The Bishops Cannings Basket

Posted by on January 23, 2014

The 1998 season was remarkable in many respects. Two formations, the Stingray [Fig 1] at Beckhampton on 21st July and the Queen at Lockeridge [Fig 2] on 8th August are of particular interest here. 1998 was a wonderful season that featured, among other things, the arrival of sevenfold geometry. Amid this excitement it might be said that the Stingray and the Queen, though certainly not unnoticed, did not receive the attention they deserved.

Fig.1 - The Stingray, Beckhampton, 21st July 1998

Fig.1 – The Stingray, Beckhampton, 21st July 1998

Fig.2 - The Queen, Lockeridge, 8th August 1998

Fig.2 – The Queen, Lockeridge, 8th August 1998

They were clearly designed by the same hand. They were siblings, stylistically unlike any we had seen before, or, in my view, since. The Stingray was distinguished by the enormous tail that earned its name. This was made of forty small circles between the body and the diamond-shaped sting at its end. The circles were about two feet in diameter and were entirely separate and unlinked by the familiar tracer path. The body was formed by the overlaying of five large circles of the same diameter. Three of these were laid crop and two were substantially standing. These superimposed discs generated the formation’s unusual silhouette.

There could be no doubt as to why the Stingray is called the Stingray but I have never understood how the Queen got its name. I does not appear Queen-like to me.

While the Stingray had five superimposed large circles the Queen had four and, like its sister, these discs defined the outer shape of the formation. Neither of them was contained in the habitual framing circle. Some of the Queen’s large circles were in a precise Vesica Pisces relationship but this was absent in the Stingray. Both formations had a subordinate pattern system of smaller circles.

Fig.3 - Zigzag lay in the Queen

Fig.3 – Zigzag lay in the Queen

There was another characteristic of these two remarkable formations that is of real significance here. The ground lay occasionally exhibited a strange decorative zigzag pattern [Fig 3]. A flow of wheat swept, say north to south would be overlaid by an east-west sweep which in turn, was covered by a north-south strip. This intriguing zigzag underlay and overlay pattern, which occurred in both the Stingray and the Queen, had never previously been so powerfully expressed.

I did not realise that this was a premonition of things to come.

We were simultaneously delighted and bewildered by the Basket [Fig 4] which appeared at Bishops Cannings on 6th August 1999.

Fig.4 - Basket, Bishops Cannings, 6th August 1999

Fig.4 – Basket, Bishops Cannings, 6th August 1999

Every crop circle is a unique event but the story, or rather, stories underlying the Bishops Cannings Basket are too interesting to be passed over lightly. The formation appeared on the land of the late Andrew Naughton who was a famously angry farmer. He was particularly infuriated with crop circles and had destroyed one on its arrival the previous year.

Andreas Muller and Werner Anderhub came to Wiltshire every summer to study the circles. They were well-respected researchers and their fieldwork was unimpeachable. They had the habit of rising in the early hours and driving by familiar locations at dawn in the hope of finding brand new formations. They often succeeded and on the 6th August 1999 at 6.15am they discovered the wonderful Basket. Even from a distance they could see that this was a significant event. Normally they would get the farmer’s permission before entering the field but on this occasion they held back. Understanding the importance of the formation, knowing of Farmer Naughton’s obliteration of the 1998 circle and fearing his wrath this year made them realise they had very little time.

They entered the field, took photographs and started making survey diagrams and taking dimensions. Their intuition was correct. Within minutes of their starting work they saw a machine enter the field and their photographs, drawings and measurements were completed under the blades of the combine. The farmer called the police who arrived in the field after the formation was destroyed.

Another fortuitous circumstance was that Ulrich Kox, a German researcher, was flying by to take photographs and was surprised to see this new formation below him. His is the only image we have of this historic event. Thus, a series of intuitions, accidents and synchronicities served, at the last minute, to record this outstanding crop circle.

Two or three days after it arrived, I took a large print of Ulrich’s photograph as a gift to farmer Andrew Naughton. It occurred to me that he might be, if not pleased, then at least interested. When I showed him the shot he covered his eyes and turned away.

We must be grateful to Ulrich Kox for his unique picture and to Andreas and Werner for their rapid and diligent work in the field. Without them there would be no record of this momentous event.


Fig.5. - Diagram of Basket

Fig.5. – Diagram of Basket

Bishops Cannings was clearly not a flower symbol [Fig 5] and the seven branches radiating from the centre were particularly unpetal-like. However, because they are so crucial to this form and because I cannot find a better descriptor they will be called petals.

Each of the seven petals contained four rings (B, C, D and E) and shared a single central ring A. Three of the rings, the central A, C and E fit into a precise 22° angle [Fig 6]. The Bs, significantly smaller, are grouped tightly into a necklace around A. (Is this a B hive?) Look back at photograph 4 and diagram 5 to see how brilliantly the ring of Bs visually centres the whole arrangement. We cannot know who might be the author of this work but the level of design skill and judgement is prodigious.

Look also at the way, in [Fig 6], ring D is marginally but noticeably too big and grows a little outside the 22° angle. This small adjustment makes the ring of 7 Ds fit so precisely into the heptagon of [Fig 7]. We must recall here that the formation displays sevenfold radial geometry; [Fig 7] shows sevenfold concentric geometry. They do not automatically coexist.

Fig.6 - Diagram of single “petal”

Fig.6 – Diagram of single “petal”

Fig.7 - Heptagon within Basket

Fig.7 – Heptagon within Basket

Since the early ‘90s I have been noting the numbers that the circles favoured each season. Often this has proved to be a fruitless activity but equally often the numbers offer clues. In 2000 I noticed how regularly 29 had appeared. There was no obvious meaning or symbolism but 29 was reiterated in various guises. The Basket has 29 rings.

The Avebury Trusloe formation of 22nd July 2000 was the key. It had two sectors or lobes, each of which displayed – again – 29 points. Suddenly I noticed, or rather re-noticed the date of this formation. 22nd July is, of course, 22nd of 7 or 22/7 or 22 divided by 7. This is a simple formula for Pi the constant used in the calculation of all things circular.

Clearly it is difficult to indicate “divided by” in the crop. They hoped that, by the reiteration of 29, a hitherto mysterious number, we would eventually realise that they were signalling 22 and 7, a familiar conjunction. I published this work in a DVD, The Pi Hypothesis, in 2001.

Only now, at the end of 2013, did I discover that the Bishops Cannings petal angle was precisely 22°.

The 29/Pi connection continues and my previous piece, Why-Pi? on June 28th 2012 deals with this. My interest in Pi – and the related Squaring the Circle – bore the ultimate fruit (and confirmation) with the Barbury Castle Pi spiral of 2008.


Fig.8 - Longwood Warren, 26th June 1995

Fig.8 – Longwood Warren, 26th June 1995

The Bishops Cannings formation included two features, the standing rings and the basket weave that need to be explored in some detail. The first example of the standing ring was, I believe, at Longwood Warren 26th June 1995 [Fig 8]. Of course, we had seen for years the so-called “bead curtain”, the amazing line of single standing stems which started with the 1991 Ickleton Mandelbrot as early as 1991.

Longwood Warren, however, presented a radical departure in that this was a standing wall of about 15” thick. In general the crop circles have produced their forms, patterns and shapes with laid crop. That is, their drawing tool, their stylus, is generally the flattening of wheat. Longwood Warren establishes a dramatic new protocol. Here, the form and pattern is made with a drawing tool that leaves the crop upright. White becomes black and black becomes white, standing becomes laid and laid becomes standing.

The real beauty of the standing ring is the consistency of its wall thickness. The inner and outer surfaces maintain their distance apart with impeccable accuracy. We all have amazing visual discernment for parallel lines and surfaces. Even the most untrained of human eyes will soon spot a thinning or a thickening. Bishops Cannings was perfect.

Fig.9 - Diagram showing Longwood Warren internal corners

Fig.9 – Diagram showing Longwood Warren internal corners

The other regular giveaway is the internal corner [Fig 9]. The crop circles always deliver clean and sharp internal corners. There were twelve at Bishops Cannings and they were all flawless. These are very difficult to make. The usual suspects were commissioned to replicate Longwood Warren for the film A Place to Stay (Do not bother. It was particularly bad!). Though they were working in daylight, with permission and without time limit they failed these two crucial tests dismally. The line of the wall and the consistency of its thickness were both flawed and the internal corners were rough.

Returning to the Bishops Cannings rings, all seven of the outer ring E had an elaborate
swirled chrysanthemum-like flower at its centre and the central circle A was decorated with seven standing stalks. Yes, 7! [Fig 10].
Fig.10 - Central tuft of seven, Bishops Cannings.

Fig.10 – Central tuft of seven, Bishops Cannings.

The pattern and structure of the ring-petals is beautifully handled and this alone makes this formation a landmark. However, the addition of the dazzling woven ground-lay brings it into the historic first echelon of crop circle brilliance.

Earlier I referred to the underlay/overlay zigzag of the 1998 Queen and the idea that this was in some way premonitory, a tiny suggestion of something to follow. With the benefit of hindsight, that most reliable of sciences, we can see how the Queen offered a hint of the amazing innovation that would be revealed at Bishops Cannings.

Fig.11 - Ground shot of weave, Bishops Cannings

Fig.11 – Ground shot of weave, Bishops Cannings

The basket weave at Bishops Cannings was far beyond anything we had seen before and nothing since has even approached it. Look carefully at Photo 4 and notice how precisely the seven identical woven panels sit between the petals. [Fig 12] is a closer view of one of the panels and [Fig 13] is part of Andreas Mueller’s meticulous survey diagram showing the construction and direction of flow of the crop.

Fig.12 - Close up of weave, Bishops Cannings

Fig.12 – Close up of weave, Bishops Cannings

[Fig 11] is a ground shot of the woven wheat. It is striking for its scale and boldness. If we compare this image with the aerial photo it becomes clear that the authors had a comprehensive vision of light, shade and perspective. It is clear also that Bishops Cannings was made for aerial photography. The weave was too large and bulky to be fully understood and appreciated from the ground. How did they know it was to be cut out so quickly?

Since its arrival this has been, for me, a crucially important formation. Returning to study it after fourteen years has been a very rewarding experience and I am grateful for that.
Fig.13 - Diagram of lay, Bishops Cannings

Fig.13 – Diagram of lay, Bishops Cannings

Tony Robinson, an actor who portrayed the wretched buffoon Baldrick in the popular TV programme Blackadder is now the host of a new series called ‘Walking Through History’. In the first episode he strolls around our territory, visiting Silbury Hill, Avebury, Windmill Hill and the Longbarrow.

Inevitably, having raised the vexed question of crop circles he ends up at The Barge (of all places) to interview a well-known hoax claimant (who we will call HC). He asks HC who makes the circles and HC replies “We do.” The Ulrich Kox image of the Bishops Cannings Basket then fills the screen while HC confidently tells Robinson that he made this one. The arrogance and shamelessness of this flagrant lie is breathtaking. Robinson simply and smilingly accepts this assertion without question. The feeble Rent-a-Crowd crew at the bar murmur approvingly.

Now we know the position of HC and his gang. It has been pushed unrelentingly into our faces for years. But Channel 4? The most junior of their researchers would have taken no more than five minutes to let the gullible Robinson know what he was getting into. Why the Barge? Why this particular hoax claimant? Where is the much vaunted media “balance”? Does neither the station nor its sappy presenter take any responsibility for the veracity of the material they dump on the population?

Shame on them.

The Bishops Cannings Basket is very dear to me. I know that in 2002 HC claimed it as his own but I ignored this as just another surreal fabrication. However when it was broadcast, unchecked and unchallenged I knew he had gone too far. I remember Mary Bennett’s excellent (and scathing) review of his talk. I would suggest you read it here at

Well? What is your conclusion?

If you have read my piece and Mary Bennett’s piece you will understand that HC lies a lot. Deception is, after all, at the very heart of the crop circle hoax narrative.

I have felt, for nearly a quarter century, that the hoax story was itself a monumental deceit. The man-made crew are very clever; they play both ends against the middle. They switch stories with ease. On the one hand they play coy, saying “Oh, we don’t talk about that”, implying their membership of an exclusive and secretive guild. On the other hand they will, when it suits them, loudly claim authorship of any event; always after its arrival and never with real evidence.

It is always a massive deception, a falsehood, a blatant lie. We have witnessed their efforts in the fields; they can never produce anything better than a poor replica. Yet each beautiful, gigantic and gracious event will sooner or later be claimed by one or other of the fraudster crew.

And we ourselves are at fault. For many years we have happily accepted their deceits. We have believed, with no evidence other than their hollow claims, in the existence of an anonymous, powerful, skilled hoaxing conspiracy. Many senior and long-term researchers really believe there is significant hoax activity. What nonsense! Shame on us all!

What distinguishes this beautiful phenomenon is its exquisite design, its endless capacity for innovation and renewal, its multilayered revelations, its skill in design, geometry and number.

HC never refers to any of these. He implies that the impeccable weave of the Basket was simply a random fortuitous accident. He is a fraud and a liar.

The fundamental question, the elephant in our living room, the matter that nobody dares mention is: Who designed it?

Who designed it? This should be repeated regularly through the season. This is, after all, the fundamental mystery of the phenomenon itself. How can we have permitted these louts to usurp it?

Since the shame of Doug and Dave in 1991 we have allowed the man-made fundamentalists, with their strident internet, facebook and YouTube outlets to pollute these magical events. After more than twenty bitter years I believe I now understand the two essential roles the zealot hoax-boosters have to play.

First, like the pole of a magnet they draw all the fearful, the paranoid and the doubters, like random iron filings into a corner where they will cause less disturbance. Second, above all they are here to help us evolve to exercise discernment.

Who designed it? They certainly did not.

Acknowledgements and thanks
Photography: Steve Alexander, Werner Anderhub, Michael Glickman, Ulrich Kox, Andreas Mueller.
Diagrams and graphics: Michael Glickman, Ofmil Haynes Jr, Andreas Mueller.
Conversation and advice: Karen Alexander, Mary Bennett, Gary King, Albert Lamb, Andreas Mueller, Daniel Rozman


  1. The basket weave I too remember as one of the most extraordinary circle designs. Who made it and the other circles? I believe the Earth’s magnetic field creates them. A message for mortal man as a sign of greater things to come. The precise geometric nature and the awesome beauty etched on Earth’s coarse canvas are testament to the power and wonder only she can manifest.
    Your analysis is brilliant. I thoroughly enjoy reading every word.

  2. Thank you Michael for this wonderful and articulate article and all the work you have done and shared on the crop circles. I agree that they are the most beautiful and amazing phenomenon happening on this planet. Looking forward to seeing you again this Summer.

  3. Plasma vortex, meteoric microscopic iron spheres gathered from the atmosphere, manipulated with magnetic fields – the author is the god Jehovah, the Earth’s central sun.

    The 2013 crop formations are sequential.
    2/6/13 East field a telescope on gimbals (look into space – the east)
    21/6/13 Stanton St. Bernard, 25/6/13 Yatesbury, behold the Death Star.
    25/6/13 Silbury Hill, Egg timer (it will ‘Arrive’ soon).
    6/7/13 The Ridgeway, 9 orbits (within the solar system).
    7/713 Silbury Hill, Complex – associated with the moon, interplanetary shockwaves, aurora?

    From there it get harder but 23/8/13 Cooks Plantation, a schematic of the Death Star.
    Jehovah is clearly worried and indicates that something is approaching the earth?
    Perhaps you could turn your attention to these crop formations?

  4. I would like to thank you very much for your work. I have been looking for answers related to my own “experiences” and crop circles have been a part of my quest.
    “I have a story to tell unlike anything ever heard before”!
    That being said, you have discovered more than you realize! As much as I want to share it is something you need to see for yourself, and you will… Peace Sue T

  5. P.S.
    … After my reply regarding the basket I visited your home page. I would like to add that “I’m not a fool or a liar”… I do know! Again, you have to see for yourself.
    What I will say is… “Be excited”!
    Borrowing from Arthur C. Clarke, we are on the verge of “Something Wonderful”! 🙂 Susan

  6. Interesting & enjoyable article Michael – thank you. I have been interested in crop circles since the late 80’s. I applaud your comments re the hoax element – undoubtedly people are attempting to create events for their own gratification but to claim authentic events as your own work and then have the media represent & reinforce this for you on national TV is to completely undermine the real mystery that pervades this phenomena. I am certain that within that mystery there is a key to our evolution on this planet and that the ‘circles’ are an open invitation for us to look deeper into the rabbit hole than we have previously been inclined -the results for those who are open to the message are life changing – the importance of the circles is immeasurable. Thank you and keep up the good work – with love and thanks

  7. The fact that this incredibly intricate Crop Circle was placed in the field of a Farmer known for his dislike of Crop Circles, would have been a massive risk for any individual or individuals to spend so much time and effort to risk all there work being destroyed at Sun up and never actually being seen by anyone, that fact alone points towards a different Artist altogether.

  8. In the Barbury Castle Crop Circle of Pi, This is what was found by Astrophysicist Michael Reed, that Pi, 9 digits after the decimal, has been rounded to present the number 4, of which is presented like this (π=3.141592654…).
    This presentation is telling us that the Circle has to be squared somehow in solving this Crop Circle.
    Okay, problem solved. 360° * 360° = 129600°. Wrong!!
    This is how! 3*.1*4*1*5*9*2*6*5*4 = 129600.

  9. did you calculate the angle of the spaces between the 22° are 29.4285714…° it was funny I calculated before I read your PI hypothesis and immediately realized that 29 appeared again when you turn black and white as you describe below 😉

    I suspect that the circles D have an 29° angle in between the circles, which makes the circles itself have an angle of 22.4285714…°. subtracting these tho again gives 7 (29.4285714…°-22.4285714…°=7)

  10. Spot on with this write-up, I honestly think this site needs a lot more attention. I’ll probably be back again to read more,
    thanks for the advice!

  11. I believe this set of a 7 number series and the basket may have something to do with the fabric of the universe (see Brian Greene, the string theorist). I’d like to talk to someone about thinking this through in that regard.

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