John Lundberg, Wil Russell, and Rod Dickinson interviewed in 1997, for the Croppies documentary. These sequences later appeared in their entirety in Matthew Williams’ Circlemakers documentary (from where they are taken here). It’s good to see people talk with intelligence and insight on circle making. Don’t watch Circlemaker TV; watch these instead.
1998 BBC documentary interviewing Doug Bower, featuring a potted history of the subject, and two commissioned circles, one made by Bower and the other by the circlemakers.org team. Also incudes interviews with Terence Meaden, Michael Glickman, Francine Blake, John Lundberg, Matthew Williams, Rod Dickinson, and others. See also this article on the circlemakers.org website for more information on their formation (image right).
Money, money, money. Regular readers of RACCF, CCPMT and their ilk will know the stance these pages take on this aspect of the crop circle subject, though it’s less a stance and more an obsession. To them, croppiedom is brimming with sinister shysters who are only in it for the dosh, who will lie and distort to fleece you of every penny. Steve Alexander, flying and photographing circles, producing photo-books and running conferences? He’s only doing it to make money. Monique Klinkenbergh and her Crop Circle Access scheme? Your Wallet Access scheme, more like. Charles Mallett and Silent Circle? He’s just after your hard-earned, too. Circlemakers.org? The greatest sinners of all; they make crop circles for profit!
Part of the problem here is that RAPMT (as I will now collectively call them) cannot comprehend that others view the subject differently to them, and find it difficult to understand why people would want anything to do with it if there wasn’t a profit motive. Therefore it can only be the case that these people are hiding the truth from you in order to rob you blind. This says a lot more about RAPMT than it does about those it criticises. Whether it was RAPMT’s intention to profit from the subject themselves at one point or another in the past is also worth bearing in mind, though not the subject of this article.
Let’s look at this calmly, taking each of the criticised individuals named above in turn.
Steve Alexander does what he does because he loves crop circles and wants to document them. He has a passion for the subject, and wants to share that passion with others. Why does he use helicopters and not drones or microlights? Because the quality of the images acquired is far superior to images obtained using the latter. He’s a very skilled photographer who knows what he’s doing. And with all respect to the drone flyers (or droners, as I sometimes like to call them), Steve’s photos are far better than yours. Do the yearbooks and conferences make money? Perhaps a little, once all the costs are taken into account, not to mention the expenditure of time, but I’d imagine any profit goes into funding helicopter hire, which is far from cheap.
Regular readers of my posts will know that Monique Klinkenbergh has been criticised in some quarters since the very inception of her Crop Circle Access Pass scheme, which has degenerated to the level of bullying and harassment on the part of CCPMT. So why does she do it? Monique’s intentions are right, in my opinion. The situation in Wiltshire was a dire mess, with angry farmers cutting circles as soon as they appeared or were reported. Monique was not the reason circles were being cut. I’ve also covered this before. But to RAPMT, it’s always somebody else’s fault. Blame Monique. Blame Steve Alexander. Blame Team K Hole. Blame Charles Mallett. No. Blame yourself. Take some responsibility for once.
I applaud Monique’s efforts at building bridges with farmers. The Access Scheme, however, is unworkable in practice and doomed to fail in my opinion. Is she doing it for the money? No, she’s doing it because the situation in Wiltshire is in dire straits and somebody needs to save it. Does she make any money? I’d expect that once you take out her time and expenses any profit is non-existent. In fact I’d be very surprised if the access scheme hasn’t cost her far more personally than she’s made or is likely to make.
Charles Mallett and Silent Circle? Money-making scam? In what universe has that ever been remotely true? With apologies to Mr Mallett, let’s look at the Silent Circle’s history. Those of us who’ve been on the scene a long time remember when the Silent Circle began as a cafe along the side of the A4. We remember its constant closing, reopening, relocating from venue to venue. How could it ever be a profitable venture? Its target clientèle are only around for a few months of the year, and there aren’t exactly a great deal of them. It always functioned more as an information service and ‘drop-in centre’ anyway. Does anybody honestly imagine selling cups of tea and slices of cake and the occasional book or postcard could be a profit-making business? Try taking that one on Dragon’s Den; you’d be laughed out of the building. And each year Silent Circle got smaller, from dedicated venue to pub room to Yatesbury Village Hall to Barge Inn portacabin to Yatesbury Airfield. It wouldn’t surprise me if this year Charles is running it out of a deckchair in his front garden. So why do it? Because Charles is fascinated with crop circles. An information centre showing locations and images of the season’s circles is something Wiltshire has had for two decades, and a good thing for visitors, not all of whom check the internet every five minutes for the latest circular arrivals. Silent Circle and Monique, along with the Henge Shop in Avebury, are the only people currently providing this. Note also that Charles is often very critical of UK crop circles, especially those in Wiltshire, dismissing them as man-made. He’d hardly say that if he was trying to make money from the gullible, would he?
Circlemakers.org? These guys have been making circles commercially since the 1990s. And what of it? Anybody could have done what they’ve done. Anybody can present themselves as a commercial circle maker for hire. If you have the skill. That’s the thing. These gentlemen have formidable circle making ability. It’s too easy to sit on the sidelines grumbling, rather like musicians whose band never got anywhere while a similarly styled outfit had great success. If you can do it, do it. If you can’t, shut up.
Having written all that, I can’t help but feel a resounding “so what?”
Two reasons – first off, if someone makes a profit from the subject, good luck to them. There are many others who have done so, past and present, who I notice are not the subject of RAPMT’s ire. Colin Andrews, for example, oft boasts of how many copies Circular Evidence sold, which no doubt netted him a decent sum. The Crop Circle Connector charge a fee to access their archives, sell DVDs, and are one of the most advert-heavy websites I’ve ever visited. That’s how things go. Some farmers have profited from circles on their land, too, and nobody has a quibble with that. I especially applaud those farmers who donate profits recieved from circles visitors to charitable causes.
Second reason – this is crop circles we’re talking about. A rather minor interest subject, with far fewer dedicated followers than most and certainly compared to 20 or 25 years ago. There simply isn’t a large enough audience there for somebody to make stacks of wonga.
“The circle makers aren’t making any money”, Matt Williams has previously carped (with the exception of the .org chaps, of course). Well why the hell should they? What they do is illegal. They choose to do it, for their own reasons, and once they leave the field at the end of a night’s work that circle doesn’t belong to them any more. It’s out in the world, for all to see and visit and do as they wish with and have their own opinions on. “It’s yours because it’s free”, the Diggers famously said. And that is how it should be with crop circles.
So there you go. Money doesn’t come in to it, except in the case of a handful of individuals who are obsessed with the subject. More to the point, are disgruntled that they never made any. Whether they lacked the ideas, or the nous, or the skills, it never happened. And that makes them bitter. They see profit everywhere. Especially where there isn’t any.
TV clip from 2002, in which the circlemakers.org team create a circle for the Richard & Judy show. See also this article from the circlemakers.org website, which provides further background.
Those chaps at circlemakers.org created a crop circle for the TV show QI, at Yatesbury, Wiltshire earlier this season. Watch the sequence below:
National Geographic documentary from 2004 featuring Andy Thomas, John Lundberg, John Wabe, Matthew Williams, Nancy Talbot, Paul Vigay, Reg Presley, Robin Allen, amongst others. Circlemakers.org make a square spiral formation for the cameras (see right).
Circlemakers John Lundberg and Rob Irving have recreated the famed August 12 1991 Mandelbrot circle from Ickleton, Cambridgeshire (aerial of original by David Parker). Croppies often ask circle makers to recreate specific formations, though when it happens they never seem to take much notice. You can read all about it on the BBC website here, or in the screen shots below. This article is also of note for including John Lundberg’s confession to involvement in the 1996 Oliver’s Castle video incident (a claim which is elaborated on in the book The Field Guide, pages 151-155). Hang on a minute, John, what happened to “We’ve never claimed a crop circle and we never will, because as soon as you do so you kill it”?
The two circles shown side by side for comparison (original at bottom).
The idea that ‘if there are people making crop circles all over the place, how comes they’re never spotted?’ is one that we still see repeated in books and websites over and over. And it simply isn’t true. With this in mind, we thought we’d compile a list to counter the myth.
There may well be others that we’ve missed out here and it does also have to be said that these reports vary in quality, with some of them being quite sketchy. If anybody has further information on any of these accounts, or any others that we’ve not listed, please let us know.
Firs Farm, Beckhampton, Wiltshire, June 1992
An unidentified team, spotted by John Macnish, and detailed (with photographs) on page 132 of his book Crop Circle Apocalypse. In his words:
‘It was about one in the morning and… I was driving along the A361… towards Beckhampton when on passing Firs Farm I decided to stop the car in a small lay-by just past the farm. For a few moments I scanned the fields across the road with the miniature night-sight, I thought I saw something that wasn’t there last time I looked. I got out of the car and started to walk along the chalky track which ran towards a group of tumuli on top of the hill… There were circles up there and I hadn’t seen them before…
‘I had to get this on video and I knew that the large image intensifier would show far more detail than the small portable sight.
‘Back at the car I wrestled in the dark with cables, batteries, tapes, and all the other kit I needed to record the evidence. It was some time before I stumbled back up the track and looked for a good vantage point to set up.
‘When everything was… working I switched on the small monitor and stared at the screen in disbelief, there were two huge circles and moving inside them were people!…
‘I had missed most of the construction process, all that I managed to record were two people apparently completing the two circles and walking off over the brow of the hill. I knew that this was enough, there was no way that people would be working in pitch blackness in the early hours of the morning in fresh crop circles unless they were making them.’
Silbury Hill, 6th July 2000
Perpetrators spotted arriving at the Silbury Hill car-park at 2.30am, and heading towards the opposite field with circlemaking equipment. This account is detailed on page 18 of SC # 92 (September / October 2000):
‘On the night this [formation] appeared, a lady whose camper van was parked below Silbury was woken around 2.30am by cars drawing up outside. Peering out behind her curtains, she watched some known alleged circlemakers arriving, implements in hand! This formation was there the next morning.’
The article unfortunately does not name the woman or list any sources. Another mention on page 4 of the same SC suggests that the circlemaker in question was Matthew Williams: ‘How many formations Williams and Co have or haven’t made isn’t known… see the Silbury and West Overton reports [August 25th 2000 – the formation for which Williams was prosecuted] this issue for a pointer.’
[Photo by Peter Sorensen]
Avebury, Wiltshire, 21st June 2002
Darren Francis writes: ‘I was in the area the night this appeared with my girlfriend Clai, to celebrate the Solstice; unsurprisingly, there were a lot of people about. At about 2AM we were close to the bottom of the field and I’d fallen asleep. Clai noticed torches in the field and at the top of the hill. As dawn came we could just make out the formation, went over as the sun came up, and were among the first in.’
[Photo by Lucy Pringle]
Cherhill, Wiltshire, 3rd August 2002
Makers caught by the farmer; formation unfinished.
There’s a slight degree of confusion about this case, involving two formations in the same wheat field directly below the Cherhill white horse; one a ‘flower’ design, the other a thick ring surrounding a small central circle. Some reports state that the ring appeared a few nights earlier, though the farmer himself, Mr M Ainslie, writes (on Paul Vigay’s Crop CircleResearch website): ‘Both formations appeared on the night of 2.7.02 [presumably he means 2.8.02] and are in similar place to the 1999 formation.’ And he should know, we guess. He also caught the culprits whilst in the process of making it/them, hence the ‘unfinished’ quality of the flower (some of the outer petals were flattened, some not) – presumably, if both appeared in one night, the same team were also responsible for the ring. Mr Ainslie also writes that despite rumours to the contrary, ‘as farmers of this land we have never given permission for a formation, but have on occasions been telephoned after a formation has appeared and given names of supposed perpetrators.’ As far as we know the identities of the circlemakers in this particular case are not known – apparently they fled the scene when the farmer arrived. Note also that, according to Jonah Ohayv, the team left a stomper behind.
[Photo by Derrick Hunt]
West Stowell, Wiltshire, 14th August 2002
An overlapping ring design, located close to the road in a wheat field below Golden Ball Hill, close to East Field. The makers were observed by a group of croppies on Woodborough Hill (apparently torches were seen in the field). The identities of circlemakers / oberservers are not known to us.
East Field, Wiltshire, 2nd August 2003
The creators of this formation were seen by several different groups of people, including researchers Andreas Mueller and Werner Anderhab, who observed the half-finished formation at 2.00am through night vision. A very thorough write-up of this case can be found in Allan Brown’s article The East Field/SouthField Duality. To save us having to repeat all the details here, we’d recommend you go there.
[Photo by Lucy Pringle]
Cherhill, Wiltshire, 4th August 2003
Cars were seen leaving the area after the formation was completed. Ron Russell later admitted that the formation was the work of his team, and that they had the permission of the farmer.
Golden Ball Hill, Wiltshire, 26th July 2004
Rod Bearcloud claims to have witnessed eight to ten people – presumably the makers – leaving this formation early in the morning of its discovery. In his words: ‘I was compelled to be at Golden Ball Hill at 4.30am on 26-7-04 for a night watch… As I was walking down the path, first I saw a gentleman out side leaning against his car as if waiting for something… A minute or so later I passed 8 to 10 people quickly walking up the path returning to their cars. I almost ran into them as they were wearing black, carrying things slung over their shoulders. Although silent they felt very intense and it put me off even going onto Golden Ball Hill. I returned to my car as the people in black loaded the cars with the things they were carrying and jumped in quickly leaving. There were 3 or 4 cars or so it seemed. Not really thinking much about them, I drove to the opposite corner of East Field and parked. I decided to walk down to a small plot of land where at this same time last year, 26 of July, 2003 I witnessed a UFO taking off… As I was returning from this spot it was getting light, I turned and looked back behind me when my eyes caught a geometric design on a field. Surprised, I took a course that led me to the field and as I entered the design I realised that it was from this direction that I saw the shady characters were returning to their cars. I realised at that moment that I was more than likely witnessing a hoax. Much to my dismay, I walked around the field carefully looking at its structure which seemed to me to be well done. There were a few things that led me to believe someone might have created it. I decided to take a path to see if I could find their path to the car park. Sure enough, I found a direct path with a lightly worn foot path leading into the direction of the field where a sign had been posted which said ‘private access’. When I walked up the path it lead me to the exact location of where I had seen them returning to their cars.’
This account has been questioned by some, who maintain that it does not prove that the people Bearcloud saw leaving the field made the circle. Another point made by John Lundberg, which we have to say we agree with, is that it seems odd that it would take eight to ten people to make what is a relatively simple formation, which requires little in the way of measuring and flattening and which – we believe – could easily be accomplished by two or three people. What were the others doing? Standing around watching? Or did they take turns to do bits?
For an alternative explanation of this formation’s origins, see Andrew Buckley’s report here, in which he claims to have witnessed it being created by an Apache helicopter. Inevitably, he didn’t think to film the incident using the ‘Panasonic video camera’ he makes a point of mentioning he had in his possession, even though by his estimation the incident lasted for several minutes.
[Photo by Lucy Pringle]
Tan Hill, nr Stanton St Bernard, 28th-31st July 2004
This relatively simple and – in our view – somewhat clunky-looking formation took a staggering four nights to complete. Contemporary records indicate that the creators were spotted at least once, though details are sketchy. Peter Sorensen writes that ‘on the second night they were spotted by researchers with night vision up above them on the hill’, and Freddy Silva writes that they were spotted twice, though does not give details.
[Photo by Peter Sorensen]
Silbury Hill, Wiltshire, 2nd & 3rd August 2004
It’s widely known that this formation took two nights to complete, appearing on the morning of 2nd August as an outline with flattened central circle and perimeter, with the much more accomplished and familiar design being executed the following night. Even at the time we remember reports that the makers had been rumbled mid-creation on the first night, and Andreas Mueller’s field report that first morning described ‘a rough executed, very heavily flattened and mechanical lay’ and the finding of ‘three white marking-plates numbered 2, 4 and 6… known to be used by several hoaxers’ and presumably left behind when they fled the scene. It isn’t clear, however, who spotted them exactly, or even if they were spotted – if they were, we’re curious as to how the spotters knew they were there since the formation was on top of a hill and not visible from nearby roads. The only vantage point we can think of in the area where it might be possible to spot somebody is the top of West Kennett Longbarrow (from where it might even be possible to hear a particularly noisy team) or Silbury Hill, but only if some sort of illumination was being used by the makers.
Freddy Silva, on his Crop Circular site, goes even further; he claims that ‘they were caught making it, by no fewer than three couples from two countries; two of these couples independently confirmed that an Italian TV crew even helped the hoaxers with the finishing touches!’ Again, no evidence, or identities, are given.
[Photo by Peter Sorensen]
East Field, Wiltshire, 18th July 2005
Another account from Bearcloud (see Golden Ball Hill, 26th July 2004, above).
In Bearcloud’s words:
‘As I was looking at the field I spotted a new formation. It was now 3:45am or so. It appeared to be fairly large. I got out of my car and looked again. I decided to go out into it. So with my glasses I figured out which tramline to go down. I lifted up my glasses again there where four people standing in the field. As I started towards the glyph they began to walk quickly out the backside towards Golden-ball Hill. It would be a long journey to go the length of the field as the glyph is only a short distance from the Alton Priors road. I realized I had been spotted so they needed to leave. It is my belief that a car parked near mine was a spotter to let them know that someone might be near by and was coming onto the field… There is a line out the top of the larger circle which left me with a feeling it was incomplete and I had fouled the conclusion with my presence.’
[Photo by Lucy Pringle]