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Saturday, July 18, 1998 Published at 13:11 GMT 14:11 UK


Unravelling crop circles

Crop circles: stunning designs

Clinton Rodgers reports
A conference is being organised in the West Country in Britain to try to make sense of one of the great untold mysteries of our time - crop circles.

Experts from all over the world are meeting near Pewsey in Wiltshire to study the phenomenon that has baffled science for years.

Crop circle enthusiast Rod Bearcloud: Historical importance
Many people claim crop circles are really elaborate hoaxes. But those attending the conference say that is a cynical view based on ignorance.

The organisers do not believe the conference will provide all the answers, but see it as a useful exchange of views among those who believe greater forces are at work.

Fitting location

[ image: Could aliens be behind crop circles?]
Could aliens be behind crop circles?
The organisers could not have picked a more fitting location for the conference. Already this year, 40 crop circles have sprung up in fields across Wiltshire.

The West Country has long been the focal point of those in Britain who believe that crop circles are the work of extra terrestrial forces.

Conference organiser Francine Blake: Greater forces at work
Thousands of crop circles have been reported throughout the world, with 90% coming from Britain. Enthusiasts say many more go unreported.

Hoax claim

In 1991 two landscape painters, David Chorley, 62, and Douglas Bower, 67, claimed they were behind the phenomenon. They said they conceived their hoax in 1978, while sitting in a pub.

The duo said that for the past 13 years they had been sneaking around southern England at night, fashioning as many as 25 to 30 new circles each growing season.

Their efforts apparently inspired copycats. Other individuals and groups have come forward claiming to be behind hundreds of crop circles both in Britain and abroad.

But enthusiasts maintain crop circles are the work of forces we do not understand.

There is a new scientific discipline based around the study of crop circles. It is known as cereology.

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