Is The Story of The Sky Ship at Cloera Fiction?

Modern sightings of unidentified flying objects are common. Though many people nowadays believe in intelligent lifeforms out there in the universe, our ancestors have been recording visitations of unidentified objects in our skies for generations.

One of the stories which I find interesting, is the story of the ship that sailed through the skies of Cloera, Ireland, which then dropped it’s anchor over the church of St Kinarus.

The Original Story

The story of the anchor at Cloera, Ireland, was reported to have been penned by Gervase of Tilbury in the year 1211. Despite this, the tale is said to have first originated in the book entitled Speculum Regale, which is a work of Norwegian medieval literature.

The tale is thought to have originally been written in the year 956AD, which would place it 255 years prior to when it was thought Gervase of Tilbury himself had penned it.

Gervase was a known chronicler, and wrote some famous work. The most famous of his work was written for Emperor Otto IV, which is titled the Otia Imperialia. He also penned a volume for the son of King Henry II, which was titled Liber facetiarum (‘Book of entertainment’), though this work is now lost.

What follows is some of the text from the Speculum Regale which has been translated into English.

“There happened in the borough of Cloera, one Sunday, while the people were at Mass, a marvel. In this town is a church dedicated to St. Kinarus. It befell that an anchor was dropped from the sky, with a rope attached to it, and one of the flukes caught in the arch above the church door. The people rushed out of the church and saw in the sky a ship with men on board, floating before the anchor cable, and they saw a man leap overboard and jump down to the anchor, as if to release it. He looked as if he were swimming in water. The folk rushed up and tried to seize him; but the Bishop forbade the people to hold the man, for it might kill him, he said. The man was freed, and hurried up to the ship, where the crew cut the rope and the ship sailed out of sight. But the anchor is in the church, and has been there ever since, as a testimony.”

Despite the apparition happening to the faithful of the church of St Kinarus, there were also reports of a similar events at different locations, including Gravesend in Kent, and Bristol in Somerset during the same year.

Christian Meaning of the Anchor

In Christianity, the anchor throughout the ages has held a special significance. It’s meaning was held in high regard throughout Christendom, and was often depicted on the graves of Christians, especially of Saints and Martyrs.

The cross is the primary symbol of Christianity, but in the times of atrocious persecutions against the Christians by the Romans, the anchor became the primary symbol of safety and hope.

There is also a biblical reference to the anchor:

Hebrews 6:19: We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain,

Over the years, archeologists have found numerous Christian graves which have depictions of anchors on them, alongside messages of peace and encouragement. An example of this, is the tomb of Saint Philomena, which was found in the catacombs of Rome and had the symbol of an anchor engraved on it.

Was Cloera a Real Place in Ireland?

If you read about the story of the anchor of Cloera, you’ll have a hard time finding any records of a place called Cloera in Ireland. This could be a major discrepancy in the story, a place which is now known as something else, or simply a mistranslation between language and era.

Despite Cloera not been found on the map, a church dedicated to St Kinarus is also not to be found anywhere in Ireland.

The closest we have to a Kinarus, is Kinsius, a medieval archbishop of York, England, who served King Edward the Confessor.

Kinsius was seen as a holy man, and after his death on 22 December 1060, efforts were made by the faithful to have him declared a saint.

In the story, it’s a Bishop who makes the people release the man who left the ship to release the anchor, who then climbed back onboard.

Despite the similarities, Archbishop Kinsius came years after the original story, but before the attribution of the tale to Gervase of Tilbury.


Though this makes for a really interesting story, and captures our imagination, it’s more than likely a parable, or fictional work. Though it’s authenticity as a historical event is still open for debate. What do you think?