The First Five Crop Circles of 2017
The First Five Crop Circles of 2017
I had been working for some weeks on The Fractal Field, an article dealing with the many fractal forms that have appeared in the fields since 1991. Then suddenly the season started! I might well be mistaken but I cannot recall a season that started so early and with such consistent quality in the first formations. I decided to shelve The Fractal Field (perhaps it will be revived) and to discuss these first manifestations.
CHERHILL 16th April 2017
The charmed field below the Cherhill white horse is a lovely arena-like location that has been the setting of many historic crop circles. Like many crop circle venues it has an almost theatrical topography offering clear views from the A4 roadside.
The formation (1 + 2) is immediately reminiscent of the “pendulums” of the early 90s (3) and it is illuminating to spend a little time with the comparison. Cherhill shows how, over the last quarter century, the circles have become more elegant and assured. The device of parallel thin laid-and-standing lines to form the corridor is both innovative and very attractive.
It is curious that John Martineau’s early and crucial work on the geometry of the circles involved a similar pendulum at East Kennett. I tried, following this example to unearth a tangible geometric or proportional relationship between the two circles but failed dismally!
However, having lived for some months with the silhouette of the Mere formation of 6th June 2016 (4) on my wall I want to point out the stylistic similarity of Mere 2016 and Cherhill 2017. They seem to me to be design products of the same hand (or what passes for their hand!)
TARLTON DOWN 18th April 2017
Tarlton Down (5) seemed, at first glance, to be a random, formless scattering of three circles, the largest of which contained a crescent. I confess, to my shame, that this is the kind of crop circle (without any immediate sense of geometric order) that I have often tended to ignore.
It arrived just two miles from the home of my friends, Albert and Popsy Lamb. They visited it and were very pleased with experience.
THE TARGETED CROP CIRCLE
And then I realised. This was a targeted formation. It was aimed at, and received and enjoyed by, the Lambs. To bring new readers up to speed, I believe the crop circle phenomenon is interactive to an astonishing level. I believe it knows more about us than we could start to imagine. I know of several cases where circles have landed very close to the homes of particular crop circle people.
With this realisation in mind, and much chastened, I returned to Tarlton and gave it the attention it deserved (6). The first discovery was that, if you draw the central symmetrical axis (red line) through the largest of the three circles, A, and its moon, it will perfectly connect with, and bisect, the smallest circle, C. Second, if a line (blue) is drawn parallel to the red axis and tangenting A, it goes on to exactly tangent, and position, the middle circle, B. If a duplicate of A (pink) is placed on the red axis to touch B it will define the centre of C. The vertical centre line (blue) of the duplicate pink circle will also position B.
Notice that a small and perfect square has been formed. It contains a quarter of the pink duplicate circle. One corner of the square neatly holds circle B while the opposite corner on the 45° diagonal marks the centre of C.
What I originally dismissed as chaotic reveals itself to be based on careful and exquisite geometrical constraint. This raises a deeper and older point. I have realised that the authors of this phenomenon are evolved beyond our current comprehension and they are simply aeons beyond ugliness. They aspire to order and beauty.
It would be impossible for them to carelessly throw down an ill-considered form.
WADEN HILL 22nd April 2017
Waden Hill, close to the Avebury stone circle has often received particularly intriguing formations and, true to form, this year’s crop circle (7) leaves us with more questions than answers. It will be referred to a Waden Hill B. It is another addition to a small but persistent group featuring fine, closely packed crescents. They are sometimes called (irreverently but affectionately) “6 bananas”.
The first of this type appeared at Barbury Castle (8) on 19th April 1997. Diagram (9) shows how the geometry of a pentagram sizes and positions the central feature.
The next 6 Bananas (10) arrived at Cherhill on the 18th July 1999. The photograph shows a different and more elaborate formation than the others. It was had a necklace of nine large triangles but it still retained the six central crescents.
But Waden Hill A of 19th April 2008 (11) and Waden Hill B of 22nd April 2017 (7) formed a remarkable trio with their almost identical Barbury Castle sibling (8). Their physical similarity is obvious but compare their dates –19th, 20th and 22nd April. The first and the third are three days off twenty years. What might this mean?
Barbury Castle’s crescents (8) are more openly arranged than the others but there the difference ends apart, that is, from their central feature. Barbury (8) had a central ring or doughnut, Waden A (11) features a simple circle but Waden B (7) shows a cube surrounded by the six crescents. This cube is of great interest as it has been a recurring element since the seminal Allington Cube of 1999. A simple hexagon defines the outline of the form but the addition of a three-armed figure, a “Y”, instantly transforms it into a three dimensional solid.
OLIVER’ S CASTLE 24th April 2017
This enormous ring formation (12) was spread across five tramlines. Dictated by the arm size of the machinery, agricultural tramlines are 24 metres (80 feet), 30 metres (100 feet) or 36 metres (120 feet) apart. Not knowing which they use at Oliver’s Castle I have gone for the middle one!
This would give this gigantic crop circle a diameter of five hundred feet and a perimeter of one thousand five hundred and some feet. This enormous path was swept clockwise, presumably as a single action. There are twenty-seven circular elements set just inside the huge ring. Each of these elements has a standing central circle of about fifteen feet in diameter surrounded by a path of about ten feet wide. The width of the big ring is similar and my first thought was that the twenty-seven small features were made with the main path as a single sweeping action. In fact they seem to have been made and placed individually after the big ring was completed. The angle between them was 13.333…°.
The only rationale for twenty-seven that I can come up with is that it is twenty-seven years (33 – three cubed!) since the historic East Field pictogram in 1990. This formation poses again the perennial and unanswerable question. How can a huge circle be made without any sign of activity at its centre?
Photograph (13) might be of interest here. This lovely small formation in barley was discovered at Avebury Trusloe on 2nd June 2002. Like Oliver’s Castle there were comparable devices adjoining the main circle. In this case there were thirty-nine of them and they were outside rather than inside the ring. Their intervening angle was 9.23°. This formation with its pretty central “twisted ribbon” theme was seen by some as a precursor to the magnificent Stonehenge ribbons later in the season.
WILLOUGHBY HEDGE 4th May 2017
The Willoughby Hedge formation (14) is perhaps the most enigmatic of this group of five. Geometrically it is an advanced and sophisticated exercise in rotational symmetry. There are two identical arcs on opposite sides of an implied but unmanifest circle. These arcs are linked by a straight diameter line that holds the central circle and two small outriders.
The two curves of seven circles are reminiscent of the “Thought Bubble”formations. There were four sets of thought bubbles that appeared only during the 1994 season. Like the twins here they were formed of sequences of carefully enlarging circles but they were positioned only on slopes. The circle size increased as the formation rose up the hillsides and consistently the highest circle was the largest. This was an early indication of the phenomenon’s detailed awareness of our earthly topography.
I was intrigued by the simplicity and poise of this pretty and contained littleformation. And then I recalled a very similar event. The Stoney Middleton formation (15) of 6th July 2010 was unusually in a field of beans and seemed to relate to a neighbouring ancient longbarrow which can be seen in the picture.
In the case of Willoughby the straight diameter line connects with the smallest circles (after which they grow) but at Stoney, the more elaborate central spine connects with the largest circles (after which they shrink). However, it is clear that both of these crop circles are
based on the same structural diagram (16). I do not remember this particular form before but I sense that it might be repeated. It has a curiously simple nature: a line and two symmetrically balanced and rotating arcs and this is only in its reduced and skeletal state. It has become for me a strangely powerful sign.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The five crop circles discussed here demonstrate a true step-change. I have never known a season to start so vigorously and, dare I hope, auspiciously. This group of five formations were delivered closely clustered in time, 16th April – 4th May but, as I have tried to demonstrate, each one is particular and remarkable. The quality and variety of this start to the season is an optimistic prediction.
Photography: Steve Alexander, Hu Newman
Diagrams: Michael Glickman, Ofmil Haynes Jr
Web Design: Anthony de Souza
General Counsel: Karen Alexander, Gary King, Albert Lamb,