The Winter of 1682 to 1683: Comets, Crainroch and the Terrible Conjunction

Great Comet 1680 Comet Ison

And now for something completely different…the Scottish weather in the 1680s. At that time, there was more to the weather than simply a record of rainfall or the motions of the heavens…

‘January 1683. This last winter was very open and warm; no frost at all, excepting some crainroch, or small frost, in some mornings in Janwary. Some flowers were budding in Janwary, as tansey, nettles, and others. A partridge nest was found then with eggs in it; and artichoes in some gardings growing to the bigness of a hen’s egg; pyats and birds were building their nests, and eggs found in some of them. In this year, 1683, astrologers observe that there is a famous conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter in Leo. These planets meet twice or thrice in that fiery regal sign, and astrologically boad great alterations in the World.’ (Law Memorialls, 238-9.)

Lord Fountainhall also commented on the same weather pattern:

‘This year [1683] we ware allarumed with ane strange conjunction was to befall in it, of the 2 planets, Saturne and Jupiter in Leo, observed by Argol and other Astronomers, and our prognosticators who all spoke of it as a thing very ominous, and which had only happened tuise before, since the creation of the world, and portended great alterations in Europe. And from England ther came some observations on the late comets, [and comet of 1680 here] which promised a furder treatise called Catastrophe Mundi;… all which helped to fright timorous melancholy peeple; and Mr. George Sinclar, the mathematician [and author of Satan’s Invisible World Discovered in c1685], did also call this planetary conjunction a very terrible on[e], in his Description of the weather glasse and hygroscope.

Our winter, from November 1682 till March 1683, was rather like a spring for mildnes: if it be to be ascrybed to this conjunction I know not.’ (Lauder, Historical Observes, 88.)

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Text © Copyright Dr Mark Jardine. All Rights Reserved. Please link to this post on Facebook or retweet it, but do not reblog in FULL without the express permission of the author @drmarkjardine

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~ by drmarkjardine on August 23, 2014.

One Response to “The Winter of 1682 to 1683: Comets, Crainroch and the Terrible Conjunction”

  1. […] in Orkney in 1682 and again in 1684. At the same time, the winter of 1682 was described as ‘rather like a spring for mildnes’, while the winter of 1683 to 1684 famously brought the Great Frost, which was followed by violent […]

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