One of the most puzzling contemporary scientific mysteries in Britain may have been solved Monday when two men asserted that they were responsible for the phenomena popularly known as “crop circles.”
The strange patterns, found in southern England’s grain fields, have been attributed to alien visitors, electromagnetic impulses and erratic weather conditions. The designs in wheat, corn and barley fields have been widely photographed, with the images published in newspapers and magazines without any definitive, expert explanation given as to their origin.
In recent weeks, scientists from Japan, as well as Sweden, have arrived in the English countryside to join concerned British defense experts and local specialists--all of whom set up a group to try to get to the bottom of the puzzle. Patrick Delgado, a retired radar expert who has written profitable books on the arcane subject, has insisted that the circles must have been created by some higher intelligence.
But on Monday, British painters Doug Bower and Dave Chorley, 62, claimed that for 13 years, they have been responsible for the circles that first appeared in southern England. Their hoax, they indicated, may have been improved on by other pranksters in other parts of the country--or overseas.
In the presence of reporters from the London newspaper, Today, they created circles in grain fields in the southeast county of Kent using only flat, four-foot planks, which they pulled around by hand with reins, thus toppling over grain stalks.
The newspaper then took Delgado to view the circles, and, according to the paper, he said of the designs: “No human being could have done this. These crops are laid down in these sensational patterns by an energy that remains unexplained and is of a high level of intelligence.”
The paper then introduced the men to author Delgado, who admitted: “We have been conned. This is a dirty trick. Thousands of lives are going to be wrecked over this.”
But later Delgado denied that the circles had been created as a hoax.
Delgado and his co-author, Colin Andrews, plan to hold a press conference today with others interested in the crop circles.
As for Bower and Chorley, they asserted that they went out into the fields at night, using tractor paths to disguise their own footsteps, and made the patterns. They created, they said, about 2,000 circles and allied patterns in Wiltshire, Hampshire and Kent counties. The patterns were undoubtedly copied by others elsewhere, they suggested.
The artists decided to reveal their prank, they said, because, as Bower, 67, pointed out: “We are not getting any younger.”
Besides, said Chorley, they were tired of others profiting from their long-running prank. It was not discovered for more than 13 years, he said, commenting on the researchers: “If they want to go on with the charade, that is up to them.”
Terry Meaden, formerly associate professor of physics at Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, said Monday that the claim by Bower and Chorley didn’t explain everything, the Associated Press reported.
Meaden, who heads the crop circle study group CERES (Circle Effect Research, with the “ES” added in honor of the Roman goddess of agriculture), claims to have proved that they are caused by eddies of wind running along hillsides.
“I have no doubt that Bower and Chorley are responsible for some hoaxes. . . . But we are quite certain that crop circles are a natural phenomenon and will carry on appearing whatever these two get up to,” Meaden said.
The sourest note came from farmer Peter Renwick, who had made his field available to Bower and Chorley, the AP reported.
“I said they could do a small demonstration and the next thing I know 16 million people turn up,” Renwick said. “All I want to do is to get my harvest in.”