Rendlesham Continued

The following article was provided by Peter MCcue. who has a longstanding and active interest in psychical research and UFO phenomena. He worked for many years as a clinical psychologist, and his qualifications include a Ph.D. from the University of Glasgow, awarded for research on hypnosis. He has written numerous articles on anomalous phenomena, and he remains open-minded about their nature.

Published in UFO DATA Magazine,July/Aug. 2007, pp. 44-51. 




Peter A. McCue

    In late December 1980, Rendlesham Forest in Suffolk became the setting for one of Britain’s best-known UFO cases. But there are conflicting versions of what happened, and the case remains a focus of controversy. Irrespective of what did or didn’t occur there in late 1980, the forest is reportedly the setting for ongoing anomalous phenomena (UFO sightings, ‘missing time’, poltergeist-type effects, etc.). I live in Scotland, a few hundred miles from Rendlesham Forest, which limits my opportunity for on-the-spot investigation. However, I visited the area in March 2007 and met some of the people who’ve had unusual experiences there; and I’ve been in touch with other witnesses since then.

     There are parallels between what’s reportedly going on in Rendlesham Forest and a long-running case involving a wood or forest near the city of Cluj-Napoca in Romania.This hotspot has been referred to as both the ‘Hoia-Baciu Wood’ and the ‘Hoia-Baciu Forest’. I don’t know which of these designations is more accurate, but the area has allegedly been the setting for a wide variety of manifestations, including:  the appearance of low flying structures or shapes (often invisible to the naked eye, but caught on film or photographs); spots of light at night (white or coloured, stationary or flying); physical effects (radioactivity, magnetic anomalies, etc.); unusual marks on the ground; biological effects on plants and animals (including humans); and sightings of humanoids. A chemistry lecturer called Dr Adrian Patrut has apparently written a book about the case.2 I tried to contact him by e-mail, to obtain further information, but I’ve had no reply.

Rendlesham Forest

     Rendlesham Forest is predominantly coniferous. Lying to the east of Woodbridge, and close to the North Sea coast, it was planted by the Forestry Commission between 1922 and the late 1930s on what was formerly heath or agricultural land. The forest is criss-crossed by tracks, firebreaks and roads. It lies on comparatively flat land. The 1: 25,000 (2½ in. to a mile) Ordnance Survey map number 212 (Woodbridge & Saxmunden) depicts the area. The term ‘Track 10’ appears in this article. I’ve used inverted commas, because the track isn’t currently marked with a number, although people interested in UFO-related matters continue to refer to it as ‘Track 10’. Its location can be seen in Figure 1. 

Fig 1 Rendlesham Forest

     To the north of the forest is the site of a former air force base, RAF Bentwaters. The forest itself is largely bisected by the runway of another former air force base, RAF Woodbridge. In the 1950s, the United States Air Force (USAF) took over the two bases. They were officially closed some 14 years ago, following the end of the Cold War. But the Woodbridge installation, or at least part of it, is still under Ministry of Defence control. In her informative book You Can’t Tell The People,3 Georgina Bruni states that the base is used by the Army and police for helicopter training. And according to Brenda Butler (see below), it’s been used for the training of troops prior to their being sent to Iraq.

Figure 1a
Photograph 1
Figure 2a
Figure 3a
Photograph 2
Photograph 3

Incidents before and after December 1980

     Strange lights were allegedly seen in the Rendlesham area during the late 1800s (see Bruni, op. cit., pp. 404-405). In the twentieth century, there were reportedly sightings of lights or UFOs prior to the controversial events of December 1980. For example, Bruni (op. cit., pp. 367-368) cites a witness called F. W. Sone, who’d been a security policeman at the Bentwaters base. One day in 1973, around 3.00 a.m., he allegedly saw a light hovering over the main runway. Shortly after, spotlights from fire/rescue trucks were trained on the hovering light, which appeared to be about 100 feet in diameter. It was silent, and suddenly disappeared about five minutes later. The following year, while on duty in the nuclear weapons storage area at the base, Sone reportedly witnessed another incident. A UFO appeared twice, and two F-4 fighters were sent to intercept it. But as they approached the object, it became smaller and suddenly disappeared, only to reappear in another place. And that allegedly went on for 30 minutes. 

     Bruni’s book also describes ghostly phenomena that were reportedly experienced by USAF personnel (although none of the accounts appears to have been given to her by a first-hand witness). For example, a James D. Hudnall, who’d been a security guard at the Bentwaters base in the mid-1970s, told her that a colleague of his called Andy had been on duty in a high security area one foggy wintry night when he spotted three figures heading towards the security tower. A patrol vehicle was alerted and entered the area. But when its headlights shone on them, the figures disappeared. A search revealed nothing. Later that night, Andy heard footsteps ascending the metal steps of the tower, although he wasn’t expecting visitors. When he opened the trapdoor and shone his torchlight down, he saw nothing. He closed the trapdoor and resumed his watch. But very soon after, he heard footsteps again, which were louder than before and getting closer and closer. The airman went for his gun and stood ready. The trapdoor swung wide open and then slammed shut, but there was nothing to be seen.

     Bruni (op. cit.) indicates that there have been UFO sightings and other anomalous events in the area since December 1980. For example, she states that an Ipswich couple saw a “huge spaceship” one evening in 1996, the sighting occurring between Woodbridge and Eyke (p. 379).

The December 1980 incidents

    The first book written about the 1980 events was Sky Crash,by Brenda Butler, Dot Street and Jenny Randles.4 It relates that Butler became friendly with a USAF security officer in 1975. He was apparently working at the Woodbridge base, and he soon realized that Butler was interested in UFOs. In early January 1981, he told her that a UFO had crashed in Rendlesham Forest several days before (on 27th December). He claimed that he’d been on security patrol and had been called out to the forest, and that he’d witnessed a meeting there between the Base Commander and some alien creatures!  However, Butler’s informant was apparently referring to Col. Gordon Williams, the officer in overall command at Bentwaters/Woodbridge, rather than to Col. Ted Conrad, who had the potentially misleading title of ‘Base Commander’ – see footnote 5. It should also be noted that Butler’s informant subsequently changed his story and denied having personally witnessed a meeting between Williams and some alien creatures.  

A memorandum, dated 13th January 1981, came to light in 1983. Written by Lt-Col. Charles Halt, the Deputy Base Commander at Bentwaters/Woodbridge,5 it referred to “a strange glowing object” that had been sighted in the forest in the early hours of 27th December 1980. The object was described as metallic in appearance and triangular in shape. As patrolmen approached, it reportedly manoeuvred through the trees and disappeared, although it was seen again, briefly, about an hour later. According to the memorandum, indentations were later found where the object had been seen on the ground, and radiation was subsequently detected there. The memorandum referred to further UFO sightings, on the night of 29/30th December, and claimed that Halt himself was one of the witnesses. But the document made no reference to the sighting of alien creatures.  (N.B.  Halt has since acknowledged that the dates in the memorandum are slightly wrong: the initial sightings apparently occurred during the early hours of 26th December, and it was during the night of 27/28th December when he allegedly witnessed phenomena himself.)

     Georgina Bruni argues that it should no longer be disputed that a craft of unknown origin landed in the forest (op. cit., pp. 363-364), and she concludes that time travellers from our future, or beings from “another dimension”, were involved (op. cit., p. 406). Others have interpreted the events in more prosaic terms. For example, it’s been suggested that the flashing beacon of the Orford Ness lighthouse (to the east of the forest) was mistaken for a mysterious object. The alleged incidents occurred close to NATO bases during the Cold War. The authors of Sky Crash consider thepossibility that something mundane occurred, which the authorities wanted to conceal from public attention, and that UFO stories may have been concocted to cover up what happened.6

Reports of ongoing phenomena

     I’ve given the real names of most of my informants (with their permission), but ‘Valerie Wilson’ and ‘Laura’ are pseudonyms. I thought it best to safeguard their anonymity, because I’ve mentioned Wilson’s children, and Laura is associated with the family, and is still in her teens. For ease of expression, I’ve been sparing in the use of ‘distancing’ terminology (‘alleged’, ‘reportedly’, etc.). But I can’t guarantee the historical accuracy of what I’ve been told, although I’ve no reason to believe that any of the informants has lied to me. The ages I’ve given for them should be regarded as approximate. These informants aren’t the only people who’ve allegedly had unusual experiences in Rendlesham Forest. Three individuals who said they’d provide me with written accounts of their experiences have failed to do so. And for all I know, there could be a good number of other people who’ve had unusual experiences in the forest.  

Brenda Butler
Brenda Butler, a former nurse, lives near the Suffolk coast. She’s declined to divulge her age, but she reports a long history of unusual experiences, including anomalous phenomena in her present home. Her first UFO sighting occurred when she was 5. She believes she’s been abducted by aliens on several occasions, and she says that she played with them as a child.  She has three scars that she believes may be related to her contact with aliens, and she’s spoken in a “weird language” at times. She informs me that someone turned up on her doorstep in 1984, stayed for three months, and then retuned for a further week. The visitor slept in a nearby caravan rather than in the house itself. Mainly, he appeared in human form. But on three occasions, she saw him as a “reptilian”. She told me that he was able to discern her thoughts telepathically, that he knew what was in books without having to read them, and that he sometimes appeared unexpectedly before her. He ate only vegetables and sweets, and didn’t appear to wash or use the lavatory, although he always looked clean.

     To Butler, Rendlesham Forest is a “very magical place”. She’s been visiting it since 1979. She has doubts about whether the December 1980 incidents involved anything exotic, although she believes that extra-terrestrials and beings from another dimension are involved in the ongoing phenomena. She’s taken numerous photographs in the forest, initially using 35 mm film, and more recently with digital cameras. Many of the photographs have been taken at night. ‘Orbs’, misty patches, and streaks of light or colour can be seen in many of them. Generally, these features weren’t evident to the naked eye when the photographs were taken. In addition, Butler has had numerous unusual experiences in the forest over the years, including: sightings of UFOs and apparitions (e.g. of small monk-like figures); ‘missing time’; her watch stopping; stones dropping down beside her (which have been either hot or, less often, warm); and her surroundings appearing temporarily different from normal.

     Many of these experiences have occurred when she’s been with someone else (or with more than one other person). For example, she reports that during a visit to the forest in about 1998, she and an American called Woody saw a helicopter chasing a large white light. Two smaller lights came out of the larger light and then went back into it. And other strange things occurred. For instance, the couple experienced a few hours of missing time, and, for a while, the local the topography appeared to be different from normal. On another occasion, in the same general area (the eastern part of the forest), Butler noticed a 6 foot tree at a spot where there’d been no tree about a week before. But when she returned some 10 days later, the tree wasn’t there!

Peter Parish
Peter Parish, 48, works as a groundsman at a school, and lives not far from Rendlesham Forest. He recalls childhood experiences of feeling pinned down in his bedroom. During these episodes, he felt as if he were being visited, although he didn’t actually see any ‘visitors’. (These sound like experiences of sleep paralysis, which isn’t uncommon in the general population.)A few years ago, at Brenda Butler’s home, he had a similar experience, although on that occasion he subsequently saw, or hallucinated, a rotating blob of fluorescent green material that resembled antifreeze liquid. The sighting seemed to last about 20-30 seconds. (Butler informs me that other people have had apparitional experiences in her house.)  

     Using a digital DVD camcorder and an ordinary digital camera, Parish has captured moving images in the forest of what he and Brenda Butler call “rods”. Having seen them on DVD, I would say they look like moving hairs or pieces of cotton thread. I wonder whether they could be photographic artefacts rather than things in the environment, although Parish believes they are external forms of some kind. He’s also caught what he believes are larger images of rods. To me, their shape is reminiscent of pictures of the DNA molecule. To Parish, they resemble pieces of flexible piping, and he describes them as having membrane-like ‘wings’, one on each side, which vibrate as the rods move. I’m not sure what to make of them, but I wonder whether they could be magnified, and perhaps distorted, images of airborne bracken fibres. Interestingly, Parish thinks that rods are more in evidence when the bracken in the forest is high.

     On two occasions, Parish has filmed a yeti-like form or shadow in the forest at night, although on neither occasion did he actually see a yeti with the naked eye. Also at night, he’s filmed a shadowy form, which he refers to as an “ET”. Again, though, he didn’t see it with the naked eye. I’ve seen two of these sequences on DVD (the one featuring the ET, and one of the sequences featuring a yeti-like form), and I wonder whether they show Parish’s own shadow being accidentally cast by a moving light source behind him (e.g. a companion’s torch beam). But that’s only conjecture, and I understand from Parish that a woman from Blackpool allegedly saw a yeti-like figure in the forest in the daytime about four years ago.     

     One evening in January 2002, while he was living in a flat that was formerly part of RAF Bentwaters, Parish saw an Army helicopter flying very low over the flats, seemingly chasing, or being passed by, a bluish-white orb-shaped light that was heading east. And in about 2002, from Woodbridge, he saw a Sea King helicopter being followed by an orb of light. He’s also had UFO experiences in Rendlesham Forest itself. Around midnight or 1.00 a.m. one windless, starlit night, about four years ago, he was looking down ‘Track 10’, from the road that runs past its western end, when he and Brenda Butler heard a whirring noise, as if some sort of craft were flying towards them from the trees ahead. There was a bright flash in the forest, and then the noise resumed and came closer. They felt wind swirling around them and noticed the trees swaying.  Nothing was visible, and the noise moved away in the direction of the Woodbridge base. On another occasion, but during the daytime, he saw a light brown object shoot up from ‘Track 10’ into a tree.  It resembled a stick of French bread and appeared to be about 20-30 inches long and 4 inches wide.

     Very warm stones have sometimes landed beside Parish in the forest, and this has occurred during the day and at night. It happens in warm weather. He’s experienced it on his own and with others. He states that if there’s a group of people, it has to be reasonably small, and its members need to be open-minded, if the phenomenon is to occur. The stones are always smooth, and he’s sometimes seen them before they’ve hit the ground. In his experience, they land without bouncing, although if they’re picked up and then dropped, they bounce normally. At one point, an elongated stone landed on its end in his presence. And one evening, a stone landed on the roof of his car, without rolling off, while the vehicle was parked near ‘Track 10’.

     Parish has elicited the stone falling phenomenon by asking questions. Standing alone at the western end of ‘Track 10’ one night, he asked, out loud, “Are you from another dimension?” A stone then fell down beside him. He asked, “Can you drop a stone on the track in front of me where I’m shining the torch beam?” That duly happened. And when he asked whether a stone could be dropped on the road behind him, one obligingly fell there!

     On about two or three occasions, Parish has been among quite densely spaced trees in the eastern part of the forest when a stone has landed near his feet, but without his hearing a preceding sound of something falling through the branches overhead. At one point, he was on ‘Track 10’ when a stone landed on the ground between his legs. He had a rucksack on his back at the time, so it’s hard to see how the stone could have come from above.

     When he’s been with Brenda Butler, Parish has sometimes had brief visions of small monk-like creatures. But these sightings have occurred less often than the incidents involving falling stones, and he states that that the figures are seen by only one or two people at a time. One night in April 2002, he was with Butler and some other people near the eastern end of ‘Track 10’ when he saw a human-shaped shadow passing him, going to the left. At first, he mistakenly thought it was one of his companions, John Hanson. The figure walked over a deep hole in a path in front of Parish without falling over. And after that, he and Butler saw a round light moving about in a nearby birch tree.

     At one point, some symbols came into Parish’s mind while he was meditating in the eastern part of forest. Two or three days later, he was in the forest when he got a ‘message’ (mental impression) telling him that something was on the left, not very far away. About three days later, he and Brenda Butler were in that part of the forest (i.e. the eastern part) when they came upon a stone on which some of the self-same symbols had been scratched. On one occasion, after he’d been meditating with Butler in the eastern part of the forest, Parish discovered that two-and-a-half hours had passed, although it had only seemed like half an hour to him.

Valerie Wilson
Valerie Wilson, 38, hails from London but now lives in Suffolk. Like Brenda Butler, she reports a long history of anomalous experiences. When she was 6, she had an out-of-body-experience; and she saw three humanoids in her bedroom when she was 11. She’s seen UFOs over her present home and has experienced phenomena within it, such as sightings of “reptilians”, “greys” and “shadows”. For many years, she’s experienced electrical disturbances. She writes: “I touch the switch to turn on lights and fuse the whole house. I do this at friends’ homes. Street lights flicker or switch on or off when I approach them or walk under them. I leave the doctor’s room to allow them to get my details up on the screen as their computer crashes in my presence. I give static shocks to people when they get in my car…”

     Wilson explains that her partner has also experienced unusual phenomena. For example, she states: “[He] had two days of missing time with me when I was 18 years-old. He [saw] a blue globe of light (much like a plasma ball) appear in the centre of the kitchen when we lived in London… In Suffolk, he has had a UFO beam light at his face…”  And she reports that her three children have all experienced paranormal activity. For example, regarding the eldest, who is 18, she writes: “[He] has been a target for Reptilian interaction. He catches them in his room, even with the bedroom light on at night. He knows when they are going to come. He dreams of trips around the cosmos in craft. His friends have all witnessed UFOs while spending time with him out at night. [He] was with eight friends when a Mexican-hat-shaped craft followed them home…”

     Given that so many unusual things have happened to her elsewhere, it’s perhaps not surprising to learn that Valerie Wilson has also experienced phenomena in Rendlesham Forest. One night, in about August 2006, she was sitting in her car there, in a picnic area next to a campsite, when an “entity”, about 2½-3 feet tall, fell on to the bonnet! Startled, she dived into the back of the car. The entity remained on the bonnet for two or three minutes. On another occasion, about 11.30 p.m., while she was sitting on a bench near the eastern end of ‘Track 10’ with some companions, she turned on a tape-recorder. When the tape was played back, clicking sounds could be heard, although she hadn’t heard them while the recording was being made. On a couple of occasions, she saw red lights high in some trees north of the B1084 road. On another occasion, south of the B1084, she heard a noise like the “satisfied purr” of a big cat.

Laura, 16, is the girlfriend of one of Valerie Wilson’s sons. She told me that she was with her mother and their dog in Rendlesham Forest, probably just before Christmas 2006, when a stone rolled along the ground near them. Her mother picked it up, and it was burning hot. From what Laura told me, I think they were probably on ‘Track 10’ at the time.   

John Hanson
John Hanson, 61, is a retired police officer with an interest in UFO phenomena. Although he and his partner, Dawn Holloway (see below) live in the Midlands, they’ve made repeated visits to Rendlesham Forest. Hanson has seen ‘orbs’ there. In the company of others, he and Holloway have sometimes been in the forest at night when a thud has been heard, followed by the discovery, on the ground beside them, of a smooth, rounded, and hot pebble. And Hanson reports that he was struck lightly on the back by a stone on one occasion.

     As noted above, unusual features have appeared in photographs taken in the forest. Hanson raised this with a friend of his, a professional photographer. The latter was very sceptical, and advanced numerous explanations. Then, much to his surprise, the friend captured photographic anomalies during a visit to the forest with his wife. According to Hanson, when the couple arrived home, “some random photos [were] taken outside the house…[and] they noticed [it] was covered with orbs.” I tried to contact Hanson’s friend, by e-mail, to obtain further details, but I’ve had no reply.      Anomalies have shown up in photographs that Hanson himself has taken in Rendlesham Forest.

Dawn Holloway
Dawn Holloway, 52, captured an ‘orb’ with a non-digital camera in daylight conditions in Rendlesham Forest some years ago, although she didn’t see anything strange at the time. At that stage, she and Hanson didn’t see the anomalous things that Brenda Butler reported seeing. But on one occasion, Butler asked them whether they could see light around a tree. At first, neither of them could, but then it seemed to Holloway that the tree was shimmering with light, although Hanson still couldn’t see it. On their next visit to the forest, Holloway saw what looked like a light in a tree close to a track. Butler indicated that she could see it, too, although Hanson and the other people present couldn’t. However, it showed up in a photograph that Hanson took. Holloway explains that as Hanson looked more intently at the tree, he saw it as well. She states that after that visit, she and Hanson began to see ‘orbs’ with the naked eye intermittently, and that Hanson captured a great deal with his digital camera. Holloway confirms that stones have sometimes landed on the ground when she’s been in the forest. She describes them as having been “quite warm”. She’s touched about three or four of them.

Don Ramkin
Don Ramkin, 45, has a longstanding interest in the paranormal and has been visiting Rendlesham Forest for several years. During his initial visits, he didn’t see or photograph anything unusual. But since then, he’s had a variety of unusual experiences in the forest, and he’s captured anomalous photographic images there. He tends to visit the forest in a group of four, including Brenda Butler. He states that he and Butler have concluded that unusual activity is more likely to occur if there are just four of them.

     Ramkin has seen anomalous lights or illuminated objects in the forest. One incident occurred when he was walking down a track, at night, with five or six others. He and John Hanson were at the rear, walking parallel to each other, some distance apart, and chatting. An object resembling a bright golf ball shot out of the trees ahead of them on the left at an angle. Ramkin notes: “it…zipped between myself and John…just above our heads, seemed to twist, [and] then, taking another trajectory, shot into the trees to the right, behind us.”  It made a rasping-like noise. Judging from its high-speed manoeuvres, Ramkin infers that it was being guided or had intelligence. I spoke to John Hanson about the incident. He doesn’t specifically recall it. However, if it happened as described, it’s possible that he wasn’t looking in the right direction at the time.

     On one occasion, about half an hour before it got fully dark, Ramkin saw a silent black triangular shaped craft flying in the direction of Orford Ness. It appeared to be at a high altitude and above a field rather than over the forest itself. He’s had other unusual visual experiences in the area, including sightings of apparitional figures.

     He reports that he and his companions have had their clothing tugged and that they’ve been prodded; and he relates that he distinctly felt someone or something unseen holding his right hand on two occasions. And on three occasions, he’s felt a grip around his left wrist. (If I’ve understood him correctly, all of these incidents involving tactile impressions have occurred at night.)

     One night, Ramkin and two companions, including Brenda Butler, were sitting on a bench near the eastern end of ‘Track 10’ when he heard someone whispering in his right ear.  He asked Butler what she’d said, but then he realized there was no one sitting to his right. Butler explained that no one had spoken. Ramkin then heard more whispering.

     Ramkin has been present when stones have fallen in the forest. They’ve usually landed near him and his companions, and, if located, have been found to be “very very warm”. He notes that they “can be pure white [and] almost polished”, unlike any stones that he and his companions have normally come across in the forest. He states that he’s personally witnessed two stones land and roll; and he also mentions an occasion when a plastic toy elephant landed at the base of a tree. 

     One night, Ramkin and a companion were walking down a forest track when they heard a loud rushing and crashing sound from some trees to their right. In his torchlight, Ramkin saw a deer running fast. It fell, but got up and ran off. Ramkin writes: “…I panned my torch round…and suddenly saw two pairs of yellow eyes looking back at us. I thought, as did [my companion], that it was foxes, but my heart began racing as I realized that we were wrong. As we began to walk, these two creatures walked, and when we stopped, they stopped, but I kept hitting their eyes with the torch [beam], so I knew where they were...I caught a glimpse of the shoulder blades going up and down and it dawned on me that this was a big cat encounter.”

Comments and conclusions

     Brenda Butler has kindly given me a CD containing a large number of photographs she’s taken in Rendlesham Forest, including the three photographs reproduced here. Many of them show apparent anomalies, and I sought an opinion on several of the pictures (including Photographs 1-3) from Dr Steven Campbell, a former cell biologist, who now works as a professional photographer.  He comments:

The image meta data shows that all of the images except [Photograph 1] were taken with an Olympus Digital Camera and processed with the same software (v574p-76). An internet search for that software number suggests that the camera could have been a C300 Zoom. These very low resolution files have also been highly compressed, and therefore suffer pronounced JPEG artefacts. There is also colour noise due to the small sensor and high amplification [arising from] the fact that the pictures were shot at 400 ISO. The streaks can be explained technically by the fact that the exposure is 2 seconds long. The background has been illuminated by the flash for a very brief period and therefore appears still. The long exposure then allows the visualisation of a bright object moving in front of the camera. Part of the lateral stretch of the streaking [in Photograph 2] is almost certainly due to camera shake and is very similar to an effect seen in firework photography. This lateral handshake stretch is particularly obvious on the right streak. There are very faint 'ghost' images of the fence posts in [Photograph 3], which might have been due to [the] double exposure effect already noted. In this case, they could have been caused by the residual light in the sky as revealed by image processing. The only intriguing point about the images is the fact that the light streaks in [Photograph 3] give the appearance of weaving in and out of the barbed wire. However, the discontinuities in the streaks clearly cast doubt on this interpretation…

[Photograph 1] was taken with a Hewlett Packard digital camera…The spots appear to be out of focus rain drops. Image processing suggests more are there than is first apparent. The variation in bright spot size is consistent with the fact that rain drops are said to vary in size from 0.2 mm in diameter to 6 mm. However, size variations in this image could also be explained in terms of different planes of focus.

There is no evidence from the meta data of sophisticated image processing software being used, such as Photoshop.

     By way of an informal control experiment, I took some digital photographs at night in two wooded locations not far from my home. Although I didn’t see anything unusual at the time, the camera recorded some ‘orbs’ at one of the sites. These were presumably normal artefacts, and bearing in mind Steven Campbell’s technical comments, I suspect that the same is true of many of the apparent photographic anomalies recorded in Rendlesham Forest. However, it might be premature to conclude that there’s no mystery concerning the photographic anomalies captured in the forest. Don Ramkin notes: “[When] I first started going [there] and was taking endless photos and not getting a single thing, I complained that my camera was crap and that I’d wasted my money buying it. So Brenda [Butler], who was getting orbs and streakers, said, ‘Let me try.’ ” According to Ramkin, she took a photograph with his camera, and straight away two orbs appeared in the frame. Once Rankin had “become tuned in with the forest”, as he puts it, he found himself “getting everything he hoped for and more.”  And he writes: “Since then, we’ve had people with us who have expensive cameras…and get nothing, and I’ve asked to try, [and have] taken a photo with their equipment and got orbs, mist, etc.” Furthermore, he reports that when he’s in the forest, he sometimes gets a headache feeling across his forehead, and that at such times, “I guarantee that if we take photos, there will be orbs or mist.”

     One might be tempted to regard Rendlesham Forest and the surrounding area as a hotspot or ‘window area’ for strange events. But without reliable comparative data, it’s probably impossible to say for sure whether that’s the case. If a randomly selected area with a similar size, population, etc., were closely studied, it’s possible that just as many accounts of strange events would come to light. However, in the light of the aforementioned reports, I suspect that the locality is a hotspot.

     I don’t know whether Laura is a regular visitor to Rendlesham Forest, but all of my other informants have made multiple visits. A desire to experience phenomena is no doubt part of their motivation. Accordingly, some of their experiences may have been shaped by expectation, suggestion and imagination. In respect of nocturnal visits, darkness and sleep deprivation could, of course, be conducive to perceptual errors. Furthermore, if incidents aren’t noted down very soon after they’ve occurred, they could be recalled inaccurately. (Regarding events involving more than one witness, I’ve noticed two or three discrepancies in the testimony, although generally speaking there seems to be a fair amount of consensus.)  

     Without there necessarily being anything paranormal involved, some people may be especially prone to anomalous experiences. For example, someone with a marked tendency to become very focused on one particular thing, to the exclusion of everything else, might lose track of time in certain situations. And someone with a predisposition to confuse internally generated imagery with external perceptions might be particularly susceptible to hallucinations in a forest at night. Furthermore, if sights and sounds are ambiguous, as they might well be in the dark of night, a person’s interpretation of them could be influenced by the pronouncements of his or her companions – if the peer group deems an ambiguous event to be paranormal, that could induce a waverer to place a similar interpretation on it.

     The above are necessary notes of caution. However, this case includes physical manifestations, so it can’t be convincingly explained away in purely psychological terms. The phenomenon involving hot or warm stones is particularly noteworthy, since it features in the testimony of all of the informants apart from Valerie Wilson.7 A sceptic might conjecture that one of the informants has been using trickery to fabricate the incidents. However, it appears that none of them has been consistently present each time the phenomenon has occurred. (Peter Parish reports that it’s happened when he’s been on his own, and Brenda Butler tells me that it’s occurred in his absence.) In itself, that doesn’t rule out trickery. For example, a hoaxer could employ accomplices, or there could be a conspiracy involving more than one of the informants; or a sustained hoax may have been perpetrated without the knowledge of any of the informants. However, I rather doubt whether these incidents involving stones are attributable to hoaxing, not least because the perpetrator(s) would have had to spend a considerable amount of time carrying out the pranks. Equally, I think it’s unlikely that six of the seven informants have lied about these events. On balance, therefore, I think these incidents involving stones are probably genuine poltergeist-type manifestations, and that some of the other phenomena may also be paranormal.8

     It’s possible that the lights seen by Brenda Butler and Peter Parish in the vicinity of helicopters were produced by military equipment rather than by something exotic. Alternatively, the sightings may have been paranormal hallucinatory experiences. Peter Parish and Brenda Butler’s joint experience of hearing something making a whirring noise is puzzling, particularly given that they didn’t actually see an aerial object. Was it some sort of disguised military craft operated by the Army at the Woodbridge base, or could it have been an exotic or paranormal phenomenon? With regard to the smaller lights or objects that have reportedly been seen in the forest, an explanation in terms of military technology seems quite unlikely to me.

     If some of the phenomena in this case are genuinely paranormal, who or what is producing them? Arguably, the most parsimonious explanation is that the manifestations are being created, unwittingly, by the witnesses themselves. The process may operate via unconscious telepathic ‘networking’ (which could help to engender collective hallucinations), with the physical effects (including some of the photographic anomalies) being produced by psychokinesis. (I’ve discussed the notion of ‘psychic internets’ in the July/August 2007 edition of this magazine.)  Brenda Butler may well be unusually ‘psychic’. She’s certainly been a very frequent visitor to the forest over the years. Therefore, she could be playing a particularly prominent role in unconsciously catalysing or generating phenomena in Rendlesham Forest.

This article was first published in the July/August 2007 issue of UFO DATA Magazine. After it appeared, Brenda Butler received some communications from people who had seemingly misunderstood the article as suggesting that she had faked photographic anomalies. The article DOESN’T say that, and I certainly don’t believe that she has faked photographs. As stated, while I accept that many of the photographic anomalies discussed above may have arisen from factors such as camera shake and long exposure times, I don’t think we can rule out a paranormal element.


I’m grateful to Brenda Butler for her permission to use Photographs 1-3 in this article. I’d also like to thank her and the other informants for providing testimony and answering my queries. I’m grateful to Steven Campbell for his photographic advice.  

1 See . Photographs of a disc-shaped UFO that was reportedly seen and photographed in the area in 1968 can be seen on .

2 See .

3 You Can’t Tell the People: The Definitive Account of the Rendlesham Forest UFO Mystery by Georgina Bruni (Pan Books, London, 2001).

4 Sky Crash: A Cosmic Conspiracy by Brenda Butler, Dot Street & Jenny Randles (Grafton Books, London, 1986). (First published by Neville Spearman Ltd in 1984.)

5 The terms ‘Base Commander’ and ‘Deputy Base Commander’ are potentially misleading, since they could be taken to mean, respectively, the commander and deputy commander of the whole operation at the twin bases. In fact, though, they refer to the commander and deputy commander of a department known as the Combat Support Group, which was basically concerned with housekeeping, security and policing matters (see Bruni, op. cit., p. 27).  

6 See also .

7 However, although several witnesses have testified to this phenomenon, it may be generally little known in the area. I’ve spoken on the telephone to Nigel Turner, the Recreation Ranger at Rendlesham Forest. He said that he wasn’t aware of any of the forestry workers having such experiences with stones.

8 The falling of hot stones has been reported in some poltergeist cases. See, for example, the discussion of the 1709 Canvey Island (Essex) case in Poltergeists by Alan Gauld & A. D. Cornell (Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1979, pp. 211-219).


Continued: Rendlesham part 3