of information which should inspire more work on the subject. It sets an excellent example for other researchers, and provides a fascinating glimpse into Magonia. -- Reviewed by Nigel Watson, from Magonia 22, May 1986.


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