‘Britain’s Roswell’; Berwyn Mountain incident files published online

Black and white image - 1970s UFO

The UFO files are available for one month online (Photo: HTV archive)

A file which details the investigation behind a 1974 mass UFO sighting in Wales has gone online for the first time today. Detailing reports and numerous inquiries from ufologists, the Berwyn Mountain file is one of the highlights of the National Archive’s latest digital offering.

Described as ‘Britain’s Roswell’, the Berwyn Mountain incident of 1974 inspired decades of UFO hunters and numerous conspiracy theorists to speculate that intelligent life was out there – and it had, perhaps, crash landed on a mountain in north Wales.

On the 23 January 1974, residents of Llandrillo heard an almighty bang and felt the earth tremble – they then headed out onto the streets to witness ‘bright lights in the air’. Believing an aircraft may have crashed on the mountain, police and mountain rescue teams were deployed to search the area – but found nothing.

According to experts, what had actually happened was that an earth quake had coincided with a meteor shower – but many believed either a military aircraft had come down in the area or aliens had crash landed on the Berwyn Mountain.

MoD investigations detailed in the files show there were five other reported of UFO sightings over the UK that night at the same time the Berwyn Mountain incident happened. Witnesses all reported seeing a bright light in the north-west which seemed to fall towards the horizon.

Read R.M.W. Musson’s paper for the British Geological Survey: The enigmatic Bala earthquake of 23 January 1974

Writing to Dafydd Ellis Thomas – then an MP – soon after the events of January 23 1974, Brynmor John, Junior RAF Minister said the only explanation for the ‘bright lights’ seen over the Llandrillo area was a meteor falling to Earth.

“As suggested by the descriptions reported, it seems the phenomena could well have been caused by a meteor descending through the atmosphere burning up and finally disintegrating before it reached the ground.

“Such a hypothesis would also explain the absence of any signs of impact,” Mr John postulated. He also highlighted reports of an earth tremor in the evening shortly before the incident.

Indeed the Institute of Geological Sciences (now British Geological Survey) reported that a magnitude 3.5 earthquake was felt at 20:38 GMT that night across much of north Wales.

The file tracks the investigation and the repeated enquiries by ufologists into the events that happened that evening. It perhaps goes some way to answering the questions asked by police and mountain rescue teams at the time as to the events of that evening over 35 years ago.

But for many, unsatisfied by the earthquake explanation, the Berwyn Mountain incident remains a mystery.

The files are available to view free online for one month from today.