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Observations placeholder

Charles Fort - Prolonged regular sounds like the discharges of heavy artillery



Type of Spiritual Experience



A description of the experience

New Lands – Charles Fort

September 24th 1854 – Herefordshire, UK

In the Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, 19-144, a correspondent writes that, in Herefordshire, Sept. 24, 1854, upon a day that was "perfectly still, sky cloudless," he had heard sounds like the discharges of heavy artillery, at intervals of about two minutes, continuing several hours. Again the "mystery of the local sky"—if these sounds did come from the sky. We have no data for thinking that they did.

September 28th – Crediton, Devon

Upon the evening of September 28, in the Dartmoor District, at Crediton, a rumbling sound was heard. It was not supposed to be an earthquake, because no vibration of the ground was felt. It was thought that there had been an explosion of gunpowder. But there had been no such terrestrial explosion. About an hour later another explosive sound was heard. It was like all the other sounds, and in one place was thought to be distant cannonading—terrestrial cannonading. See Quar. Jour. Geolog. Soc. of London, vol. 15.

November 3rd 1855 [and Autumn and Winter 1855 and 1858] – Cardiganshire, and Dolgelly, Wales

In the London Times, Nov. 9, 1858, a correspondent writes that, in Cardiganshire, Wales, he had, in the autumn of 1855, often heard sounds like the discharges of heavy artillery, two or three reports rapidly, and then an interval of perhaps 20 minutes, also with long intervals, sometimes of days and sometimes of weeks, continuing throughout the winter of 1855-56. Upon the 3rd of November, 1858, he had heard the sounds again, repeatedly, and louder than they had been three years before.
In the Times, November 12, someone else says that, at Dolgelly, he, too, had heard the "mysterious phenomenon," on the 3rd of November.

October 13th 1855 - Swansea

In the London Times, Someone else—that, upon October 13, he had heard the sounds at Swansea. "The reports, as if of heavy artillery, came from the west, succeeding each other at apparently regular intervals, during the greater part of the afternoon of that day. My impression was that the sounds might have proceeded from practicing at Milford, but I ascertained, the following day, that there had been no firing of any kind there."

Comments from those who were not there - Correspondent to the London Times, November 20—that, with little doubt, the sounds were from artillery practice at Milford. He does not mention the investigation as to the sounds of October 13, but says that there had been cannon-firing, upon November 3rd, at Milford.
Times, December 1—that most of the sounds could be accounted for as sounds of blasting in quarries. Daily News, November 16—that similar sounds had been heard, in 1848, in New Zealand, and were results of volcanic action. Standard, November 16—that the "mysterious noise" must have been from Devonport, where a sunken rock had been blown up. So, with at least variety these sounds were ‘explained’. But we learn that the series began before October 13.

January 17th , 1860 - Reading

In the London Times, Jan. 20, 1860, several correspondents write as to a sound "resembling the discharge of a gun high in the air" that was heard near Reading, Berkshire, England, Jan. 17, 1860. See the Times, January 24th. To say that a meteor had exploded would, at present, well enough account for this phenomenon.

November 9th , 1862 - Hardwicke, Hereford

Sounds like those that were heard in Herefordshire, Sept. 24, 1854, were heard later. In the English Mechanic, 100-279, it is said that, upon Nov. 9, 1862, the Rev. T. Webb, the astronomer, of Hardwicke, fifteen miles west of Hereford, heard sounds that he attributed to gunfire at Milford Haven, about 85 miles from Hardwicke. Upon Aug. 1, 1865, Mr. Webb saw flashes upon the horizon, at Hardwicke, and attributed them to gunfire at Tenby, upon occasion of a visit by Prince Arthur. Tenby, too, is about 85 miles from Hardwicke. There were other phenomena in a region centering around Hereford and Worcester.

October 6th 1863 and October 30th , 1868 – London area

Upon Oct. 6, 1863, there was a disturbance that is now listed as an earthquake; but in the London newspapers so many reports upon this occurrence state that a great explosion had been thought to occur, and that the quake was supposed to be an earthquake of subterranean origin only after no terrestrial explosion could be heard of, that the phenomenon is of questionable origin. There was a similar concussion in about the same region, Oct. 30, 1868. Again the shock was widely attributed to a great explosion, perhaps in London, and again was supposed to have been an earthquake when no terrestrial explosion could be heard of.

January, 1869

Harlton, Cambridgeshire - In Nature, 30-19, a correspondent writes that, upon the 3rd of January, 1869, a policeman in Harlton, Cambridgeshire, heard six or seven reports, as if of heavy guns far away. There is no findable record of an earthquake in England upon this date.
Colchester, Essex - In the London Times, Jan. 12, 15, 16, 1869, several correspondents write that upon the 9th of January a loud report had been heard and a shock felt at places near Colchester, Essex, about 30 miles from Harlton. One of the correspondents writes that he had heard the sound but had felt no shock.
South Lopham, Norfolk - In the London Standard, January 12, the Rev. J. F. Bateman, of South Lopham, Norfolk, writes as to the occurrence upon the 9th—"An extraordinary vibration (described variously by my parishioners as being `like a gunpowder explosion,' 'a big thunder clap,' and 'a little earthquake') was noticed here this morning about 11.20."
In the Morning Post, January 14, it is said that at places about twenty miles from Colchester it was thought that an explosion had occurred, upon the 9th, but, inasmuch as no explosion had been heard of, the disturbance was attributed to an earthquake.
Brighton - Night of January 13—an explosion in the sky, at Brighton (Rept. B. A., 1869-307).
Swaffham, Norfolk - In the Standard, January 22, a correspondent writes from Swaffham, Norfolk, that, about 8 P.M., January 15, something of an unknown nature had frightened flocks of sheep, which had burst from their bounds in various places. All these occurrences were in adjoining counties in southeastern England.
Weston-super-Mare - Something was seen in the sky upon the 13th, and, according to the Chudleigh Weekly Express, Jan. 13, 1869, something was seen in the sky, night of the 10th, at Weston-super-Mare, near Bristol, in southwestern England. It was seen between 9 and 10 o'clock, and is said to have been an extraordinary meteor. Five hours later were felt three shocks said to have been earthquakes.

November, 1870 and December 1871 - Barisal, Bengal, India

Somewhere near Barisal, Bengal, were occurring just such sounds as the sounds of Cardiganshire, which were like the sounds of Melida. In the Proc. Asiatic Soc. of Bengal, November, 1870, are published letters upon the Barisal Guns. One writer says that the sounds were probably booming of the surf. Someone else points out that the sounds, usually described as "explosive," were heard too far inland to be traced to such origin. A clear, calm day, in December, 1871—in Nature, 53-197, Mr. G. B. Scott writes that, in Bengal, he had heard "a dull, muffled boom, as if of distant cannon"—single detonations, and then two or three in quicker succession.

June 17, 1881 - La Nature, 17-126—that, upon June 17, 1881, sounds like cannonading were heard at Gabes, Tunis, and that quaking of the earth was felt, at intervals of 32 seconds, lasting about 6 minutes.

July 30, 1883—a somewhat startling experience—steamship Resolute alone in the Arctic Ocean—six reports like gunfire—Nature, 53-295.

1888 – 1889 - Explosions over the towns of Barisal, Bengal, if they were aërial explosions, were continuing. As to some of these detonations that were heard in May, 1874, a writer in Nature, 53-197, says that they did seem to come from overhead. For a report upon the Barisal Guns, heard between April 28, 1888, and March 1, 1889, see Proc. Asiatic Soc. of Bengal, 1889-199.

1890-91 - There have been published several observations upon a signal-like regularity of the Barisal Guns, which, because unaccompanied by phenomena that could be considered seismic, may have been detonations in the sky, and which, because, according to some hearers, they seemed to come from the sky, may have come from some region stationary in the local sky of Barisal. In Nature, 61-127, appears a report by Henry S. Schurr, who investigated the sounds in the years 1890-91:

"These Guns are always heard in triplets, i.e., three guns are always heard, one after the other, at regular intervals, and, though several guns may be heard, the number is always three or a multiple of three. Then the interval between the three is always constant, i.e., the interval between the first and the second is the same as the interval between the second and the third, and this interval is usually three seconds, though I have heard it up to ten seconds. The interval, however, between the triplets varies, and varies largely, from a few seconds up to hours and days. Sometimes only one series of triplets is heard in a day; at others the triplets follow with great regularity, and I have counted as many as forty-five of them, one after the other, without pause."

July, 1892—heard near Brée, by Dr. Raemaekers, of Antwerp—detonations at regular intervals of about 12 seconds, repeated about 20 times.

Aug. 5, 1892—near Dunkirk, by Prof. Gérard, of Brussels—four reports like sounds of cannons.

Aug. 17, 1893—between Ostend and Ramsgate, by Prof. Gérard—a series of distinct explosions—state of the sky giving no reason to think that they were meteorological manifestations.

Sept. 5, 1893—at Middelkirke—loud sounds of remarkable intensity.

Sept. 8, 1893—English Channel near Dover—by Prof. Gérard—an explosive sound.

June 25, 1894 - In Ciel et Terre, 16-485, M. Van den Broeck records an experience of his own. Upon June 25, 1894, at Louvain, he had heard detonations like discharges of artillery: he tabulates the intervals in a series of sounds. If there were signaling from some unknown region over Belgium, and not far from the surface of this earth, or from extra-mundane vessels, and if there were something of the code-like, resembling the Morse alphabet, perhaps, in this series of sounds, there can be small hope of interpreting such limited material, but there may be suggestion to someone to record all sounds and their intervals and modulations, if, with greater duration, such phenomena should ever occur again. The intervals were four minutes and twenty-three minutes; then three minutes, four, three quarters, three and three quarters, three quarters.

Sept. 16, 1895—a triplet of detonations, heard by M. de Schryvere, of Brussels.

Sept. 13, 1895, four shocks were felt and sounds heard at Southampton:  a series of three and then another (Nature, 52-552); but I have no other notes upon sounds that were heard in England at this time. 

There are recorded definite impressions that the sounds were in the sky: Prof. Peleseneer's positivement aérien. In Ciel et Terre, 17-14, M. Van den Broeck announced that General Hennequin, of Brussels, had co-operated with him, and had sent enquiries to army officers and other persons, receiving thirty replies. Some of these correspondents had heard detonations at regular intervals. It is said that the sounds were like cannonading, but not in one instance were the sounds traced to terrestrial gunfire.

Jan. 24, 1896—a triplet of triplets—between 2:30 and 3:30, P.M.—by M. Overloop, of Middelkirke, Belgium—three series of detonations, each of three sounds.

Feb. 18, 1896 - The sounds went on, as if there were experiments, or attempts to communicate by means of other regularizations and repetitions. Feb. 18, 1896—a series of more than 20 detonations, at intervals of 2 or 3 minutes, heard at Ostend, by M. Pulzeys, an engineer of Brussels.

21st of February - Four or five sounds were heard at Ostend by someone else: repeated upon the 21st of February.

April 6th and 7th - Heard by M. Overloop, at Ostend, April 6: detonations at 11:57:30 A.M., and at 12:1:32 P.M. Heard the next day, by M. Overloop, at Blankenberghe, at 2:35 and 2:51 P.M.

May 23, 1896 - The last occurrence recorded by M. Van den Broeck was upon the English Channel, May 23, 1896: detonations at 3:20 and 3:40 P.M.

The source of the experience

Fort, Charles

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