1902 CRUMLIN, County Antrim, Stone (L5)
1914 APPLEY BRIDGE, Lancashire, Stone(LL6)
1917 STRATHMORE, Perthshire, Stone (L)
1923 ASHDON, Essex. Stone (L6)
1931 PONTLYFNI, Gwynedd, Stone (anomalous)
1949 BEDDGELERT, Gwynedd, Stone (H5)
1965 BARWELL, Leicestershire, Stones(L6)
1969 BOVEDY, County Londonderry, Stones(L3)
1974 DANEBURY, Wessex, Stone(H6)
1991 GLATTON, Cambridgeshire, Stone(L?)
1998 GLENROTHES, Fife. Stone (H4?)
1999 LEIGHLINBRIDGE, County Carlow, Stones(H6?)
ON Saturday, September 13, 1902, at 10.30 a.m. (Irish time), a stone coming from the sky struck the earth (lat. 54° 38' 20" N., long. 6° 12' 10" W. of Greenwich) at a farm, belonging to Mr. Andrew Walker, situated in the district termed Crosshill, a mile to the north of the village of Crumlin, in which there is a station of the same name on the line of railway between Lisburn and Antrim. The place of fall is 3½ miles east of Lough Neagh, the largest lake in the British Isles, and 12 miles almost due west of Belfast, in which city nearly two thousand members of the British Association were then assembled for the annual meeting (September 10-17).
The fall first became known to people outside the immediate district of Crumlin through unsigned paragraphs which appeared in the Belfast 'Evening Telegraph' of Tuesday, September 16, and the Belfast 'Northern Whig' of the following morning; the news had been sent by Mr. S. R. Millar, who had Heard at Killead this noise as of explosion, and had afterwards been to view the fallen stone at Crosshill, where he had been told the particulars of its arrival by Mr. A. Walker himself. On September 20, Mr. W. H. Milligan of Belfast, in his hours of leisure an enthusiastic and skilful' observer of luminous meteors, and therefore particularly interested in the bodies which produce them, went to Crumlin to get more precise information than had yet been published relative to the stone and the phenomena connected with its fall. Later, the particulars of the fall reached the present writer, who, having learned through a telegram sent by him to Mr. Milligan that the stone was still in the hands of Mr. Walker, and from the latter that it had not been seen by any one familiar with the characters of such natural objects, left London immediately and arrived at the farmhouse on the morning of September 26. Recognizing at once that the stone was undoubtedly of celestial origin, he acquired it for the British Museum and sailed for Liverpool the same day with the stone in his care. The particulars given at the farm to Mr. Milligan and the present writer, and a preliminary description of the stone, were published immediately afterwards in 'Nature' (October 9, 1902).
Mr. Milligan, then residing at Belfast within easy reach of Crumlin, was conveniently placed for continuing the inquiries relative to the circumstances of the fall, and for this purpose published in the Belfast 'Newsletter' (September 26) and the Belfast' Northern Whig' (October 14) appeals for communication to him of any observations which might throw light on the path of the stone in the earth's atmosphere. He also called attention to the fact that a fall of stone, due to the same meteor, might have occurred elsewhere in the district at the same time; and he addressed special letters of inquiry to railway "station-masters and to clergymen in the region concerned. Further, Miss A. Black, living at the" farm, acted as secretary in this matter for her uncle, Mr. Walker, and forwarded to the writer accounts given by those who were near the Spot at the time when the stone fell and by others, farther away, who had heard the noise and afterwards gone to the farmhouse to see and handle, or inquire about, the fallen stone. The information thus obtained has been incorporated in the present paper.
It may be added, that no other stone belonging to the fall was ever found.
The essential particulars of the fall of the stone at Crosshill may be briefly summarized as follows:—At 10.30 a.m. on September 13, 1902, W. Walker, M. Montgomery, and W. John Adams were at work on Mr. Andrew Walker's farm: Walker and Montgomery were stacking hay in the farmyard, the former arranging the hay at the top of the stack, the latter forking it from the ground; Adams was only a few yards from them and was gathering apples beneath a tree near to a hedge which separated the farmyard from the cornfield in which he was him- self standing. All of them heard a loud noise, but Walker was the only one of the three to catch sight of anything in the air; the stack being nearly finished, he was high above the ground and exceptionally well placed for getting a good view of the immediate neighbourhood. He states that after the noise he saw something like a 'whirl' come through the air with the speed of lightning and strike the ground at a spot about 30 yards from the stack, the soil being thrown up at once to a consider- able distance above the standing corn, then 3 or 4 feet high and ready for the reaper. Adams likewise saw the cloud of dust rising about 20 yards away from where he was at work. He at once ran through the standing corn towards the dust-cloud and found that a hole appeared to have just been made in the ground; it was clear to him that, if any material body had entered, it must have been immediately covered by soil which had fallen over it and have gone to an unknown and perhaps considerable depth. Adams therefore hastened to the farmyard to get a spade, and in less than a quarter of an hour from the instant of fall had dug out a black, dense stone, different in aspect from any of the known stones of the district; it had penetrated the soil about 1½ feet, at which depth further progress had been stopped by an ordinary but much larger stone already in the ground. After the use of the spade, it was impossible for any one to determine later, from examination of the hole, the preeise direction in which the stone had entered the earth, and thus the final direction of its path in the atmosphere, but according to Adams it must have gone vertically downwards. That this was the case, approximately at least, is confirmed by an observation of Mr. Andrew Walker who, immediately after the fall, sought carefully, though without avail, for signs of injury to the standing corn, such as would; be expected to have been produced by a dense stone travelling through it at a great speed in a direction inclined to the vertical.
It may be mentioned that a boy about 14 years old, who was 200 yards away, told his father at the time that he had seen a dark body, like a crow, pass through the air into Mr. Walker's field and that a 'mist' (Miss Black) or ' smoke or sparks' (Mr. Milligan). followed in its path. But the line of flight indicated by him, some time after the event, to Mr. Milligan was nearly horizontal and almost from east to west, a direction which seems inconsistent with other observations; the boy was possibly too much confused or frightened at the time to be able to recall afterwards exactly what had happened. Nor would this be surprising, for a neighbouring farmer, working in the fields, was so impressed by the strange noise that he threw away his rake and called out to his men 'All is up now!' meaning that the end of all things was come; and he said afterwards that he had really thought it.
The stone was hot when extracted, and according to Mr. Andrew Walker was still warm to the touch nearly an hour after its fall, for which length of time it had been lying on the window-sill and in the open air. The present writer, remarking the position of the window- sill on which the stone had lain, asked, Mr. Walker, who seemed certain of the accuracy of the observation, if the continued warmth might not have been due to directly incident sunshine, but was told that such an explanation was impossible of acceptance for the morning of September 13 had been cloudy.
It was recorded in the account forwarded to 'Nature' that a sulphurpus odour had been noticed after the fall. A copy of the published account having been sent by the writer to Mr. Walker for his observations, the niece of the latter, in acknowledging the receipt of it, corrected a misapprehension. It appears that Mr. Walker had intended to convey to the writer the idea, that when the stone was dug out it had, not a sulphurous odour, but a sulphurous look. She added in explanation: 'there were one or two spots of something like sulphur on the stone; the best description I can give of them is that it looked as if a thin mixture of sulphur and water had dried, on it,'. It was perhaps this appearance that led to the statement in the newspaper account that 'the stone is of a dark metallic colour tinged with gold'.
In answer to an inquiry as to how it came about that the stone was quite clean although it' had been buried in the ground, Miss Black wrote that when the stone was: dug out scarcely any soil was adherent: to it; the little which adhered was on the lower side against which the soil caught between: the two stones had been violently;pressed, and it, was- easily removed. The ground was quite dry at the time of the fall and the stone was never washed, "Thus neither at the time of the fall nor afterwards had the stone been exposed to the action of water.
As fireballs and shooting-stars, produced by the entry of quickly moving celestial matter into the earth's atmosphere, are found to die out when still some miles above the height to which clouds are observed to reach, they are only visible so long as they are travelling across a cloudless part of the sky. In the case of theCrumlin stonefall no luminous meteor is reported to have been seen by any one. That there was no rift in the clouds to make a view of the luminous meteor possible to terrestrial observers is evident from the following reports relative to the state of the sky at 10.30 o'clock on the morning of September 13:Crumlin; 'The morning was cloudy'.
Map of the district around Crumlin, marking places at which
detonations were heard.
The Crumlin stone weighs 9 lb. 5½ oz.. (4239 grains) it is 7½ inches (185 mm.) long, 6½ inches (160 mm.) wide, 3½ inches (84 mm.) thick. Though small, it is the largest stone which has been-seen to fall from the sky to the British Isles since the year 1813, and is larger than any which has fallen in England or Scotland since 1795, in which year a stone weighing 56 lb. fell in Yorkshire. The heaviest stone known to have fallen in the British Isles weighs 65 lb.; it fell near the town of Adare in County Limerick in 1813; several other stones fell at the same time, two of them weighing 241b. and 17 lb. respectively.
The form of the Crumlin stone is irregular and distinctly fragmental; there are nine or ten faces, each of them slightly concave or convex; the edges are somewhat rounded. Five of the faces are similar to each other in character, and, except for minute pittings and projecting points,- are Bmooth; they show those large shallow concavities which are Common on meteoric stories, and have been likened in shape to 'thumbmarks'; the remaining faces are different from the others in aspect and have a low ridge-and-furrow development.
The stone is covered with a crust formed during the flight through the air. The crust is in parts black, in parts brown, the latter colour being perhaps a result of the action of the soil into which the stone penetrated; it is generally dull, but here and there lustrous; in one part it is iridescent in purple, blue, and pink colours. On the smoother faces already referred to, it is uniform in aspect; and where broken is seen to be in places 0-5 mm. thick, the greatest observed thickness being 1 mm.; that on the faces which have a ridge-and-furrow development is different in aspect and seems to be much thinner. A fresh.surface of fracture is quite light in colour. From these characters it is inferred that the meteorite broke up in an early part of its course through the atmosphere, at a time when the speed was still so enormous that the heat produced by the compression of the air in front of the quickly moving stone was sufficient to scorch completely and form a crust on the newly broken ridge-and-furrow surfaces.
Small portions of the crust are missing here and there, and the fresh- looking interior is then visible ; at first the breakages were thought to be results of injury after the stone had struck the ground, but on close examination it becomes manifest that the bits of crust must have flaked off during the flight of the stone through the air; for on several of the. fresh-looking surfaces there is a reticulated black material which has been in a fused; state and occasionally has formed a spherical drop, 0·25 mm; in diameter.
Here and,there, bright particles of metal (nickel-iron) interrupt the continuity,of< the dark crust. On one of the surfaces, of latest fracture there is visible a section of; a large flat nodule of troilite, the bronze-coloured; protosulphide of iron; the section is 13 mm. long and its greatest width is 3 mm.
A crack extending nearly halfway through the meteorite at a distance of an inch from an outer face was probably caused by the impact on the larger stone met with in the soil; the crack, where it comes to the surface, is a niillinieter wide.
 [The author had left the MS. of this paper in a,finished state, as here printed, up to the end of the paragraph headed ' specific gravity'.]
 [L. Fletcher, Fall of a meteoric stone near Crumlin (Co. Antrim) September 18. 'Nature', London, 1902, vol. 66, pp. 577-579, 2 figs. Another short account written by Sir L. Fletcher appeared in the 'Globe' newspaper, and was reprinted in Geol. Mag., 1902, pp. 521-522.] [A note of the fall was also given by W. E. Besley, 'The Crumlin Meteorite', Mem. Brit. Astron. Assoc, 1908, vol. 12, pp. 29-31, being included in the Eleventh Report of the Section for the Observation of Meteors. In this account, which varies slightly in some of the details, the conclusion drawn is: 'A consideration of the mapped places whence the detonation was heard indicates that, as Mr. Milligan remarks, "It would appear that the aerolite entered the denser strata of the atmosphere apparently at a high angle over the centre of Co. Down".]Extract from the Memoirs of the British Astronomical Assocation, Vol. XII. Part I, the Eleventh report of the section for the observation of Meteors. Published April 24th, 1903
The Crumlin Meteorite.
On 1902, September 12,22h 30m (or, as the time has been generally referred to, September 13, 10:30 a.m.) an event of great interest took place--the fall of a meteorite in Ireland.
Three men were loading hay in a field at Crosshill, near Crumlin, County Antrim, when a noise like thunder or the rolling of drums broke overhead. One of them thought it was at Crumlin Mill, rather more than half a mile away, and described the report as twofold and followed by a whizzing noise or the sound of escaping steam. A second believed the cause was the running of a train off the line near by, and ran to look over the hedge, about a dozen yards off, returned, and put up a forkful of hay during the time the sound lasted. The former, from his position on the top of the haystack, saw something like a "whirl" going into the ground about 70 yards off in the adjoining field (sown with corn) with lightning speed. There was an explosion and the soil was thrown a considerable distance above the standing corn. When dug out the object, which had embedded itself in a straightdownward course for 13 inches, was found to be quite hot, continuing so for about an hour.
Another eye-witness of the fall was separated from the place by only a very small field. His attention was attracted by a hissing noise like that which a rocket produces and by an explosion. When the stone struck the ground he could see the dust rising up. He also went to the hole and estimated it as two feet deep.
A farmer was at work in one of his fields about a quarter of a mile distant towards the south-south-west from the locality referred to, when he heard a great noise overhead followed by a very heavy whirlwind and slight darkhess. A report followed by several crackling noises was distinctly audible, and then the whirlwind continued "Carrickfergus way." He was perfectly sure that the noise of wind continued after the report.
Another farmer loading hay in a north-north-easterly direction from Crosshill also noticed the great noise overhead, but apparently slightly at the side of his cart. It was followed by a whirlwind so great that he was afraid of its knocking over the haycocks.
Besides, of course, in the neighbourhood of Crosshill, the detonation was heard at Antrim (5 miles north by west), but, so far as information goes, at no other places towards the north, nor at any on the western side of Lough Neagh. It was, however, heard at many places in other directions, namely, Crumlin (1 mile south-south-west), Glenavy (3 miles south by west), Ballinderry (6½ miles south-south-west], Legoniel (8½ miles east), Lisburn ( 10½ miles south-east by south), Moira (11 miles south by west), Lurgan (13 miles south-south-west), Dromore (15 miles south by east), Banbridge (20 miles south by west), and Pointzpass (25 miles south-south-west). The observer at the last-named place noted a loud report followed by a rumbling noise in the direction of Banbridge.
Detailed descriptions of the path of the meteorite passing as a daylight fireball through the air would have been very desirable, but such accounts as are available are very meagre. The man who saw it going into the ground stated that he saw nothing to mark its track. One little boy at Crumlin said he saw "something like a crow with a mist after it." Mr. W. H. Milligan found a lad in the same village who seemed to have seen the track, and he; held a stick indicating a direction from the south or south-east to the north or north-west, but evidently at too low an angle for the flight. It is also described as having been seen at Ballinderry. A consideration of the mapped places whence the detonation was heard indicates that, as Mr. Milligan remarks,
"It would appear that the aërolite entered the denser strata of the atmosphere apparently at a high angle over the centre of Co. Down."The foregoing particulars have been compiled from information collected and kindly supplied to the writer by Mr. W. E. Milligan, who was the first to describe the occurrence with any detail, and Mr. S. E. Milligan, both of Belfast; by Mr. T. Hill Scott, of Crumlin, who also furnished a plan of the farm; by Mr. A. E. Mitchell, a Member of the Meteoric Section, and by two other Members of the Association, Mr. J. O'Neill and Mr. Alexander Tate, of Belfast, as well as by Mr. Andrew Walker, of Crosshill, one of the witnesses of the phenomenon, and on whose land it fell.
The meteorite was purchased for the British Museum collection by Mr. L. Fletcher, Keeper of the Mineralogical Department, and has been on exhibition for some time in the Central Hall of the Natural History Branch, Cromwell Road, South Kensington. From the statement appended to the case it appears that the stone was actuully dug up by a man gathering apples not 20 yards distant from where it fell. It may also be mentioned for the benefit of those unable to visit the museum that, as there announced,
"the meteorite consists chiefly of stony material, probably a mixture of Olivine and Enstatite; through it are dispersed grains of a metallic alloy of Iron and Nickel. Here and there are small nodules of the bronze-colonred mineral Troilite, a compound of iron and sulphur not found as a native terrestrial product."The weight of the specimen before being cut was 9 lbs. 5½ ozs. Its dimensions were 7½ x 6½ x 4½ ins.
WALTER E. BESLEY,
1903, January 29.
A METEORITIC FALL IN LANCASHIRE
On Tuesday evening, October 13, at 8.45, the inhabitants of Lancashire and Cheshire were alarmed by a sudden and vivid illumination of the heavens caused by a ball of fire moving. slowly from about S.S.E. to N.N.W. It lit up the whole countryside and consisted of several outbursts, the final one being the brightest flash. Then a short interval afterwards, the estimated periods varying from a few seconds to four minutes, according to the distances of the observers, there was a tremendous report, as though a thunder-like explosion had occurred in the region a few miles west of Wigan.
This was followed by a series of rumblings extending apparently back along the flight of the luminous object. At several places the windows are stated to have been shaken, and the vibration was such that it presented some similarity to an earthquake shock.
Numbers of persons in Manchester, Liverpool, Halifax, Northwich, Bolton, Macelesfield, and other towns witnessed the event and heard the noise, and in the present agitated state of the public mind, all sorts of ideas were formed as to the nature of the phenomenon.
A large detonating meteor had, notwithstanding the rather cloudy state of the atmosphere, not only penetrated the lower region of the air, but had resisted complete disruption and fallen to the ground. It was discovered on the following day at Appley Bridge, four miles W.N.W. of Wigan. An employee of Mr. Lyon of Halliwell Farm noticed a newly turned up mound in a field and on examination, he saw a reddish mass of strange material lying in a hole about 18 in. below the surface. On being dug out the object weighed about 33 lbs. and in appearance looked like rough piece of burnt iron. Subsequently, the county police took possession of the strange visitor, and it has since been handed over to curator of the Godlee Observatory, Manchester for proper investigation.
My preliminary discussion of the first observations received indicated that the meteor penetrated to a point so low in the air that it probably fell in the region twenty miles west of Manchester This conclusion was mentioned in a letter to the Manchester papers, and the discovery of the meteorite a few miles west of Wigan fully justified the prediction. Several of the observers say that the object lost its luminosity when still at an apparently considerable height. This appears to show that the motion had so far slackened that combustion had visibly ceased, and the object fell to the ground in an opaque, cooling; condition. Evidence of this is also furnished by its penetrating; the soil to a depth of only 18 in. Several well-observed meteoritic falls have been of merely terrestrial velocity amounting to 400 or 500 ft. a second, which is something different from the velocity of 26 miles a second possessed by these bodies in planetary space. The descent of objects of this class is often vertical or nearly so, and their original velocity and direction are apparently quite changed by the new conditions impressed on them during their disruption when very near the earth's surface.
I have collected a large number of observations of the flight of the object, from which it appears that its direction was from about azimuth 335°, counted west from south, or from S.S.E. to N.N.W, and the probable radiant was at 348° + 2° in the western region of Pisces. The course of the meteor was from near Stoke to the place of its fall, a length of 49 miles traversed at a velocity of about 8 miles a second. The height declined from 29 miles to 0.
The object is said to have made a slanting hole in the ground, and this would accord with an angle of some 37°, which a radiant at 348° + 2° would indicate. But the angle of the meteor's descent must have probably become much steeper after its entry into our atmosphere as an effect of the resistance encountered and terrestrial attraction. Several disruptions of its material undoubtedly occurred before the final outburst; these reduced the size and varied the shape of the object and may well have influenced the line of flight.
The radiant in Pisces yields many fireballs in September, and one was seen by many observers on September 8 last. Daniel's comet of 1907 has an orbit which approaches near the earth's orbit on September 12 and may possibly be responsible for some of the large meteors observed in September and at a later period.
Previous meteoric falls have occurred as follows
in England, and I give the last recorded case in
1795 December 13, Wold Cottage, 56 lbs.
1830 February 15, Launton.
1835 August 4, Aldsworth.
1876 April 20, Rowton, 7 ¾ lbs.
1881 March 14, Middlesbrough, 3 ½ lbs.
1902 September 13, Crumlin, Ireland, 9 ½ lbs.
W. F. DENNING.
The Appley Bridge Meteorite.
In Nature of November 5, 1914, Mr. W. F. Denning gave an account of the meteorite of October 13, 1914, in which he mentions that the object had been found, and was then at the Godlee Observatory, Manchester.
The object which fell at Appley Bridge belongs to the aerolites or stony meteorites, and not to the siderites or irons. In appearance there is the striking meteoric features of deep thumb marks--piezoglyphs-and the general coating a dark brown to black. This was in distinct contrast to the interior, which was of a light grey colour. In general the figure gave one the impression of its being a segment of a spherical shell, the dimensions being:
Length ... ... ... 9.65 in. Depth ... ... ... 9.13 " Width or thickness ... ... 6.62 "The longest diagonal measurement gave 10.76 in. When the aerolite reached the Godlee Observatory, it was in two pieces, weighing 28 lb. 13 oz.; and showed evident signs that some considerable portions had been broken away since its discovery.
The very friable nature of the mass was such that portions could be readily broken off by the thumb and fingers, and it is to this softness of texture that its losses are due, as the weight at the time of discovery was given as more than 30 lb.
It is certainly a remarkable object, as on a comparison with the list of meteorites recorded in Great Britain, published in the British Museum Guide to Meteorites, there is only one given of greater weight, that fell at Wold Cottage in Yorkshire in 1795.
The outer coating, which varies from a very thin film to nearly 2 mm. in thickness, presents a very finely-pitted surface, with evidence of a tendency to show lines of movement, as though the heated skin was being pushed backwards from the direction of motion. The portions which had become fused showed a dark glazed or shiny surface, this evidently being the forward end, and the portion to which the heat from the compressed air in front of it was most effective. The appearance of the pittings suggest that the heating of the surface was the means of liberating some portions of the structure of the mass, and that these would provide what is seen as the trail of the meteor after it has passed in its flight through the air, being the continued glow of the heated emissions by combination with the oxygen in the air.
There is evidence that some portions of the surface had only come into contact with the air during the later portion of its traverse. These regions have all the appearance of flakes of the outer skin having been broken away, a slight tarnishing of the pyrites, if at a distance from the edge of the fracture or slight fusing when close to the general outer coating, indicating a removal of portions of outer layers of the mass.
This is quite in keeping with the assumption that the fragments were split off at the time of the apparent burst in the air, at about twenty miles' altitude, as from that position the speed of the meteor would be so much reduced by the compressional friction, that it would be losing more heat than gaining.
The fractured surface on an inspection appeared to be made up of a glittering mass of white and yellow points in a grey setting. These proved to be chiefly pyrites, and their presence accounted far the apparent great weight according to the size. The specific gravity of the mass determined from a fragment was 3.33, and is in accord with what would be expected from the mineralogical contents. A magnetic examination of the mass as a whole gave no appreciable effect, although a search amongst the dust which accumulated from the rubbing of the two pieces, indicated portions of magnetic nature though small in amount which proved to be metallic iron.
The pyritic material contains nickel as well as iron, portions being crystalline, the olivine being of a pale yellowish-green colour, whilst the enstatite is whitish or grey.
The proportions of the minerals worked out on the basis of the composition and solubility are approximately :--
Pyritic and metallic matter ... ... 5.07 Enstatite ... ... ... ... 31.5 Olivine ... ... ... ... 63.43The analysis which has been made by Mr. E. L. Rhead indicate the presence of the following in order of amount :--
|Silica ...||SiO2||Phosphorus ... ...||P|
|Magnesia ...||MgO||Soda potash|
|Iron ... ...||Fe||Chlorine|
|Alumina ...||Al2O3||Lime, etc.|
|Sulphur ...||S||With oxygen in combina-|
WILLIAM C. JENKINS.
Part of the meteor which (rumoured to be an airship) caused such sensation throughout Lancashire and Cheshire the week before last has been found in a field in the Wigan district. The brilliance of the meteor was especially noted in the Douglas valley, and the "remnants" of a meteor have been found on the land of Mr. Eric Lyon, of Halliwell Farm, Appley Bridge. It is said to be very heavy for its size, and has the appearance of iron which has been much burned, and small fragments of it taken between the fingers and rubbed would crumble. On rubbing the outer soft crust off, veins of what looked like gold and silver were seen. Superintendent Kelly, of the Wigan County Poice force, went over to the farm and took possession of the meteorite on behalf of Mr. H. H. Lane, the Chief Constable of Lancashire. Afterwards a small fragment which had been detached from the larger mass was put on view in a shop-window at Appley Bridge. Superintendent Kelly says the piece he took charge of weighs some 30 lb. On the outside it is dark brown in colour like rusty iron, and is covered with a sort of burnt powder. Inside the colour is light grey, with spots of gold and bright-coloured metals. It was taken to Preston to the county police headquarters for investigation and examination. Dr: J. H. Wilson, the medical officer for the district, describes the meteorite as being like a 'large stone,' irregular in shape, and externally of a redish colour, similar to the appearance of rusty irorn or of iron drawn from a fire. It is also very friable, he says, and pieces can be broken from it by the fingers alone. Internally the prevailing colour is that of French grey, the material being of varying hardness, and some parts having the resemblance of lead.
The Wigan Meteorite
--In view of the interest which has been evinced in the Wigan meteorite by Mr. Godden and other readers, I thought the enclosed photograph of this interesting object might be acceptable for reproduction in "Ours." It clearly shows the pitted surface, and its curious shape. Writing to Mr Lane, the cheif constable of Lancashire, Mr L. Fletcher, M.A., F.R.S., Director of the Natural History Department of the British Museum, says that his colleague, Dr. Prior, Keeper of the Minerals, has been to Manchester and seen the meteorite. He says it is undoubtedly a genuine one, whereas nine hundred and ninety-nine out of a thousand sent to the museum for inspection are mere terrestrial products. I am told it is the largest known meteorite which has fallen in this country for 120 years. I understand that Mr. Maxwell, Principal of the Manchester School of Technology, has made an analytical examination of the meteorite, and that a report is expected from him in due course. As soon as this is received I will endeavour to forward you a copy. Through the microscope the meteorite seems to be composed entirely of silicious material mixed with bright metal of the appearance of silver.
Perth County Police were last week engaged investigating an occurance which took place on December 2 in the afternoon. In the Blairgowrie, Coupar-Angus, and Strathmore districts a noise was heard like a peal of thunder, and near Perth a similar sound was heard, resembling distant thunder. The lodge at Keithick House, Coupar-Angus, was struck by a falling object, which penetrated the roof of the house. The article weighs about 2 lbs., is 4 ins. in length, and about 3 ins. in height, bearing irregular marks. It was taken to Perth, and was submitted to Mr. Henry Coates, curator of the Perthshire Society of Natural Science Museum. for examination. He was unable, however, to make any definate statement, and said it will require to be analysed. He described it as looking like a mass of iron slag.
There has been discovered in a grassfield on the farm of Easter Essendy, near Blairgowrie, a large piece of the meteorite that fell in Strathmore last Monday week. When the explosions were heard high in the heavens, Mr, Charles Small, foreman at Easter Essendy, noticed the sheep in a field running off to another part, but thought no more about the matter until the report apeared that a piece of the meteorite had struck a cottage at Keithick, Coupar Angus. On Thursday Mr Steel examined the place from which the sheep had fled, and found a large "stone," weighing 22¼ lb., shaped like a causeway block, buried about 20 inches in the ground. The "stone" is very dark, and pretty much "pitted," and is similar to the part found at Keithick. It has been taken possession of by the county police.
--I send you the following which appeared in the People's Journal, and which
is supplementary to the notes you have already given in your "Scientific News."
Sir,--As there still exists a certain amount of doubt in the public mind regarding the phenomena which were witnessed in the Coupar Angus and Blairgowrie districts on Monday, 3rd inst., I suggested to the Cheif Constable of Perthshire, who agreed, to the publication of the following facts:--
Up to the present time three fragments have been recovered, namely:--(1) The fragment which fell through the roof of the lodge at Keithick, weighing 2 lbs. 8ozs.; (2) fragment, weighing 2 lbs. 4 oz., which fell close to the farm steading of Carsie, 2½ miles S.S.W. from Blairgowrie; and (3) a large mass, weighing 22 lbs. 8 ozs., which fell in a grass field 500 yards from the farm steading of Easter Essendy, in the parish of Kinloch, about two miles W.S.W. from Blairgowrie.
By permission I took the Keithick fragment to Edinburgh on Wednesday, 5th inst., and had it examined by the officers of the Geological Survey and by Dr. M'Lintock, Superintendent of the Department of Geology in the Royal Scotish Museum. These authorities pronounced it to be unquestionably a meteorite of the variety known as a Siderolite--that is, a meteorite containing both metalic and mineral ingredients. It displays all the characteristics of a typical meteorite both as regards its texture and its configuration.
Two remarkable facts have come to light in connection with the finding of specimens (2) and (3). The fall of the Carsie specimen was actually witnessed by a person who was standing at a distance of about twenty yards from the spot where it fell, and who saw it enter the ground. In the case of the Essendy specimum, the finder was guided to the spot where it fell by the commotion caused amongst a flock of sheep who were feeding in a field. The question arises--Has any mortal hitherto witnessed the actual arrival on earth of one of these celestial visitants?--Henry Coats, Curator, The Museum, Tay Street, Perth, December 8, 1917.
At about 1.18 p.m., when the Sun was shining in the south by west sky at an altitude of 10°, many persons in Edinburgh, Perth, Fife, and Forfar saw a brilliant meteor, which gave a startling flash and a series of thunder-like detonations. The direction of flight was from S.E. to N.W., and as seen from Edinburgh the meteor descended from high in the N.E. to low in the North. The sounds heard indicated the disintegration of the meteor and its comparative proximity.
Three fragments fell, viz. (one) at Keithick Lodge, about 2 miles W.S.W. of Cupar Angus (weighing 2 ½ lbs.), where it penetrated the slate roof of the house; (two) at Carsie Farm, about 3 miles N.W. from Keithick (weighing 2 ¼ lbs.), where it was seen to fall into a grass field by a farmer's wife standing about 20 yards away; and (three) near Easter Essendy, 2 miles W.S.W. from Blairgowrie (weighing 22 ½ lbs), where it embedded itself in a grass field to the depth of 18 to 20 inches.
The attention of the police was called to the startling event, and they took possession of the fallen bodies pending further investigations.
Preliminary inquiry as to the nature of the objects proved them to be genuine meteorites of the class known as siderolites, consisting of an admixture of iron and stone.
Observations of the luminous flight of the meteor, before its explosion, fracture, and fall, were numerous, but very rough and not in good agreement. They appear to show, however, that the direction of motion, as estimated, was, in conformity with that suggested by the distribution of the fragments in a line running nearly S.E. to N.W. The apparent astronomical radiant point was probably at R.A. 302° Dec. North 24° in the small asterism Sagitta in about azimuth 310° (counted W. from S.) and altitude nearly 50°. The exact point over which the meteor became luminous is uncertain, but it entered on the coast of Scotland near Wester Anstruther when about 40 miles high and must probably, some time before this, having flashed out in the daylight sky. It passed over the Firth of Tay when about 18 miles high and continued its steep descent until its largest fragment ultimately found a resting place on the farm land at Easter Essendy. (It has since been heard that another fragment weighing 2 ¼ lbs. fell at Corston. This was the first that fell, and the four pieces seem to have been distributed over a line 6 miles long from S.E. to N.W. in direction.)
The radiant point in Sagitta was previously known as one occasionally supplying very slow and brilliant meteors in December. On the nights from the 1st to the 10th of that month in 1917 (the meteorite fell on the 3rd), eight fine meteors were observed and their paths recorded by Mrs Wilson or by others attached to the meteoric section of the B.A.A. We may conclude, therefore, that the Strathmore meteorite formed a member of a well-defined shower and was not apparently isolated in space, as certain other fine objects of this class appear to have been.
Meteorite weighing 22 ½ lbs., that fell at Easter Essendy, Perth, on 1917, December 3, 1.18 pm.
From a photograph by Mr Henry Coates, F.R.S.E., and reproduced by his permission.
On Monday, the 3rd of December, 1917, at a quarter past one in the afternoon,
there occurred in the Strathmore district of Perthshire and Forfarshire one of
the most remarkable meteoric falls that has ever been recorded in the British Isles,
and certainly the most remarkable that has been recorded in Scotland.(See Appendix A.)
The day was a particularly bright one for the time of the year, with clear frosty air,
brilliant sunshine, and only a few cirrus and cumulus clouds covering one-tenth of the sky.
The thermometer, at nine in the morning, had been standing at 20 d'eg. Fahr.,
and the barometer at 30.240 inches, while the hydroscope showed 100 per cent,
of humidity in the atmosphere. The wind was from the S.W., with force one,
equal to two miles per hour. I mention these meteorological details,
not that they have any connection, with the phenomenon itself,
but on account of their bearing on visibility, and the transmission of
sound—important factors in weighing the evidence received from various quarters.
Under these conditions, then, and about the time specified, a visitor from space was seen to enter our atmosphere. I say " seen," because, as will soon be evident, it is necessary to draw a-sharp distinction between what was seen and what was heard. The appearance which presented itself in the heavens was that of a ball of fire swiftly moving across the sky, leaving behind it a brilliantly luminous trail, gradually becoming more attenuated, until it seemed to end in a shower of sparks. (Plate 5). This description I take from the combined reports of several witnesses. One witness, viewing it from a geographical distance of over 40 miles, describes it as a truly magnificent spectacle, even as seen in the brilliant noonday sunshine of a particularly bright day. The same phenomenon seen on a dark night would have been awenspiring indeed. The head of the comet-like body is described by some as being of a fiery red colour, but witth a yellowish tinge in it, while the trail was of a pale blue-green colour, shading off into what looked like red-hot sparks.
This body was seen from Aboyne, Aberdeenshire, in the north; from Hexham, Northumberlandshire, in England; from St. Boswells, Roxburghshire, in the south of Scotland ; from Edinburgh, I.eith and Musselburgh; from St. Andrews and Crossgates in Fife; and from Perth and Burrelton in the immediate neighbourhood. So far as my information goes, only one person both saw the meteor and heard the subsequent detonation. I am not now, of course, referring to the fall of the actuail meteoric fragment, which was witnessed by Mrs. Welsh as it reached the earth at Carsie. What I am referring to is the incandescent mass as seen in the high heavens before its disruption. The person who witnessed this and also heard it explode was Mrs. Alex. McLaren, living at 40 Queen Street, Craigie, Perth. She says that while gazing up into the sky, as she frequently does, she saw a ball of fire, followed by a trail of light, rush across the sky, and disappear behind a small grey cloud. Before it had time to emerge on the other side of the cloud, she heard the sound as of a terrific explosion, and saw nothing more. It is true it was both seen and heard from Aboyne, but not by the same people.
It is a remarkable fact that while the meteor was seen by a large number of people at distances of forty miles from Strathmore, we have only two records of its being seen from points at distances less than forty miles, namely, the Perth record, already referred to, and one at Bunrelton, only about two miles from Coupar Angus, where Mr. George Miller, Innkeeper, saw what he describes as " two swirls in the sky." The explanation of this, no doubt, is that at a distance of forty miles or more the angle of vision would be a comparatively low one, so that a person who happened to be walking in the proper direction, and whose gaze was elevated even to a moderate extent, could hardly fail to see it; whereas, nearer to the centre of disturbance, an observer would require to have been gazing nearly vertically upwards, as Mrs. McLaren said she frequently did.
When we come to analyse the records of what was heard, we find that they are in exactly the inverse ratio from the records of what was seen. The former diminish with the increase of the distance from Strathmore and practically cease beyond thirty miles, while the latter diminish as we approach Strathmore, and practically cease within the thirty mile radius, with one or two notable exceptions in both series. This will be strikingly apparent on comparing the tables of distances and directions which are appended to this paper,(See Appendix B.)
Practically all these witnesses agree that the meteor, when they saw it, was travelling in a direction approximately from South East to North West, the angle of elevation, of course, varying with the point from which it was seen. It seems to have entered the earth's atmosphere and become luminous somewhere off the south-east coast of Scotland, and to have travelled in an oblique and gradually descending course until after it had crossed the Carse of Gowrie and the Sidlaws. Up to that point, the friction exercised by the atmosphere, acting against a body travelling at a stellar velocity of some twenty miles per second, would be a constantly increasing quantity, as the body gradually descended into the regions of increasing atmospheric density. At length a point would be reached when the surface tension of the glowing mass would not be able to resist the enormous force generated by the difference in temperature and pressure between the interior and exterior of the body, with the result that the whole mass disrupted into fragments, producing in doing so a detonation which was heard over an area of hundreds of square miles. Judging by the curvature of the outer surfaces seen in the fragments which have been recovered, I have estimated that the original body, before its disruption, must have been at least four feet in diameter, although this calculation is subject to certain doubtful factors. If it approached anything like that size, however, it is evident that only an infinitesimal proportion of the whole has been recovered. No doubt many fragments may have fallen in the water or waste land or among vegetation, but probably the largest proportion was dissipated into dust and gases, as it the case with the vast majority of the meteorites or " shooting stars " which enter our atmosphere every night.
If we next examine the evidence as to the nature, intensity, and direction of the sounds which were heard, we find that there is pretty general agreement amongst the various witnesses, the testimony varying chiefly according to the distance and angle from which the sound was heard. Thus in the immediate neighbourhood over which the explosion took place, it is described not only as a very loud but as a very sharp explosion. Many of the witnesses speak of the first explosion being followed by several reports of less intensity. These were probably produced by reverberations from clouds, or perhaps from inequalities of land surface. Others again speak of a loud humming sound, as of a projectile or an aeroplane rushing through the air. This may have been the sound of the original great mass being hurled through the atmosphere before its disruption. The observer at Aboyne estimated the time which elapsed between the meteor being seen and the detonation heard, and, allowing for the rate at which sound travels, he calculated the distance, at the time of the explosion, to be 70 miles. As Aboyne is at a horizontal distance of 40 miles from Strathmore, this would imply that the body was about 50 miles vertically above the earth's surface when it exploded. Mr. W. F. Denning of Bristol, however, one of our leading authorities on meteoric falls, to whom I sent all the evidence I had collected, gives it as his opinion that it had reached an elevation of only 14 miles from the earth's surface when it became non-luminous and exploded.(See Appendix C.)
We have now reached the stage in the history of our celestial visitor when it ceases to be a meteor, and becomes a congeries of meteorites, that is, a number of fragments of inert matter, still warm, but not glowing with incandescence of white heat; and falling towards the earth by the attraction of the force of gravity, but not with the velocity of a stellar body. When at length they reached the solid surface of the earth, all the available evidence seems to prove that both their great initial velocity and their great acquired heat were almost or altogether exhausted. These conclusions we arrive at because, as regards (i) the velocity, we find that the Keithick fragment, while it pierced the slates and roofing boards of the Lodge, had not sufficient impetus left to penetrate the lath and plaster ceiling of the room; while the Carsie fragment, weighing 2¼ lbs., was only able to sink to a depth of some six inches into the soil of a ploughed field, while the Essendy fragment, weighing nearly ten times as much, penetrated only" eleven inches through the turf of a grass field. As regards (2) the heat, again, we find that the Keithick fragment produced no appearance or smell of burning in the roof or ceiling of the Lodge, while the Carsie fragment, which was extracted from the ground by M.rs. Welsh's son ten minutes after it fell, produced no noticeable effect of heat or cold in his hand, and the Essendy fragment caused no appearance of scorching in the grass surrounding the hole, or even in the clods which were thrown out by the impact. The conclusion is, therefore, that the energy which the body possessed before its disruption must have been dissipated, partly by the opposition it encountered through the friction of the atmosphere, and partly by the expenditure of energy in the actual disruption itself, and its accompanying' detonation.
We have now brought our fragments to earth, and to rest, and their interest changes from the astronomical to the mineralogical sphere. To us, inhabitants of the earth, they have become meteorites pure and simple, inert bodies of a definite mineralogical character and chemical composition, susceptible of microsoopical examination, chemical analysis, and tests for specific gravity, besides the more obvious investigations of weight and measurement. For the result of some of these methods of investigation, we shall have to wait for a considerable time, as the processes involved are of extreme delicacy and complexity, and can only be carried out by the aid of the highest skill available in the country.
In the meantime, however, it is possible to give a general description of the external characters of the various fragments which were recovered.
Before describing them seriatitn, it may be well to enquire as to which of the three recognised types of meteorite they should be referred. These three types, which merge gradually into each other, are represented by meteorites which consist (a) mainly of iron, (b) mainly of iron and stone, both in large proportions, and (c) almost wholly of stone (Fletcher), and are known respectively as Siderites, Siderolites, and Aerolites. On a first cursory examination, I was inclined to classify the Strathmore Meteorites as belonging to the second group (Siderolites), as they manifestly contain a very appreciable proportion of iron, but Dr. McLintock has no hesitation in referring them to the third group, and pronouncing them to be Aerolites. Certainly the non-metallic stony material largely predominates in their composition, although the metallic particles glisten throughout the mass. Where an edge has been chipped, so as to reveal a fresh fracture of the interior mass, the latter is seen to present the appearance of a fine-grained crystalline rock, of a light grey colour, resembling perhaps a very fine granite more than any other known terrestrial rock, and yet differing from it in some particulars. Through this grey magma are scattered the metallic particles already referred to, consisting, most probably, of an alley of iron and nickel. For particulars regarding the remaining constituents we must await the results of the detailed analysis.
These characters being common to all the fragments recovered, we may now take up the examination of the fragments individually. Four in all were found, three in Perthshire, and one in Forfarshire. Taking them in the order in which they were got, they are as follows:—
1. The Keithick Fragment, weighing 2 lbs. 8 oz. (Plate 6).' This was the fragment which crashed through
the roof of the South Lodge, Keitthick (Plate 7), 1¼ miles south-west from Coupar Angus, occupied by
Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Hill, and their daughter, Miss Mary Hill. It was first discovered by the latter,
who climbed on to the low roof by means of a ladder immediately after the fall, snd saw it resting
on the upper surface of the ceiling below. It was not removed until the following day, however,
when Mr. George S. Mann, slater, Coupar Angus, took it out, and repaired the hole in the roof.
This fragment is roughly cuboidlal in shape, two of the axes being about three inches, and the
third axis about five inches. Two of the surfaces are slightly spherical, and represent the outer
surface of the original mass. The other four are fractured surfaces. All six surfaces exhibit the
characteristic black coating of thin fused skin, except where they have been chipped in striking
the roof of the Lodge. One end is rather smaller than the other, and is evidently the one which was
in front in travelling through the air, as it is more damaged than the other end. The great interest
of this fragment lies in the fact that it seems to be the only one which has been recorded in this
country as having struck and penetrated a building, although one similar incident has been recorded from India.
2. The Carsie Fragment, weighing 2 lbs. 6 oz. (Plate 8). This fragment is in some respects the most remarkable of the four. It is conical in shape, coming to a sharp point at one end, and exhibits in a very perfect degree the stream-lines which are sometimes produced in meteorites by a creeping or flowing motion set up in the fused and semi-fluid outer layer during its rapid passage through the atmosphere. These striae, or stream-dines, all run from the pointed end backwards, indicating that the fragment travelled through the air in the same position as does a pointed shell from a gun. An interesting feature of this fragment is that its fractured surfaces show only a rudimentary crust, which must have been caused by rapid partial fusion, after the disruption of the original mass.
This fragment fell close to the farm steading of Carsie, 2½ miles south from Blairgowrie, occupied by Mr. and Mrs. James Welsh and their son, James Douglas Welsh. Mrs. Welsh was standing at the door of her house, within twenty yards of the spot where it fell, and actually saw it enter the ground. (Plate 9). So far as I am aware, there is only one other record of a meteorite having been seen to fall to the ground in this country, and only one or two in other lands.
3. The Essendy Fragment, weighing 22 lbs. 4 oz. (Plate 10). This is a truly magnificent specimen of a meteorite, which has few rivals among British examples. It forms nearly a perfect cube, each face being some seven or eight inchs square. It is coated on all sides with the usual black varnish, or fusion crust, and exhibits besides very characteristic pittings, or " thumb-marks," on three of the sides, produced by the great heat to which it had been subjected. The remaining sides are comparatively smooth, and represent the original curved outer surface.
This fragment fell to earth in a grass park on the farm of Easter Essendy, in the Parish of Kinloch, two miles south-west from Blairgowrie, belonging to Mr. Charles Howard Scott. (Plate 11). In this park a flock of sheep were feeding, which scattered in all directions when the meteorite fell among them. Charles Smart, the foreman on the farm, and two of the ploughmen, were standing at the steading, about 500 yards distant, and saw the commotion, hut it was not until the following day that they went into the park, and discovered the cause. The hole in the ground was about 18 or 20 inches deep, and about as wide. It had a slight dip towards the north-west, and on that side some clods had been thrown out, showing that the meteorite had fallen in a slightly oblique direction, from the south-east. The ground, both here and at Carsie, was frozen at least as far down as the fragments had penetrated, otherwise the holes would doubtless have been deeper than they were.
4. The Corston Fragment. (Plate 12). This fragment, which weighs 2 lbs. 5 oz., fell on the lawn adjoining the farm house of South Carston, tenanted by Mr. Thomas A. Buttar, two milles south-east of Coupar Angus, and on the Hallyburton Estate, in Forfarshire. (Plate 13). At the time of the fall, on 3rd December, some of the farm workers, who were in an adjoining field, about 200 yards distant, were under the impression that something had' fallen near the house, but it was not until four days later, on the morning of Friday, 7th December, that the fragment was found by William Duff, gardener at Corston. It had made an oblique hole in the ground, about five inches wide and six inches deep, dipping towards the north-west at an angle of about 20 degrees. The spot was only a few inches from a flower bed, where it might easily have been overlooked, and not fifty yards from a pond, where it would certainly have been lost. This fragment shows the same tabular form as the Essendy and Keithick fragments, showing very evidently that it has come from the same original mass. It exhibits two faces of disruption fracture, which are practically at right angles to each other. The surface is entirely covered with the usual black fusiion skin, except at one point, where it seems to have struck a stone on entering the ground, and got chipped. It shows several well-defined "thumb-marks," and numerous stream lines, or striae, running from the point backwards. It is sf ins. long, the other two dimensions being 2¾ ins., and 2 3/8 ins. (= 143 x 70 x 60 millimetres).
It is interesting to note the geographical relation of the spots where these four fragments fell.
They are all practically in one straight line, extending a distance of about six miles, from South Corston
on the south-east to Easter Essendy on the north-west, and passing through Keithick Lodge and Carsie at
intervals of about two miles, more or less. (Plate 14). This corroborates the view that the path of the meteor,
before its disruption, was from S.E. to N.W.
It now only remains to mention the destination of tlhese four fragments, at the date of reading this paper. All four were claimed by the Crown Authorities, and were sent to the King's Remembrancer for Scotland in Edinburgh, for disposal. The Director of the Royal Scottish Museum was instructed to select two of the fragments for that Institution, and he chose the Essendy and Carsie Fragments, as exhibiting the most interesting and characteristic features. The remaining two fragments were directed to be returned to the finders, those being Miss Mary Hill in the case of the Keithick Fragment, and Mr. Thomas Buttar in the case of the Corston Fragment. The Keithick Fragment is now in the possession of Miss Brodie-Wood, the owner of the Keithick property. The final destination of the Corston Fragment is uncertain. In the meantime, Mr. Buttar has very kindly placed it on temporary loan in our Museum, and has indicated that in all probability the Perthshire Natural History Museum will form its ultimate Testing- place. I am indebted to my friend, Mr. Thomas M'Laren, Burgh Surveyor, for preparing- the three diagrammatic sketches which accompany this paper.
APPENDIX A. The Perth Meteorite of 1830
(this has been placed under the entry for the Perth fall)
APPENDIX B. Records of Distances and Directions from which the Meteor was seen, and the Detonation heard. Place. Distance. Direction. Seen by Heard by. Miles. In the District, 0 —- -- 10 Burrelton, 2 S.W. 1 -- Dundee, 12 S.E. -- Several. Glencarse, 13 S.5°W. -- Several. Perth, 14 S.W. 1 9 Cotton, 16 S.W. -- 1 Forfar, 16 E.N.E. -- Several. St. Andrews, 22 S.E. -- 1 Crossgates, 32 S. 1 -- Bridge of Allan, 37 S.W. 2 -- Leith, 39 S. 1 -- Aboyne, 40 N.N.E. 1 1 Edinburgh, 41 S. 7 -- Callander, 42 W.S.W. 3 -- Musselburgh, 44 S.10°E. 1 -- Port of Monteith, 46 S.W. 2 -- St. Boswells, 71 S. by E. Several -- Hexham, 126 S.S.E. 1 -- N.B.—The distances and directions are reckoned from Coupar Angus.APPENDIX C.
The meteorite fell within 50 yards of the farmhouse. Weight, exactly 5oz. lt made a hole 8 in. or 9 in. deep in very hard ground. Mr. John Lloyd Jones (tenant of Coch-y-Bug) was not more than ten paces from the spot when it came down. He was startled shortly before noon by what he took to be a clap of thunder. "He walked 200 yards towards the farm-buildings, when he heard a 'rushing, whistling sound.' 'I stood still,' he added. 'and shouted to my son, and then behind me I heard a dull thud. Not knowing what was going to happen, I ran a few steps towards one of the outbuildings. Then my son came up and he took out of a hole in the ground what seemed to be a stone.' Mr. Jones stated that the sky was not noticeably dark when this happened; it was dull, however, and the clouds, though high, were heavy and threatening....
"Mr. John Aneurin Jones, a son of the house, said: 'I heard a succession of reports like muffled guns, and about a minute later there was a peculiar whistling noise as of a projectile. Instinctively I stooped where I stood in the farmyard.
When I picked up the fragment of metal, or whatever it is, it was warm in my hand.' Just before the meteorite fell, he added, horses which were being led reared and whinnied and seemed rather affrighted. Their disorder continued till after the occurrence, when they quietened down."
Yorkshire Post, April 15, 1931. "There was a terrific double report followed by an awe-inspming rumble of earth lasting quite 30 seconds. The rumble shook the houses and left an eerie feeling, especially to the residents of houses on elevations. People had their fears intensified by the affrighting effect of the disturbance on domestic animals and on birds and cattle. . . . The effect of the tremor on Portmadoc and neighbouring towns and villages was immediately to empty houses and business premises of their occupants. The streets were crowded with people, whose anxiety was intensified by memory of a terrific explosion during the Great War at a neighbouring explosives factory. Others suggested an explosion in North Wales quarries. Inquiries dissipated these notions.
The alarm subsided slowly, and all day the inhabitants were discussing what could have caused the terrifying report and equally terrifying tremor. . . ."
[ A. King quotes the two newspaper articles, then proceeds... ]
One London Daily termed the tremors "earthquake shocks." This is quite understandable, inasmuch as nobody in North Wales seems to have observed the passing of the meteorite through the air, and its true nature did not transpire until later.
[ A. King then give details of the real path determined from two accounts
one from Mrs. Freda Beardmore, of Leeds and the other from Mr. Frederick
W. Tappin, of Ripon, who had seen a bright meteor at just before noon on the
date in question; plus the following map, the visible track being in shown
as a solid line, and the places marked with a cross are those whence detonations
were reported.... ]
Some delay was experienced in verifying the authenticity of the object as a meteorite, and until this was done the computation of the real path was not proceeded with, also it was hoped that other observations of the fireball might be received to augment the meagre available material. When Dr. Spencer went to Pontllyfni the stone had been sold to a gentleman in MidWales, and was pronounced by the former, on visiting him, to be a genuine meteorite. The present owner prefers not to part with it, so that no chemical and microscopical examination has so far been possible, and Dr. Spencer will venture on no description of the meteorite other than to state that it is "apparently of an unusual type."
[ Note Dr. Spencer of the Natural History Museum ]
The Trustees of the British Museum (Natural History) have acquired, partly by purchase and partly by presentation, from Mrs Lorna Tillotson, one half of a new meteorite which fell at Beddgelert, Caernarvonshire, on September 21. The other half is to go to the University of Durham, where Prof. F. A. Paneth plans to make measurements of the helium, uranium and thorium content to add to the present meagre data available for calculating the age of meteoritc stones. Plaster casts of the stone will be made before it is divided. The meteorite is a black chondrite, a rather uncommon type of stony meteorite. The mineral composition has not been studied at present. Its arrival was accompanied by several loud explosions likened by Mr. Tillotson to heavy gunfire. Mr. Tillotson, by noting the positions of the holes in the roof and in the ceiling of the room into which the meteorite fell, determined that the angle of its fall on the roof was nearly vertical. Very few reports have been received about the light or sound phenomena accompanying the fall. Those so far received are from three localities in Caernarvonshire, Lancashire and Cheshire. Any records of the passage of a meteor over Great Britian or Ireland would, therefore, be of interest, and should be sent either to Prof. Paneth or to Dr. W. Campbell Smith, Keeper of Minerals, British Museum (Natural History), London, S.W.7.
Recent Fall of the Bovedy Meteorite, Northern Ireland
The path of the meteorite which passed over England, Wales and Ireland on April 25 has been plotted from numerous sightings in the three counties, and specimens which fell from the parent body have been analysed.
Observations of the meteoroid
The fireball was mostly described as blue-green in colour over Wales, and "fiery-white" in Northern Ireland, with a brightness equal to or brighter than the full moon. Everyone who saw the meteoroid also saw a very clear tail in its wake. The colour of the tail did not seem to be related to that of the meteoroid. Fragmentation was clearly seen by a number of observers.
Reports from along the path
The Sprucefield and Bovedy Specimens
Three days later at the Royal Ulster Constabulary Central Stores (Irish Grid J.262623) a hole was discovered in the corrugated asbestos roof of a store. On the concrete floor, among fragments of the roof a stone object was found broken into two pieces. Weighing 283g and 230g. The meteorite resembles a angular block with a tapered base, has a complete brownish black fusion crust, but no "thumb marking" on the surface. The broken surface is medium grey in colour consisting of lighter grey chondrules in a darker groundmass with flecks of metal over the entire surface.
Subsequent press reports of scorching of the asbestos roof and desks in the immediate vicinity of the meteorite fragments have been discounted, from the evidence collected. A thorough search of the immediate vicinity revealed no further fragments.
The second, and larger(4.95kg) specimen fell on the farm of Mr. Gilmore in Bovedy. (Irish Grid C.890124). On the following Monday at about 2pm a small impact crater, depth 14.5 inches, was discovered in a field used as open grazing, and a stone 9 x 8 x 4 inches recovered. The specimen was broken open by local people and some small fragments carried away. When examined the following day no scorching of the grass or roots around and in the hole, and angle of fall was estimated between 30 and 50° from the horizontal.
30g, main mass
and thin section at Oxford University, Find, 1974, Olivine Fa18,
A single mass, weighing about 30g, was found at a depth of about 70 cm. within an Iron Age pit (dated at 300 - 50 BC), olivine Fa18. A single mass of 30g with weathered surface and no fusion crust was found by archaeologists excavating a site occupied from 800 B.C. to 50 B.C., located on a hill 9 km SSW of Andover. The Iron Age occupants had dug thousands of pits on the site. Many pits are about 1·5 m in depth and diameter and the meteorite came from the fill about half way down one of them. Routine work in 1989 revealed that the stone has mafic mineral and Ni-bearing metal, which Chris Salter (Oxford University, Departments of Archaeology and Materials Science) interpreted as meteoritic.
No fireball was seen over Glatton because it was cloudy at the time. A week after the fall, volunteers searched for other meteoritic stones to the north and south of Glatton, but none was found.
RESEARCH (my summary of the first 2 out of 4 points)
1. an ordinary chondrite of the low-iron group (L-group), about 23% by weight iron, about 5% of which is iron-nickel metal, remaining 18% mainly in stony minerals.
2. From preliminary radioactive study, using aluminium-26, the meteorite had been irradiated in space for more than 2 million years, as part of a boulder, less than a meter across.
After a remarkable fireball, reported as "as bright as the full moon",
of 10:10pm, 28th November 1999 seen by people of
County Carlow, which lit up the sky and sent out booming explosions.
To date 4 Golf-ball sized fragments (totaling 271g) have been found, the first of which were found lying on a local road by a grandmother who wishes to remain anonymous. Cut sections reveal a very light coloured matrix with lots of bright metal flake and white chondrules. Fusion crust is dark black and wonderful!
Provisional name Leighlinbridge (pronounced Lock-lin-bridge)