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Friday, November 20, 1998 Published at 21:25 GMT


Crop circle fans caught by the Net

Truth or fiction?: Numerous theories abound about the circles

You would have thought people living in the America's mid west had seen enough of crops - but apparently not.

Susan Osman reports on the great West Country crop circle hunt
Hundreds of them are flocking to the UK to see the famous "crop circles" which first hit the headlines in the late 1980s.

One US Website is advertising tours of the West Country - where the crop circles tend to be found - and they have had no end of takers.

The Website - Power Places Tours - offers week-long trips during crop circle season, priced at $2,199 per person.

The tours are a sell-out and nobody has been unlucky enough to pick a week when no circles have appeared.

[ image: Looking for answers: Richard Andrews seeks out the circles]
Looking for answers: Richard Andrews seeks out the circles
There have been numerous admissions by hoaxers, such as John Lundberg. He says he has carved elaborate patterns using planks tied to his feet - known as "stalk stompers".

Despite this, crop circle enthusiasts such as Richard Andrews and Busty Taylor remain convinced they are the work of the paranormal.

Many "croppies" spend hours trekking from one pictogram site to the next, looking for signs that they are the real thing.

There are various theories about what causes the circles - some believe they are connected to ancient "ley lines" while others believe alien spaceships may be responsible.

As tens of thousands of tourists flock to the West Country in search of the circles, the tourist board insists that while it does not actively promote them, it will point visitors in the right direction.

Tourist officer Kairen Hellard says: "I am just stating the fact that crop circles do bring in a lot of visitors.

"And as that's the case, why not make hay while the sun shines?"

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