WHILE sightings of UFOs, or flying saucers might seem ubiquitous with the modern age, there have been sightings in the skies for thousands of years.

In 1440 BCE it was reported by the scribes of pharaoh Thutmose III that ‘fiery disks’ were seen floating in the skies over ancient Egypt, while ships that ‘shone forth from the sky’ made an appearance when Rome was still a republic. 

Fast forward to the Dark Ages, when ‘ships in the clouds’ were seen, in the 12th century the ‘flat, round, shining silvery object’ that buzzed Byland Abbey in the North Yorkshire Riding certainly ‘caused the utmost terror’. Yet the skies over Dorset are no stranger to apparent alien visitors, and notwithstanding the famed UFO sighted over Moigne Down in 1967, it was on December 8 1733 that a “silvery disc” was seen flying overhead, in broad daylight above the village of Fleet near Weymouth.

The anniversary of this 18th century phenomena is fast approaching.

James Cracker’s account of what he saw that day was indeed corroborated by two other eye-witnesses, “Something in the sky which appeared in the north but vanished from my sight, as it was intercepted by trees, from my vision. 

“I was standing in a valley. The weather was warm, the sun shone brightly. On a sudden it re-appeared, darting in and out of my sight with an amazing coruscation. The colour of this phenomenon was like burnished, or new washed silver. It shot with speed like a star falling in the night. But it had a body much larger and a train longer than any shooting star I have seen.”

“Next day Mr Edgecombe informed me that he and another gentleman had seen this strange phenomenon at the same time as I had. It was about 15 miles from where I saw it, and steering a course from east to north.”

Of course, the south west has long been renowned as a ‘paranormal hotspot’, known for its mysterious happenings, legends and crop circles - allegedly caused by alien visitors. In 1967, as reported by the Dorset Evening Echo on October 27 that year, an unidentified flying object was spotted near Weymouth by 54-year-old Angus Brooks, a former administration officer with B.O.A.C.’s Comet fleet, who at the time lived at Owermoigne. 

While taking his dogs for a morning walk across Moigne Down, near Holworth, Mr Brooks observed, “The sky was clear and I saw a very fine ‘con trail’ very high in the sky over the Portland area.” 

However, “This disappeared and then into view, descending at a very high rate from the same area came a craft which slowed to level out about a quarter of a mile to the south of me and at about 200-300ft.” 

Brooks described the craft’s shape as consisting of a central-circular chamber with a leading fuselage at the front and three separate fuselages together at the rear. 

“On slowing to a stop, two of the rear fuselages moved into position at, the side of the craft and formed four fuselages in the form of a cross at equidistant position around the centre chamber.” 

The ‘translucent’’ craft which “took on the colour of the sky above it and changed with clouds passing over it” remained visible for 22 minutes, making little noise, its hovering attitude seemingly unaffected by the strong wind, then climbing at an immense speed the craft sped off in an east-north easterly direction toward Winfrith.

While the ‘Hover-cross’ was variously debunked, there were reports from people over a wide area of southern England who claimed to have seen a strange formation of lights in the sky. Though freak cloud formations, RAF air-to-air refuelling exercises and the planet Venus were touted as probable explanations, experts at the Royal Observatory were at the time quoted as saying, “there is something up there which is not a star or a planet.”

Certainly, regional media has reported an upsurge of sightings and odd events in the south west of late.

While Maiden Castle, the Iron Age hillfort on the outskirts of Dorchester, is a renowned as a ‘UFO hotspot’ and in the past has attracted a great deal of attention with numerous crop circles appearing in the vicinity, the two reports of UFO sightings just over the county line in Somerset in March of this year followed the appearance of a sinister looking 7ft alien wearing a Stetson hat! 

Spotted at a bus stop in Yeovil last December, this alleged extra-terrestrial was described as black, with no face, and spikes down its side and “silky” hair. Remaining motionless within a box-like surround from which sparks issued, the eye-witness, who described his experience as ‘like something out of science fiction’, was so disturbed by what he’d seen that he had problems sleeping thereafter.

Indeed, reports of the Stetson-wearing extraterrestrial entity made the national press, “Man spots giant evil 7ft alien wearing cowboy hat catching the bus in Yeovil” making for some dramatic copy. 

Though why on earth (if you’ll excuse the pun) the alien opted to wait for a bus rather than hop onto a flying saucer is yet another aspect of the mystery. 

Perhaps he was waiting for a connecting service to Dorchester, where the Mother Ship was doubtless hovering in the skies above Maiden Castle!