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Quick overview of
the crop circle phenomenon

A phenomenon present everywhere in the world

The crop circles appear regularly in a great number of countries on five continents (more than 80 countries) (1). However, there is not a privileged location in the other countries apart from England which has the unique particularity that every year a great proportion of the realized formations are concentrated on a very limited territory in the south west of this country.

A « privileged  » region : Wiltshire County, in England

  • It is there that the oldest observations of crop circles have been made.
  • It is there that several tens of crop circles appear every year, in a very small territory around the megalithic site of Avebury (not far from Stonehenge), in the county of Wiltshire.
  • Accordingly, the very high density of crop circles in Wiltshire gives researchers the assurance of being able to observe a great number every year.
  • Moreover, it is also there where the biggest, the most elaborate, the most complex are formed compared to other countries.

A very ancient phenomena...

The crop circles have been the object of numerous observations and studies since the beginning of the 1980's, but from the memory amongst the farmers of the region of Wiltshire, the phenomenon goes back at least to the beginning of the 20th century (2). In fact an article appearing in the international scientific revue « Nature » in 1880 (more than a century ago !) reports a detailed observation of a « crop circle » in England. Also, an English wood carving dating from 1678 represents a scene very much resembling a « crop circle in wheat », interpreted according to the beliefs of the period because it is the devil that is represented in the process of cutting the wheat.

...on very diverse media

Even if the quality of the designs is often brighter in grain fields such as wheat or barley that lend themselves better to the formations, a great variety of vegetables (and minerals !) is used to realize these works : rape, rye, corn, grass, beets, snow, ice on the surface of a pond, etc. In Europe and in England in particular, the designs sculpted in the grain fields remain visible until harvest, that is to say during a duration that varies from … a few hours to a few months according to the reaction of the farmer, but also according to the creation date (that goes from the month of April to the month of September).

An very clear evolution in the represented motifs

England - Crawley Downs - July 1990
Photo © Lucy Pringle
England - Alton Barnes - July 1990
Photo © Lucy Pringle

Until the 80's, the crop circles were simply circles, or gatherings of circles, hence the name which remained in English. At the end of the 80's, the motifs began to evolve from the basic set of circles and straight segments (photos 1 and 2).

Without prejudging the identities of the authors of the crop circles, and even less the techniques used to sculpt these motifs in the fields, it is important to notice that the great sobriety or simplicity of the circular motifs and straight segments leads us to believe that the techniques used were also « relatively » simple.

We remember that in 1991 « the affair » broke out about the two retired colleagues called Doug and Dave who claimed to have made a certain number of crop circles, and then pretended that they were the so-called authors of a very great number of crop circles ! In spite of the improbability of this declaration, the media was captured and spread everywhere that the mystery was solved : all the interest that readers were starting to show has henceforth disappeared, there by causing a lot of damage for many years in festering confusion that persists even today on the subject.

The circular motifs and set lines segments are actually easy to copy by human beings (with the condition of looking very fast and from afar...), we can understand that the authors of the « real » crop circles have been obliged to distinguish themselves in choosing more elaborate and complex motifs. It is what happened in the years that followed and this evolution continues actually in a way that is always more spectacular. All are able to see for themselves certain motifs that are stupefying in their beauty and technical precision.

However, it must be noticed that this evolution in the elaboration of the motifs was made progressively. It seems then that a period of adaptation was required by the authors of these works of art !


1 :  Colin ANDREWS -

2 :  Colin ANDREWS et Stephen SPIGNESI - Crop Circles, signes et contacts : nouvelles révélations (Ed. Exclusif), p 65.

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