Baillie is an Irish dendrochronologist. He noticed five sudden severe climate events (some have called them 'near extinction' events) at 3195BC, 2354BC, 1628BC, 1159BC and 540AD (Two more minor events at 207BC and 44BC). All these events (except the 540AD event) are recorded in the Ice Core data. He thinks the 540AD event, Dark Ages, (and possibly others) is the result of comet activity. I like the way he ties known historical data to these events.
TALE OF ARTHUR POINTS TO COMET CATASTROPHE
From The Times, 9 September 2000
BY NICK NUTTALL
Arthur: myth links him to fire from the sky
THE story of the death of King Arthur and its references to a wasteland may have been inspired by the apocalyptic effects of a giant comet bombarding the Earth in AD540, leading to the Dark Ages, a British scientist said yesterday.
The impacts filled the atmosphere with dust and debris; a long winter began. Crops failed, and there was famine, Dr Mike Baillie of Queen's University, Belfast, told the British Association for the Advancement of Science. There was now overwhelming evidence from studies of tree rings of a catastrophic climate change at that time, he said.
Dr Baillie, who is based at the university's school of archaeology and palaeoecology, said studies of Irish oaks showed that the climate suddenly became inhospitable around AD540. Other researchers had discovered the same narrow rings on trees in places such as Germany, Scandinavia, Siberia, North America and China. "For all these trees to show the same rings at the same time means it must have been a profoundly unpleasant event, a catastrophic environmental downturn, in AD540, which is in or at the beginning of the Dark Ages."
The tightly bound rings are consistent with fierce frosts that would have devastated agriculture and made a malnourished population more vulnerable to the plague of 542, which killed millions. Plague-carrying rats and pests would have been looking for sustenance, thus hastening the spread of the disease.
Dr Baillie said that there were several theories as to the explanation. One was that a vast volcano had erupted and pumped huge amounts of dust into the atmosphere. Yet such a volcano "would have been out of all proportion to ones we see in recent times", he said, adding that the geological records bore no trace of it.
The other theory, he said,was that huge fragments from a giant comet had hit the Earth, causing violent explosions and a dramatic cooling of the planet. "My view is that we had a cometary bombardment - not a full-blown comet, or we would not be here, but parts of a comet."
Dr Baillie said the hypothesis was supported by studies by astronomers and astrophysicists including Mark Bailey, of the Armagh Observatory, Victor Clube, of Oxford University, and Bill Napier, formerly of the Royal Observatory in Edinburgh. They had calculated that there was a strong likelihood that the Earth suffered a cometary bombardment between 400 and 600, based on records of high meteor shower activity. They had linked it with the break-up of the comet Biela.
It was hoped that scientists in Greenland would analyse ice cores for signs of cometary dust. They were soon to carry out chemical analysis for tree rings for similar clues.
Dr Baillie urged historians to examine the records for writings that may record the events. "You can read about the Justinian plague in conventional history books but you cannot read about the cometary bombardment. The trees single out an episode which can be best described as catastrophic, and it isn't there in written history."
There was, however, some support buried in mythological writings and other works. Roger of Wendover had referred in 540 or 541 to a "comet in Gaul so vast that the whole sky seemed on fire. In the same year there dropped real blood from the clouds . . . and a dreadful mortality ensued".
Dr Baillie also cited the death of King Arthur, which is dated to 537, 539 and 542 in various works, as establishing possible links with fire from the sky and destruction. Dr Baillie said that Arthur was linked in old Irish with CuChulainn, the sky god, who in turn was linked with the Celtic bright sky god Lugh variously described as "bright as the setting sun, comes up in the west, and of the mighty blows".
"The Arthurian stories with their Celtic antecedents of bright sky gods and 'wasteland' come with traditional dates for Arthur's death."
Dr Baillie said that the myths hinted strongly at a bombardment as the causes of an environmental downturn.
Copyright 2000, The Times Newspapers Ltd.