Weird Norfolk: The Flying Saucer that hovered 40ft above rooftops in Dereham

Mr Barrett's sketch of the UFO he saw of Dereham. Date: 20 May 1977. Picture: Archant/Dereham & Fake

Mr Barrett's sketch of the UFO he saw of Dereham. Date: 20 May 1977. Picture: Archant/Dereham & Fakenham Times - Credit: Archant

In Weird Norfolk's history of mysteries, sightings of UFOs remain high on the list of unsolved phenomena. In the late 1970s, a flying saucer was spotted hovering above the rooftops of Dereham town centre – did it return, years later, for another visit?

It was the same year that Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind had the world scanning the skies for UFOs…but months before its cinema release, a man in Dereham had a close encounter of his own when he saw a flying saucer hovering just 40ft above the town.

On his way to order a Chinese takeaway was Stewart Bennett, the passenger in a car driven by his cousin Marilyn Lorton of Sandy Lane (LINK, who saw something strange as Marilyn turned out of Dereham Market Place on the evening of May 11 1977 at around 9.30pm.

As he thought about his forthcoming order, Mr Bennett spotted a large object flying silently just above the roof-tops.

"It was a flying saucer. That is the only way to describe it," Mr Bennett told a reporter at the Dereham and Fakenham Times, "I am not a crank but I have been interested in UFOs for some time. This is the first time I have ever seen anything like this."

Mr Bennett, who lived at Toftwood, was heading to pick up a Chinese takeaway when he felt compelled to look up: "Travelling across the sky was this flying saucer. It was completely unmistakeable," he said.

In a statement which was published in The Lantern, Mr Bennett added: "It had a red pulsating light beneath it and an orange glow in one of the windows or portholes. It travelled silently across the sky from east to west at no more that forty feet above the roof tops. It was approximately 30ft long and was metallic in colour. It was in full view for at least 15 seconds. There can be no mistake about this it was so close, about 100 yards. It moved across my field of view at almost level flight."

Most Read

He said the craft was about the size of a low-flying jet: "It was like a huge model being held up in the sky. I could see a row of windows or portholes along the top."

Ms Lorton also caught a glimpse of the object - she could see no detail but said it was clearly recognisable as a saucer.

The sighting was passed to John Copsey of the Dereham UFO Study Group - Mr Bennet, who had taken an interest in UFOs since 1969 and claimed to have made a number of sightings since then, belonged to an informal UFO spotting group.

In 2012, a businessman who asked not to be named by the Dereham Times, was left shocked when he saw three mysterious grey objects hovering in the sky over Dereham in March: "At first I thought it was three geese. They were in formation like planes - it was two at the back and one at the front. They started to go a lot quicker and the orange glow was a lot brighter, and two split off to the left and one to the right.

"I mentioned it to my wife. I said 'I'm not going mad but you will never guess what I've just seen' I don't know what it was."

After reporting what he saw, a man called Tony Doyle reported seeing three similar, silent objects in the sky over Little Budworth in Cheshire the previous night.

Had Mr Bennett's flying saucer returned, with back up? The truth is out there…

For more Weird Norfolk stories click here.

For a daily dose of Weird Norfolk follow our Instagram here or our Facebook group here.