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Lair of the Beasts: The Great Worm of Avebury
Monsters of the Stones
By Nick Redfern
July 11, 2009
Searching for the Great Worm of Avebury
Somebody asked me a few weeks ago what I considered to be the strangest unidentified animal encounter I have ever investigated. Well, unsurprisingly, there have been more than a few memorable cases that positively reeked of extreme weirdness; but without doubt, right near the top of this list was the strange affair of a man named Malcolm Lees.
Lees enlisted in the British Royal Air Force in the early 1950’s and retired in the late 1960’s. In 1962 he received a posting to a RAF station in the county of Wiltshire, which he declined to name, and worked in the prestigious and secretive world of intelligence gathering.
Most of the work, Lees explained, was routine and even mundane; and he laughed heartily at the idea, spouted by many, that intelligence work was a glamorous one full of James Bond-style escapades. Nevertheless, Lees said, there was one aspect of his career that really was stranger than fiction.
Early one September morning in 1962, a call came into the base from someone who had seen a UFO hovering in the vicinity of the ancient standing-stones in the historic village of Avebury.
UFO reports would reach the base from time to time, said Lees. They were always handled by the RAF’s Provost and Security Services, and were for the most part mind-numbingly mundane, and related to little more than sightings of unidentified lights in the sky that could, in reality, have been anything or nothing.
Invariably, he said, the reports were a week or more old by the time they were received; and so were simply filed and passed up the chain of command – that was then at Government Buildings, Acton, and relocated to Rudloe Manor in 1977. But this one case was a little different, said Lees.
The witness was a middle-aged lady who had lived in Avebury all of her adult life and who was fascinated by archaeological history. A spinster, she would often stroll among the Stonehenge-like formation at night, marvelling at their creation and musing upon their history.
It was on the night in question that she had been out walking at around 10.30 p.m. when she was both startled and amazed to see a small ball of light, perhaps two-feet in diameter, gliding slowly through the stones. Transfixed and rooted to the spot, she watched as it closed in on her at a height of about twelve feet. The ball then stopped fifteen feet from her and small amounts of what looked like liquid metal slowly and silently dripped from it to the ground. Then, in an instant, the ball exploded in a bright, white flash.
For a moment she was blinded by its intensity and instinctively fell to her knees. When her eyes cleared, however, she was faced with a horrific sight. The ball of light had gone, but on the ground in front of her was what she could only describe as a monstrous, writhing worm.
The creature, she said, was about five feet long, perhaps eight or nine inches thick, and its skin was milk-white. As she slowly rose to her feet, the creature’s head turned suddenly in her direction and two bulging eyes opened. When it began to move unsteadily towards her in a caterpillar-like fashion, she emitted a hysterical scream and fled the scene. Rushing back home, she slammed the door shut and frantically called the airbase, after having been directed to them by the less-than-impressed local police.
The Provost and Security Services were used to dealing with UFO reports, said Lees, and a friend of his in the P&SS was dispatched early the next day to interview the woman – amid much hilarity on the part of his colleagues, all of whom thought that the story was someone’s idea of a joke. On returning, however, Lees’ friend and colleague had a very serious and grim look on his face, and informed him guardedly that what had taken place was no hoax.
The woman, he said, had practically barricaded herself in her home, was almost incoherent with fear, and only agreed to return to the scene after lengthy coaxing. Lees’ colleague said that he found no evidence of the UFO; and the worm, or whatever it was, had gone. On the ground near the standing stone, however, was a three-foot long trail of a slime-like substance, not unlike that left by a snail. Lees’ colleague quickly improvised and, after racing back to the woman’s house, scooped some of the material onto a spoon and into a drinking glass.
After assuring the woman that her case would be taken very seriously, and requesting that she discuss the events with no one, he headed back to the base, the slimy substance in hand. A report was duly prepared and dispatched up the chain of command – along with the unidentified slime. For more than a week, said Lees, plainclothes military personnel would wander casually among the stones seeking out evidence of anything unusual. Nothing else was ever found, however.
Lees said that he was fascinated by this incident because it was one of the few UFO-related cases he had heard about that was taken very seriously at an official level and that had some form of material evidence in support of it. He did not know the outcome of the investigation but he never forgot about it – and, after interviewing Lees, neither did I!
Nick Redfern is the author of many books on paranormal phenomena, including There’s something in the Woods; Three Men Seeking Monsters; and the forthcoming Science Fiction Secrets.