6th September 1317. UK Solar Eclipses.

In 733 the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle recorded: ‘This year…the sun was eclipsed’. Four hundred years later in August 1133 saw ‘King Henry’s Eclipse’. [The]’King was asleep on his ship when the day was dark over all lands’.(1) 

Then from 1140 according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, when ‘men were greatly stricken’, no line of Path of Totality for a solar eclipse crossed London for 575 years up to 1715.(2)

Astronomers can calculate solar eclipses future and past and which type, so the eclipse recorded Today by the Lanarcost Chronicle in 1317, ‘before noon on the sixth day of September’ has been calculated as Annular.

No totality was observed in the UK ‘overland’ between 1724 until June 1927 when a Line of Totality crossed Britain on the 29th at West Hartlepool. This is commemorated by an AA Sign on the Leyburn Road at Richmond as being on the centre line of totality.


In modern times Partial Eclipses were seen somewhere in the UK from 1954-96, but it was in 1999 that Britain experienced a Total Eclipse from 11 am on the 11th of August, best seen over Cornwall. Four years later an Annular Eclipse was seen at the end of May 2003.


Annular Eclipse

Annular Eclipse.

Solar Eclipse

Total Solar Eclipse.

Partial Eclipse.

Partial Eclipse.

A Total Eclipse happens when the region on which the shadow falls is in almost complete darkness, with a sudden drop in temperature, with all animals silent, as the Author experienced in 1999 in Staffordshire.

Geometry of Total Eclipse.

Geometry of Total Eclipse.

In 1836 an Annular Eclipse was viewed by Francis Bailey who saw beads of light appear just before and after the maximum stage of the eclipse caused by sunlight shining through lunar valleys.

These showed the dramatic ‘diamond ring’, the first chink of light from the sun at the end of the eclipse, and the now known ‘Bailey’s Beads’ which surround the moon on the sun’s disk.

The first ever recorded solar eclipse was in Babylon in 721 BCE, though the earliest extrapolated solar eclipse has been dated October 2137 BCE.

However the Babylonians never made any attempt to find a rational explanation of eclipses which the Greeks did in a century.

However even when science could predict these phenomena people still threw themselves on God’s mercy and quaked. Science and superstition were still intertwined even as late and including the great Newton.

On 29th March in 1919 UK scientists in a team led by astronomer Arthur Eddington photographed the eclipse of the sun, in Brazil, which provided some empirical evidence for Einstein’s theory that gravity bent light.

There was a Partial Eclipse in the UK on March 20th 2015: the next Total Eclipse will be 23rd November 2090 in the UK, so make a date!


(1) On 2.8.1133.

(2) Recorded in Peterborough Chronicle in 1135 but there were date vagaries.


A report from 16thc Scotland of a total eclipse: ‘Betwixt nyne and ten houris befoir noon a maist fearful and conspicuous ecclipse of the sonne began, quilk continuit the space of tua houris…The starris appeirit in the firmament and the sea, land, air and trees so still. I knew out of ephemerides and almanak the day and hour of it, by the natural philosophie the cause…I was struckin with such feir…I had no refuge but to prostrat in my kneis and commend myself to God and to eny for mercie’. James Melville Feb 24th 1597.


wikipedia.org/Pic of Eclipses.

Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.


wikipedia.org/eclipses_1000-to_2090/Pic of geometry.




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About colindunkerley

My name is Colin Dunkerley who having spent two years in the Royal Army Pay Corps ploughed many a barren industrial furrow until drawn to the 'chalk-face' as a teacher, now retired. I have spent the last 15 years researching all aspects of life in Britain since Roman times.

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