Eight of the Greatest Mysteries of All Time

hith-stonehenge-superhenge-istock_000012937253large-e

Anything unexplainable or creepy seems to hold an intense grip over the human mind, as we seek answers and logic in every aspect of our lives. Though science has given us so many answers, the world still has pockets of mystery, conspiracy, and the paranormal, all of which continue to capture the imagination. The following eight mysteries have sparked wild theories and countless explanation attempts – perhaps, however, part of their beauty is that they will never be 100% solved, and represent the possibility that there is more around us than meets the eye.

Voynich Manuscript

In 1912, a Polish rare-book dealer, Wilfrid Voynich, purchased a 240-page manuscript, filled with detailed paragraphs, illustrations and diagrams. What is so bizarre and remarkable about this manuscript is that it is written in a language that has been impossible to translate or decipher. This language is unknown to man and there is no other historical record of it. The text is written out smoothly, and there is no evidence of any errors, corrections, or even pauses within the writing, which would suggest that this was the natural, mother language of the author. Carbon dating has pinpointed the time of creation to between 1404 and 1438; however, the author and their origins remain a mystery. Expert and amateur cryptographers and code breakers have tried and failed to crack this ancient language, and many thereby believe that the manuscript is an elaborate hoax which will never be deciphered at all.

The Pollock Twins

The Pollock family consisted of John and Florence, and their two daughters, Joanna (11) and Jacqueline (6). In May 1957, both girls were struck down by a car and killed instantly. One year later, Florence fell pregnant again and John, despite the doctor insisting that Florence was only expecting one child, was convinced that she would give birth to twins, and that these twins would be the reincarnation of their deceased daughters. Florence did indeed give birth to twin girls, Gillian and Jennifer. Jennifer possessed a white scar across her forehead and two birthmarks, all identical to those possessed by Jacqueline. The family relocated, and in order to protect their twins never mentioned Joanna and Jacqueline. The twins soon began recognising and naming toys that had belonged to their sisters that they had never seen before, both developed an irrational fear of cars, and would play chilling games involving them pretending to be hit by cars and calmly explaining to their parents that they were bleeding because the “car had got them”. When the Pollock’s drove the girls through their old neighbourhood, the twins pointed out their old home despite never being there before, and even described details of the school that their deceased sisters had attended. Many psychologists and religious figures have studied this case, and many have concluded that it proves the existence of reincarnation.

The SS Ourang Medan

The Ourang Meden is perhaps one of the most famous and contentious ghost ships of all time. In 1947, off the coast of Malaysia, multiple ships received an urgent and chilling SOS message coming from the Ourang Meden: “All officers including captain are dead. Possibly whole crew dead”. The final message was simple: “I die”. A nearby ship, the Silver Star, responded to the call, and when they boarded the ship found the entire crew lying dead, their bodies scattered across the deck – everyone had their eyes open, terrified expressions frozen on their faces, with their arms outstretched and pointing. There were, however, no signs of wounds or injury to any of the deceased. Further investigation was aborted when a mysterious fire began below the deck, and after the crew of the Silver Star had evacuated, the ship exploded and sank. What is even more bizarre is that the Lloyd’s Registry, a mandatory registry for all ships at the time, makes no mention of either the Ourang Meden or the Silver Star, despite the other ships in the area verifying their existence. Theories range from the illicit cargo of nerve gas, to acid, to a supernatural attack.

Stonehenge

Stonehenge is a massive group of roughly-rectangular stones that were arranged in a bizarre fashion between 4000 and 5000 years ago. Located near Salisbury, England, thousands flock to marvel at the collection of stones, and form theories about why they were positioned in such a way. The origins of some of the stones have been traced to locations between 32 and 225 kilometres away from the final site, meaning that they were purposely transported from around Britain and Wales – it is unknown how these ancient workers moved them so far. From scientific research, it is thought that the plain on which Stonehenge lies was a sacred place long before its construction, because, as early as 10,500 years ago, three large posts, or totem poles, were erected at the site. Wild theories have been spun about the purpose of Stonehenge since the Middle Ages. A 12th century myth credits the wizard Merlin for the construction, while modern theories include ancient aliens. While it has always been seen as an isolated, stand-alone structure, recent discoveries have led to the conclusion that beneath Stonehenge lies a treasure trove of thousands of monuments, including shrines, burial mounds, deep pits and other unexplained features. More likely theories suggest it was used either as a burial site, a place of healing and pilgrimage, or that its circular shape was created to mimic a sound illusion. Another view is that Stonehenge was likely constructed with the Sun in mind, as it faces the Summer Solstice sunrise, and there is evidence that pigs were slaughtered at the sight in December, suggesting rituals around the Winter Solstice.

The Eilean Mor Lighthouse

Off the Scottish coast is a cluster of small islands, one being Eilean Mor, which is uninhabited. A lighthouse was constructed on this island in the 70’s, meant to guide ships through the series of dangerous channels surrounding it, and 3 experienced lighthouse keepers were stationed on the island. In December 1990, Joseph Moore was sent to the island as a replacement for one of the keepers. He was surprised to find no one waiting for him at the dock, and there was no response to his flare. As he trekked up to the lighthouse, he felt an overwhelming foreboding feeling, and when he arrived, he was confronted with an empty lighthouse. Two of the three oil-skinned coats were missing, there was a meal left half eaten, and a chair overturned, as if someone had jumped out of it in a hurry. The kitchen clock was also frozen. A search was conducted for the missing men but they were never found. In the weeks after the discovery, the investigation unearthed the lighthouse logbook. On December 12th the second assistant had written, “severe winds, the likes of which I have never seen before in twenty years”, also noting that the Principle lighthouse keeper had been “very quiet” and that the third keeper, a renowned Scottish fighter, had been crying. On December 13th and 14th the keepers noted that the storm was still raging and that they had began to pray for it to stop. The final log entry on December 15th stated simply, “storm ended, sea calm, God is over all”. What is so bizarre about this, however, is that there were no storm reported in the area within those dates. In fact, nearby islands could clearly see the lighthouse during that period and reported no strong winds or thick clouds obscuring it from view. The only clues were the ropes found strewn over the rocks near a small landing platform – ropes that were usually kept 70 feet away from where they were found.

The Dancing Plague – 1518

In 1518, residents of Strasbourg, France were overcome with a deadly and bizarre plague known as Choreomania. Far from the usual sicknesses of the time, residents were struck by an inexplicable urge to dance. It began with one woman, who began to silently dance in the middle of the town centre. Within a week, 34 others had joined her and within a month, 400 of the town’s residents were dancing to a silent tune. Doctors and priests were called to try to offer a solution, and all the while, the dancing continued. The villagers constructed a stage and professional dancers and musicians were called in, as authorities concluded that the only solution was to let the dancers dance it out of their systems. Many collapsed due to exhaustion, dehydration and hunger, and many died from heart attacks and strokes. Finally, the dancers were taken to a mountaintop shrine to pray for forgiveness, and the dancing ceased. Surprisingly, this is not the only bizarre dancing plague – similar manic episodes have taken place in Switzerland, Germany and Holland. There are many theories around what caused this strange event, ranging from a secret religious cult ritual to stress-induced hysteria, poisoning, epilepsy and mass psychogenic illness… but we will never know for sure.

The Bermuda Triangle

The Bermuda Triangle has long puzzled maritime and aviation experts and fascinated conspiracy theorists. Christopher Columbus was the first to report about the strangeness of the area, noting in his journals that his compass had stopped working and that he had seen a fireball in the sky. It is one of the rare places on earth where compasses do not point magnetic north, but rather, towards true north. The area covers over 700,000kms of ocean off the coast of Central America – on average, 4 aircrafts and 20 boats go missing in this area every year, and throughout the past 100 years, at least 1000 lives have been lost. People experience a time warp in the area, due to an electronic fog. Pilot Bruce Gernon claims that he lost 28 minutes of time after flying through a time warping cloud tunnel. His plane went missing from radars upon entering the area, only to re-emerge in Miami Beach, much sooner than the realistic travel time. One of the most famous disappearances in the area, is that of the U.S. Military bombers that took place in 1945. Five U.S. Navy bombers flew from Florida en route to the island of Bimini, with 14 men on board. After an hour and a half, the radio operators were notified that the compass had stopped working and shortly after, communication was lost. The bombers were never found, and the three search planes also disappeared. Debris or black boxes are also rarely found when there is a disappearance in the triangle. Theories for the strange occurrences range from alien activity and giant underwater craters, to the city of Atlantis being located under the triangle and the US Government’s Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Centre being located nearby.

The Alcatraz Prisoners

Prisons are designed to be hard to escape from, and none more so than Alcatraz – the island prison literally guarded by water, which traps its inmates away from civilisation. In June 1962, however, the only successful escape in the history of the prison took place. Three inmates – Clarence Anglin, John Anglin and Frank Morris – escaped the prison on the morning of the 12th of July. They had made paper-mâché versions of their own heads and tucked them into their beds, broken out of the main prison building via an abandoned utility corridor, and left the island on an improvised inflatable raft. A large air, sea and land search was conducted by the military, FBI and CIA over the next 10 days. While materials such as a paddle, a wallet, some shreds of raincoat material and a life jacket were recovered, no human remains or any other evidence of the fate of the three prisoners has ever been found. After a 17-year investigation, the FBI closed its file on the case, however, the Marshal Service investigation continues and they receive leads regularly. While the FBI has stated that there were no reports of stolen vehicles on Angel Island on the day of the escape, an investigative program by the National Geographic Channel reinterviewed residents, who claimed that there had been a car stolen and that there were footprints on the beach that morning. The family of the Anglin brothers believe them to still be alive as in 1962 an individual called and said, “This is John Anglin”, and a card reading ‘To Mother, from John, Merry Christmas’ arrived. Officially, the prisoners are presumed dead, but many believe that they live happily on a farm in Brazil.