Every year over 200 crop circle designs appear around the world.
These patterns of flattened plants have been reported on every continent, in around 30 countries, but the majority have appeared in southern England.
Since the early 1990s, the original crop circles have developed into huge, intricate, geometrical patterns of stunning precision and beauty.
Most appear in wheat, barley and oil-seed rape, but they have also been reported in rye, oats, flax, maize, sugar cane, peas, potatoes, sunflowers, grass, fruit orchards, rice paddies, snow, and ice.
Over the years, crop circles have been attributed to a variety of mundane causes: drunks armed with string and boards, wild young farmers, disillusioned art students, out-of-work journalists, overapplication of fertilizer, interference from mobile phones, squabbling birds, geometrically-gifted cows, and sex-mad hedgehogs.
Although the general public, mass media and scientific establishment tend to dismiss the entire phenomenon as the work of human pranksters, there is strong evidence that an unexplained force and guiding intelligence are at work.
CROP CIRCLES ARE NOT NEW
One of the earliest reports was in Lyon in 815AD, and a late 16th Century woodcut depicts the devil mowing a field into patterns. Agobard, the archbishop of Lyon, wrote “Against the foolish opinion of the masses about hail and thunder ” and reported that people believed in “Tempestarii ”, which had conjured cloud ships from Magonia, a far-off place in the skies.
These resulted in fierce storms, and a ransom was demanded on behalf of the Magonians in the form of crops they had flattened.
The account was made famous by UFO researcher Jacques Vallee in his “Passport to Magonia ”, in which he underlined that the UFO phenomenon seemed to be a modern variation of an ancient theme…
“FAIRY RINGS” DATE BACK TO AT LEAST THE 12TH CENTURY
There is a rich history of crop circle legends where these formations are referred to as “fairy rings” or “fairy circles.” It was believed the crop circles were formed in the aftermath of fairies and other mythical beings dancing in circles.
In some cases it seems you have a ring of mushrooms or flowers that grow in a circle, but other legends seem consistent with what the Bishop of Lyons was referring to in 815 AD.
LATE 1940s CROP CIRCLES EYEWITNESS… Here we have the first of two testimonies confirming historical crop circle activity in the 20th century, where people actually saw it happen right in front of them:
An eye-witness case from South Wales was brought to the attention of researchers in 1991 following a letter to the Sunday Mirror. This was on farmland at Cilycwm, 6 km from Llandovery, Dyfed.
Mr William Cyril Williams wrote: “With reference to the corn circles mystery I actually witnessed one being made. I was standing in a cornfield one morning and saw a whirlwind touching the ground and forming a circle in the corn. It was just the strength of the wind in the whirlwind that formed the circle”.
The event happened in the late 1940’s when he worked on his father’s farm, Penfedw Farm at Cilycwm. He was then in his twenties. The area is surrounded by hills on all sides, and circles had been seen there “frequently”. On this occasion, a weekday in August, at about 10.30 to 11 in the morning Mr Williams had gone into the wheat field on harvesting day in advance of the cutting and binding machinery, and was crossing the middle of the field when he heard the buzzing noise of a whirlwind starting up only a few metres away.He then saw a spinning mass of air with dust in it, and, as he watched, in a matter of “only a couple of seconds or so the wheat fell down producing a sharp-edged circle 3 to 4 metres in diameter”.
It looked just like the other crop circles he had seen before, except that this one was completely flat-bottomed — whereas some of the earlier ones had stalks standing at their centres like a conical pyramid. The vortex then died out rapidly, but during its brief lifetime (under 4 or 5 seconds) it remained at the same place.
MULTIPLE EYEWITNESS REPORTS FROM THE 20TH CENTURY … This excerpt reveals an even deeper scope to the crop circle activity throughout the 20th century:
Dr Terence Meaden published eye-witness accounts of circles forming in the United Kingdom, one of which dated from the 1930s. The witness, Katherine Skin, recalled seeing two circles form on a hot August day in 1934 in Cambridgeshire. Their appearance was preceded by a whirlwind in which stalks, seeds and dust were visible. Inside the circle she saw that some stalks had been plaited . Another witness described an event in South Wales, dating from the 1940s, and Meaden also wrote of a double ring photographed in 1960, in Gloucestershire. This was reported in the Evesham Journal and attracted quite a number of visitors. Andrews and Delgado quote a farmer, Simon Brown, recalling circles on his farm at Headbourne Worthy almost every year since 1958. Paul Fuller, in The Crop Watcher 14, lists a number of other ‘early’ circles, including reports from the Netherlands, Canada, France, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, Turkey and the United States. The list runs to some 78 items, mainly rings, simple circles or ellipses and multiple circles.
The events around Warminster in the 1960s and 1970s have been the subject of several books, notably those by Arthur Shuttlewood, a journalist who lived in the town. Things seem to have begun on Christmas Day 1964, with a series of deafening noises, and various strange events continued into 1966.
The area became a hotspot for UFO sightings and it was during a ‘sky watch’ in 1972 that Shuttlewood, apparently, observed the formation of a circle in a grass field. He described a highpitched hum and a circle being inscribed like ‘the opening of a lady’s fan’.
CROP CIRCLES GO MAINSTREAM… Up until recently, the mainstream media’s approach to crop circles — if they were covered at all — was fairly dismissive… and then
2008 may well be recorded as the most substantial year in the history of “crop circles”. This was the year they hit the mainstream media with a bigger “splash” than we’ve ever seen before, thanks to a formation that encoded ‘pi’ with multiple-decimal-point accuracy.
This was widely covered by media outside the US, and in some cases even within it as well.
There has been intense debate over the circles’ origins. Some believe they are communications from extra-terrestrials, pointing to the many sightings and videos of aerial phenomena seen in connection with crop formations. Others feel the lights may be the properties of an unknown natural energy which produces complex ground patterns. Others still have cited everything from Mother Earth to nature spirits being responsible. Experiments with the power of the mind have suggested it is possible to influence the creation of certain shapes, leading some to believe psychic forces are involved.
Beyond this, most other popular explanations for the crop circles have revolved around human activity, either involving satellite technology or, more usually, the simple actions of pranksters and landscape artists. However, in demonstrations, human teams have struggled to reproduce designs as geometrically complex as many seen in the fields or have taken long hours to produce anything approaching them. Certain formations have been shown to have appeared within very short periods of time and the geometrical calculation and construction required for some simply could not be carried out in one night. Biological anomalies and unreproducable effects such as nodal bending (where the ‘knuckles’ on stems are bent at strange angles to effect certain shapes in the lay) are always absent from man-made designs.
Some of the patterns have shown breathtaking symbolic qualities. In 1994, for instance, several galaxy-shaped glyphs displayed a conjunction of planets over the star constellation Cetus as it would be in April 2000, and in 1995 an accurate diagram of the Earth’s inner solar system was discovered. However, despite these few shapes which appear to denote dates and astronomical conjunctions, most others remain obscure and are open to interpretation, seeming to reflect multi-cultural symbolism.
Work by laboratories on circle-affected crop has shown biological changes taking place at a cellular level, suggesting the involvement of microwave energy. Other physical tests have shown anomalies not yet replicated by man-made experiments. These, together with the lights, eye-witness accounts, reports of malfunctioning electronic equipment and health effects on people visiting circles, suggest the phenomenon should be looked at far more closely.
Whether the crop formations are warnings, messages of greeting or abstract doodles remains to be seen. As they amaze and frustrate in equal measure with their stunning beauty, no doubt they will continue to create further controversy. Even within the crop circle research community itself, there has been much intense debate, disagreement and division – but also much positivity and inspiration, sparked by the deep questions raised and by the simple influence of beauty in people’s lives.
Eye-witnesses… There are around two dozen eye-witness accounts of crop circles forming. All describe similar events; an invisible force coming out of nowhere in otherwise calm conditions and spinning the crops down within seconds, usually with surprising violence – yet little damage is found in the laid crop. Tornado-like funnels, light phenomena and high-pitched whistling sounds have also been reported.
In July 1996, a 915 feet spiral of 151 crop circles appeared in full view of the busy A303 road, opposite England’s ancient monument Stonehenge, Wiltshire, within a 45 minute period one Sunday afternoon. A pilot, gamekeeper and security guard confirmed it had not been there before 5.30pm – yet shortly after 6.00pm, the massive formation was being spotted by passing tourists. Much smaller man-made designs have taken several hours to complete. This also disproves the myth that all crop circles appear by night.
Longest crop circles formation… This occurred at Etchilhampton, Wiltshire, in 1996 – a chain of circles and pathways approximately 4100 feet long crossed from one end of a field to another.
Largest design and most crop circles in one formation… The record for both these qualities is currently held by the huge motif at Milk Hill, Wiltshire, August 12th 2001 – 409 small circles made up a staggering six-armed design of around 800 feet diameter.
Largest expanse of laid crop in one design… A seven-petalled mandala which appeared at Alton Barnes, Wiltshire, in 1998 contained an unbroken flattened area covering 6000 square metres.
Most geometrically perfect formation… Most would agree that the formation at Windmill Hill, Wiltshire, in 1996 takes this award – an endless procession of perfect equilateral triangles, from large to small, could be drawn by overlaying geometrical shapes onto a triple-armed spiral of 194 circles covering around an area of 600 feet diameter. If just one of the main crop circles or arms had been even slightly misplaced, this geometry would not have worked.
Most visited formation… Stonehenge, 1996 – it is estimated around 10,000 people entered this pattern once it was opened to the public by the farmer, partly through being so visible next to such a major landmark.
Most publicised formation… Alton Barnes, 1990 – many global newspapers and TV stations reported the appearance of this, the first of the large pictograms.
Scientific tests… Work by W C Levengood, a respected Michigan-based biophysicist, has shown notable biological changes taking place inside circle-laid stalks, which could be attributable to some kind of microwave energy. No man-made demonstration formation has ever produced these results, yet the majority of the hundreds of crop circles sampled have proved positive in this regard. LevengoodÕs papers have been published in scientific journals and his work has been replicated by other laboratories working with the US-based BLT Research organisation. In 1995, tests on crop formation soil samples were conducted by ADAS, a division of the English Ministry of Agriculture. Although preliminary, they showed distinct anomalies in the nitrogen/nitrate ratios which could not be explained. There have been other scientific tests carried out by different bodies over the years which have produced peculiar unexplained qualities.
Strange effects… There have been many reported effects on people’s health, sometimes of cures, sometimes of ailments, which have come on while within crop circles. Animals sometimes behave strangely in crop formations. Electronic and mechanical equipment, videos, cameras and even combine harvesters have also been known to malfunction in very odd ways, far above the average one would expect from chance.
As yet, there is a resistance to mass acceptance of the crop circles as anything other than a man-made joke, despite all the evidence pointing in another direction for at least a proportion of the glyphs. To accept that crop circles come from beyond physical human realms means reassessing many things accepted as ‘normality’. It means taking seriously the big question of what or who is making the patterns. Some believe we already have enough evidence to have reached that point, but the general public seems happier to treat the phenomenon as harmless art. Those who make our rules for us also seem to prefer it that way. Many others feel, however, that the circles are heralds of some major changes for our planet and civilisation, marking either a tumultuous era of upheaval or some kind of spiritual renaissance.
Whatever the truth, there is no doubt the crop circles have left an indelible mark upon our culture, inspiring with their visual beauty and mystery, and have profoundly affected many people’s lives…