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Published 21st February 2017 by

Robert Taylor's meeting with a large "flying dome" four decades ago led to a village being dubbed the West Lothian twilight zone, and is still talked about to this day

It's an encounter which has led to a small village in West Lothian being dubbed 'the West Lothian twilight zone'.

When forestry worker Robert Taylor took his dog out for a winter stroll in Dechmont woods 40-years-ago he couldn't have known how significant a morning it would turn out to be. The experience he claims to have had that day still generates debate and discussion in households throughout across the country, and further afield, to this day. Key to the whole debate is one question - do you believe in aliens?

Those who answer yes, or not sure, will likely be fascinated by Taylor's story. Those who are less convinced are perhaps more likely to be sceptical.

So, what actually happened? Well, basically, he claims to have come face-to-face with aliens. It was 9 November 1979 and after parking his truck near to Dechmont Law and entering the woods with his dog he reported seeing a large "flying dome" hovering above the forest floor. He described it as being made from a dark metallic material with a rough texture. It also had an outer rim with small propellers. As he approached, no doubt more than a little curious, two spheres dropped down - and what happened next is slightly terrifying.

A drawing of the craft Robert Taylor described seeing

A drawing of the craft Robert Taylor described seeing

Robert Taylor

He says that the spheres started forcefully dragging him towards the dome, their protruding spikes hooking on to his trousers, and, after smelling a strong acid scent, he choked and eventually lost consciousness. When he came round he was lying face-down on the grass with his dog nearby, although the strange objects had disappeared. He found that he couldn't speak, his legs were in pain and when he returned to his truck it wouldn't start, so he had to walk back to Livingston. When he returned home his wife was concerned at the state he was in. He appeared dishevelled and his clothes were torn.

The Police were contacted and returned to the scene with him, where they found strange marks in the soil beneath where the craft was said to have been hovering. They also determined it was likely his clothes had been ripped by a sharp, upward pull. They would later record the matter as an assault. Many believe that this is one of the only ever examples of an alien sighting becoming subject to a criminal investigation.

 Robert Taylor (centre) at Dechmont Law Woods in 1982

Robert Taylor (centre) at Dechmont Law Woods in 1982

West Lothian Courier

Many people were sceptical of Taylor's account and believe there is another explanation for what happened that day - with some suggesting a form of epileptic fit and hallucination to be the answer. However, as reported in the West Lothian Courier last year, he was believed by many to be a credible and reliable witness - and he never sought publicity. And while he sadly passed away in 2007 his story will live on long into the future. Especially as last year bosses at West Lothian Council decided to erect a new information board at the 66-hectare woodland site to provide more information.

Stuart MacDonald, Taylor's apprentice at the time, was present at the unveiling of the plaque. Executive councillor for the environment Tom Conn told the West Lothian Courier last year: "The Dechmont Woods Encounter is Scotland's most famous alleged UFO incident, and has featured in a number of books and TV programmes. "The information board will help visitors to Dechmont Law find the exact location of the encounter, as well as give details of Mr Taylor's report of the incident." The area, which is managed by West Lothian Council, is often busy with joggers and dog walkers.

While nothing similar is believed to have been witnessed since, the West Lothian twilight zone remains the site of one of the most famous alien encounters in recent times.

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