Corn Circles Riddle
In 1981 Pat Delgado, a retired electro-mechanical engineer, stood transfixed, staring at a series of circular indentations in a cornfield* at Cheesefoot Head in Wiltshire, UK. So impressed was he with the phenomenon he resolved to make the existence of these circles known to a wider public.
In 1983 he was contacted by Colin Andrews, a chief electrical engineer. Colin Andrews said of his own first sighting of the corn circles, "They turned out to be more beautiful and more precise than I had imagined. The impact they had on me was sensational."
Then, in 1985, Busty Taylor, flying a private plane, saw a formation of five circles in a cornfield below him. After a sleepless night he determined to investigate this strange phenomenon. Together with Don Tuersley, a retired signwriter, these four formed a research team to investigate the manifestations. Along the way they collected a wealth of information, visiting sites, interviewing farmers, photographing, measuring, recording data, and consulting meteorologists, professors, archeologists.
The record of their research, Circular Evidence, was published in 1988**. It contains detailed descriptions and many beautiful coloured photographs of the circles they studied all over Hampshire and Wiltshire, including numerous examples of the intricate patterns formed by the bent and twisted stems within the circles. Although they cite many possible explanations for these extraordinary phenomena, the authors steadfastly refuse to support any single explanation, leaving the circles to speak for themselves.
As the authors discovered, circles had been reported in Australia, Brazil and the USA since the 1960s along with sightings of UFOs and strange lights in the sky. Circles had also been appearing in English cornfields over many years: farmers have reported seeing them every year for 28 years, some as early as the 1950s. There was often a dew pond, an ancient burial ground or wayfarers' track nearby. Very often the circles were close to military establishments.
The following is a selection of the sightings described in the book. In July and August 1985 the team discovered two formations of circles in Hampshire, at Gander Down and Goodworth Clatford, each consisting of a central circle surrounded by four smaller circles which from the air looked like the dots on dice. The day before the first of these formations appeared, two people saw a "huge circular object standing on end, like a funfair wheel ... it had lots of yellowy white lights all around the edge and more lights along spokes leading into the centre of it".
In June and July 1986, Don Tuersley and Colin Andrews carried out all-night vigils in the Punch Bowl, a famous beauty spot at Cheesefoot Head near Winchester, where circles had appeared in previous years. At first light on their last morning they discovered a circle, formed during the night while they had seen and heard nothing. In July at Cheesefoot Head, the authors saw for the first time a ring round a huge circle 19 metres in diameter, in which the crops swirled clockwise. A pathway out of the ring cut an arc in the crop.
Later a similar formation was found at Childrey near Wantage, Oxfordshire, but this time the pathway out of the ring ended in the shape of an arrowhead with a small hole in it - as if the soil had been scooped out. Colin Andrews removed some soil from this hole and spent a disturbed night afterwards, with his alarm systems going off by themselves, triggered, it appeared, by the soil in his office.
In August, the team was on a regular reconnaissance flight when Busty Taylor said, "All we want now is to find formations in the form of a Celtic Cross". The next day, when he was flying over the same spot, there it was: a large circle, 12.9 metres in diameter, and ring, surrounded by four small circles 3.6 metres each at the cardinal compass points, forming a square or cross.
In June 1987, watchers saw an orange ball in the sky and heard strange warbling, humming noises coming from a field near Kimpton, where two circles and a single oval ring were discovered. The circle contained plants flattened radially both outwards and inwards towards the centre, "possibly caused by opposing forces meeting".
Then, writes Colin Andrews, "things happened which completely changed my impressions of the kinds of forces which might be responsible for the circle and ring formations". Standing in the ring, he saw a black flash and the sun was blotted out - although there was nothing in front of it. Later he heard an electrical crackling noise very close by, which increased in pitch and then suddenly stopped.
Two weeks later, onlookers saw a row of bright lights above the trees at Cheesefoot Head, near a 15-metre circle and ring. Then five new circles were formed in the Punch Bowl, the plants in the large central circle splayed radially with clockwise plants lying away from them "like a parting in hair". This was an enormous formation, the satellite circles equally spaced to form a square, the whole area being 47.7 metres in diameter.
And in August a bewildering variety of circles was discovered. At Westbury, in Wiltshire, a larger circle was superimposed over two existing ones, "as if a powerful force had blasted the plants out of the ground which now lay limp on top of the surrounding wheat". Witnesses saw above the field "a huge circular UFO with numerous orange lights around the perimeter and spokes splayed out from the edges". In the same month, 10 circles appeared in one field at Beckhampton near Silbury Hill, the famous Neolithic earth mound.
Later at Westbury, the team found a most spectacular floor pattern: radial from the centre and then an anti-clockwise swirl of plants as if the creator of it were revolving. The force that had created it was so great that the surface soil had turned to powder. No less than 15 circles appeared around Warminster (where many UFOs have been sighted) in less than 24 hours. Studying a photograph of one of the circles, the team noticed a white disc which had not been visible when they were in the circle. There was no explanation for it. Writes Colin Andrews drily: "We have learnt the importance of flexibility." A developed photograph of a circle formed a few days later showed two black ribbon darts like a forked spear, again not seen at the time.
Shortly after that came their first double-ringed circle, near Bratton. A witness described seeing a blue flashing light coming from a point just above the ground in front of her: "The light was pulsating as if it was reflecting off a spinning shiny surface... The flashes appeared to be a reflection from something unseen and occurred every second or possibly with shorter frequency... When the sun passed behind a cloud the blue flashes ceased." At Chilcomb, the radial pattern of the plants in the circle they found "gave the impression of an enormous vertical pressure downwards which fanned the plants radially outwards with tremendous force on impact."
Later, on a regular reconnaissance flight, the team saw one of the most beautiful formations at Winterborne Stoke, south west of Stonehenge: a circle with a three-and-three-quarters clockwise revolution swathe with ring which "looked so real you could visualize it spinning". A smaller circle lay beside it with a beautiful clockwise swirl.
There were more surprises in 1988. In June the team saw the first of a "staggering number of circles to be reported over the next two months - over one hundred." Flying over some circles at Corhampton later on, Colin Andrews wrote:
"Few have matched the shock we had when we looked down on the Corhampton triple formation for the first time. Plants had grown into a pattern consisting of seven concentric rings and 48 spokes. Each circle was the same."
A few miles away they found a similar triangle of circles with the same pattern of crops arranged like a dart board.
In only eight weeks 51 circles were found within seven miles of Silbury Hill. There a witness saw a large golden disc-shaped object within a cloud from the bottom of which emanated bright white parallel beams of light. In her car, articles flew up as if a surge of energy had passed through it.
Describing the basic enigma Pat Delgado writes: "The circles and rings are usually created at night; the stems of the affected crops are usually undamaged in any way... they appear in dry or wet weather, warm or cold, it makes no difference." Most circles were elliptical in shape, although a few were almost perfectly round. They varied in size from two to three metres in diameter to huge areas of over 20 metres wide. They appeared singly or in formations, in doubles, triangles, or the splendid "dice-dot" formations.
Most remarkable were the patterns produced within the circles, swirls of plants flattened clockwise or anti-clockwise, or radiating straight out from the centre. In each case the plants, though bent by 90 degrees at the base of the stem, continued to grow and ripen, while around the circle the corn was unaffected, and formed a standing wall. So deliberate were the patterns that bundles of plants would be found lying over others which had been twisted in the opposite direction.
The team found itself racing against time to study the circles before the combine harvester destroyed the evidence. Farmers were often reluctant to give them permission to enter a field. The researchers often saw evidence of military interest in the circles, army helicopters hovering overhead taking pictures. In the early stages, the army co-operated with the investigators, but in 1988 the co-operation suddenly stopped.
More and more intricate patterns of crops were discovered as the team progressed, the more complex of which seemed to be a "deliberate attempt to display intelligent manipulation". For example, the multi-layered floor: three layers of plants, the top swirled clockwise, underneath counter-clockwise, and underneath that, radial, with none of the plants damaged. Writes Pat Delgado: "As soon as we think we have solved one peculiarity, the next circle displays an inexplicable variation, as if to say, 'What do you make of it now?'"
None of the theories offered as explanation satisfied all the criteria. Human hoaxers produce tracks and tend to damage plants; scientific machinery would have to be transported to the spot leaving no tracks in the corn; deer, crows, hedgehogs, fairy rings, could not produce the variety of patterns found; whirlwinds suck up as much as they flatten and are not quiet.
The team considered many other theories, electromagnetism, Piezo electric generation, volcanic pressure, sub-surface forces, etc, but always concluded that "too many parameters must be included and cannot be met".
"We have learnt over the years," writes Pat Delgado, "something, maybe some intelligent level, keeps one or more jumps ahead of what we think are answers to the various plant stem details we have noted. The problem of finding answers is multiplying each year. To fathom out the phenomenon is an enormous task." The authors end with a plea to the scientific community to begin high-level research. Meanwhile, they write: "We are continuing with our research in the hope that our patience will be rewarded".
* Cornfield in the UK is synonymous with wheatfield in the US.
** Circular Evidence , a detailed investigation of the flattened swirled crops phenomenon, by Pat Delgado and Colin Andrews, is published by Bloomsbury Publishing Ltd, London, 1989, £14.95.
"These circles, which have been known to 'UfOlogists' for several decades, are indeed the result of action by the Space Brothers and their UFOs. They are created and left deliberately as a sign of their presence, the extraordinary structure and precision of the circles being a testimony to their higher science (none of the corn, though folded into spiral and other formations, is ever destroyed).
They do indeed create a magnetic field around them but this has nothing to do with the aircraft accident."