Welcome to another one of Ancient Aliens’ increasingly regular forays into modern ufology in place of ancient history. Tonight’s topic, “The Mystery of Rudloe Manor,” looks at the title property, a onetime British country estate that sits atop an old quarry that was used as an RAF bunker and base during World War II. After the war, it continued on as an RAF communications hub, serving as the control center for Skynet, among other functions. It is connected to a large installation two miles away. In the 1990s, Rupert Matthews alleged that the secret operations that occurred at the manor were related to space aliens, thus launching a rumor perpetuated by fringe writers ever since, among them Ancient Aliens’ own Nick Redfern and Nick Pope.
As you might imagine, I don’t really care about this rumor whatsoever, so this episode was a pretty lengthy slog, more so than usual. It seems that this year the show is trying to burn time by going even more slowly and focusing on ever narrower topics. This episode is rather light on talking heads, and in its single topic and Tsoukalos-fronted on-location focus, it is much closer to a lost episode of In Search of Aliens, the short-lived Ancient Aliens spin-off, than a regular episode of the mother ship.
The first segment describes the British government’s release of its UFO files over the past ten years, and they focus on “eighteen key files” related to major UFO sightings that were missing. They were later found and sent to the National Archives, but the Ministry of Defence recalled them, apparently due to some secret material contained therein. The show assumes that this information is about space aliens, but more likely it deals with military secrets, possibly related to cooperation with American forces, since the files cover the so-called UFO incident in Rendlesham Forest, where the U.S. had troops stationed. The show alleges that the files were hidden in Rudloe Manor, though they have no evidence to suggest any such thing. They only insinuate it because Rudloe Manor housed the officials who were tasked with addressing questions about unidentified flying objects in the middle twentieth century. The site is officially no longer an active military installation, but it is still a secure facility guarded by police and security fences. Giorgio Tsoukalos and Nick Pope travel to the site, but their reality-show adventure antics must wait for the commercial.
In the second segment, Nick Pope, a former Ministry of Defence official, declined to visit the connected Corsham Computer Centre, another underground facility about two miles away, because of his former employment. Instead, Tsoukalos visits the underground facility, which is a data processing center for the Royal Navy, and probably connected to clandestine spying that we aren’t supposed to know about. Tsoukalos is sent away by local police, who refuse to let Ancient Aliens film the secure site. The narrator, however, spins a conspiracy, suggesting that the data center is actually a UFO investigation facility.
Pope and Tsoukalos meet Andrew Collins, the fringe writer best known for his Nephilim and Göbekli Tepe conspiracy theories (borrowed by Graham Hancock), and here Collins appears in a different guise, as a ufologist. Collins alleges that the nearby stone circles of Avebury and Stonehenge attract UFOs and that Rudloe Manor is monitoring the “window areas” where strange lights in the sky are attracted to ley lines like moths to a bug zapper. As most people reading this know, ley lines are imaginary, invented by Alfred Watkins and without scientific foundation. There is not space to go into the reasoning for this here, but I will briefly mention that at one point Tsoukalos claims that a ley line drawn from Britain to southern Italy crosses through dozens of ancient sites whose names all contain a root meaning “star.” I’ll be damned if I can find the root for “star” in some of those names. The claim passes without any effort to substantiate it.
The third segment reports a midcentury news article by game show panelist and newspaper journalist (i.e. gossip columnist) Dorothy Kilgallen, who once claimed that she heard from a source in the British government that the UK had a crashed flying saucer. It appeared in a May 22, 1955 news report she sent over the UP (now UPI) syndication wires from London and which was picked up by newspapers across America:
British scientists and airmen, after examining the wreckage of one mysterious flying ship, are convinced these strange aerial objects are not optical illusions or Soviet inventions, but are flying saucers which originate on another planet. The source of my information is a British official of Cabinet rank who prefers to remain unidentified. “We believe, on the basis of our inquiry thus far, that the saucers were staffed by small men—probably under four feet tall. It’s frightening, but there is no denying the flying saucers come from another planet.”
An alleged CIA memo (I have not had time to confirm its authenticity) reporting a wiretap of Kilgallen in 1962 states that Kilgallen seemed to truly believe what she heard, but her penchant for gossip and conspiracy theories (she was a JFK assassination conspiracy theorist, too) makes her claim doubtful, and it has never been confirmed. She might well have had her leg pulled and never realized it.
Tsoukalos and Pope interview a British UFO witness, and his story is just like any other, a discussion of lights and sounds with nothing to support the allegation that it had anything to do with space aliens. Naturally, they think it warrants a second segment.
The fourth segment continues the “investigation” into the UFO sighting, which allegedly included a crashed flying saucer. Officially, the event was a meteor strike at the time of a minor earthquake, but Pope says that ufologists “have become convinced” that the actual event was the crash of a flying saucer and its subsequent trucking back to Rudloe Manor. I imagine that most of you reading this could think of at least three other plausible explanations that would warrant government secrecy but that wouldn’t involve space aliens. The show presents the choice as a false dichotomy: aliens or meteor-earthquake.
The fifth segment rehearses the story of the so-called Rendlesham Forest UFO, which Ancient Aliens has covered many, many times in the past. There isn’t much to say that hasn’t been said before, so the show adds to the recycled material claims that in the nights that followed the 1980 incident, additional UFOs were seen, and they scanned the area with light beams, allegedly to find the “crashed” UFO—one that skeptics are almost certainly correct in asserting was little more than misunderstood aircraft lights amidst a whole lot of panic. The narrator, without any evidence, simply claims that the crashed UFO was hauled off to Rudloe Manor and documented in the eighteen files withdrawn from the National Archives. I can’t stress how out of nowhere these claims seem to emerge. There isn’t even a logical thread of speculation on offer, just random events pushed together through flights of fancy.
The final segment references John Podesta’s leaked emails, published by Wikileaks in the fall of 2016, but only as window dressing to bring up the release CIA UFO files in January of this year. The show uses this to call for the British government to release the eighteen “hidden” UFO files. It’s hard, though, to think that the British UFO files would contain anything other than what the American government files hold—a whole lot of nothing, and quite a few hints that UFO investigations were conducted as a PR campaign to cover up or distract from Air Force test flights, spying operations, and other mundane if clandestine government activities.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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