Lessons from a Landslide

This is an event published on 11 November 1773 in the Bath Chronicle announcing the publication of an account which I cannot make sense of. Is this a minor tsunami?

“A dreadful phenomenon described and approved being a particular account of the sudden stoppage of the River Severn and of the terrible desolation that happened at the banks between Coalbrokdale and Buildwas Bridge in Shropshire, on Thursday morning May 27 1773.

The substance of a sermon preached the next day in the ruins, to a vast concourse of spectators by John Fletcher, Vicar of Madely in Shropshire and chaplain to the Rt Hon the Earl of Buchan and printed by the author and sold by T Mills in Bath.

The River Severn is the longest in Britain, and was then heavily used for trade. This event was a major landslip/earthquake which happened after days of heavy rain, with the river flooding. 18 acres slipped down the hillside, with chasms 18 foot deep, 8 – 10 yards wide, blocking the river for several days, resulting in it being rerouted. Scary stuff. No mention of any casualties, but the reverend’s sermon drawing parallels with Biblical disasters put the fear of god into his listeners for some time. 

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