Dear Croppie: Has Anyone Been Caught Making A Crop Circle?

May 3, 2022 | Dear Croppie | 0 comments

It’s frequently said that if crop circles can be made by people then circle makers would have been caught at work in the field. But, hey, that’s never happened has it? Well, it has and and some of the examples have been publicly documented.

Rather than write a brand new list of instances in which circle makers have been witnessed, The Croppie has reproduced and added to a fantastic article called ‘Taking A Plank For A Walk’ from the sadly deceased Crop Circle Nirvana website.

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.’

Overton T-Junction, Wiltshire, July 1993

Photograph by Stuart Dike.

Croppie Peter Sorensen, in issue 10 of The Cereologist stated the circle makers [believed to include Matthew Williams] who put a ring around the Overton T-Junction were spotted by a farm worker:

‘According to information which I have, the farmer’s son actually caught the men in the act. He shouted
at them as they loaded their rollers back into a van at 6 o’clock in the morning.’

Silbury Hill, Nr. Beckhampton, Wiltshire, 6 July 2000

Photograph by Peter Sorensen

Perpetrators spotted arriving at the Silbury Hill car-park at 2.30am, and heading towards the opposite field with circle making 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 circle makers 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 circle maker 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.’

Avebury, Wiltshire, 21 June 2002

Photograph by Lucy Pringle

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.’

Cherhill, Wiltshire, 3rd August 2002

Photograph by Derrick Hunt

Circle 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 Circle Research 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 circle makers in this particular case are not known – apparently they fled the scene when the farmer arrived. Note also that, according to JonahOhayv, the team left a stomper behind.

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 the circle makers / observers are not known to us.

East Field, Alton Priors, Wiltshire, 2 August 2003

Photograph by Lucy Pringle

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/South Field Duality.

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, Alton Priors, Wiltshire, 26 July 2004

Photograph by Lucy Pringle

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.

Tan Hill, Stanton St Bernard, Wiltshire, 28-31 July 2004

Photograph by Peter Sorensen

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.

Silbury Hill, Beckhampton, Wiltshire, 2-3 August 2004

Photograph by Peter Sorensen

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 Long Barrow (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.

East Field, Alton Priors, Wiltshire, 18th July 2005

Photograph by Lucy Pringle

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.’

East Field, Alton Priors, 7 July 2007

Photograph by Steve Alexander

The events surrounding the misformed ‘Om’ formation at East Field have entered croppie lore for the wrong reasons. It seems the team of circle makers managed to disturb a crop-watcher before they had even started their work. The field-watcher, who has asked to remain anonymous, told The Croppie:

Around 10.15pm a dark blue or black 4×4 turned into the silage pit [on the Pewsey to Alton Barnes road] with its headlights on full-beam. One of the passengers got out and walked towards my car, about fifteen feet away from me. He was wearing a long coat down to his knees. The collar was up and it partially covered the side of his face. The man looked straight at me so I asked him if I could help him. He never answered and went back to the 4×4. It sped off towards Huish. Looking back, I’m confident the man who came over to my car was [circle maker] Matthew Williams.

The 4×4 returned within fifteen minutes. By this time it was quite dark and the stars were visible. Four people got out of the vehicle and it left again in the direction of Huish. The people ignored me and began to run one after the other, jumping over the tall stinging nettles into East Field. Things went very quiet again. Not being able to see the people now, I listened very carefully to try to understand why the group had gone across the fields. Was it a shortcut home for them?

Within half an hour I began to hear faint voices and a swishing noise I believe was stomping. I didn’t see them carrying any boards, tape measures or anything like that. Later, when I saw the formation, I realised they had possibly left their gear in the tramlines sometime earlier.

East Kennett, Wiltshire, 21 June 2009

Photograph by Steve Alexander

Two tourists visiting Avebury spent much of the night before the 2009 Summer Solstice sat on West Kennet Long Barrow. Against an otherwise unlit backdrop, the pair caught sight of feint red glows and the occasional yellowy-orange flicker. These correlated with the position of the yin-yang circle found after the sun came up, suggesting the witnesses had seen the lit cigarettes and cigarette lighters of the circle makers.

This information was passed to The Croppie in January 2023 by one of the witnesses.

East Field, Alton Priors, Wiltshire, 29 June 2010

Photograph by John Montgomery

The now defunct website Crop Circle Wisdom carried a wonderfully named article called ‘East Field Madness’ in which Andrew Pyrka wrote:

On the 29th of June [2010] I received a call from Cosmic Dave at approx 01.15am (BST – British Summer Time). For Dave to have called me at this time of the morning I knew that this call was important.

Dave stated ” There are people inside East Field making a crop circle formation right now and its big”. I had a choice to make whether to drive there to the location or document the incident live through Facebook. I felt that I would achieve nothing by being there so I chose to broadcast this historic event live through Facebook. At least this way several thousand people would be aware of this live event…

Cosmic Dave stated that 7 people were visible in the field ( clear skies and bright moon light at the time so visibility was good ). We agreed that Dave should not venture into the field by himself, so Dave alerted tourists and campers on Knapp Hill [who] decided to make their way towards East Field.

Pyrka went on to allege that two circle makers had fled the field having been spotted by tourists. This proved to be an interesting development as, according to an email relayed by Charles Mallett to Pyrka from croppie Jaap Vermeulen, three campers from Knapp Hill were lurking in East Field hoping to witness a circle being formed. They witnessed three circle makers entering the wheat — two of these males were identified as Terry Roderick and his son Jack. Far from being spooked and doing a runner, the circle makers instead spoke to the tourists and set to work.

More on this event can be found by clicking here.

West Woodhay Down, Inkpen, West Berkshire, 29 July 2011

Although circle makers were not caught in the act by a third party, a team of circle makers allowed themselves to be filmed creating this stunning formation in West Berkshire. The video was recorded and subsequently posted on YouTube by circle maker Matthew Williams. We assume the purpose of the video was to demonstrate that people can make crop circles, though it was amusing to see how many viewers were having none of it!

Easton Clump, Easton Royal, Wiltshire, 10 July 2020

Photograph by Nick Bull

We often get asked why circle makers don’t get captured on CCTV, but this is a case where they did; not in the field, but in a camper van driving up a lane in the direction of where the circle would appear — and then leaving just before it became light. The farmer was not shy in announcing what his camera had recorded and, to the best of our knowledge, it ended one very spooked circle maker’s hobby.