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Mysterious Circles
Fact or Fiction?

What Are Crop Circles?

Crop Circles are unexplained designs that are imprinted over the span of usually one night in fields of mostly wheat & corn, but have also occured in barley, oats, rape (canola), grass, trees, and even snow. In other words, any organic material in which a distinguishable impression can be made. They occur in crops during the spring & summer seasons throughout various regions of the world, such as in the U.S., Canada, throughout Europe, South America, Asia and Australia. In fact, the only two countries where crop circle have never been reported are China and South Africa. For the thousands reported every year, the vast majority go completely undetected. Most of the complex formations occur in the United Kingdom and they are also more likely to be detected because of the country's smaller land mass , therefore a large majority of researchers head to England every summer to conduct their independent research. But worldwide there are individuals in various countries, including the United States, that are recording the appearances of crop formations in their respective country in an attempt to learn more about their mysterious nature.

The earliest known formation was in 1647 in England, from which a carving of the current day theory on how it was created can be seen. Yet, they began to appear in significant numbers in the early 70's as individual circles that swired either clockwise, or counter-clockwise. A major transformation occured in 1990 when the circles became complex pictograms composed of straight lines, angles and spiral rings.

There are many various theories of how these images are formed, but the mystery is far from being solved. Many people attribute them offhandedly to hoaxers without being aware of the complexities that are characteristic of genuine formations. And those who associate them with UFOs often believe that their reality is as debatable as those little green men, but as you will see ... they are very real. The best way to verify this is to physically stand in a crop circle yourself.

Science Fact

The Truth About Crop Circles

Crop circles - mysterious huge circular patterns - first started appearing in wheat fields in southern England in the 1960s. Since then, crop circles have appeared all round the world, including Brazil, France, Japan, Russia, Switzerland and the USA.

Simple at first, the crop circle patterns have become more and more complicated as time went on.

All kinds of people have investigated crop circles, from journalists to serious scientists to ufologists to out-and-out cranks.

All kinds of explanations for crop circles have been put forward:
- a hitherto unknown force of nature
- a message from outer space
- a landing ground for ufos
- a fungal growth

On the morning of Sunday 3rd January 1999, the British BBC Television's "Country File" was devoted to a remarkable program. In it, Douglas Bower, from Southampton, England, confessed that he and some friends had started the crop circle phenomenon as an elaborate hoax.

On the program, Bower demonstrated how he and friends used a simple wooden plank and some rope to create a complicated crop circle pattern in a farmer's field.(Douglas Bower and David Chorley had first admitted to producing the hoax crop circles as early as 1991).

However, in spite of the exposure of the hoax - and the evidence of how it is done - some crop circle enthusiasts have been unwilling to accept the evidence, and they are still convinced that the crop circles are produced by aliens. They've reacted angrily to Douglas Bower's expose.

Circlemaking With The BBC

The circlemakers realised one of their collective ambitions recently when they collaborated with Doug Bower. A BBC camera crew were there to capture the action for an upcoming documentary.

On the night of July 25th John Lundberg, Rod Dickinson and Wil Russell along with Doug Bower made 2 demonstration formations and gave interviews for a documentary being made by BBC TV's "Country File". The formations were featured in a light hearted half hour special about crop circles that focuses on Doug and his circlemaking activities. The documentary aired across the UK in early January 1999.

After completing our formation we teamed up with Doug to finish off his 150ft circle which had a quartered lay just like two formations from the early 90's dubbed the 'swastikas'.

The formations were subsequently filmed from a 120ft crane the following afternoon and once filming was complete researchers and interested parties were invited to view the formations.

THE TWO middle-aged likely lads used to meet every Friday at the Percy Hobbs pub near Winchester to sit in their usual corner, sipping ale and showing each other their latest watercolours.

But, on a lovely summer day 20 years ago, they changed the routine. Clutching their cheese rolls and pints of ale, they strode out to look at the surrounding cornfields. And that was when Doug Bower and Dave Chorley became two of the most successful con artists the world has ever seen. Doug looked at the rolling fields of corn and recalled a story he had read when he and his wife Ilene had emigrated to Australia in 1958, staying for eight years. Mysterious circles had appeared like alien graffiti in a field of corn in Queensland, and it had started speculation of spacecraft landings and UFOs.

'How would you like a bit of a laugh,' he asked Dave. They went to Doug's picture-framing shop in Southampton, picked up the iron bar he used to secure the door and returned in the night to the cornfields. While Dave stood on one end of the 5Ft bar, Doug pulled it around in a circle, bending the corn carefully as he went.

For two years the growing number of circles - usually 80ft across - appearing in these flat fields excited little comment. Dave wanted to quit but Doug promised him that, one day, there would be traffic jams and hundreds of people lined up to see their crop circles while policemen tried to hold them back.

He was right. Today, there are still credulous people who believe that Martians have Landed, leaving behind the evidence of their arrival engraved in the corn. Some 40 books have been written about the phenomenon, notably Patrick Delgado's bestseller 'Circular Evidence'. Farmers have made small fortunes charging enthusiasts from all over the world entry fees to see the latest manifestation that time-travellers have left their calling-cards.

Explanations of the increasingly elaborate geometric patterns have ranged from spiralling wind vortices to rutting hedgehogs dementedly running round in circles. For 13 years, Doug and Dave laughed as the experts stepped deeper and deeper into the mire 'explaining' the beautiful patterns to an ever-growing army of pilgrims. For the first seven years Doug and Dave didn't even tell their wives that they were responsible for a craze that had gripped the nation.

Dave died two years ago and Doug, now 74, stands alone, looking out over the Devil's Punchbowl at Cheesefoot Head, a 200ft green hollow in an area of out-standing natural beauty near Winchester in Hampshire.

After two years of obscurity this was the turning point for us .' he says, a fond light in his eyes, his calm centre quickening with excitement. 'I realised that for people to really take note of our circles we needed a site with a viewpoint, so people could sit having picnics and look down in wonder on our work. One day I was driving past with Ilene and I noticed that corn was being planted here for the first time. Dave and I couldn't walt for the crop to grow. One summer night we came here and made a crop circle.

'Twenty-four hours later it was on the television news.' Along came the 'experts'. It became an obsession for them, for the public and for the two likely lads. 'Eventually,' says Doug, 'we we found ourselves shoulder-to-shoulder with the experts as thousands of people lay down in the circles to absorb the "cosmic energy". 'I've been making nature recordings at night for 25 years, so offered to keep my eyes open for more circles. We'd make a circle at night, then ring up the experts the next morning to say I'd spotted another one. We did 200, mostly around Warminster in Wiltshire because it is a well known centre for UFO sightings.'

When an Oxford meteorologist came up with a theory that downward-spiralling winds were creating a vortex that flattened crops with its circular movement they were pushed into more elaborate designs, with dead straight passages linking circles and decorative 'ladders' that, coincidentally, resembled designs made by the Hopi indians of North America.

Doug used to sketch them out in his studio workshop, then they would take their plank and rope to a cornfield. Doug would walk around with the rope in ever increasing circles and make a passageway leading to another identical circle. To keep the passage line straight, Dong used a baseball cap with a hole in the visor. A wire, twisted so that it formed a circle, dangled over his left eye. He would look through this 'sight' to help him move in a straight line to where the pair would repeat the first circle.

Unlike the copy-cat pranksters who would use stilts to avoid leaving tell-tale access tracks, they simply moved in a high-stepping, loping course that left no trace. Any Martian watching them at work would have been sorely bemused. For Doug and Dave, they were magical nights. 'It was just pure enjoyment,' he recalls, 'on those beautiful summer nights for two artistic people under the stars amid all those cornfields. We were both 19th Century people really. We were in another world. 'I don't consider being on a planet for 60 years is much use if you don't leave your mark. We didn't want to make publicity. We just wanted to make fools of the experts who were springing up everywhere. 'My wife said Dave and I were like chalk and cheese, but we were a team in tune with nature.'

But while they fooled the experts, they were keeping secrets much closer to home. For seven years Ilene was kept in the dark,' says Doug, and his gentle, humorous face saddens because they've been married for 50 years and he loves her dearly.'I was such a perfectionist you see, and keeping the secret was all a part of that.' Doug and Ilene had met at a village wedding party in 1948 and he had wooed her with bunches of sweet peas he had grown himself and of his lovely watercolour paintings.

At first Ilene had been surprised, and then delighted to find the rich sense of humour behind Doug's serious face. But over the years of their happy but childless marriage, she had grown used to the twinkle in his eye and accepted those 'boys-night-out Fridays'.

She never for a moment thought he could be seeing another woman, but she was his bookkeeper and became increasingly puzzled by the frequency with which his car needed servicing. When she realised there was 26,000 miles a year on the clock at a time when their Saturday picnic excursions were getting shorter and shorter, she asked for an explanation.

It was then he confessed that he was the strictly earthbound creator of the now famous crop circles. She was unconvinced. It just didn't seem possible. He dumped an enormous pile of crop circle cuttings in front of her together with his original designs. When that didn't work he persuaded her to design a crop circle and took her with him while he created it in a cornfield. It became their shared secret for another six years until Doug and Dave attempted to confess to the world in 1991 through a newspaper series.

By then he had even created a crop circle next to the home of former Chancellor of the Exchequer Denis Healey. The great man photographed it and the picture was used in the Daily Mail under the headline 'Healey's Comet'.

The day before his confession, Doug had the good grace to go round to Patrick Delgado's to warn him. It was the worst day of Delgado's life, but he accepted defeat well. Enough was enough, and it was time to come clean. What Doug didn't reckon on was the dogged persistence of the crop-circle fanatics. When he confessed some branded him a liar and went on looking for UFOs as imitators continued to create crop circles at the rate of 50 every summer.

When Dave was in hospital dying of cancer, Doug promised him that he would never stop trying to convince the world that they had been responsible for the world-famous hoax.

Last Sunday, true to his word, he appeared on a BBC1 TV Country File Special on Crop Circles, telling the world once again that the only aliens, as the corn grew high as an elephant's eye, were Doug and Dave.

Yet there is a curious twist to this engaging tale. Doug Bower, the man who debunked the UFO hunters and made monkeys out of the self-appointed experts, believes we have been visited by aliens. "I think I was programmed to do all this," he says. Some force made me sitb down and plan these designs. When I went to my village school as a boy in Upham, ten miles from Southhampton, there was a local man who'd go to the pub every night and on his way home he'd take off every garden gate and leave it further up the lane. He was a practical joker and it rubbed off on me. He was my hero. The circles were my chance to emulate him.

But if you ask me do I believe in UFOs, I'd have to say yes. I've seen one. I was out in the forest when I saw five lights stationary in the sky and bright as car headlamps.

'It's obvious that in all those millions of planets we saw out there in the night sky there must be people out there. 'I think a planet died millions of years ago and we had a visit from its former inhabitants. There must be space craft buried in the sand somewhere.'

It is impossible to decide if he is joking. 'Other people made money out of the corn circles,' he smiles. 'The experts, the farmers who charged entry, but all Dave and I got was a really big laugh. 'But its been a wonderful experience and I wouldn't have missed it for the world.' This world and all those out there presumably.

From the Daily Mail, Friday January 8, 1999

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