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2.0 out of 5 stars Strangeness in Wiltshire, 3 Jun 2009
Dr. Peter A. Mccue (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Warminster Triangle (Paperback)
Warminster is a town in the county of Wiltshire, in southern England. Unusual sounds were heard there by many people in late 1964. The phenomenon was nicknamed 'the Thing'. Within a few months, UFO sightings took over as the predominant type of manifestation, occurring not only in the town itself, but also in the surrounding area. The appellation 'Thing' was extended to them. Other anomalous phenomena were also reported (sometimes occurring in association with UFO sightings, and sometimes not), such as unexplained vehicle malfunctions, sightings of apparitional figures, and the temporary disappearance of farm animals. The case attracted considerable media interest, and incidents allegedly continued well into the second half of the 1970s. Indeed, given that Wiltshire has been the setting for many crop formations since the 1970s, it could be argued that the area hasn't stopped being a hot-spot for anomalous phenomena (although some commentators argue that all complex crop-formations are man-made).

Ken Rogers' book provides an uncritical account of the Warminster case, and is now somewhat out-of-date. On the plus side, it's clearly written and well-organized. It draws heavily on reports collected by Arthur Shuttelwood (1920-1996), a local journalist, but without giving specific references for them. Indeed, although the book has an index and a couple of helpful outline maps, it lacks a bibliography.

Shuttlewood himself wrote several books on the Warminster phenomena. But unlike Rogers, he presented his material in a rambling and disjointed manner, and wrote in a decidedly flowery and at times pretentious way. And questions have been raised about the accuracy of Shuttlewood's reporting and observations (see Steve Dewey and John Ries's book 'In Alien Heat: The Warminster Mystery Revisited', which was published by Anomalist Books in 2006).

Shuttlewood may well have exaggerated, but I'm not aware of any evidence that he invented testimony from non-existent witnesses. Indeed, a positive aspect of his reporting was that he often gave background details about the people he cited (even their addresses, in some cases). Some of those mentioned would have been well-known in the local community, as was Shuttlewood himself. Making up completely false stories about them would have exposed him to serious risks (loss of reputation, loss of employment, possible legal action, etc.). Of course, it's conceivable that he augmented essentially genuine reports with others that were purely fabricated, but I'm not aware of any evidence of that.

Dewey and Ries interpret the Warminster case in terms of prosaic factors, such as misreporting, misperception, suggestion, illusions, hallucinations, and hoaxing. But in his recently published book 'UFO Warminster: Cradle of Contact' (Swallowtail Books, Southampton, 2007), Kevin Goodman cites some experiences that he and some associates had in the area in the 1970s, and which may well have been paranormal.

In summary, I would say that Ken Rogers' book is interesting and readable, but to get a more balanced view of the Warminster case, it's necessary to read more widely about it. Finally, I should perhaps warn readers that I bought my copy of the book, new, in 2009, but it started falling apart while I was reading it! The majority of the pages have now broken away from the binding.
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Warminster Triangle
Warminster Triangle by Ken Rogers (Paperback - Dec 1994)
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