A change to the two-ringed ‘pokeball‘ circle at Silbury Hill was reported on 4 June by researcher Eva-Marie Brekkesto. The outer ring has grown petals on its outside, whilst a spritely five-pointed star has appeared on the inside. Being in the area the following day, The Croppie consumed a strong antihistamine and consigned himself to days of sneezing and conjunctivitis to make a brief visit and take some ground shots.
Ten years I would have parked up in the Silbury Hill viewing area car park and swiftly encountered other crop circle enthusiasts. Today, though, I’m the only person there who seems to know there’s a circle atop the field over the A4. I don’t know if this is because it’s early into the circles season, or if it’s indicative of a wider malaise in the crop circles world. Certainly, the subject has taken a battering in the last few years both online and in the press. More importantly, at least from my perspective, previously circles tolerant farmers have been cutting out circles in the Vale of Pewsey and Avebury areas, or at least denying entry to the public. Getting chances to visit circles is becoming harder than ever.
The ‘circles experience’ now seems to be based largely upon the observation of formations from afar—whether it be through photographs, or, less commonly, vantage points close to a circle.
Inside a crop circle one can appreciate the physical features bestowed upon it by its creator: the lay, thin layers of standing crop, swirls, whorls, knots and twists. If you are unfamiliar with its overall form you can allow yourself to dérive through its pathways, guided by not only by these routes, but by the contours of the landscape underfoot and all around. One can also feel how the crop circle relates to both the wider world and the individual; not in terms of some mythical earth energy, but through the spirit of place that consumes visitors.
This formation is based around a small, spritely looking star. It isn’t cold or clinical in its construction … it has meaningful ambiance. The unusual, curved points carry positivity. Stood inside the circle I watch what is occurring in the surrounding crops: the breeze betrays the fragility of the individual stems, causing them to ripple in a wave effect.
Silbury Hill is the largest man-made prehistoric mound in Europe. Probably built over a short period between about 2470 and 2350 BC, it is one of the most intriguing monuments in the prehistoric landscape of the Avebury World Heritage Site. We do not know its purpose, or its meaning for the late Neolithic people who built it, but its enduring presence in the landscape has inspired myths and legends as people have sought to explain its purpose.
Silbury Hill Crop Circles
Crop circles have appeared regularly in the proximity of Silbury Hill at least as far back as 1988. The arrival of one quintuplet coincided with a UFO sighting by one Mary Freeman. According to veteran researcher Colin Andrews, Freeman’s ‘car engine mysteriously stopped in the village of Avebury, to the north of Silbury Hill. The UFO shone a bright beam of white light across the dark cloudy sky which reached the ground near the ancient mound. She had tried to drive to the spot but the car would not respond for some seconds, as objects on her dash board were being lifted up as if by some invisible force.’
It makes sense for a crop circle to appear opposite Silbury Hill. From every position inside the circle I had a view of the mystical structure. The opposing skyline, the fringe of the field’s peak, offers nothing but a solitary tree top. The form of this circle is irrelevant, it is here to acknowledge the ancient monument it faces: one ceremonial location paying deference to another.
Crop circles are ever changing and transient, always leaving me with a sense of pathos. This especially true with those circles made in barley. Their lay rapidly changes as the plants right themselves back towards the sun; this phototropism has left the centre of the Silbury formation ragged to the eye. If I am able to visit again, I will find a circle that is different in appearance and feel.
Across my visit to the formation I am the only person up on the hillside. It isn’t really tourist season yet, but I’m already questioning how many other people will be — or have been — lucky enough to experience this simple, yet effective circle. It won’t be around for long.