In 1965 Arthur Bryant of Scoriton, Devon, England, made the astonishing claims that he had come into contact with extraterrestrial entities from the planet Venus. Here is the full story, you decide what you believe.
Believed by many to be the founding fathers of Ufology was the late George Adamski, co-author of the book Flying Saucers Have Landed, published in 1953, the opinion on him differs dramatically within the UFO community. Adamski was the first man to claim that he had made contact with someone from another world.
The story is relatively well known, but since some of the details form a necessary background to this article we will recall them if only briefly. Adamski, born to Polish parents who emigrated to the United States in the 1890s, was an amateur astronomer who lived on the slopes of Mount Palomar where the worlds biggest telescope of the time was situated and from the vicinity of which he did a fair amount of star-gazing himself with a six-inch private instrument. On 20 November 1952, Adamski and a party of friends were enjoying a picnic lunch when, as the story goes, a large cigar-shaped object, plainly a spaceship, appeared over the mountain ridge. To Adamski its appearance meant one thing: that whoever was in the ship wished to make his acquaintance, so he asked two of his companions to drive him along the highway to a point where he could set up his telescope and camera which intuitively he had brought along for such an encounter. When the apparatus was ready he sent his two companions away, asking them to rejoin the rest of the party and watch carefully from a distance.
A few seconds later, Adamski claimed, he noticed a flash in the sky, and almost immediately a small scout ship evidently dispatched from the bigger aero-form came gliding down from between two mountain peaks and settled out of sight behind a hillock a mile away. Adamski had managed in the meantime to take snapshots of it. Then, after pocketing the negatives, he became aware of a man standing about a quarter of a mile away at the entrance to a ravine. Moving towards the man, Adamski saw that he was wearing what appeared to be a ski suit and had long sandy hair reaching to his shoulders. The newcomer seemed to be a pleasant sort of chap and Adamski quickly felt at ease with him, even after it flashed through his mind that he was in the presence of a being from another world.
Not surprisingly perhaps the visitor did not speak English, but despite this formidable disadvantage, he was remarkably skillful at making himself understood. In fact, he and Adamski chatted together for a good hour largely by means of signs and telepathy. Adamski was able to learn, for example, that the spaceman came from the planet Venus and that his attitude, indeed the attitude of all Venusians, towards earthmen was absolutely friendly, although some concern was felt for our scientific progress, especially in atomic energy.
The Spaceman escorted Adamski to the hillock behind, which was where the saucer he arrived in was hidden, and nothing untoward happened except when Adamski inadvertently stepped too close to the metal rim of the machine and got a slight electric shock. Despite his evident desire to be friendly, however, the spaceman declined the earthman's request for a ride in the saucer. Presently, stepping lightly back into the thing he soundlessly buzzed off. Adamski's friends who had obediently kept watch, admitted afterward that they had seen him talking to someone in a brownish garment. They also claimed to have seen two sets of footprints, one of which was obviously their friend's and the other, a smaller set, which seemed not to go beyond the area in which he said the saucer had landed. A sequel to the contact claim came a few weeks later, in December, when according to Adamski the saucer returned and hovered within a hundred feet of where he was standing in Palomar Gardens. A hand was thrust out from one of the portholes and a film negative holder (which the spaceman had "borrowed" on the first visit) was dropped. It was on this occasion that Adamski managed to obtain some of the close-up saucer pictures, for the veracity of which has been argued about since; but when the returned negative was later developed it was found not to contain a picture of the saucer in flight but what appeared to be a message in hieroglyphics which nobody has yet succeeded in deciphering - if indeed it were a message.
The sensational nature of Flying Saucers Have Landed ensured that it would be a best-seller. Adamski became at once a hero and a villain, a madman, and a saint. You took your choice according to what you wished to believe, because it soon became evident that nobody was going to prove one way or another whether the author was hallucinating, deliberately lying, or simply telling the truth.
By and large, the supporting evidence of his companions did not amount to much. Although they testified to seeing the cigar-shaped object, the man in the distance, and the footprints, somehow they did not seem convinced that it all added up to the arrival of a visitor from Venus. Well, they were a long way off, weren't they?
In 1964, UFO investigator and author Robert Chapman arranged to interview George Adamski in a small hotel where he was staying, being granted some of his time that he had to spare prior to giving a lecture. Chapman confessed later that initially, his aim was to lure Adamski into admitting that the Venusian alien encounter he claimed to have had was nothing more than a hoax.
Robert Chapman said of the interview several years later: "I did not know enough about him to have formed any clear impression of the sort of man I was going to meet but, if anything, I expected an individual of obvious wealth (he must have made a packet!) and of rather hectoring, go-to-blazes manner. One would have to be, surely, to have withstood all the publicity, criticism, and abuse that had been hurled at George Adamski. In the event, I found a modest, soft-spoken man with a gentle, patient face, who answered every question fully and politely, without the slightest attempt at evasion or the slightest show of hostility, and who was evidently prepared to go on answering as long as I cared to put questions. Nor, as far as I could see, was this due to his having become accustomed to cross-examination although he must have had more of it than almost any man alive."
"I could not now quote any of the questions I put to him, but they were all aimed at getting him to repeat to me personally what he had written in his account of the Palomar experience in the hope that some embarrassing discrepancy would reveal itself. Adamski, a lean, weather-beaten man with thick, iron-grey hair, responded easily and without hesitation in support of his remarkable claim. It had happened and that was that. If anyone believed him he was glad; if they did not it was too bad but what could he do about it? Long before I left him I knew I was beaten as far as tripping him into any incautious admission was concerned. Adamski was damnably normal and this, I think, was the overall impression of him that I carried away. He believed he had made contact with a man from Venus and he did not really see why anyone should disbelieve him. I told myself if he were deluded he was the most lucid and intelligent deluded man I had ever met."
Britain is often overlooked when the discussions of UFO sightings and extraterrestrial encounters are brought into question, the United Kingdom is home to many more reported sightings and events than people generally realize. One man that had a story to tell was Arthur Bryant, who worked as a groundsman at an old peoples' home in Newton Abbot, Devon. Bryant's claim was no more fantastic in essence than Adamski's, but there were factors that made it even harder to swallow. Indeed, to anyone considering the case on face value, without any knowledge of the man himself, it must have seemed a load of fraudulent rubbish involving, it appeared, the suggestion that Adamski had returned from the dead and that "proof" existed that Captain Mantell's aircraft had in actual fact tangled fatally with a UFO. Fortunately, the case was documented by pretty conscientious investigators who were themselves quite evidently skeptical at the outset. The conclusions they reached are set out in an admirably thorough report by Eileen Buckle.
Miss Buckle, who interviewed Bryant on several occasions, described him as an ordinary family man living with his wife and three children in the village of Scoriton. An ex-seaman and war-time commando, Bryant had worked as a security officer in Gibraltar, and later trained as a prison officer.
At the time of the investigation, he was fifty-one, with a deeply lined, out-of-doors type of face, a warm friendly manner, and a good sense of humour. Miss Buckle noticed, in fact, a fair resemblance to Adamski himself.
What Bryant claimed was that on 24 April 1965 (incidentally the day after Adamski died) a large saucer-like object appeared to him over a field near his home, hovering about three feet from the ground, and that a door in the saucer opened to reveal three figures, dressed in what appeared to be diving suits and helmets, who spoke to him and even allowed him to inspect their vehicle.
Bryant admitted he was pretty much taken aback although he managed to resist the temptation to run away. After watching him for a few moments, he said, one of the three beckoned him with both arms outstretched, whereupon he lost his original fear and began to climb over the iron gate in a fence separating the field from the lane along which he had been taking an evening stroll. In a statement made later, Bryant said:
"As I approached, they began taking each other's helmets off and I stared at them in astonishment. Two of them had extremely high foreheads which came to a point. Their features were thin and sallow and there was no facial hair. Eyebrows and eyelashes were fair and fine and their hair, which was longer than ours, was between a blond and mousy colour. The nose was squat and the eyes very blue in colour with a vertical cat-like pupil. Then I realized that they each had only four fingers to each hand, tapering, of equal length, and more widely spread out than ours. There were no thumbs."
"When I first saw them their breathing was laboured, but after some minutes this seemed to wear off. The third person had a normal appearance - there was nothing to distinguish him from you or I. He had short brown hair, very dark brown eyes, and appeared to be a youth of between fourteen and fifteen years of age." "The Three wore suits of a silvery colour which made a sound like tinfoil as they moved. The young one's suit struck me at the time as being a size too large, and the belt hung loose. The boots were similar to ours in design, having two straps, one at the toe and one at the ankle; the soles were very thick, I should guess about one and a half inches. When they moved no sound whatever came from the boots."
It was the youth, Bryant said, who appeared to be the leader of the trio. He introduced himself as "Yamski", speaking English with the suggestion of an American twang, although the name had given Bryant the impression that he might be Russian. If it was not "Yamski", it was something like it. When asked where the trio had come from he replied: "We are from Venus". Then, apparently responding to the blank look on Bryant's face, he had turned to the others and added: "If only Des (or Les) were here, he would understand."
It was this part of the conversation that intrigued the UFO investigators at the same time as it sounded a jarring note of warning that Bryant, knowingly or otherwise, could be party to an elaborate hoax. The name "Yamski" was all too much like "Adamski" for the coincidence to go unremarked, and the Des-Les bit seemed an absolute cinch to refer to Desmond Leslie, co-author of Flying Saucers Have Landed.
But questions phrased to discover whether Bryant had read the book or knew anything at all about Adamski or Leslie drew a blank. No books on the subject of UFOs were found at his cottage, and he insisted that before the alleged contact with the Venusians his interest in flying saucers had been minimal. In fact, the investigators formed the impression that Bryant was completely unaware that there was anything sensational in this part of his conversation with the saucer men; indeed it had seemed rather meaningless.
As a mechanically-minded man, he was eager to have a look inside the spacecraft and try to discover how it was propelled. His interest, he said, was evidently appreciated by the crew who assisted him to step up into it and took him on a short conducted tour of the interior which, he discovered, was divided into three roughly triangular compartments. There was no furniture other than a sort of couch in each section and a kind of TV screen with coloured lights moving rhythmically from bottom to top. Subdued lighting came from a triangular "globe" at the high point of the ceiling. The only garment to be seen in the craft was draped across one of the couches: a purple robe, rather like a dressing-gown with a rose embroidered on one sleeve.
Because he could neither see engine control nor feel the vibration of a running motor, Bryant had asked Yamski how the machine could possibly fly. Yamski had replied firmly "Ideo-motor movement", which meant nothing to his questioner.
Then the spacemen added something else which was incomprehensible to the countryman. He said: Watch for the blue light in the evenings, in a month's time we will bring you proof of Mantell". Bryant's last sight of the trio was after he had jumped down from the spacecraft and moved about ten yards away. By then they had put their helmets on again and were standing at the doorway waving goodbye. A moment later the door closed, the saucer rose to a height of ten or twelve feet and abruptly vanished.
But this was not the end of the story; according to Bryant, the Venusians kept their word to return with "proof of Mantell" in a month's time. It was 7 June at about 10:30 p.m. when Bryant became aware of a low humming noise, gradually increasing in volume. He left the cottage to see what was causing it and immediately noticed "a blue light" coming from a showy UFO approaching overhead from the southwest. As the thing passed over the cottage there was a sound which he described rather oddly as "like the slamming of a castle door with a long corridor behind".
The following morning, after getting up at his usual time of 5.30 a.m., he was wheeling his motorcycle from the cottage to the lane when he saw on the ground a piece of metal of curious shape (rather like a bracket with a bolt going through it) which seemed to glow in the half-light. Nearby were several other pieces of metal. Bryant collected them and put them in his haversack. Later he searched the area again and found a glass vial containing silver sand and a piece of parchment with two words written on it in a language he did not understand.
It was only after this event that Bryant decided to say anything about his experiences, and the first person he told was his wife who, he stated, did not believe him. But it so happened that his two younger children overheard the conversation and repeated the story at school. As a result the story soon got around the village and Bryant found himself answering questions, usually a little less than serious, from neighbours, and the local police who had apparently got hold of the idea that a Russian spaceship had landed in Bryant's back garden. In an effort to put the matter right and save himself further embarrassment, he wrote to a local newspaper, although continuing to refer only to the second sighting. The second sighting, he thought, was bad enough. But who would believe the first? However, the whole story eventually came out when on filling in a form for the British Unidentified Flying Object Research Association (BUFORA) he admitted that the blue light sighting was not the only one. The glass vial and the pieces of metal were, of course, prime exhibits for the UFO investigators who lost no time in seeking to have them identified by experts, although this proved a tougher job than they had expected. The parchment itself was not too much of a problem - at least to begin with. The words written on it were in Greek: "Adelphos Adelpho" meaning, "Brother to Brother". Good stuff, of course. Possibly intended to show a link between Adamski and Bryant, both of whom, by the way, were of Romany stock and both, apparently, having been singled out for a visit by Venusians. What else could it mean? How else had it got into the field where Bryant found it if it had not been dropped by the saucer?
As for the pieces of metal, especially the screwy-looking piece, excitement rose when it was identified as part of an aircraft bomb sight; but alas, it could not be positively identified as coming from any particular one. And as far as could be ascertained nothing was missing from the wreck of Mantell's plane that could not be reasonably accounted for.
Unfortunately before much more investigation could take place, Arthur Bryant died of a brain tumour.
The foregoing account of the Scoriton mystery is necessarily short but we have tried to present the salient features in an objective fashion. Bryant's story is particularly interesting in the context of UFO investigation as showing the thoroughness with which UFO researchers undertake inquiries into the phenomena and the strange, not say bizarre cross-currents which bedevil so many cases.
In Miss Buckle's account of Scoriton, for example, it appears that a great deal of time was wasted over incomprehensible messages, described as "insertions" that turned up in the middle of tape recordings, and also over interviews regarding the pieces of metal with an anonymous "scientist" who, although it did not appear so to begin with, turned out to be not a little crazy. It is easy enough, indeed, to dismiss the whole of the Scoriton business as nonsense. But that in our mind is neither a satisfactory nor scientific way of dealing with it. One cannot say that nothing happened at Scoriton. Whatever the reason for it, something did happen. An apparently normal British countryman and family man, respected by his friends and neighbours, came forward to say that had seen a flying machine from another world and spoken to the occupants. Why would he do this? There seem to be three possibilities. He could have been a liar set on achieving notoriety at whatever cost. He could have been suffering from some monumental delusion. Or he could have been the victim or perpetrator of an elaborate hoax.
It certainly does not appear that he was telling lies. Miss Buckle sums him up thus: "One could not help feeling that whatever limitations might be he was essentially a good man. He also gave the impression that he was as sober as anybody you are likely to meet, not the sort of person who might play a silly joke..." And one could add to this that Bryant apparently realized the risk he ran of being looked upon by his friends and family as being a bit of a crackpot - the sort of reputation that nobody cares to have. Was Bryant then suffering from delusions? This seems the stronger possibility, yet much the same objections can be made here as can be made against the notion that he was a liar. None of his friends seem to have had any cause to suspect him of any kind of mental trouble; they found him perfectly normal. Apart from this, the UFO investigators would almost certainly have noticed it if he had displayed and peculiarity. They are accustomed to dealing with "odd balls" and sooner or later would assuredly have been exchanging significant glances behind his back. There are all too many little ways in which a person with a fixation, however reasonable he may seem on the surface, gives himself away. Not infrequently he is over-insistent about his own honesty and nearly always he is repetitive. Bryant, on the other hand, appeared simply to have been conversational, ready to answer questions but never to underline his answers with needless emphasis. The fact that he died suddenly of a brain tumour has, in retrospect, to be taken into account. But a lot of people die of brain tumours without having claimed to see flying saucers or any other kind of apparition.
Against the delusion theory must also be put the fact that he did produce "evidence" of a sort in the form of the metal pieces and the vial - if they were not purely coincidental. Possibly he could have got hold of the metal pieces and submitted them as clues, but the vial with the parchment bearing the words "Adelphos Adelpho" does not seem at all the sort of idea that would have occurred to a man of his comparatively low standard of education.
To the stubborn rationalist, the third alternative, that the man was a victim of an elaborate hoax, probably makes the greatest appeal. But a moment's reflection must show that the objections to this idea are equally formidable. If the Scoriton affair was a hoax then Bryant must have been a party to it rather than a victim, although, as has already been stated, he was not the sort of person to play tricks of this kind. Otherwise, the hoax theory falls flat because of the extraordinary nature of the background needed to set it up. It is inconceivable that any person, or group of people, could have "staged" the UFO sighting, produced a "craft" and three "Venusians" sufficiently authentic to take in a man like Bryant, and then arrange for the whole set-up to "disappear". There remains a possibility, of course, that he might have had the UFO sighting planted in his mind through hypnotism, but there is no evidence that he had ever had any dealings with anyone who could or would want to hypnotize him.
All that is left, indeed, is the notion that Bryant was telling the truth about something that, however incredible and far-fetched it may seem, actually happened to him. Whether you believe the claims made by George Adamski, or those made by Arthur Bryant are down to you, we do not have the answers, only the stories.
Now you have read about the claims of alien contact by Arthur Bryant at Scoriton, make sure you check out the story of cattle mutilations, UFOs, and alien contact in Colorado.