England’s crop circle controversy

Although such formations have appeared worldwide, from California to the rice paddies of Indonesia, south-west England is the world capital of crop circles. They are particularly concentrated in the county of Wiltshire, where a treasure trove of ancient history includes the Neolithic sites of Stonehenge and Avebury – both crop circle hotspots.

Carving artwork into the landscape is an age-old tradition in these parts; chalk horses adorn eight hillsides in Wiltshire; while the UK’s oldest geoglyph, the stunning Bronze Age Uffington White Horse, sits just across the border in Oxfordshire. Reports of mysterious patterns appearing in wheat, barley and corn fields in the area began to circulate in the 1970s, but it was in the late ’80s that the phenomenon exploded. Circles began to appear more frequently and became far more ornate: some resembled trippy fractals; others rune-like hieroglyphs; others stylised animals recalling those of the Nazca Lines in Peru.

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