Early 13th-century chronicler Gervase of Tilbury was perhaps the first Englishman to document a close encounter of the third kind. Fairy abductions had been a staple of folklore for centuries previously, but this tale is unique as it features an unidentified flying object:

On a certain feast-day in Great Britain, when the congregation came pouring out of church, they saw to their surprise an anchor let down from above the clouds, attached to a rope. The anchor caught in a tombstone; and though those above shook the cable repeatedly, they could not disengage it. Then the people heard voices above the clouds discussing apparently the propriety of sending someone to release the flukes of the anchor, and shortly after they saw a sailor swarming down the cable.

Before he could release the anchor he was laid hold of; he gasped and collapsed, as though drowning in the heavy air about the earth. After waiting about an hour, those in the aerial vessel cut the rope, and it fell down. The anchor was hammered out into the hinges and straps of the church door, where, according to Gervase they were to be seen in his day. Unfortunately, he does not tell us the name of the place where they are to be seen.

(From Sabine Baring-Gould’s A Book of Folk-Tales, as quoted in Katharine Briggs’ British Folk Tales.)

As fascinating as the anchor’s remains may be from a metallurgical standpoint, sadly, the account makes no mention of the sailor’s fate, save that (presumably) his fellows marooned him here on Earth.

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