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24 September 2014

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Moonraking: The Folklore
• The flying monk
Malmesbury Abbey

Icarus is remembered for his attempt at flying - and we all know his fate after he scorched his feathers flying too close to the sun.

Another ill-fated flyer was Brother Elmer, who in 1010 repeated Icarus attempt by attaching a set of wings to his arms and jumping off the tower of Malmesbury Abbey.

Needless to say the hopeless hanglider was seriously injured and never walked - or flew again.

Malmesbury's flying monk and his attempt to fly himself into the history books might not have been successful, but he did foresee the Norman invasion following a sighting of Halley's comet and became recognised as a prophet.

• Multimedia

video gif VIDEO: Click here to see how a statue of Elmer was hauled into place to commemorate Malmesbury's flying monk, as part of the town's festival. (Courtesy of BBC Points West)

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Tristan Cork
Nice to see Eilmer (correct spelling) makes it into the Moonraking site, but I feel I must object!!! Eilmer was hardly 'hopeless' and hardly 'not successful'. He is in the history books, after all. Records have it that he flew, or most probably glided, a furlong - 220 yards - and landed on an area now names Oliver's Lane, which is halfway down Malmesbury High Street. He reportedly broke both legs, but survived relatively unscathed, considering he would have jumped from a tower probably a couple of hundred feet high. Just to survive such a leap is miraculous, and by no means 'hopeless'. He is, therefore, the world's first hang glider. By all accounts, he glided very gracefully, but as he neared the ground, he lost control and landed in a bit of a heap, breaking both legs. He attributed his crash landing to not having a tail, and said he'd have another go as soon as his legs healed. But his boss, the abbott banned him. He lived for a very, very long time. When he saw Halley's Comet in the spring of 1066, he said he'd seen it before, 76 years earlier, as a child. Then, it was an omen for an invasion of Malmesbury and Wessex by the Danes. Now, it foretold the two invasions of 1066. So please re-write your rather desultory description of what was a remarkable achievement.





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