Not The English Civil War

England's Civil War narrative doesn't explain eastern England's destroyed towns, depopulation and signs of radiation sickness. Thu 23 September 2021

Lincolnshire. AD 1642. Futurama

From The Torrington Diaries (Abridged), John Byng, 1794:

Whenever I enquire about ruins I allways get the same answer, that it was some popish place, and destroy’d by Oliver Cromwell, to whose share is laid even much more devastation than he really committed.

John Byng's Torrington Diaries describe his experiences picking through the ruins of 18th century east England. He was something like the Monuments Men - part of a team scouring destroyed buildings for valuables.

The Torrington Diaries was first published in 1934. We should pay attention to that. If the Torrington Diaries are genuine, then they may have been heavily edited, especially given Byng's admission that his job was to recover artifacts.

From The Diary of Abraham de la Pryme, the Yorkshire Antiquary, Abraham de la Pryme, 1697, p154:

A little way out of the town (Grimsby) there was another pretty larg abbey, out of which, when it was pull'd down, the owner built a very larg stately farm-house, like a great hall, which remained untill within the memory of man ; at which time there was plainly seen to come a great sheet of fire from out of Holderness, over the Humber, and to light upon which abbey-house, as they called it, which burnt it all down to the bare ground, with the men in it, and all the corn stacks and buildings about it. The shipmen in the road, and many more observed this sheet of fire to come thus as I have related.

This enigmatic aerial event may be the demise of the large monastery and subsequent farmhouse beneath Grimsby Golf Club. See Was There a Monastery Beneath Where Grimsby Golf Course is?

From History of the Holy Trinity Guild at Sleaford, Rev George Oliver, 1837, Chapter 2, page 92, footnote 38, on the destruction of Temple Bruer, Lincolnshire:

... horrible balls of fire breaking out near the foundations, with frequent and reiterated attacks, rendered the place, from time to time inaccessible to the scorched and blasted workmen ; and the victorious element, continuing in this manner, obstinately and resolutely bent, as it were, to drive them to a distance, they fled together for refuge to a neighbouring church ; some to deprecate the impending mischief ; others, as is natural in such cases, to catch at any help that presents itself ; and others again enveloped in the crowd were carried along with the body of flyers. There are those who say that the church refused them entrance ; and that when they came to the doors, which were wide open but a moment before, they found them on a sudden closed by a secret and invisible hand ; a hand accustomed to work these wonders for the terror and confusion of the impious, and for the security and comfort of godly men. This, however, is now invariably affirmed and believed by all, that as they strove to force their way in by violence, the Fire which burst from the foundations of the temple, met and stopped them, and one party burned and destroyed, and another it desperately maimed, leaving them a living monument of God's wrath against sinners. But the thing most wonderful and illustrious was a Light, which appeared in the heavens, of a Cross within a Circle.

Orthodox historians tell us that two of England's four civil wars were fought across the Fens: the first Baron's War and the English Civil War. As were the alleged Viking and Saxon invasions. But the Fens offer about the worse possible routes for soldiers, horses, cannons, supply carts and camp-followers. This wet, low-lying country is noted for its few, poor roads. Even today.

There's something wrong with the orthodox Civil War story.

In contrast to the 'orthodox' accounts above, eastern English folklore blames the destruction on strange aerial events.

Futurama looks to the skies for explanations. Source: Futurama, S01, Ep01

Red Cross in the Sky Above Elloi

From: A History of Lincolnshire, VolI, William Marrat, p6:

In 1467 a great flood overflowed the district of Holland; and among the many prognostics of calamity, such as showers of blood, etc. there appeared in the air armies, both foot and horse, conducted by St. George with his red cross.

That report is from over Croyland, close to the centre of Elloi, now called South Holland. Usefully, we have a date - 1467 - which puts the flood in an earlier English civil war: the War of the Roses.

Crowland Abbey after restoration. Source

Strange Sounds in the Sky Above Suffolk

A strange aerial event also marks the start of the last English Civil war. This time on the Suffolk coast a hundred miles to the south-east.

From Invisible Helpers: Angelic Intervention in Post-Reformation England:

At Aldeburgh in Suffolk in August 1642, for instance, people were astonished by ‘an uncouth noise of war’ (beating drums, firing muskets and discharging ordnance) followed by melodious music played on various instruments and bell-ringing as if in triumph of a signal victory. Interestingly, the iconographical ‘emblem’ of the event John Vicars incorporated in his compilation of this and other ‘warning pieces’ depicted an orchestra of angels perched on a bolster of cloud: this was not a ‘representation’ of what local people had seen so much as an attempt to give visual shape to what they had heard

Artists' impression of the unseen sounds and flying rock at Aldeburgh, 1642. Source

The account continues:

A most terrible representation of a great fight in the Ayre at Alborough in Suffolk, drum's beateing; Canons and Musketts-shooting, a black stone shoot∣ing out from the cloudes found by a tugg, on the ground, but all, at last, ending with most melo∣dious musick, and ringing of belles as an tri∣umph of some victories Aug: 4. 1642.

Again, we have a date: 1642, the year the English Civil War broke out.

A Supernatural Battle North of Elloi

Byard's Leap location. Source

This 'mythical' battle took place in the sky above Temple Bruer. Different variants portray the antagonist as a people-eating witch or as a people-eating, wart-bearing monster. One version puts the sky-battle between Ancaster and Dunston. Another puts it about 25 miles north of Elloi. We'll just call both versions the same folklore and note the following:

  • Temple Bruer is reputed to be the place Knights Templars practised their battles.
  • Rev George Oliver claims the foundations of the Temple Bruer complex ran for a quarter mile on each side.
  • Byard's battle is also told - and still celebrated - in Belgium and northern France.
  • Its central theme of a weapon-bearing, aerial warrior is very similar to Ireland's Lugh of the Long Arm.
  • It's also very similar to many dragon/serpent/worm battles around Britain
  • The surviving folklore tale has no date, but:
  • The victor is rewarded with the right to tax the surviving citizens. In other words, the story marks the start of a tithe/tax system.

A Supernatural Battle South of Elloi

The second mythical battle takes place about 40 miles south of Elloi, above and around the enigmatic Cambridgeshire village of Reach. It involves fire, water, storms, cold, and many, many fallen trees:

Long, long, ago, when the area around Reach was a forest, there lived a chief called Hrothgar. He lived at a time when gods and demons were thought to control the earth and one demon in particular was terrifying - the fire demon! To the horror of the chief, it appeared that the fire demon desired his beautiful daughter, Hayenna.

Hrothgar told his daughter not to worry, as his very good friend, the water god, was the sworn enemy of the fire god. He knew that the water god could communicate between the under and over world and would keep her safe.

One night Hrothgar had a dream. In his dream, an old man appeared and told him that the fire demon had a new ally in the tempest god. 'You must prepare for a great battle', the old man told him. The next day, Hrothgar told all the giants of the forest his plans. First, they cut down all the trees to make a wide clearing. During the next three days, they built a great ditch from the river to Mount Dithon (Wood Ditton), many feet deep and seven miles long.

The tempest god had watched their work with interest and scorn. Just as they were starting to tire from the hard work, he sent a great storm to blow down the trees on top of them. The storm also brought rain, hail and snow in great quantities. The giants of the forest rounded on Hrothgar, saying he should not have angered the gods and should not have crossed the powerful fire demon. 'Do not be afraid,' Hrothgar told them. 'My good friend, the water god will protect us.'

At that very moment, the rain ceased. Suddenly, under a great cloud of smoke, a terrifying wall of fire rushed towards the ditch. All but Hrothgar fled. Despite his fear, he came out from shelter and, with his bare hands, dug away the remaining strip of earth, separating the River Cam from the ditch. The water poured into the ditch with a mighty, deafening roar! The fire demon was powerless against this mighty wall of water and the fire died down, the tempest stopped and his daughter was safe. Rejoicing, the local people placed treasured items in the new stream, to thank the water god for his help. The ditch, the Devil's Dyke is still there. The fire demon never troubled the population of Reach again.

I copied this summary from Ancient-Origins, who originally summarised it from Christopher Marlowe's Legends of the Fenland People. Marlowe's book is not commonly available so I hope Ancient-Origins will appreciate the plug and bear with me.

Again, the story is undated. But it contains many clues:

  • The onset of a mini Ice Age.
  • Flood.
  • Fire from the sky.
  • Giants living in the forest
  • A woman claimed by a demon. Her name 'Hayenna' is possibly a riff on 'Helen'. As in Helen of Troy.

Reviewer Cyril Fox criticised Legends of the Fenland People, claiming it was a literary attempt at Lincolnshire and Fenland folklore published by unamed others. At the end of his review, Fox cryptically observed:

It may be noted that in the foreword the author refers the transformation of a well-populated country into what is now the Fenland to a “ sea-quake ’’ which occurred during the consulship of Valentinian.

The fallen trees are also a big clue. Bog oaks were - and still are - a feature of Elloi.


South Holland bog oak, 2012

Bog oaks are usually huge, branchless, and sometimes charred. They are not always oak but locals call them 'bog oaks'.

Other than fallen, sometimes charred, tree trunks and reports of multiple buildings on fire, do we have evidence of intense heat?

We do. And we also have an overt attempt to cover it up.

George Oliver's excavation of Temple Bruer in 1832-1833 provides two clues to intense heat. From History of the Holy Trinity Guild at Sleaford:

Another skeleton of an aged man was found in these dungeons, with only one tooth in his head. His body seems to have been thrown down without order or decency, for he lay doubled up ; and in the fore part of his skull were two holes, which had evidently been produced by violence. In a corner of one of these vaults, many plain indications of burning exists. The wall stones have assumed the colour of brick, and great quantities of cinders mixed with human skulls and bones ; all of which had been submitted to the operation of fire, and some of them perfectly calcined. This horrible cavern had also been closed up with masonry. Underneath the cloisters, between the church and the tower, many human bones were discovered, which appear to have been thrown together in the utmost confusion, and laying in different strata, some deep and some very near the surface ; amongst which were the skeleton of a very young child, and the skull of an adult, with a round hole in the upper part, into which the end of a little finger might be inserted, and which was probably the cause of death. Near these interments was a vast mass of burnt matter of various descriptions ; and the fire had been so fierce, that the external surface of a massive cylindrical column, which was discovered near, is completely cinerated.

We can also see evidence of the early phase of the cover-up. Oliver produced this plan of the partially excavated Temple Bruer:

Templer Bruer tunnel2 rotated.jpg

Temple Bruer, from Oliver's 1832-1833 excavation. Rotated north to left.

Light grey shows underground rooms and explored tunnels. These light grey sections are where Oliver found evidence of intense heat. One of the tunnels they discovered tallied with rumours of a tunnel to a nearby village.

In 1902, William St John Hope re-excavated Temple Bruer and claimed Oliver had imagined things. There were no skeletons and not much crypt, Hope said. Just this:

Templer Bruer tunnel2 rotated.jpg

Temple Bruer, from Hope's re-excavation in 1902

Note: I had to flip one plan 90 degrees to match the other. As a result, in both plans, north is left, east is up.

Here's today's version of how Temple Bruer looked. You'll notice there's no reference to underground rooms:

Nice clean ecclesiastic history without the nasty, corpse-filled cellars. Source: Temple Bruer fly through

The most modern perspective I could get on the question of a Temple Bruer crypt was A History of Cranwell, Captain R de la Bere, 1938:

aerial photographs have disclosed the circular subterranean crypt which was attached to it.

De la Bere also notes the common people were frightened of Temple Bruer's owners.

So does Rev George Oliver, who described defaced images of Temple Bruer's owners and managers, and the many destroyed market crosses that once stood between Temple Bruer and Sleaford.

Why does this matter?

Because across these accounts of destruction we find a scale of destruction and evidence of intense heat that goes far beyond the cannons allegedly hauled around England by Civil War horses. And because where the accounts contradict, the available evidence tends to support the more extreme version.

Contamination from these events might help explain lead-lined coffins.

Lead oxide... Check. Body liquor... Check. Anything else? Source: Time Team: Ancaster - the Romans Panic

Why put bodies inside lead containers inside stone sarcophagi if doing so retains decomposed body liquor?

Perhaps they were worried about some other contaminant.

In the 1970s, the filling of Rutland Water reservoir drowned the crypt beneath St Matthew's church at Normanton.

St Matthew's church, Normanton, Rutland. Source

Its then vicar - Reverend Brian Nicholls - surveyed the crypt's contents beforehand. After all, you wouldn't want a bunch of rotting bodies sitting at the bottom of a brand new reservoir:

Especially if their coffins are leaking. Source: Rutland History

Contamination from these events may help identify the mysterious symptoms reported in 1770 by Kent surgeon John Latham to the Royal Society's Joseph Warner.

Latham wrote that a miller - 'Mr A. B.' - became sick whenever he milled flour. Afterwards, wrote Latham, Mr A. B. vomits, aches, suffers from shortness of breath, feels very thirsty, and loses large patches of skin.

In his letter to Warner, Latham enclosed a 'glove' of skin from Mr A.B.'s hand. Along with a deformed foetus.

Vomiting, thirst, aching and loss of large patches of skin are not symptoms of being a miller. Nor are they symptoms of allergies like hay fever or asthma. They are symptoms of radiation sickness.

As are deformed foetuses.

Locations discussed in this evidence collection


  • Blue markers: Flood event
  • Red markers: Aerial event
  • Lightning marker: Destruction by enigmatic lightning
  • Yellow markers: Other locations in this piece

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