An Interview with Duncan Lunan - Part Two - Unabridged Version
By Michael S. Collins
and the Winterwind staff
So, you believe strongly in the possibility of life on other planets?
Obviously yes, though not everyone agrees. For instance Robert Bauval’s co-author on his subsequent books, Graham Hancock, was with us at the Nautical College and he was totally unconvinced, because he doesn’t believe in extraterrestrials at all. He believes there was a civilisation which persisted on Earth for over 8000 years without leaving any major traces, apart from the Sphinx, but he can’t explain how they would determine galactic coordinates or why they would need them.
What's the story with the Green Children of Woolpit?
That was an entirely different enquiry, to begin with. I first came across it when I was a student. In The Anatomy of Melancholy by Robert Burton (1651), Part 2 Mem.3, 'A Digression of the Air', includes all he knows about astronomy. Copernicus, Kepler and Galileo had proved the planets were actual worlds, moving in ellipses, not solid crystal shells, so space travel might be possible - "to take wings and fly up... command the spheres and heavens, and see what is done amongst them." And if we can go to them, "Then (I say) the Earth, [Mars, and Venus] be planets alike, inhabited alike, moved about [the Sun] alike, and it may be that those two green children which Nubrigensis speaks of in his time, that fell from heaven, came from thence..."
The story is told by William of Newburgh (Nubrigensis) in his Historia Rerum Anglicarum (History of English Affairs) in 1195-98. He was sceptical about wonderful events, and he was uneasy about this one, but he interviewed so many witnesses, witnesses of such quality that they convinced him. During the reign of king Stephn, he says, at an earthwork near Woolpit village in Suffolk, (East Anglia), seven miles east of Bury St. Edmunds, at harvest time, "there emerged two children, a male and a female, green of the entire body and dressed in clothing of extraordinary colour and unknown material." They were given no food at first, but even near death they wouldn't consider any food which was offered. They were saved eventually by bean plants, which happened to be just the same colour they were; but even then, they looked first for nourishment in the stalks. After that, they were weaned on to bread and by degrees to a full normal diet: their green colour faded and they became normal themselves.
Ralph, sixth abbot of Coggeshall monastery in Essex, 25 miles south of Woolpit, tells the same story in his Chronicon Anglicanum. There's no copying; the few words they share seem significant - and Ralph got the story from the family with whom the formerly green girl was living as an adult. One of the few differences is that he implies the event was about twenty years later, in the reign of Henry II. Not only was the children’s clothing unfamiliar, but they spoke an unknown language – doubly strange when Woolpit was a market town on the major pilgrim route in England, at the time. When they had lost the green colour and learned “our manner of speaking… it seemed to the wise that they might be christened, and even that was done” (note the emphasis). But when they were asked about their origin, they described life in a land of permanent twilight, separated by a very broad river from a country of permanent sunlight. Burton knew such conditions couldn’t be found anywhere on Earth. It sounds like an earth-like world, with a trapped rotation, keeping one face to its sun as the Moon does to us.
In 1992 I was covering a conference at the British National Space Centre for the Herald, and I took the bus up to East Anglia to get some local colour for an article about the green children. Beforehand, I had worked out a list of questions with Bill Ramsay, a past President of ASTRA and a history graduate. People in Woolpit were as helpful as they could be, but they kept saying, “You’d have to go to the County Records Office for that.” So I went to Bury St. Edmunds, joined the County Archive Research Network, and five hours later, exhausted, starving and dehydrated, I reeled out with the conviction that I was on to a best seller. The answers to the questions were there, and the deeper I went into it from then on, the more fascinating the story became.
Cutting to the chase, again, this incident was the tip of a much bigger iceberg, one of a number at sites around Great Britain over roughly 150 years. The date apparently was 1173. It or something like it was expected: Henry II had annexed the village from Bury St. Edmunds Abbey, then the major shrine in England, thirteen years earlier. His excuse was that he had a poor clerk who needed the income of ten pounds a year, but he put his Vice-Chancellor, about the richest man in England, in personal charge. When the children appeared he broke off from the biggest war of his reign, rushed back to East Anglia for four days, and put 300 crack troops into Woolpit which had only 60 people.
The formerly green boy died, but the girl grew up and married – and I’ve discovered that apparently she was Agnes, the wife of Richard Barre, one of Henry II’s senior ambassadors, which rather puts paid to the ‘runaways from some primitive tribe’ class of explanations. Her first, illegitimate child may have been fathered by Henry himself. I’ve traced her descendants to the present – one of them was deputy head of the House of Lords under Margaret Thatcher, and he thinks it’s a hoot. “I knew my ancestors were colourful, but not that colourful.” It looks as if the children grew up in a human colony on a planet with a trapped rotation and were returned to Earth in a matter-transmitter accident, one of a number which happened while the Earth’s magnetic field was disturbed by the most violent solar activity since the Bronze Age. Putting it all together, though I find it hard to believe what I’m looking at, it’s mass abductions, for extraterrestrial research purposes, with the knowledge if not the connivance of at least some of the terrestrial authorities. It’s The X-Files in the twelfth century!
Among aspects I haven’t yet published, is that since my articles on all this in Analog in the late 1980s, the three investigations have converged. I’ve found the link between the Green Children and the other two, so Epsilon Boötis, Stonehenge and the Pyramids, and the Green Children are all facets of the same enquiry. So do I believe in life on other worlds? Definitely.
And do you believe in UFOs?
That depends what you mean by ‘belief’. Obviously people see things in the sky they can’t explain – in “Man and the Stars” I said, “Anyone who isn’t fooled at least once a year by Venus, at least for a moment, isn’t watching the sky enough to see spaceships.” I’ve seen quite a number of things I couldn’t explain at the time, but I’ve always found out eventually what they were. I do a talk called ‘The Truth about UFOs – Some of Them’ which is all about cases which have been explained. It seriously annoys true believers.
What a lot of people find hard to get on with, given what I do believe intellectually about past Contact, is that I don’t believe there’s anyone else here now – I haven’t seen any plausible sign that we’re currently in any kind of Contact situation. Over the last fifty years the space policies of governments throughout the developed world, including the Obama one right now, just aren’t compatible with the scenario that we’re being visited.