Crop circles – beautiful curiosities

By Lucy Pringle

Many people think that crop circles are a modern phenomenon and therefore might be surprised to learn that the earliest recorded ones were in the 1660s.

John Aubrey, philosopher and antiquarian historian, (the blue stones at Stonehenge are named after him) was intrigued by the circles he found on the Wiltshire Downs, as was a farmer in Hertfordshire who was terrified when he found part of this crop laid down in a circle after hearing strange sounds and seeing strange lights in the sky that night. It was recorded in a famous woodcut, The Mowing Devil.

Indeed it may be possible that they have been with us forever, as evidenced by ancient stone carvings at New Grange in Ireland and petroglyphs worldwide. In the Kalahari in Botswana you will see crop circles in the sand. Here, the sand is blown away but some of them stay for weeks.

Simple circles were reported in the early 1900s, and during the Second World Wars pilots flying over fields in southern England regularly observed circles.

Whereas it is generally acknowledged that certain crop circles are of human origin, others seem to defy all rational explanation. The complex tangential and integer-ratio geometries found in most crop circles, even those of 1,000 feet in diameter, are awesomely accurate.

By contrast, the events publicised as ‘man made’, no matter how impressive they may look, always reveal gaping mathematical and geometric errors.

So what are crop circles?

Crop circles are indentations in the crop, with a sharp cut off point between the flattened area and the standing crop. In genuine circles there is no damage to the fallen crop. They are found in any medium that will take an imprint. Fields of potatoes, carrots and beans have played host to circles, as have frozen rivers, such as the George River in Massachusetts and many in Canada. They have also been found in snow, sand, grass, heather and reeds.

In the USA where, due to the geography and varied climate, crop circles appear in every month of the year, the majority appear on limestone, which has the same properties as chalk land.

I have researched this phenomenon for more than 20 years and my current area of investigation is focused on the temporary relief of Parkinson’s disease and Essential Tremor. I work with scientists from all over the world conducting tests such as EEG (brain activity) and measuring Tremor. The results are remarkable, revealing a noticeable difference when sufferers are tested whilst inside a circle as opposed to the tests conducted several miles away from the circle.

Crop circles also attract countless reports of electrical failures in equipment such as cameras, mobile telephone and camcorders; on one occasion a pilot reported that his electrical instruments failed when flying over a crop circle.

Whatever the answer, these majestic shapes show a superb elegance of line that touch the heart as well as the mind.

Lucy Pringle will be giving a talk on crop circles at Petersfield Community Centre on Saturday, October 15, starting at 7.30pm. Email or call her on 01730 263454.

Russian Snow Circle Crop circle at Silbury