Friendly Fire from Space: Berlanguillas, Spain


Friendly Fire from Space:

Berlanguillas, Spain

Berlanguillas Meteorite
 

Berlanguillas fell 200 years ago on July 8, 1811 adding to the earth’s pile of L6 chondrites. But while the classification is not too exciting, the arrival of Berlanguillas did scare soldiers and draw crowds in anticipation of a battle.

The following translations were kindly provided by Bernd Pauli in Germany. Thanks Bernd!


Berlanguillas Meteorite

 

VII.

The fall of three meteor stones on July 8, 1811,

near Burgos in Old-Castile*

According to a report of the French divisional general Dorsenne from the Burgos headquarters to the French Institute, a violent explosion comparable to a loud cannon shot was heard near the Spanish village of Berlanguillas, on the road from Aranda to Roa**, on July 8, 1811, at 8 o’clock in the evening, out of a clear, serene sky; another three followed; then a forth like infantry fire.

Several farmers in the fields heard this noise were frightened; it was like bullets whistling past their ears; in the soil that was blown up, they saw something fall; they went to look for it; it was a glowing-hot stone.

Two or three other stones had fallen about 60 steps around them. Even the commanders of Aranda and of fort Cachabon, which is 7 hours distant, had heard the three cannon shots, the musket fire, and especially the whistling bullet-like sounds. They sent out patrols on reconnaissance in every direction, though without spotting an enemy.

On the nearby hills, idle people had assembled because they thought they would soon see the spectacle of an encounter. When the patrols came to Berlanguillas, they found the true cause of the noises and the mayor gave them two of the stones that had fallen from the sky.

* From the papers published January 1812
** Both these hamlets lie on the Duero in the Burgos district.

 


 

Berlanguillas Meteorite
 

Additional information on the stones that fell

near Burgos, Spain, on July 8, 2011

In addition to the reports by General Dorsenne on p. 116 of the previous volume of these Annals, I’d like add the following circumstances from his report:

The commanders from Aranda and from Fort Cachabon, which is about 28 km (French la lieu = ca. 4 km) from Berlanguillas, had not only heard those 4 explosions but also the whistling sound of the stone.

The four, pellet fire-like explosions lasted one minute. The stone had penetrated the soil to a depth of 8 inches and the soil surrounding the stone was very hot and completely red (rougie); the farmers claimed to have seen a distinct shadow in the air (presumably smoke).

The two stones, which the troups received from the alcalde (= mayor) and the largest one of which General Dorsenne sent to the National Institute, were all of the same color.


Berlanguillas Meteorite

 
Still shiny after all these years! Crust is always a treat and important when considering the authenticity of a specimen.

Berlanguillas Meteorite

 
The historical fall of Berlanguillas did not go unnoticed on its bicentennial. This poster advertised the celebration event.On a follow up page from the event, there is a nice pic of a cut face of what I assume is the main mass of Berlanguillas. At first I thought it looked more SNC-like than chondritic, but considering the age of this stone, and the rough looking cut, it might just be weathered iron flake.

 

The perpetual fighting on wars on this planet, while considering the events of the fall of Berlanguillas, can’t help but beg the question of how many meteorites have fallen in battle zones and gone unnoticed because the usually violent event of a meteorite impact blends into the chaos of war.

Until next time….


The Accretion Desk welcomes all comments and feedback. accretiondesk@gmail.com

About the Author

Martin Horejsi
Dr. Martin Horejsi is a Professor of Instructional Technology and Science Education at The University of Montana. A long-time meteorite collector and writer, before publishing his column The Accretion Desk in The Meteorite Times, he contributed often and wrote the column From The Strewnfields in Meteorite Magazine. Horejsi is currently a monthly columnist in The Science Teacher, a journal by the National Science Teachers Association. Horejsi specializes in the collection and study of historic witnessed fall meteorites with the older, smaller, and rarer the better. Although his meteorite collection once numbered over a thousand pieces with near that many different locations, several large trades and sales have streamlined the collection to about 250 locations with all but 10 being important witnessed falls. Many of the significant specimens in Horejsi's collection are historic witnessed falls that once occupied prominence in the meteorite collections of Robert A. Haag, James Schwade, and Michael Farmer. Other important specimens were acquired through institutional trades including those from The Smithsonian Institution, Arizona State University, and other universities.
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