FIREBALLS  - A History of  Meteors and other Atmospheric Phenomena
Fireballs of the Medieval Age
(1066-1492)
 
1066- A Comet is seen in the sky over Britain and Normandy. This was almost certainly Halley's Comet which appeared early in the year. One famous scene of the Bayeaux Tapestry shows a court page, or some messenger whispering in the ear of King Harold of England. Near Harold is an image that has been interpreted as a comet. There is a Latin inscription next to it which says "ISTI MIRANT STELLA." Translated this means, "They wonder at the star." In those days comets were looked on with a degree of superstition and fear. Harold must have wondered what it meant. Only a few months after the comet appeared Harold would lose his kingdom when a Norman invasion fleet led by Duke William crossed the English Channel and soundly defeated the English army at the battle of Hastings.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
An image in the Bayeaux Tapestry
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
1067- (December 06) The sky seemed to be on fire in Northumbria at various times during the year. This was possibly due to the Aurora Borealis.
 
1098-(September 27) Simeon of Durham reports that a star like a comet appeared in the heavens and stayed for 15 days. Other people reported seeing in the sky something resembling a burning cross.
 
1131- (January 11 or 12) According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle the heavens in the northern sky were on fire.
 
1137- An Irish cleric Thady Dowling in the annals of Ireland states that in this year 3 red suns appeared which brought on war to the British isles. 
 
1138- (October 7) It is recorded that in England the heavens were seen to "emit fiery sparks like a furnace, and balls of fire of wonderful brightness, like the sparks of live coals shot through the air in more places than one,"
 
1158- (August 28) C.E. Britton mentions an incident he found from the Annals of Clonmacnoise. In Ireland "there was a great amount of fier seen in the firmament this yeare, westerly of Tea Doynn in Munster, it was bigger then St. Patricks mount, which dispersed in severall showers of small sparkles of fier without doing any hurt, this wasupon the eve of St. John in Autumne."
 
1164- (September 18) Three circles of four different colors, like a rainbow were seen in the sky over England. When they disappeared there were two suns in the sky.
 
1168- In Britain, a globe of fire was seen in the sky.
 
1170- The Annals of Boyle mentions a bow of burning fire seen in Ireland.
 
1173- (February 10) In Londonderry Ireland a fireball blazed across the sky and stayed in the southeast part of the sky. People arose from their beds thinking that morning had come. Gervase of Canterbury also mentions this incident. In England he says "there appeared some time after midnight a wonderful sign in the sky. For a certain red color was seen in the air in the northerly regions between East and West. White rays were also traversing this redness, now slender like spears, now broad like tables, and now here and now there as if erected upwards from Earth to heaven. The aforesaid white rays were like beams of the sun penetrating the thickest clouds."
 
1177- (November 29) Gervase of Canterbury records a strange event that took place in the sky over Kent. It took place before the first hour of the vigil of St. Andrew. A red burning flame was seen in the sky which some people took to be that of "fiery dragons with many heads."
 
1178- (June 23) Gervase of Canterbury writes about another strange event that took place in the sky over England. He states that "it occurred the day before the nativity of John the Baptist when the moon was full." He records "from the East with the moon shining there sprung up a burning flame which threw forth sparks,the witnesses were uneasy as the moon was struck hard and slayed." Obviously the monks who were witness to this fireball believed that the fireball hit the moon. In reality this was most probably an optical illusion. The bolide was almost certainly one in our Earth's atmosphere that merely ran its course at about the same time it passed the moon's position in the sky.
 
1188- (August 09) A cross appeared in the sky over Dunstable in England which many saw the image of Jesus Christ fasted with nails.
 
1200- Roger de Hoveden states that around Christmas five moons appeared in the sky over York England.
 
1204- (April 01) In England, a "red light, like fire was seen in the sky. This lasted until about midnight. The stars around it also appeared red.
 
1217- (October 27) The Dunstable Annals records that on the vigil of Simon and Jude a large cross was seen in the sky "passing through the air with great glory from the Eastern to the Western parts."
 
1218- The Lanercrost Chronicle states that "prodigious appearances were seen in the sky."
 
1222- William of Newburgh records that a large comet was seen in the sky along with many dragons. The Waverly Annals also mentions that in the sky over England dragons were seen fighting.
 
1233- (June) Roger of Wendover states that in Britain two snakes were seen fighting in the sky. One of them finally overcame the other.
 
1243- (June 26) Matthw of Paris records what appears to be a meteor shower. Stars fell from the sky 30 or 40 in a single instant.
 
1254- (January 01) On New Years day Matthew of Paris records a prodigy seen by some monks in the sky over St. Albans in England... "Indeed, in the night of the Lord's circumcision, at midnight, the air being most serene, and the sky covered with stars, the moon being 8 days old, there appeared in the air marvellous to relate, a kind of large ship, elegently shaped, equipped and of marvellous color. Certain monks of St. Albans saw this appearance, being at St. Amphibalus' to commemorate the festival, and looking at the stars to see if it was yet the hour for singing mattins, and they called together all of their familiar friends who were in the house to see the marvel. It appeared for along time as if it were painted and in truth a ship made of planks, but finally it began to disappear whence it was believed to be a cloud but a marvellous and prodigious one."
 
1263- (July 29) Matthew of Westminster (now known to be a pseudonym for a number of different chroniclers of the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries) writes that a wonderful sign appeared in the northern part of the sky over England at about midnight.
 
1274- (December 05) fiery dragons and a comet was seen in the sky over England (Matthew of Westminster)
 
1282- (March 15) The Worcester Annals records "On the Ides of March there was seen by the prior of the order of St. Augustine at Lodelaw, with the Lord Briennus of Brompton and other knights and many others at Kinlet, three suns, one in the east, another in the west and a third in the south.
 
1286- (May 08) John of Everisden records that in Suffolk armies were seen fighting in the air.
 
1286- (May 01) At about midnight and lasting for a few hours a sound was heard by many people. This event was recorded in the Worcester Annals. The noise was probably caused by a fireball. The longevity of the sound can be explained by the number of people that reported hearing it.
 
1287- (January 14) John of Everisden records an incident from the town of Bury St. Edmunds in England. "On the morrow of the octave of the Epiphany, sudden flashes of light were seen which terrified the beholders."
 
1291- (February 08) According to John of Everisden, a loud and sharp report was heard in London which seemed to come from the sky.
 
1322- (November 04) Matthew of Westminster (or someone using that name) writes of an incident that took place in the sky over Uxbridge England. It is said that "on the fourth of November at the first hour of the night in the western parts beyond the city of London near the village of Uxbridge, there appeared in the air to many beholders a wonderful sign. For a certain pile of fire of the size and shape of a small boat, pallid, but of livid color rising up from the south and crossing the firmament with a slow and grave motion, set its course towards the north. Out of the front of this pile another very fervent fire of a red color and of greater quantity, similar in shape to the former, burst forth immediately with bright beams and great speed, flying through the air, which were seen quickly meeting against each other by many beholders. and by turns frequently approaching with collisions and engaging in fearful combat, the blows of which conflict and the sounds of the crashes were heard at distances from the beholders.
 
1327- The Chronicles of London states "In this yere were seyn in the firmament two mones (moons) and this yere were two popes." According to the list of Popes issued by the Vatican there was only one pope in the year 1327, John XXII. The second pope must be a reference to to the antipope Nicholas V.
 
1342- (October 11) The Annals of Ireland reports that two moons were seen in the sky over Dublin. One f these moons was bright and located in the western sky. The other was in the eastern sky and shaped like a loaf.
 
1355- Henry Knighton, an Augustinian Canon mentions an incident that occurred in the sky over England which could have been the Aurora Borealis. It was said that "two banners, one red and one blue were fighting one another until finally the red banner defeated the blue one and cast it down on the Earth."
 
1360- The Chronicon Angliae mentions a strange prodigy seen in the sky over England and France. It says " there suddenly appeared two towers, from which two armies went out, one of which was crowned with a warlike sign, and the other was clothed in a black color. They met and the soldiers overcame those in black. A second time the warriors overcame the blacks and returned to their tower, and the whole vanished.
 
1361- (February 25) (Eulogium Historiarum) A luminous cloud appeared at midnight which looked like fire. In this fire were seen images like men.
 
1366- (October 31) John of Reading records that there were falling stars in the sky which fell and burned the clothes of people that they fell on.
 
 
 
 
 
"falling stars" recorded by John of Reading in 1366.
(Illustration by Glenn A. Hipkins)
 
 
 
 
 
 
1385- (July 15) A fire in the shape of a head appeared over London and Dover. (John Malvern)
 
1387- (November and December) Mentioned in "Knighton's Continuator" "a certain appearance in the likeness of a fire was seen in many parts of the kingdom of England."It is said that this fire sometimes took the shape of a burning wheel and at other times a round barrel or a long beam.
 
1388- (April) A flying dragon was seen in many places in England. (Knighton's Continuator)
 
1492- (November 07) A large fireball was seen over the small city of Ensisheim in France. The meteor struck between 11:00 A.M. and noon and was seen by a number of people. It landed in a wheat field, and only one witness, a small child was able to lead the town authorities to the spot. To their amazement the people of Ensisheim discovered a large crater five feet deep in which there was a stone that was later estimated to weigh between 200 and 260 lbs. It was removed from the hole and subsequently broken up by souvenir hunters. One of the largest pieces was given to the local church by the Hapsburg king and future Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian II. Today, the stone resides in the Regency Palace at Ensisheim.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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