In the 12th season of the History Channel's 'Ancient Aliens', Giorgio Tsoukalos, an ancient astronaut theorist, came to the UK to uncover a secret base in Wiltshire, which he claims could hold evidence of extraterrestrial visitation and could even house an alien spacecraft in the possession of the British government.
The facility is located near the small town of Corsham, and up until the early part of 1992 was the central co-ordination point for reports of UFOs made to RAF stations around the country by members of the public and service personnel.
In the episode, author Nick Redfern appears on screen and confirms that for year the base was home to the Flying Complaints Flight which dealt with reports of UFO sightings. The FCF was part of the Provost and Security Services, which Redfern describes as "kind of like the James Bonds of the Royal British Airforce."
Giorgio wanted to investigate these claims for him self and was joined in Corsham by former Ministry of Defence employee turned author, Nick Pope. Nick said that the secrecy that surrounds the site is "all tied up with airforce security and intelligence, UFO sightings were investigated by staff based here at Rudloe Manor but for years we denied it."
He added, "this building really was at the heart of Britain's secret UFO research and particularly the underground facilities below us."
The show's narrator tells us a little more about the secrets below Corsham, "on the surface, it appears to be nothing more than a quaint, English manor house, but deep beneath this structure lie an astounding 2.2 million square feet of vast caverns divided into many smaller chambers."
The documentary then briefly explores than origins of the network of tunnels, which were originally stone quarries. The narrator continues, "the British Royal Airforce took over the depleted quarries, transforming them into an underground aircraft factory."
The voiceover then says, "at the end of the war, many such facilities were returned to civilian control," but Rudloe Manor was never surrendered.
Well, the show's makers have a fundamental misunderstanding of what Rudloe Manor really is. They only seem to be aware of the actual manor house and what they describe as the 2.2 million square feet of chambers below it.
The documentary claims that these tunnels were originally an underground factory, which is true but this is only half the story, and in fact the whole underground area is a lot bigger than suggested in this programme. The manor house and its surrounding buildings was known as Site 1, most of this site has now fallen into disrepair, is no longer used and is likely to be redeveloped for residential use at some point in the near future.
Rudloe Manor Site 2 was a larger facility about half a mile away, this site has now been completely redeveloped and is now the MOD's hub for UK cyber security. It consists of nothing more than some modern office buildings surrounded by high fences.
But what's really interesting in Corsham is Site 3. This is actually the 2.2 million square feet network of tunnels that 'Ancient Aliens' is referring to. But, these tunnels aren't under Site 1, they're under the modern buildings of Site 2.
The reason that ufologists are confused by the ongoing security at the site is because they misunderstood the MOD's announcement. They didn't say they were no longer using Rudloe Manor, they said that Site 3 had been decommissioned, but many of the other underground and over ground facilities in Corsham are still very much active.
Site 3 was a Cold War era nuclear bunker designed to safely house the government and heads of the armed forces in the event of a Soviet nuclear strike and it was, as the documentary suggested, built in a former underground WWII factory. But the stone quarries under Corsham were vast and the factory made up less than half of it, other areas were assigned to various military departments, including a huge ammunition store, complete with its own underground railway station.
The existence of Site 3, also known by the codename Burlington, was admitted by the MOD in 2004 when the site was declassified. At this time it was revealed that Burlington was being used as a "decoy site," used since the 1980s to detract attention from some of the other very active facilities which still exist under Corsham to this day.
The MOD announced that they no longer use the 2.2 million square feet that makes up Burlington, but they hadn't by any means cleared out of their other underground spaces a Corsham, or the facilities above Burlington.
The documentary's narrator says "while the manor house was the face of Rudloe Manor and the headquarters for Britain's UFO investigations, access to the underground facilities is found two miles away at the equally secretive installation, known as the CCC."
We now know this claim is flawed, but it makes sense, as there are no underground tunnels underneath the manor house, and access was over on Site 2, but it wasn't via CCC. Whether you call it the Corsham Computer Centre or Command and Control Centre, the CCC is the one part of the Corsham site that the MOD really want to keep secret.
While photos, videos and maps of Burlington and the MOD's other underground facilities at Corsham have been released or leaked out over the years, no civilian has ever been down in CCC's elevator to the fairly small, but secretive command centre below, and no photos or details of the facility have ever officially been released.
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CCC isn't directly connected to the 2.2 million square feet of tunnels known as Burlington, its built within an area of Tunnel Quarry, which was used as the Central Ammunition Depot during WWII. Because CCC is so secret and secure, when it was constructed in the 80s, it was completely sealed off from the rest of the underground area, making it a self-contained command bunker.
While there's only one way in and out of CCC, there are actually several entrances to Burlington. There are two pedestrian slope shafts which were fitted with escalators, now rusting. There was also two passenger lifts, and two goods lifts. There was even an emergency exit via stairs on White Ennox Lane. None of these entrances are in use anymore, they were sealed up when the bunker was decommissioned.
How do I know all of this? Well, I've been there. Here's me stood in Burlington bunker's 1950s telephone exchange during an all access tour of the facility in 2008.
A completely fictional map then appears on screen which shows a network of tunnels and underground chambers spanning from the manor house to CCC, none of this exists and certainly not in this configuration. Another map seen in the show seems to suggest that the underground facility is spread over multiple levels, which again is nonsense. The military put to use former stone quarries, the quarrymen extracted the stone from a relatively thin band of rock, they didn't quarry on multiple levels and therefore the MOD's underground space is also confined to one level.
Nick Pope says "no one knows exactly how many people work down there, but it's thousands." It's not. The defunct Burlington bunker was designed to house up to 4,000 people, but CCC is much much smaller. In fact the car park is only big enough for about 30 to 40 cars, other underground areas still used in Corsham have very small staff numbers.
Nick then says, "nobody knows exactly what they do, and I worked for the Ministry of Defence for 21 years and I don't know."
The narrator tells us that "according to the MOD, the CCC is simply a data processing centre for the Royal Navy, but if true, why is it so heavily guarded?" Why wouldn't a site which handles data that is vital to a nation's security be guarded?
The most likely role, or the Government's best cover story at present, is that CCC is part of the Submarine Command & Control (SMC2) programme, responsible for the maintenance of software linked to the UK's nuclear deterrent, Trident. If this is true, it's pretty obvious why the site would need such security.
The show's host Giorgio Tsoukalos drove down the road to the infamous CCC, where he found the rumours were true. He came face to face with an impenetrable entrance to a secret underground facility, protected by security cameras, fences and razor wire.
Within minutes of Giorgio's arrival at the security gate, the crew is met by a military police unit. In the show the police car is seen arriving with its sirens wailing. However, these sounds have been dubbed in after the event to make the show more dramatic. Firstly, they aren't British sirens, and secondly the blue lights of the police vehicle aren't flashing.
Furthermore, the MOD police in Corsham don't use sirens when investigating people walking around the perimeter of their site. Again, I know this from experience. I've been stopped many times walking around the outside of the fences in Corsham, and it's true, you often get stopped and questioned by site police.
I have to say, they're always very friendly, polite, and are just doing their job. They're often happy to talk about the subterranean areas under the base if you can strike up a conversation, although they obviously won't tell you anything about CCC.
The narrator then poses the question, "could this seemingly innocuous building and the underground facilities it leads to, be continuing the extraterrestrial investigations that were previously carried out at Rudloe Manor?" As we've already established, no, none of the active facilities under Corsham are used for such a purpose, especially not CCC.
But guess what, ancient astronaut theorists say "yes." They also suggest that the base is also looking in to other paranormal phenomenon which has been going on in the wider area for years. I don't actually believe that these theorists think this at all, I think this is just an excuse for the show's makers to delve into some of the other unusual stories that Wiltshire is famous for.
Author and historian Andrew Collins, explains why he thinks the MOD might have chosen this location to be the headquarters of their UFO investigations, "you're looking at the dead centre of weird activity in the whole of Great Britain."
The local expert goes on to list some of the other mysteries associated with the area, including crop circles, stone circles, prehistoric sites of worship, and ancient mounds.
The documentary then raises the question "is it possible that the Ministry of Defence retained control of Rudloe Manor after WWII because they were aware that extraterrestrials had been visiting the area of Wiltshire, not just in modern times, but for thousands of years?"
It seems unlikely, if this were the case, why didn't they establish a base in the area before the war? The reason the MOD retained the facilities in Corsham was because of their strategic advantage and importance to the country during times of war. It was less than a decade after WWII that the new threat from the Soviets prompted the government to build the Burlington bunker under Corsham.
This is where the story goes overboard. According to a newspaper article by famed American columnist Dorothy Kilgallen, the British government had in their possession since 1955 a crashed UFO. She said these claims came directly to her from a high-ranking representative of the British government.
Apparently, the size of the craft indicated that it had been piloted by "very small, humanoid-like entities." Those who support the theory, claim that the investigation into this downed alien tech were carried out at Rudloe Manor, but the documentary doesn't offer any evidence why this location might have been chosen.
The documentary then dives into the story of the Berwyn Mountains incident, one of the most famous British UFO cases. A whole village witnessed strange phenomenon including unexplained lights, after seeing an object crash into the mountains on January 1974.
The dramatic voiceover says, "according to ancient astronaut theorists, what really happened in the Berwyn Mountains that night was the crash of an extraterrestrial spacecraft, that was retrieved and taken to Rudloe Manor."
I've never heard this claim before and again, I don't think "ancient astronaut theorists" really believe this. I think the Berwyn Mountains incident has just been included because the programme makers wanted to cover as many British UFO cases in the one show as they could.
Whether you believe a UFO crashed or not, the actual story is that residents heard, at least one, possibly two loud explosions followed by earth tremors and rumbling which lasted for around five seconds. The villagers, peering out of their windows and running out into the street to identify the source of this sound, looked up to the the Berwyn Mountains where they saw a mysterious white light above the mountains.
The local police force were inundated with calls from eye witnesses who believed the explosions and lights were the result of a UFO which had crashed into the side of Cadair Berwyn.
One eye witness described the light as being a "perfect circle," she later told local press that "there were no flames shooting or anything like that. It was very uniform, round in shape."
In the following days there was a large police and military presence in the area, the road to the mountain was closed and farmers were banned from working nearby land. Although searches were undertaken, the police say nothing was ever found on Cader Berwyn that night.
Several years after the incident, UFO researcher Tony Dodd claimed that information was leaked to him by an anonymous informant who said he was part of a military unit that was brought in to deal with the crash.
Soon after the event the informant and four others soldiers were sent to the village near the crash site, and ordered to collect "two large, oblong boxes" and deliver them to a government science park in Wiltshire, called Porton Down. A site in Wiltshire that has been the centre of the UK's chemical weapons research for 100 years.
The informant claims that upon arrival at the base the boxes were opened and they were shocked to see the dead bodies of two humanoid creatures, each about five to six feet tall and "so thin they looked almost skeletal." The informant went on to say the "the creatures were clearly not of this world."
According to Dodd's his informant later rejoined other members of his unit, who said they had also transported alien bodies to Porton Down but say their cargo had still been alive.
The documentary fails to explain exactly why ancient astronaut theorists believe that a crashed extraterrestrial spacecraft was retrieved and taken to Rudloe Manor, but this is probably because there is no evidence for this. The production team have just crowbarred Berwyn Mountain into the show.
And if you wanted any more proof that this documentary isn't really about Rudloe Manor and is in fact more of an overview of the history of British UFO sightings, then next Giorgio investigates the legendary Rendlesham Forest Incident. Again, this case has absolutely no link at all to Rudloe Manor.
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It may have been widely debunked, or at the very least be unproven, but former classified documents released by the Ministry of Defence show that they took reports of an alleged extraterrestrial event which took place in Suffolk in 1980 very seriously.
The incident involved three military personnel who reported seeing unexplained flashing lights and a triangular shaped object near RAF Woodbridge in Rendlesham Forest. They claimed the object was silent and had markings like hieroglyphics on the side.
The next night Lieutenant Colonel Charles Halt went to investigate the disturbance, he took a dictaphone with him and recorded the incident. You can hear the complete audio from the night below.
According to Halt, three UFOs were seen in the sky, the brightest of these hovered for two to three hours and seemed to beam down a stream of light from time to time. It seems ancient astronaut theorists have come to the conclusion that these were UFOs which had returned to the skies above the forest looking for their missing downed craft.
They believed that the beam of light was an alien search light and claim it focussed its beam on the Woodbridge base, thinking this might be the most likely location the craft had been taken to. But of course the theorists believe the alien ship was taken to Rudloe Manor.
Despite no evidence at all, author David Wilcock sums up, "we now know that there are at least two confirmed cases of crashed extraterrestrial spacecraft being relocated to Rudloe Manor."
The ufologist goes on to say that this includes Dorothy Kilgallen's claim that the British government were in possession of a crashed UFO in 1955, but outside of this programme there is no evidence at all to link Kilgallen's claims to Rudloe Manor.
It's true that Rudloe Manor was the focal point of UFO investigations in the UK, but this research was most likely carried out above ground in the manor house itself and the surrounding buildings, as the underground spaces have either been assigned to other uses, in a state of disrepair, or on stand-by for a nuclear war.
'Ancient Aliens' suggests that there is only one way in and out of these tunnels via CCC, of course this is not true. The CCC entrance only takes you into one small part of the underground facility. The rest of the tunnels are served by other pedestrian and goods entrances.
None of these entrances would be big enough to get UFO wreckage in through. The underground space itself, although vast, is not suitable to house such a research facility. At most the chambers are four metres high, this is because they were originally dug out by quarrymen who followed a thin band of stone. Due to the geology of the area, the tunnels under Corsham don't consist of large open spaces as regular supports, props and walls are required to prevent collapse.
All this makes Rudloe Manor's tunnels the least likely location for extraterrestrial spacecraft to be stored. It's much more likely that wreckage would be taken to a facility with aircraft hangars, dedicated research space, or bunkers with large, ground-level road access. Many bases which provide these types of facilities exist in the UK and are more likely locations for alien tech storage, even if the project was coordinated by staff at Rudloe Manor.
The reality of Rudloe Manor's involvement in UFOs is that up until the early 90s the site's role was to record details of aerial complaints. This administerial work was carried out in a shabby, prefab office in the grounds of Rudloe Manor, not in a secret underground base.
Just because Rudloe dealt with reports of UFO sightings does not mean that a department was set up here whose primary objective was to research extraterrestrial intelligence or visitations. Most of the complaints the received would have been about low flying planes or unidentified aircraft of Earth-origin.
Rudloe passed these reports on to the RAF's offices on Whitehall in London. Here the reports were then checked for evidence that the UK Air Defence Region might have been compromised by hostile activity.
In the mid-90s rumours started circulating within the UFO research community that the government were storing UFOs in Corsham and working with aliens to achieve mind-altering technologies. The Ministry of Defence commented on these claims at the time stating that they were "not aware of any evidence which might substantiate claims" that alien craft or life forms have been visiting Earth.
Today the manor house, as well as the rest of Rudloe Site 1 is abandoned and in a state of disrepair, as you can see from the drone footage below taken in 2016 by conspiracies expert, Matthew Williams.
This episode of 'Ancient Aliens' was filmed in January 2017, and aired a few months later. But what's strange is that the information it seems to be fuelled upon was made public ten years previously. In 2007, the Ministry of Defence released its files on UFOs, which named the base as a "focal point" for UK UFO reports, but this is about all the programme got right.
The documentary is massively flawed in many ways. Not only is the information about Corsham and Rudloe Manor poorly researched, the episode has nothing at all to do with ancient aliens. Despite repeated reminders that ancient astronaut theorists back these claims, the origins of this story don't date back any further than the 1950s.
The history of Rudloe Manor and the other military facilities in Corsham is fascinating, and as most of the sites were declassified in 2004, have been written about extensively. The show's producers could have made a much more interesting show by simply looking into Site 3's use as a nuclear bunker and the history of the huge underground network of former stone quarries it was built within.
Instead, 'Ancient Aliens' focussed on Site 1, a frankly quite boring RAF admin centre with no links to the underground workings. It seems to me that after making eleven seasons of the show, the producers wanted to do something different. So, instead of concentrating on ancient alien visitations, they made an episode about some famous British UFO myths, and tried to loosely tie it back to Rudloe Manor, in spite of the fact of any actual evidence to support this.
While watching this show, I started to wonder if I was missing something and I actually did a Google search for 'is Ancient Aliens suppose to be fiction'. It's not supposed to be fiction.
Corsham images: © Crown Copyright, reproduced with the permission of the Controller of Her Majesty’s Stationery Office.