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Dechmont Woods, Scotland, November 9, 1979:

The events:

Working day as usual:

On the 9th of November 1979, at around 10:00 AM, Robert Taylor, a married man, father of five, aged 61, resident of Livingston and forestry worker employed by the Livingston Development Corporation left his house. At about 10:30 AM, he parked his pick up off a track at a plantation at the bottom of Dechmont Law, bordering Dechmont Woods, just off the busy M8 motorway, near Livingston, West Lothian in Scotland.

He had parked as close as he could to the clearing in a plantation that he has to inspect for stray cows and sheep, a part of his job.

With his red setter Lara, He followed a track the rest of the way across the lower slope of the forested hill, rounded a corner and emerged into the clearing.

The UFO:

In the clearing, in front of him, was a large, circular, roundish object about 20 ft across and 12 feet high, resting on the ground or hovering just above the ground.

It seemed to be made from a dark grey metallic material with a rough texture like sandpaper, parts of which were becoming like half transparent at times, letting the trees behind it be seen, as if the object was trying to cloak itself.

A narrow protruding rim ran around the circumference of the object, just below halfway down, and Taylor thought it reminded him of the brim of a hat. A line of rotating arms was set into the rim. Some dark patches were seen on the body of the object which looked like portholes.

The object emitted no noise. Lara, his dog, who was at his side, simply froze and stared at the object, as did Bob Taylor.

Two spheres:

As he watched without moving, two spiky spherical objects dropped from the bottom of the larger object. These two spheres were approximately two ft across and he later described them as being quite like sea mines as used in World War II, except that the spikes were longer that those of sea mines, making the objects' diameter approximately 3 ft spikes included. The spheres were looking metallic, similar to the material of the larger object, and made frightening sucking noises as they fell from the object and impacted the wet ground.

Very close encounter:

"These sea-mine-type things with spikes on them came out of the back and grabbed my trousers ripping right through to my skin."

As Taylor stared in awe, the two spiky spheres rushed towards him from the direction of the object, by bouncing and rolling on the ground. His dog now barked loudly.

The two spheres arrived at him each rolling quickly at the same time to his left and right foot. The spheres' spikes extended and attached to the Bob's trousers and dragged him towards the larger sphere, tearing the tissue of his trousers up to the pockets in the process. Taylor was now hearing a distinct hissing sound and smelling an acrid odor which made him choke.

He then lost consciousness and collapsed on the round, just after hearing a loud and clear swishing sound similar to that of a cane being swung fast through the air.

Regaining consciousness

"When I came to I heard a sound of something moving very fast away in the distance. I eventually got on my knees and crawled to my truck but it was dead."

Taylor regained consciousness after a while. He was lying face down on the grass, his trousers were torn, he suffered a headache and his legs were aching. He had a sore throat and a strange bitter taste in his mouth. He realized that he could not stand up or speak.

It was later estimated that he had blackened out for fifteen or twenty minutes. Nothing remained to be seen in the clearing, but his dog was running about barking wildly and he noticed that there were marks in the ground where the object had been.

Feeling weak and dizzy, and unable to get on his feet, he dragged himself to his pick up truck and started to drive away. But he was such in bad condition that at one point he drove into a ditch. The pickup truck being stuck in the mud, he had to walk more than a mile, stumbling and falling, to reach his home in Livingston, at the edge of Dechmont Woods.

The police

His wife saw at once that he had an accident or had been assaulted, and he confirmed both, adding that the attackers were not exactly human.

She quickly phoned the doctor, the Police, and Malcolm Drummond, Bob Taylor's boss, who arrived at the house to hear his story, even though the man was dazed, had a headache and kept saying that he had been "gassed."

The doctor sent Bob Taylor to hospital, but he checked himself out later without having been examined. He suffered a headache for hours and a raging thirst which lasted for two days but recovered with no further sequels.

The Police officers treated the matter seriously. Rather than scoffing, they treating the matter as a physical assault by person or persons unknown.

They went at the clearing with Malcom Drummond. Here they found Taylor's pick up truck and also ladder-shaped marks, of which Drummond noted, "marks on the ground which seemed to indicate that something had come vertically down and made impressions in the turf." They first wondered about the resemblance to bulldozer or heavy machinery marks, but surrounding them were forty shallow holes that matched the witness's story about the bouncing spiky balls. These marks followed the path of the mine like objects.

The police fenced off the area. Photographs of the tracks were taken. They were totally baffled because the tracks were only in one grassy area. The ground in the place of incident was soft but no signs of the tracks having come from somewhere or having gone anywhere could be discovered. There was no indication of how any vehicle that caused the tracks could have arrived in the clearing without leaving the same tracks on its entering path.

They looked for local manufacturer of any object who could have been flown there. Results of this investigation were again negative.

They noted that any object in the clearing could not have been seen by other witnesses from the nearby highway because of the trees.

Malcolm Drummond noted:

"There is no doubt in my mind that these marks were made by a perfectly solid, heavier-than-air object. They had been made by some machine which had come vertically downward... I don't believe in anything from outer space. The only conclusion that I can come to is that it must have been a man-made object... some sort of secret machine belonging to one of the government departments."

Detective Sergeant Tan Wark, a member of the police team assigned to the case, admitted that he was highly skeptical when first sent to the scene, but on examining the forty holes and the weird caterpillar tracks he was puzzled. He checked all the forestry equipment used in the area; none of it had tracks that matched.

No evidence was found of any helicopter traffic in the region that particular day, or even the day before. A search of the area around the clearing was made in order to see if there were signs of any mobile crane that might have been used to lower something into the ground, but nothing was found.

The police reports stated:

"The marks indicated an object of several tons had stood there but no information has been gained to explain them."

After the investigation Wark was in no doubt. He said:

"In my opinion, Mr Taylor genuinely reported what he saw, or believed that he had seen."

He confirmed again later:

"We are still baffled... the case is still open."

The police sent Bob Taylor's trousers to Edinburgh for forensic analysis. Lester Knibb, a forensic scientist in the police's laboratory, found clear tear marks on either side, consistent with the witness's story about being grabbed at waist height by the two spiky sea mines.

Of course the police lab could not say that this should prove anything, but Knibb said:

"The damage could have been caused in the way the witness says. But it would require something mechanical. It was not something caused by an electric shock or bolt of lightning."

To this day the police case still remains open, local authorities marked the site with a plaque, which has since been stolen, and the torn trousers are now in the BUFORA archives.

Malcolm Robinson of the ufology group S.P.I. Scotland investigated the case and spent many hours with Bob Taylor.

He wrote:

"S.P.I was able to take possession of the trousers worn by Bob on that day and had them examined by forensic experts. They are of heavy, robust, serge material, similar to those worn by police forces. The tests revealed that the tears on the fabric was consistent with considerable force having being applied in a upwards direction. This is in itself not conclusive, but it does serve to add credence to the story. It should be stressed that Bob is a down-to-earth man and not given to flights of fancy and was regarded by his workmates as a reliable and stable character."

The skeptics

Skeptics tried the fanciest explanations, such as ball lightning or bomb disposal unit, but all that was topped when Steuart Campbell, a science columnist and author of debunking books, former member of BUFORA, first said that Bob Taylor witnessed a "mirage of Venus":

"What he probably saw was an atmospheric mirage of Venus caused by distortion of light through the earth's atmosphere."

As for the two smaller seamine objects which attacked the witness, he made complex astronomical calculation to demonstrate that they were "mirages of planet Mercury."

"Astronomical mirages are dependent on a variety of pre-conditions. They rely, for example, on a layer of warm air overlaying a cold one. As this flits about the atmosphere, so does the magnified image projected on it from millions of kilometres away, persuading alarmed earthlings that they are witnessing a top-class display of extra-terrestrial aerobatics."

(He went on writing that the famous Trindade photographs were a mirage of Jupiter - ignoring that the earlier famous debunker Donald Menzel said it was a mirage of Saturn - and that this is the correct theory to explain 90% of all the UFO reports.)

But because this would appear too ridiculous, he added that the "mirage of Venus and Mercury" provoked an epileptic crisis which had Bob Taylor hallucinate the whole event.

Taylor politely responded:

"I can assure you that Venus had nothing to do with it. I am pretty certain that what I saw was the real thing, a vehicle from outer space."

Interestingly, the same Steuart Campbell said earlier, when he was an investigation coordinator at BUFORA, after the first two and a half year of investigations in which he took part: "After our investigations we have no reason to disbelieve Mr. Taylor's story. In fact, he is the most reliable witness of a close encounter BUFORA has ever had."

Duncan Lunan, a fortean researcher said that the more plausible explanation was that Mr Taylor had seen a military operation to recover a downed pilotless aircraft using a "wheelbarrow" bomb disposal type which later became familiar from its use in Northern Ireland. How this would fit the silent semi transparent round object and the attacks of the two bouncing seamine-like smaller object on Robert Taylor's legs and his subsequent unconsciousness and headaches etc. was not specified.

In reality:

Bob Taylor had never had any epilepsy crisis before or after the event.

What has been agreed by all who talked to the witness or knew him was that Bob Taylor was a man of character, not used to making tall tales or pranks. There was never any change in his account over time. He never actively sought publicity, and never gained from any of the publicity generated at the time of the event, which was more an annoyance to him.

Bob Taylor is now a widower, retired, and remembers the event with total clarity. He has resigned himself to never finding out a commonplace explanation to what had occurred that November day. He is just pleased to be left alone, away from the frenzy that surrounded the original event.

In the Press in 1994:

The following article appeared in The Guardian on May 1994.

It only came from an astronomical mirage

Erlend Clouston on the new findings of a science writer who has turned his attentions from the Loch Ness monster to formulating a theory which explains away 90 percent of extra-terrestrial sightings.

It was a large domed object out of which two circular, antennae-laden robots emerged and attempted to kidnap the startled council worker, tearing his trousers - and in doing so, propelling the Scottish new town of Livingston into a hallowed place in ufology's hall of fame.

Oh no it wasn't, says science writer Stuart [sic; Steuart] Campbell. What Robert Taylor actually saw on the morning of November 9, 1979, was an astronomical mirage which triggered an hallucinatory epileptic fit.

This week Mr. Campbell, an Edinburgh based former architect, launches a book that he says will explain 90 per cent of UFO sightings. What people presume to be spyships from Alpha Centauri are in reality an optical illusion produced by the distorting effect of the earth's atmosphere on lightwaves skipping across the universe.

Mr. Campbell, something of a professional sceptic with a book debunking the Loch Ness monster behind him and another on the stocks scrutinising Jesus Christ, evolved the astronomical mirage theory while investigating the incident in a wood north of Livingston, 10 miles outside Edinburgh on the M8 Motorway.

Despite the best efforts of the local CID, no one has so far come up with an explanation for what attempted to abduct Mr. Taylor, agreed by everyone to be a perfectly level-headed foreman forester not given to hoaxing.

Livingston developement corporation was sufficiently convinced that something queer had gone on to authorise the installation of a commemorative boulder and plaque - which has since been stolen.

Having scrutinised an astronomical computer program, Mr. Campbell discovered that both Venus and Mercury were hovering just above the horizon. Could there have been some connection? After making complex calculations, faithfully recorded in his book, Mr. Campbell has concluded that what Mr. Taylor saw was probably a miniature Venus, out of which came miniature Mercurys. The shock triggered an epileptic fit, causing the forester to mistake his corneal fibres for robot antennae, and to fall down and damage his trousers.

Astronomical mirages are dependant, says Mr. Campbell, aged 57, on a variety of pre-conditions, on a layer of warm air over laying a cold one. As this fits about the atmosphere, so does the magnified image projected onto it from the millions of miles away, persuading alarmed earthmen that they are witnessing a top class display of extra-terestrial acrobatics.

Mr. Campbell's theory has had a mixed reception from the UFO-hunting community, who have heard him lecture on the subject. "It is convincing to a point, and I do believe that these mirages could exist, but it stretches the imagination somewhat to have everything explained by this hypothesis," said Philip Mantle, director of investigations for the British UFO Research Association.

Mr. Campbell sighs: "most of them don't believe in me. They are incredulous that it can be so easily explained." But this does not particularly upset him, as he has bigger fish to fry. "The book is not really aimed at them , but at the scientific community. They have ignored the UFO phenomenon for 10 years. They think it is a corny, flakey subject."

Mr. Taylor, now aged 75 and recovering from a stroke, is sceptical of the sceptic. "I have never had an epileptic attack before of after," protests the man who carried a camera with him for a long time, in case the robots cam looking for him again. "I can assure you that Venus had nothing to do with it. I am pretty certain that what I saw was the real thing, a vehicle from outer space."

In the Press in 2002:

The following article appeared in the Guardian Unlimited Observer on June 23, 2002.

Passing UFOs Make Beeline For Scotland

Stephen Khan, Scotland Editor

The country is usually associated with spectacular mountains, tumbling rivers and deep-fried Mars bars. But Scotland has a proud new boast: it has become the landing strip of choice for flying saucers and other mysterious, metallic, hovering craft. More odd incoming craft have been tracked over the hills and glens than anywhere else on Earth, and UFO enthusiasts are flocking north to experience close encounters of the Caledonian kind.

A survey published tomorrow will reveal that 300 UFOs are seen in Scotland each year - four times as many as in France and Italy, which appear to be aliens' next favourite destinations. Even New Mexico, home of the Roswell air base and Area 51, where UFO believers insist that alien corpses were kept and studied by the American government, has seen less activity over the past decade.

Graham Birdsall, editor of UFO magazine, has tried to explain the phenomenon. 'UFOs tend to be attracted to regions that are fairly remote,' he said. 'Plus, if you have a remote area, look out for air bases; Scotland is littered with air bases. In 90 per cent of reports, a bit of diligent research will produce a simple explanation.' But that leaves 10 per cent unexplained. 'When you think of the number of sightings in Scotland compared to the size of its population, it is phenomenal,' said Ron Halliday, who has written two books on the appearance of UFOs in Scotland.

Yet it is not remote Highland or Borders areas that play host to the visitors. The Nineties saw a sudden surge of sightings in the central Scottish areas of West Lothian and Stirlingshire, particularly around the small town of Bonnybridge, near Falkirk. 'The area has become known as the Falkirk triangle,' said Halliday. 'There have been various suggestions as to why it is such a magnet for UFOs. 'One theory is that the area near Bonnybridge is a window into another dimension. That would explain why certain people see a UFO and others don't - because a UFO is some kind of paranormal phenomenon, rather than a nuts-and-bolts spaceship.' Halliday added that the sightings went beyond strange lights in the sky. Some people had encountered shimmering discs just yards away from their bodies, while others said they had been attacked by UFOs.

The most famous such incident occurred in 1979, when forestry worker Bob Taylor claimed a gang of large shimmering spheres, with spikes protruding from them like naval mines, set upon him. He lived to tell the tale and thousands of reported encounters and UFO spotters followed.

Craig Malcolm has sought a slice of real-life X-Files action by taking video footage for six years outside the Forge restaurant in Bonnybridge. While three airports and a gas-flaring oil terminal all lie within a 30-mile radius and offer some explanation for what he shot, footage of a ball of light dog-legging back and forth across a clear sky is nevertheless eerie. Malcolm spends hours in favourite spotting sites such as the one next to electrical pylons, where a circular ball of light is said to have bounced along the tree tops, and a field where a plane-like object with no wings sent 'black reek belching out the back of it as it soared off'.

Bonnybridge's status as a UFO capital prompted one councillor to call for it to be twinned with Roswell and ambitious plans have been mooted to build a multi-million-pound UFO theme park. But it is not alone. 'There have also been a substantial number of sightings in the Glasgow area,' added Halliday.

VisitScotland, the tourist board that commissioned the latest survey, sees it as a growth market. 'Our survey confirms that Scotland is the nearest thing there is to the Costa del Sol for aliens,' said Karen Gray of VisitScotland. Whatever the truth about UFOs, the Falkirk triangle has already attracted hundreds of visitors from the United States, Japan and England.

2004: The incident is not forgotten:

Anniversary of UFO sighting marked in Livingston

Scotland Today, on

Today marked a very special anniversary today especially for those who believe in UFOs. Twenty five years ago, something very strange happened in the woods near Livingston to local man Bob Taylor.

Dechmont Wood, near Livingston is the location of one of the most famous UFO sightings in history. It is a story of an alleged alien encounter that remains unsolved.

Bob Taylor was out walking with his dog he reached a clearing and was faced with what he claims was a large spherical object. Out of that object came a device which attempted to drag Bob into what he believes was a spaceship. At that point he lost conscious and only the dog was left to see what really happened that night. The police investigated it fully, they combed the entire area looking for clues but they had no explanation.

Bob is now 85 years old and has long since left the area but locals are still intrigued as to what happened.

Possible explanations are stray golf balls hitting Bob on the head. or perhaps an oversized conker from one of the nearby Chestnut trees or maybe just maybe for one night only, the aliens did land in Livingston.

2004: The incident is not forgotten:

I'm after the aliens that beat up Bob...

GARETH EDWARDS - November 2004.

IT was a terrifying close encounter which led to the only case in British history of an alien sighting being the subject of a criminal investigation.

Exactly 25 years later, the case is still open on forestry worker Bob Taylor's brush with mysterious alien spheres on Dechmont Law.

Now, on the anniversary of the event, UFO enthusiasts are set to descend on the site, to show that the truth really is out there.

They have arranged to visit the site today to meditate in silence at the exact time of Mr. Taylor's encounter.

The event has been organised by paranormal investigator Ron Halliday, chairman of Scottish Earth Mysteries Research, who believes the encounter to be one of the most significant events in the history of ufology.

It is certainly one of the best- documented, and to this day defies rational explanation.

On November 9, 1979, at around 10.30am, Mr. Taylor, then a forestry worker employed by the Livingston Development Corporation, parked his truck at the bottom of Dechmont Law.

He walked up the lower slope of the hill with his dog, and as he emerged into a clearing saw a large, circular, sphere-like object about 20 feet across.

Mr. Taylor said it appeared to be made from a dark metallic material with a rough texture like sandpaper.

As he approached the object, two spheres, each about three feet wide with protruding metal spikes like old naval mines, dropped from the object.

The two spheres rolled towards him and despite his dog barking furiously, attached themselves to his trousers. There was an acrid smell that caused him to choke and he felt a sensation of being grabbed by the side of the legs and tugged forward.

The next thing Mr. Taylor remembered was waking up with his head pounding, a sore throat, and a bitter taste in his mouth. He later calculated that he had been unconscious for at least 20 minutes.

"I was completely devastated afterwards," he recalled. "I couldn't walk and the doctor came to look at me. We went back with the police and found all these marks where it had been."

The police found unusual indentations in the ground, ladder-shaped marks where the craft was said to have stood, and marks following the path of the mine-like objects.

They said they were "completely baffled" by the incident, which was treated as an assault.

Now 87, Mr. Taylor moved away from the area after the event, but on the eve of the anniversary he revealed it was still in his thoughts.

"I stand by every word of my account of the incident," he said.

"I told it as it happened and it's as clear as yesterday. It is the most amazing thing that ever happened to me.

"I know what I saw and it looked like a spaceship, a huge flying dome. I'm not surprised there has been so much interest in it over the years as it was such an incredible thing to happen."

Mr. Halliday believes going back to the site on the anniversary could yield some clues to the nature of the encounter, and has not ruled out the possibility of once again making contact.

"We want to go back to the site to mark this anniversary and perhaps by being there we will be able to make contact again with whatever it was Bob Taylor saw," he said.

"It is possible that this was something from another dimension which for a short period of time appeared in our world. That fits with what Taylor saw, as he said the object appeared solid but at brief moments was shimmering and partially transparent.

"Even sceptics believe he is telling the truth about what he saw, and no explanation has been given to what it could have been."

Mr. Taylor's encounter took place on the edge of the area known as the Falkirk triangle, one of the most "visited" UFO hotspots in the world. Around 300 UFOs are seen in Scotland each year, the highest concentration of UFO sightings on the planet.


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