UFO Stories: In Your Own Words
Crop Circles - Up Close
A first hand account of crop circles
I have an open mind about who or what is responsible for crop circles. Sometimes it is obvious that they are man-made, like the one that appeared this year with the name "Laura", a diamond, and a question mark. But the very complex patterns, which appear overnight, sometimes displaying astonishing beauty, and hidden messages about stars and constellations, do not look like the work of hoaxers.
Some years ago a couple of old boys appeared on the local news and "confessed" to being responsible for all the crop circles in Wiltshire. The only devices they used were, they said, a plank of wood with a string handle, for trampling down the crop, and a wooden peg with a long string for marking out the circles. I can see how a simple circle could be made in this way, but it does not explain how in most circles the crop is not crushed but very gently bends, and the pattern it makes as it lies on the ground is intertwined in a very mysterious fashion. Also there have been many sightings, even home videos, of orbs of white light flying in and around the crop circles. These orbs of light make the engines of tractors die momentarily.
I live not far from Wiltshire, which is where most of the circles in the UK appear. Wiltshire is the home of many ancient sacred sites, Stonehenge being the most famous, but there is also Avebury with its fantastic ancient stone formation around an entire village. One of the circles I visited this year appeared near to Silbury Hill, a man-made hill of prefect spherical design, which is thought to be an ancient burial chamber, and legend has it that King Arthur is buried there. It is the largest man-made hill in Europe. I think so many circles appear in Wiltshire because it is such an important area in a spiritual sense. Avebury stone circle is even believed by some to be situated on the heart chakra of the Earth.
When I went to my first crop circle in 1993, it was very much a case then of climbing over barbed wire fences and leaping over ditches, getting a few quick photographs and then departing, thinking the farmer might appear at any moment with baying hounds and a shotgun. It is still not unusual to have to ignore "private, keep out!" signs, but many farrmers will actually leave a pointer to help you to find the circle, and a concreted down container in which to post a donation towards the cost of crop damage. Some will even harvest around a circle and leave it intact for as long as possible. Other farmers, however, will mow over a circle and destroy it as soon as it appears, so determined are they not to have people walking on their fields.
This year England had the wettest summer on record. My partner Iain and I despaired of finding a day suitable to go out. Many circles were flattened or harvested before we could get to them. Then our teenage son, a talented pianist, slammed the front door in anger and put his hand throught the glass, damaging it so badly that he had to have an operation to repair nerves and tendons. And there was the minor problem of not actually having access to a helicopter or an aeroplane. Crop circles hardly ever appear in a field, which has a convenient hill next to it from which to photograph the whole circle. Most of the pictures you will have seen of them are taken from the air. So this was the article that almost did not happen! I was so happy when Shirley asked me to do it, but it seemed the odds were against us! However, we did get to see and photograph, as best we could, two amazing circles.
The first one was one of a pair, which appeared in a field of wheat opposite Silbury Hill, which is near Marlborough. We could not photograph it from the hill because it was too far away, but we did take many shots inside the circle. The wheat was still green and you could clearly see how the crop had been gently bent. On the way up the hill to the circle, we were chatting happily about Shirley giving us a great hobby this summer. We made the mistake of taking our two Springer Spaniels with us. The younger of the two thought that the inside of a crop circle was a good place to poo! I was horrified, it seemed as bad as letting your dog poo inside a church or in a graveyard. We did pick it up of course, but then, as if the earth spirits were angry at our irreverence, the heavens opened and the rain battered us unmercifully. The track back to our van became a river of slippery mud, and the dogs pulling meant I almost fell several times. By the time we got back, we were as drenched as if we had jumped, fully clothed, into a deep river. Fortunately we use the van for camping and we were able to find some spare clothes to change into, and a flask of hot tea to stave off the shivers. The dogs were soaked too and I did not want them to jump all over me, so I put them both in one travel kennel and they decided to fight over the limited space. As usual when thing go wrong, it is Iain's fault, so we had an argument and went home in a cloud of our own making!
The second crop circle we managed to "bag" was at Avebury. We did not take the dogs this time. It was a beautiful day, warm and sunny, with a cooling breeze. We met an old man in the car park who, seeing our hippy-type van, asked us where had all the "flower people" gone? Iain replied, cryptically, that they still existed, in another dimension. We went into The Henge shop in the middle of the village, because every year they have a chart up on the wall, which maps all the known crop circles. There was a crop circle marked as being at the northeastern edge of the village, but the lady at the till was not sure if it was still there. She said we would be able to see it from the ridge behind the pub, so that is where we headed. It was a beautiful circle in a wheat field, which had dried out and was ready for harvesting. In fact, even as we walked around it taking photographs, we could hear the sound of a combine harvester in the next field. As with the other circle, the crop had been gently bent to the ground and formed a pattern, which could not have been made by a plank of wood, attached to a string under the foot of a Wiltshire yokel.
We had taken a set of dowsing rods made out of two metal coat hangers. When Iain stood at the edge of each circle that made up the design, holding one dowsing rod in each hand, the rods were parallel, and apart. But when he walked into the exact centre of the circle, the rods immediately crossed. This suggests the existence of an energy field of some kind. Dowsing rods do the same thing if you hold them over a container of water. When I had a go with the rods, the same thing happened, except that for some reason, when the rods were apart, they went right back and over my shoulders, before swinging back and crossing over at the exact centre of the circle.
There is something truly wonderful about standing in the centre of a Crop Circle on a beautiful day. There is an overwhelming sense of peace; of being in a place where you are safe, held by God even. I have had that sense in old churches and in modern temples. Perhaps ancient stone circles were built as a way of marking a place where a crop circle appeared, so they could be a phenomenon, which has existed for centuries.
What are Crop Circles? Nobody knows for certain. But they are certainly very, very special. I hope you get to see one one day!
Photos by: Iain McPherson
Crop circle at Avebury, grid ref. SU104702, taken from the ridge at the NE of the village 5th September 2012
Crossed dowsing rods at the centre of one of the circles making up the pattern of the Avebury crop circle
Inside the Avebury crop circle, showing the woven pattern made by the crop as it is bent over.
Dowsing rods crossing in the centre of one of the circles making up the Avebury crop circle.