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Monday, July 23, 2012

The West Lothian Incident

It seems as though every time that I think I've heard just about every kind of UFO encounter story that exists, a new one pops up and shows me that (much to my chagrin) I don't know everything. The following case that we will be looking at is rather famous in the annals of Ufology and certainly one of the more unique cases that I've come across. I'm sure many of you will be shocked to learn that I first heard about this from a thread on AboveTopSecret entitled “The Dechmont Woods Encounter 1979”. It tells a very fascinating tale of what happened to a forestry worker by the name of Robert Taylor from Scotland. The thread lead me to find some additional sources about Taylor's account. Here it is in a nutshell (source from UFO Evidence):

On the 9th of November 1979, at around 10.30 am, Robert Taylor, a forestry worker employed by the Livingstone Development Corporation parked his pick up off a track at the bottom of Dechmont Law, just off the busy M8 motorway. He walked up the lower slope of the forested hill with his dog, and as he emerged into a clearing an amazing sight greeted him.

Before him in the clearing was a large, circular, sphere like object about twenty feet across. It appeared to be made from a dark metallic material with a rough texture like sandpaper, parts of which were transparent. A narrow flange ran around the outside of the object.

As he approached, two spheres with protruding metal spikes in the manner of old navel mines dropped from the object. They were about three feet wide and made of the same dark metallic substance as the larger object.

The two spheres rolled towards him and flanked him, each rolling at the same time to his left and right foot. With his dog now barking furiously, the spikes attached to the Bob's trousers and pulled him towards the larger sphere. Bob heard a distinct hissing sound and smelled an acrid smell that caused him to choke

The next thing he knew he was coming round lying face down on the grass with his dog nearby. The strange objects had disappeared from the clearing, his legs were aching, his trousers were torn and he found he could not speak.

At this point Taylor struggled back to his vehicle in order to radio for help. Unfortunately he still could not speak and so made the decision to walk back to his home. We'll pick the story up from

Arriving at this house, his wife was stunned to see his condition. He was covered with mud, and his pants were torn. He began to tell her the story of his experience. His wife wanted to call the police, but Taylor was against it, considering the subject of the matter. He did allow her to call his job supervisor, and the head of the forestry department, Malcom Drummond. He took a bath while she made the calls.

Drummond called a physician, and drove straight to Taylor's house. He was so anxious to find out what happened that he questioned him while he was still in the bathtub. Taylor and Drummond agreed that there must be some kind of physical evidence left on the ground by either the craft or the small spheres, and Drummond headed to the area to check it out, but he was unable to find the exact location.

Dr. Gordon Adams arrived and began to check out Taylor's condition. He found a grazed area on Taylor's left leg, and another graze under his chin. There were no apparent head injuries. At this time, anyway, Taylor's body temperature, blood pressure, and other body functions seemed normal. 

Adams called in for an ambulance to transport Taylor to the hospital for a head X-ray and an interview with a counselor. Taylor refused to make the hospital visit until later.

Eventually Taylor would give in and allow the police to become involved in the case. To their credit, it would seem the police handled the whole thing quite respectably. Possible because they had never dealt with any thing like this in the past, but who's to say? The police were able to find physical evidence that something had actually landed, what that something was is (shockingly) up for debate.

Whatever Taylor may or may not have seen it would seem that everyone who knew him knew that he was a man of his word and was not prone to making up these kinds of stories. Probably not surprisingly a mundane explanation has been offered for what Taylor had encountered. Would you like to take a guess as to which astronomical body makes an appearance in the explanation? If you guessed Venus then you guessed correctly, Here from the UFO Evidence post is the explanation in full:

The main explanation given by Steuart Campbell, is that Bob witnessed a mirage of Venus, which brought on an epileptic fit and caused him to hallucinate the whole encounter. Although possible, Bob had never experienced epilepsy before or after the event, although some of his symptoms after the encounter are similar to those experienced by those with epilepsy.

Personally I'm not sure what it was that Taylor saw that November morning back in 79. I can say that I don't think the Venus explanation really fits the bill in being an adequate explanation. The last thing I will leave you with is this mini-documentary on the event in question. Featured prominently is the witness himself. I don't know what it is exactly but I enjoy hearing the witnesses themselves give descriptions of the events that transpired. I guess it's because it reminds me that at the heart of these events is a human element that can often times be overlooked. Whether something genuinely fortean or otherworldly occurred to Taylor that day it's unlikely that his like stayed the same after it was all said and done.

Additional sources:


Anonymous said...

This is no mystery, there is a down to earth explanation which is written about here:-

Unknown said...

Hey anonymous thanks for the reply! Maybe I'm just cheap (it's entirely possible) but I really don't like having to buy a book just to find out the answer. If there's anyway you could just sort of cliff note it for me I would much appreciate it. I'm certainly always open to hearing alternative explanations to these kinds of events. So long as the answer has nothing to do with Venus of course :)

alanborky said...

Tony I'm sure I remember reading about this as a teenager in the New of the World at the time and thinking it ridiculous but finding it still bugged me years after.

I also seem to remember reading an explanation somewhere trying to explain the whole encounter in Freudian terms (apparently the spikey spheres were really sublimated hairy testicles [or some such bollocks {pardon the pun!}] because supposedly the story was this guy's way of avoiding confronting the truth he'd had a gay sex encounter in the woods viz the ripped kecks) though I personally find the idea he had a run-in with the Cadbury Smash dried potato powder 'Martians' far more believable than that.

Unknown said...


Thanks for the reply! I can honestly say I had not run across that "explanation" for whatever happened to Taylor on that morning. I'm with you however in saying that that is likely not what occurred. It's definitely a lot more original than just blaming it all on Venus as is the usual.

Unfortunately like the majority of UFO incidents, especially with so many years removed, all we have to go on his the witnesses word as to what happened to him. I haven't made my mind up about what Taylor sighted, so I try to be as open to any explanation that's made available. (So long as it's a reasonably logical one of course)

Anonymous said...

Google is your friend!

Scott said...

This is one of my all time favourite UFO encounters, partly because of the solid evidence something weird happened that day (whatever it was) and also as it's just down the road from me. The Venus hypothesis is untenable as it wouldn't have been bright enough in the sky at that time of day but the belladonna theory may have something to it...

Cliff C said...

Campbell, the armchair 'debunker' in this account, appears to have had his mind made up from the very beginning. His body language alone gives him away: arms crossed in front of his chest indicates a) that his mind is made up and that he is totally unwilling to consider arguments or evidence other than his own, and b) that he is highly defensive on the subject. His so-called "explanations" of what Mr. Taylor experienced, from an impromptu epileptic seizure coinciding with a nearly-impossible mirage of Venus sitting on the ground in the middle of a clearing, amount to nothing more than grasping at some mighty thin straws. In order for Mr. Campbell's attempts to explain away this encounter to work, not one, or some, but ALL of the rationalizations he offered: boards left in the grass, three-inch-diameter pick marks (big pick!), Venusian mirage, epileptic seizure, hallucination (not a symptom of a seizure), and so forth, would have to have happened or have been present. I find it far more probable that an extraterrestrial or inter-dimensional spacecraft or vehicle landed in that clearing and either attacked (unlikely) Mr. Taylor without provocation, viewed his presence as a threat and took defensive action by deploying the two spherical objects to temporarily incapacitate him (more likely) until it was safely away, or perhaps examined him in some way, as has so often been reported by people who have had similar experiences. As outlandish as it may seem, the simplest answer is usually the correct one.

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