| Letter published in The Daily Mail
Over the years, I have been sent reports of crop circles from Ireland in the 1930's and other reports ranging right up through the 1940's '50s, 60's and 70's, not just from this part of the world but from as far afield as South Africa.
Many people claim that where there are tramlines (used by farmers to facilitate crop sowing and spraying), it would be easy to make a crop formation without leaving any human trace.
Despite the fact that repeated scientific tests together with the hugely accurate geometry of genuine crop circles, are able to distinguish between the genuine and manmade events whether tramlines are present or not, I appreciate that this is an area of valid interest. In the United States there are no tramlines, yet crop circles still appear. It was not until the years between 1970-72 that Zeneca ICI, after consultation with the farmers introduced tramlines in order to facilitate sowing and the use of herbicides, pesticides and fungicides. This was the first time tramlines were seen in fields in the UK and heralded the start of intensive farming in this country; new machinery was also brought into production, leading to the loss of many jobs; yet I have a number of reports before tramlines either did not exist or were not applicable to the location in which the circle appeared. In fact the earliest reports from people still alive, start in the 1930's. An interesting one came from Mrs Songhurst who told me that she saw corn circles sixty years ago when she lived in Co. Donegal, Ireland. They were large in circumference and all swirled anti-clockwise. The people all lived a hand to mouth existence and would have had no reason to fake these circles, in fact quite the opposite as their very existence depended on the price they could obtain from the grain merchants. Any rumour that there was anything wrong with their crops spelt ruin and so when the crop circles appeared they attempted unsuccessfully to prop up the fallen stems.
World War Two crop cirlces.
Two intriguing reports came from airmen who had served during the Second World War. One of the men produced black and white photographs of two crop circles about 20-30 diameter, taken from the air above the RAF base at Tangmere, near Chichester in the late summer of 1943. The other Squadron Leader N, (who requested anonymity), had served in the RAF for 33 years, beginning as an air gunner on Lancasters during the war, rising to the rank of squadron leader. Between foreign postings, Sq. Ldr. N was stationed, from 1957 to '64 and again from 1968 - '69 at air bases in southern England.
"At these times I was stationed at RAF Andover and Hullavington, Wiltshire, which included flights to the nearby bases of Middle Wallop, Boscombe Down and Lynham. During the times concerned, circles weren't infrequent and I think it would be fair to say that we saw them every year, in the same areas. The circles always seemed to be in the very large fields adjacent to Stonehenge and the rolling downs of the Boscombe Down corn growing land."
A letter of enquiry to Lynham drew a blank regarding crop circles around air bases in southern England between 1957 and 1969. "Unfortunately, none of our current aircrew were around at that time, those of us that have been at Lyneham since the 1970's are unaware of any records or stories, anecdotal or otherwise."
Do crop formations always appear in arable crops? The short answer is no! There are reports of events in ice, snow, thistles, sugar cane, potatoes, cabbages, sprouts and grass. In August 1993, a ringed circle appeared in sunflowers near Torgau in Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany.
Also there are several accounts of circles in ice (Fortean Times No 77) dating back as far as 1930 and ranging in distribution from Sweden, Canada and The United States to Kharkov in the Ukraine.(Photo 1 Transparency .Ice circle,George River, Mass. USA.) Sceptics have suggested, that these circles were man-made, by people using "an ice saw, an adapted chain saw used in ice manufacture since its invention in the 1920's". Two people would be involved, one standing at the centre with a length of rope with which he guide his accomplice who would slice an inner and then outer ring, holding the other end of the rope taut as he travelled round describing a radius. After completion they would then break up the ring, releasing the disk. What they fail to take into account however, is the fact that several reports stated that the ice was too thin to bear any human weight, let alone additional equipment. As so often happens, sceptics are so keen to `rubbish' anything of a bizarre or unexplained nature, they forget the primary rules of good scientific investigations and ignore the straightforward physical facts.
Another report tells of a circle that appeared just outside Moscow one year; there were no tracks leading to it and not tracks leading away from it. No explanation!
In 1947 at a farm in Lancashire a strange event occurred. This report comes from tractor driver, John Salisbury. "It was the first week of June 1947, in; the middle of a twenty acre field of potatoes. The previous day I had been thinning turnips on the outside edge of the field, the potato crop was what is called locally, as being`met up in rows' meaning of course that all the plants were touching each other, so that it showed a good even crop. Imagine my surprise the following morning, the first thing I saw was the large flattened area almost in the centre of the field. My first thought was that some animals had somehow got onto the field, As I made my way across towards it, I could see it was a huge circle, almost fifty yards in diameter, with all the plants swirled in a clockwise direction and almost as though they had been plaited. There was no other damage in the field, no sigh of tracks or anything. There was quite heavy dew on the plants and my trousers were wet, through walking in the crop. There was no damage to the rows and no disturbance of the soil and the edge of the circle was so well defined that one plant, normal and the next one to it completely flat. Standing in the middle of the circle and trying to take it all in, I remember a sudden sense of panic and to get out of it as quickly as I could. It just seemed as though something had come down and gone straight up again and all this long before UFO's hit the headlines. I went back to the farm to report it to Mr Clark, the farmer, and he came back with me to the field and he too was mystified but declared that he thought it must have been a freak whirlwind. The rest of the employees were all elderly men and weren't really interested but all agreed that the weather conditions did not fit the theory. When the potatoes were harvested they were at the same size as when the circle was formed. The rest of the crop outside the circle were normal size. There is something else I would like to mention, seven or eight years later on the same field and not far from the crop circle location, I ploughed up a number of stone age hammer and axe heads which are still in my possession".
My next report was sent to me recently by photographer and filmmaker, John Howard of Market Rasen, Leicestershire.(Photo 2 print ) One morning during the summer of 1991, a farmer friend, telephoned asking him to come and photograph a curious circle which had `mysteriously' appeared overnight in his field of potatoes. The farmer also lives and farms at Market Rasen, so John did not have far to travel. On his arrival he found the circle, approximately nine yards in diameter. He states that rather than being a symmetrical circle, it was a broad ellipse. All the potato plants within the ellipse were flattened and destroyed, (their leaves and stems were dead) whereas the plants in the rest of the field were strong and healthy, standing about one and a half to two feet high. There were no signs of entry marks leading to or away from the formation and there were no telltale marks on the soil. The farmer is a respected countryman of long standing and he had never seen anything like it before. He relates that there was a sharp cut-off point between the flattened potatoes and the standing crop. Disease and soil deficiency were ruled out, as the rest of the crop and the crop in the other field were healthy. Again no explanation!
Beware of the prickles
There is also the report of a circle measuring around twenty feet in diameter, which was discovered in a large field of saffron thistles in the Goolagong area in the Bathhurst District in Australia! Diana Kearns, who sent me this story, had been awarded a grant by the Australian Film Commission; she was studying the possible correlation between UFO grid patterns/systems, ancient aboriginal stone rows or stone circles in the UK, connected with the ley line system. Just before Christmas 1974, she was telephoned by the UFO Society regarding this circle (or UFO nest as they are called in Australia). In Australia distances of up to two miles are considered close by, so off she hurtled and was met by the farmer Viv Huckel.
The field of thistles had been ploughed up at the request of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, which made it a considerably less painful journey for Diana. "These thistles are as thick as the hair on a dog's back!"
The farmer Viv Huckel recounts "What hit me when I first saw it was that it was very similar to nests found in the sugar cane beds up in Queensland. I drove around, finished ploughing and came back and had another squizz at it.
What intrigued me was that the centre portion (about four foot across) was almost completely bare, and after that you started getting little stumps of saffron thistles- they'd been shredded. The further you got to the perimeter, pieces of stalk were just broken up; but the last couple of feet of thistles - and these are two feet high minimum- were completely knocked down in an anticlockwise direction, twisted up, and some had been torn out by the roots.. It's pretty hard to pull a green saffron thistle out by the roots, mate!"
The theory that animals might have squashed down the thistles was discounted by Viv who had only had five head of cows in that paddock in the previous six months "like their female counterparts in the human race, they like their creature comforts; they wouldn't go and bust down a camping site in these thistles, nor would sheep".
A whirlwind wind or `Willy Willy' was also ruled out for "if anyone has seen an Old man Whirlwind, they'd know that it doesn't stay in the one spot. It sweeps straight through a paddock and leaves a dread straight scar of knocked down thistles, say all heading in the same direction".
Thistles are a hollow stemmed crop, and like oil seed rape; the stalks will not lie flat and remain flat when bent to ninety degrees. In experiments it is found that it is necessary to bend them in excess of ninety degrees and apply pressure. When this was tested, the stems simply snapped. Also the stalks bruise badly and scars are visible if any mechanical weight is applied. The accounts of circles or UFO nests in sugar cane is even more amazing. Having lived in Jamaica for twelve years, I am very familiar with the behaviour of sugar cane. It reacts in a similar way to both thistles and oil seed rape, but grows considerably taller, to a height of eight to nine feet and is extremely heavy. What force as yet unknown to man could cause this gargantuan crop to bend to its will without causing any crop damage or broken stems?
The Doubt Dispeller at Birling Gap
In 1994 two formations appeared in barley at Birling Gap, near Eastbourne, looking like suspended cobwebs. However, as soon as we go there, we saw the barley had been bent uniformly at around twenty inches up from the ground - about half way down each stalk and just above the point where the leaf separates from the sheath. As the top part of the crop had bent over, it had formed myriad small vortices, each measuring 12-15 inches in diameter, tightly interwoven and in turn forming part of the overall webbing. (Diagram 1) None of the stalks were broken; the complexity of the webbing was astounding and its density was such that it was difficult and painful to try and pierce by walking through it.
How had it been made? Clearly the circle could not have been made by any sort of weight (e.g. a garden roller or a flail), because the crop would have been flattened. An atmospheric condition? This would not explain the many tiny vortices merging too give the overall effect of one great web, enclosed in a circumference with such a clear cut off point between the webbing and the standing crop.
Rook or crow damage? An example of this was nearby, and displayed no complex webbing, and had many bird feathers and dropping scattered among the randomly and chaotically damaged barley. Nor do rooks normally carry tape measures! Localised wind damage? Again there was an example of this nearby, and the crop was splayed sidewards randomly - very different to the concise pattern in the formation. In addition the `force` seems to have been genetically selective. A few rogue stalks of winter wheat from the previous year's crop were not affected. They remained standing, clearly visible above the twisted barley. What force could create such an elaborate and dense suspended barley webbing and yet leave single stems of wheat untouched?