At the beginning of last month, an ordinary French farmer, Gerard Benoit, suddenly became famous throughout the district. Early in the morning of July 5, 2020, walking out into his field near the town of Vimy in the very north of the country, he found that it was hopelessly spoiled.
A little later, with the help of a drone, it turned out that the plots of crushed wheat form a gigantic pattern – the Templar cross. The farmer’s outrage knew no bounds, and he shared the “vandalism” on social networks. And completely in vain.
A few days later, a huge geoglyph became a place of pilgrimage for thousands of curious people who began to trample the remnants of the unfortunate harvest. Mr. Benoit unwittingly turned out to be another victim of the mysterious “circles” that have regularly appeared in the fields around the world since the late 1970s.
Tens and hundreds of thousands of enthusiasts still perceive them as evidence of contact with long-awaited extraterrestrial civilizations, although it has long been clear how these circles with an endless set of plots appear and who is really behind them. Why are these objects so common in southern England? What does the tourism industry and informal art have to do with it? Understanding.
It all started in a pub, as it sometimes happens.
Location: a place called Percy Hobbs on the outskirts of the British city of Winchester in the very south of England.
Time of action: 1976.
Heroes: some Doug Bower and Dave Chorley.
Evening, it was getting dark.
The two friends were spending their time, as befits two respectable gentlemen, with a pint of ale and an interesting conversation. At some point in the conversation, Bower, who had recently returned from Australia, recalled an interesting story that flashed in Australian newspapers in the second half of the 1960s.
Near Tully, Queensland, local farmers began reporting to police and then reporters about the mysterious circles that appeared at night in their sugarcane fields. The reasons for the appearance of the circles were never established, which made it possible with a clear conscience to call them saucer nest (“flying saucer nest”), especially since one of the farmers swore that he saw a UFO take off from this site. Having laughed 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 thought, warmed up by used pints, it was quite obvious. So with the help of an ordinary iron beam and rope, their hoax began.
Over the next couple of years, friends staged several more such provocations, but no one noticed them, until in 1978 Bower and Chorley chose a particularly successful location – the natural Cheesefoot Head amphitheater, popular with tourists.
The effect exceeded expectations – a 25-meter circle, just a circle without any pattern, first got into the regional and then national media and, naturally, fell into the sphere of close attention of various ufologists and experts in the field of inexplicable phenomena, who began to comment on the origin with a clever look object.
It was the complete success that Bower and Chorley had been waiting for. In the future, friends themselves began to report to the media about their next work, pretending to be casual witnesses who discovered an unidentified.
In the second half of the 1970s – early 1980s, the popularity of all kinds of hoaxes was at its peak. Not only in narrow circles keen on the topic of the paranormal, but also among the general public, the mystery of the so-called. Bermuda Triangle, reports of another “unidentified flying object” began to be ubiquitous, the search for the “Bigfoot” was carried out in earnest, expeditions to the Scottish Loch Ness were organized. Crop circles, which began to appear in southern England, proved to be the most appropriate in such a discourse.
It immediately became clear that in fact similar objects had been recorded before. In the British Library, a pamphlet from 1678 was discovered in which a creature was doing something that looked like a circle on a field. The story of the source, whose full title was “The Devil Mower, or Strange News from Hertfordshire,” was about a farmer who refused to pay a peasant to mow a field, saying that the devil had better mow him.
The next night, that 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) were only crushed (and not cut), but such nuances did not interest the hunters for sensations.
Much more excitement was caused by another fact – the location where these objects began to appear en masse.
Place of power
The success of the action, which began in a Winchester pub, was largely due to the place where Bower 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 everything occult. The most famous structure in this series is undoubtedly Stonehenge, located 40 minutes from Winchester. But this megalith, cult in a certain environment, did not end there.
Fans of the New Age and similar currents were attracted by the Avebury sanctuary located in the same county (which is very conveniently a circle-ring that should have resembled objects in the wheat fields), the artificial chalk mound of Silbury Hill, the fortress of Barbury Castle, the so-called … Uffington white horse (carved in prehistoric times image of a white horse)
All these outstanding monuments of the Neolithic and Bronze Age have traditionally been in the center of attention of fans of inexplicable phenomena, who assured that the objects are covered with energy domes, connected by energy flows and, in general, are ancient relics that served for contact with someone outside of our mortal planet.
Bower and Chorley subsequently 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 UFO “sightings”.
Alien contact became the first, most popular, version of the origin of geoglyphs. However, soon the scale of what was happening acquired such a character that real scientists also took up an attempt to find a scientific explanation for it.
The most vigorous activity in this field was developed by the meteorologist and physicist Terrence Meaden of 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 in any way why such objects (at least in such quantities) had not formed before, Bower and Chorley, who created the fake on the UFO topic, decided to take the necessary measures.
They developed their next geoglyphs, starting to “draw” constructions from several circles instead of one circle. This, by the way, subsequently led to an ever greater complication of such objects.
In response to new facts, Meiden adapted his theory. Instead of ordinary air vortices, he made certain “electromagnetic hydrodynamic plasma vortices” responsible for the appearing mysterious formations.
The explanation of the Canadian looked so plausible that even Stephen Hawking, after another circle appeared at his house in Cambridge, said that a certain natural vortex could have caused it. True, at the same time, the famous theoretical physicist considered human impact more likely.
Bower and Chorley did not give up in their fight against the scientist Meaden. In the end, in order 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 in the end had to be admitted by the unlucky Canadian meteorologist.
Well, in 1991, Bower and Chorley decided to get their 15 minutes of fame and get out of the closet. Friends gathered the journalists and confessed to them that this whole grandiose hoax had been started by them in the second half of the 1970s.
They said that over the past time they have created more than 200 different geoglyphs in the fields of southern England, and for convincingness they demonstrated the technology of their creation. The usual circle was extremely simple. It was necessary to determine its center, stick a conventional stick there, tie a rope to it and go around the center in a circle,
For the sake of completeness, after the formation of this exemplary circle, Bower and Chorley brought in 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 inexplicable origin), after which he was quite disappointed when he was told the truth.
It must be said that the exposure of the hoax had practically no effect on the number of believers in the paranormal version of the appearance of geoglyphs. On the contrary, the hit of this entire 15-year history in newspapers and on television only contributed to the spread of such objects around the world.
Another trend has become the progressive complication of geoglyphs. The drawing that appeared in early July 2020 on the French field is far from the most complex of those that appeared in southern England and other countries of the world. Bower and Chorley, who once started in a Winchester pub, could only envy the scale and complexity of many of them.
In the fields, not just combinations of large and small circles appeared, sometimes whole pictures were drawn there, mathematical functions, fractals were visualized (for example, the Mandelbrot set).
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 much more complex drawings appeared, 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. Obviously, modern production of crop circles is not complete with two pairs of hands – large teams are working on them now, the actions of the participants of which are clearly coordinated.
They already have at their disposal not only a primitive rope and a board, but also modern means of determining the geo-position, as well as laser devices that allow them to correctly calculate the distances between the elements of the figure and create objects of the desired shape.
Back in 1998, a group of authors known under the pseudonym Circlemakers demonstrated to BBC reporters the ability to create in one night the most complex spiral of 100 circles of different sizes. Even more complex drawings are sometimes made in uncrowded places, but in a few days. Or, for their creation, a formal (or informal) permission from the home team is obtained.
Many creators of the most beautiful circles consider themselves to be real artists. Most of them even prefer to remain anonymous, as do some of their colleagues from the city streets, for example Banksy. This maintains 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,
Despite the fact that the human origin of the circles is quite obvious (how can conventional “aliens” know, for example, about the Templar cross, and why should they draw it?), There are still many people in the world who believe in outright fantasy.
A large number of relevant literature and specialized sites help maintain this belief. There is nothing strange about this. Firstly, rational thinking is generally not characteristic of many people, 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 possible that some circles and their combinations (at least in southern England, the place of their greatest concentration) are created on purpose, as a result of the collusion of farm owners and “expert cereologists”, for whom excursions to “places of power” became 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 this whole hoax, building another theory of the origin of such tempting objects, forget about the principle of “Occam’s razor”. More often than not, the correct explanation is indeed the simplest.