Extraterrestrial encounters: Decoding the hidden meaning of crop circles

In search of alien landing sites: Revealing the secrets behind crop circles

Gerard Benoit suddenly became famous all over the neighborhood. Early on the morning of July 5, 2020, when he went out to his field near the town of Vimy in the far north of the country, he found that it was hopelessly damaged. A little later, with the help of a drone, it turned out that the areas of crushed wheat form a giant pattern — a Templar cross. There was no limit to the farmer's outrage, and he shared the "vandalism" on social networks. And completely in vain.

A few days later, the huge geoglyph became a place of pilgrimage for thousands of curious people who began to trample down the remains of the unfortunate crop. Mr. Benoit unwittingly found himself another victim of the mysterious "circles" that have been regularly appearing in fields around the world since the late 1970s.

Tens and hundreds of thousands of enthusiasts still perceive them as evidence of contact with the long-awaited extraterrestrial civilizations, although it has long been clear how these circles with an infinite set of stories appear and who is really behind them. Why are these objects so common in Southern England? What do the tourism industry and informal art have to do with it? We'll sort it out.

The Devil-mower

It all started in a pub, as it sometimes does.

Location: an institution called Percy Hobbs on the outskirts of the British city of Winchester in the very south of England.

Time of action: 1976.

Heroes: a certain Doug Bowyer and Dave Chorley.

The evening was getting dark.

The two friends spent their time, as two respectable gentlemen should, over a pint of ale and an interesting conversation. At one point in the conversation, Bower, who had recently returned from Australia, recalled an interesting story that had appeared in Australian newspapers in the second half of the 1960s. Near the town of Tully in the province of Queensland, local farmers began to report to the police, and then to journalists about the mysterious circles that appeared at night in their sugar cane fields.

The reasons for the circles were never established, which made it possible with a clear conscience to call them saucer nest ("nest of a flying saucer"), especially since one of the farmers swore that he saw a UFO take off from this site. After laughing at the Australians, Bower and Chorley went outside to freshen up, saw a wheat field in front of them, and then the logic of their thoughts, fueled by the pints they had consumed, was quite obvious. So, with the help of an ordinary iron beam and rope, their hoax began.

Tully nests

Crop circles

Over the next couple of years, the friends staged several more such provocations, but no one noticed them until, in 1978, Bower and Chorley chose a particularly good place — the natural amphitheater of Cheesefoot Head, popular with tourists.

The effect exceeded expectations — a 25-meter circle, just a circle without any drawing, got first into the regional and then national media and, of course, fell into the sphere of close attention of various ufologists and experts in the field of unexplained phenomena, who began to comment on the origin of the object with a clever look.

It was the complete success that Bower and Chorley had been waiting for. In the future, the friends themselves began to report to the media about their next work, pretending to be random witnesses who discovered an unidentified object.

A circle created by Bowyer and Chorley in 1978

A circle created by Bowyer and Chorley in 1978

In the second half of the 1970s and early 1980s, the popularity of all kinds of hoaxes was at its peak. Not only in narrow circles passionate about paranormal topics but also among the General public were discussed the mystery of the so-called Bermuda triangle, reports of another "unidentified flying object" began to be widespread, seriously searched for "Bigfoot" was organized expedition to Loch Ness. The crop circles that began to appear in the South of England turned out to be very appropriate in such a discourse.

It immediately became clear that such objects had actually been recorded before. A pamphlet from 1678 was found in the British Library, in which a certain creature made something like a circle on a field. The story of the source, whose full title was "The Devil-Mower, or Strange News from Hertfordshire", concerned a farmer who refused to pay a peasant to mow a field, saying that it was better for the devil to mow it.

The next night, the same field was engulfed in fire, and the next morning it turned out that it was perfectly mowed. In fact, it was not very similar to the circles that appeared in England, where wheat (or other cereals) was only crushed (and not mowed), but such nuances did not interest the sensation hunters.

Much more excitement was caused by another fact — the location where these objects began to appear en masse.

The moving devil. Click to view

Place of power

The success of the campaign, which began in a Winchester pub, largely determined the place where Bowyer and Chorley began to arrange their antics. In the neighboring county of Wiltshire, there is the largest complex of Neolithic monuments, which by that time had already become a Mecca for lovers of all the occult. The most famous building in this series is, of course, Stonehenge, located 40 minutes from Winchester. But it was not limited to this cult megalith in a certain environment.

Fans of the new age and similar trends were attracted by the Avebury sanctuary located in the same county (very conveniently representing a circle-ring, which was supposed to resemble objects in wheat fields), the artificial chalk mound of Silbury Hill, the fortress of Barbury Castle, the so-called Uffington White horse (a prehistoric image of a white horse), the cromlech of Overton Hill and the Ridgeway Road, one of the oldest on earth.

Fortress Of Barbury Castle

Fortress Of Barbury Castle

All these outstanding monuments of the Neolithic and Bronze Age have traditionally been the focus of attention of fans of unexplained phenomena, who claimed that the objects are covered with energy domes, connected by energy flows and generally represent ancient relics that served to contact someone outside of our mortal planet. Bower and Chorley later honestly admitted that they began to stamp their circles, not least because of the reputation of the area, where, among other things, there was the densest concentration of cases of "detection" of UFOs.

Uffington White horse

Uffington White horse

Alien contact became the first, most popular, version of the origin of the geoglyphs. However, soon the scale of what was happening became such that real scientists took up the attempt to find a scientific explanation for it. The most vigorous activity in this field was developed by meteorologist and physicist Terrence Meaden from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada.

First, he put forward the theory that the profile of the hills in Southern England directly influenced the formation of specific air vortices, which in turn could stabilize at certain points and form the necessary circle of crushed wheat. And although this version did not explain why such objects (at least in such quantities) were not formed earlier, Bower and Chorley, who created a fake on the subject of UFOs, decided to take the necessary measures.

They developed their next geoglyphs by starting to "draw" constructions of several circles instead of one circle. This, by the way, subsequently led to an increasing complication of such objects.

In response to the new facts, Meaden also adapted his theory. Instead of the usual air vortices, he made some "electromagnetic hydrodynamic plasma vortices" responsible for the mysterious formations that appeared. The Canadian's explanation seemed so plausible that even Stephen Hawking after another circle appeared at his home in Cambridge, said that it could be caused by a certain natural vortex. However, at the same time, the famous theoretical physicist considered the human impact more likely.

Crop circles

Bowyer and Chorley did not give up in their fight with the scientist Meaden. In the end, to refute the "vortex" fabrications, they constructed an object of two circles and five rectangles. The latter certainly could not have been created by Mother Nature, which the hapless Canadian meteorologist eventually had to admit. Well, in 1991, Bowyer and Chorley decided to get their 15 minutes of fame and get out of the closet. Friends gathered journalists and confessed to them that all this grandiose hoax was started by them in the second half of the 1970s.

They said that in total, over the past time, they have created more than 200 different geoglyphs in the fields of Southern England, and for the sake of persuasiveness, they demonstrated the technology of their creation. An ordinary circle was made extremely simple. It was necessary to determine its center, stick a conditional stick there, tie a rope to it and go around the center around the circumference, using an ordinary flat board to crush the cereals.

To complete the picture, after the formation of this exemplary circle, Bower and Chorley invited an unsuspecting cereologist to the scene (cereology is the activity of studying "crop circles"). The expert confirmed the authenticity of the object (i.e. its unexplained origin), after which he was quite disappointed when he was told the truth.

Occam's Razor

It must be said that the exposure of the hoax had almost no effect on the number of believers in the paranormal version of the appearance of geoglyphs. On the contrary, the fact that the entire 15-year-old story was published in newspapers and on television only contributed to the spread of such objects around the world. Another trend was the gradual complication of geoglyphs.

The drawing that appeared in early July 2020 on the French field is not the most complex of those that appeared in Southern England and other countries of the world. Bowyer and Chorley, who had once started in a Winchester pub, could only envy the scale and complexity of many of them.

In the margins, there were not just combinations of large and small circles, but sometimes whole pictures were drawn, mathematical functions and fractals were visualized (for example, the Mandelbrot set).

crop circles

But if there are no questions about the authenticity of the human origin of many simple figures, for example, the works of Bower and Chorley, then how did much more complex drawings appear, because many of them appeared in just one fairly short night. The answer to this question lies in the plane of experience and effective organization of work. It is obvious that the modern production of crop circles is not complete with two pairs of hands — large teams are now working on them, the actions of the participants of which are clearly coordinated.

They have at their disposal not only primitive rope and board but also modern means of determining the geo-location, as well as laser devices that allow you to correctly calculate the distances between the elements of the figure and create objects of the desired shape.

Crop circles

Back in 1998, a group of authors known under the pseudonym Circlemakers demonstrated to BBC journalists the possibility of creating a complex spiral of 100 circles of different sizes in one night. Even more complex drawings are sometimes made in sparsely populated places but in a few days. Or, to create them, a formal (or informal) permission of the home team is obtained.

Many creators of the most beautiful circles consider themselves real artists. Most of them even prefer to remain anonymous, as do some of their colleagues from the city streets, such as Banksy. This supports the necessary aura of mystery of the creative process.

Well, the second reason why the creators of circles do not take responsibility for their works is the fact that most often the figures in the fields can be regarded as vandalism, damage to someone else's private property.

Crop circles

Despite the fact that the human origin of the circles is quite obvious (how can conditional "aliens" know, for example, about the Templar cross, and why would they draw it?), there are still many people in the world who believe in outright fiction. This belief is supported by a large number of relevant literature and specialized websites.

There is nothing strange about this. Firstly, many people do not have rational thinking in principle, and secondly, a whole small tourism industry has been created and exists around such geoglyphs.

Exactly the same as it happens around Loch ness, or the Bermuda triangle. It is quite possible that some circles and their combinations (at least in Southern England, the place of their greatest concentration) are created specifically, as a result of the collusion of farm owners and "expert cereologists", for whom excursions to "places of power" have become a source of income. Any figure of this kind — and the latest French example confirms this once again-invariably attracts increased public attention.

Well, the victims of all this hoax, building another theory of the origin of such tempting objects, forget about the principle of "Occam's razor". Most often, the correct explanation really turns out to be the simplest.

About author:

Ufologist, PhD, blogger, I go on my own expeditions for UFOs. I use scientific methods to investigate the UAP phenomenon

Serg Toporkov

Ufologist, Ph.D., blogger, I go on my own expeditions for UFOs. I use scientific methods to investigate the UAP phenomenon. Write to me

Related tags:

crop circles  mysterious  aliens  geoglyphs  England  unexplained origin  unexplained phenomena

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