Volcano killed thousands of British people in the 13th century


25 Responses to “Volcano killed thousands of British people in the 13th century”

  1. Boundegar says:

    Could this be used to combat global warming?

  2. iCowboy says:

    The best candidate is Rinjani in Indonesia which is known to have had a massive (VEI 7+) eruption between 1210 and 1260CE. Although Mexico’s El Chichon (which erupted violently in 1982 and is known to produce high sulfur magmas) and Quilotoa have also been suspected. The volcano has to be in a low latitude since it affected both hemispheres and the eruption would have had to have been massive to put enough sulfur into the atmosphere to leave a fingerprint in sediments and ice cores.

    This isn’t the first time a massive volcanic eruption has been linked to mass casualties in Britain. There’s good evidence from burial records and from contemporary diarists that the summer of 1783 saw thousands of otherwise healthy people drop dead across England, followed by a bitterly cold winter which killed thousands more. In that case the cause was the enormous fissure eruption of Lakagigur in SE Iceland that not only killed a quarter of all Icelanders, but may have gone on to kill millions across the northern hemisphere through a combination of inhaling sulfuric acid, drought and cold.

  3. Finnagain says:

    You see? Our War on the Environment is completely self defense! 

    • CH says:

      Unfortunately Mother Nature packs some really heavy guns.

      Hmm… but she would make an excellent action star for the next summer block buster. “Mother Nature is back, and she is mad! This summer… the summer is canceled!”

  4. LeonardoFigueroa says:

    The link “Read the rest of the story in The Telegraph” actually leads to The Guardian.

  5. John Coxon says:

    It’s not a Telegraph article; it’s an Observer article, hosted on the Guardian’s website.

  6. tomrigid says:

    My money is on Katla.

  7. This sort of begs the obvious question of why a disaster of that magnitude never found its way into the historical record.   Nobody thought the death of thousands worth recording?

    • Scrotch says:

      Er, I’m pretty sure that there is a monk, quoted above, who wrote about it, and thus entered it into the historical record.

      We might not hear about it often because, well, first most of us don’t read accounts by 13th-century English monks that much, and second it would appear that having to bury 10k dead Londoners wasn’t a particularly unusual occurrence back then.

    • KWillets says:

      It was suppressed by thousands of Global Cooling deniers.

  8. HubrisSonic says:

    bullshit… Dragons! 

  9. Jay Converse says:

    “Such was the size of the eruption that its sulphurous gases would have released a stratospheric aerosol veil or dry fog that blocked out sunlight”


    Mother F-ing Nature kicks our asses again.

  10. LaylaSV says:

    Learning that ash actually clouded out the Sun lends added poetry to the phrase, “The Dark Ages.”

  11. Greg Van Antwerp says:

    “Mother Nature struts her stuff like a Boss!”  as read to me by, well, me.

  12. Jose says:

    Didn’t Cormac McCarthy chronicle this event in The Road?

  13. Amelia_G says:

    Really? What about elsewhere in Europe?
    My knowledge is 20 years out of date (and limited and decrepit) but what I can dredge up tonight about europopulation developments in the 13th century is that things were going so well that people malthus’d it up for the early 14th-c. Little Ice Age capped by the 1348 population reduction of the Black Death.
    Economic history (Wirtschaftsgeschichte) explored for example how well 13th-c. continental harvests went, until population increased and land not previously tilled was tilled. Dendochronology was cited as support for this well being.

    • Exactly what I was wondering, does the rest of Europe have any documentation of an event like this? 
      If not, then I say it was dragons, just like someone upthread suggested! 

  14. OoerictoO says:

    winter is coming

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