One of the main characteristics of genuine crop circles has been their ability to generate a dowsable energy pattern, something that cannot be created by people (unless a dowser happens to be looking for that particular type of energy). This energy - magnetic by nature - can also be picked up by sensitive electrical equipment; it conforms to the exact pattern of the crop circle and is measurable even a year after it has been harvested. The reason why I explain this here is because something odd happened at this point in the story - the crop circles' energy just shut off. And from this point, one 'dead' design appeared after another: A five-fold design at Beckhampton reportedly appeared one morning within a fifteen-minute window (although I have to state that the pilot who reported the story has in the past been of questionable ethics!); another design, this time at East Kennett, resembled a series of shields arranged like a tunnel. Still no energy was present, or it had dissipated by the time I got there, and so had any signs of conclusive physical evidence, leaving a lot of suspicion (this farm has in the past received payments from hoaxers, including 1999's 'heart' formation).

More circles appeared, and with them the lack of the underlying harmonic qualities of real crop circles: at Windmill Hill, and a second, poorer cousin at Yatesbury. Still nothing. On the ground, more and more signs of human involvement - poor lay, post holes (although these are sometimes added later by mischief-makers), underlying tracer paths, errors in the designs and so on. And yet the patterns looked rather coherent from the air. Up in the Midlands, at Barrowden – where the geology itself does not favour crop circles – a new pattern resembled a Mayan sun disk, but the construction was awful. In fact it seems as if there is now a new group of hoaxers at work, practising further up the country where they are unlikely to be seen or caught.


Curioser and curioser. At one point came a number of unfinished designs and, at the, time I remember saying that I felt as if someone was interfering with the circlemaking process, and how I was picking up the presence of large groups of well-trained people, possibly military personnel surreptitiously laying down crop circles to create maximum confusion; this same technique had the previous year unmasked the makers of the 'heart' formation at East Kennett, which was later proved. But proving the involvement of the military is a much harder affair, and so these thoughts are made here for the record.

Early one evening I decided to take a drive to watch the afterglow from the top of Hackpen Hill. Later I drove back down to Avebury and saw an enormous, glowing red ball with a white halo hovering above the tree tops; it appeared to be about 30 feet in diameter and remained very still during the five minutes it took me to reach the ancient stone circle and drive through to the other side. By now I'd figured its position to be somewhere over Silbury Hill, and yet just as the famous mound came into view, the incandescent ball disappeared. I drove by the hill but saw nothing except sheer darkness. The following morning, news came of a new formation opposite the hill. Naturally my excitement got the best of me, but when I returned to Silbury, the triangular crop circle gave the impression of someone in a hurry; an energy print was present, but it was erratic, and I was getting a headache - but not before figuring out this crop circle had been made in two stages: the first by people, the second involving microwaves.

When I returned the following day, the energy was gone. There are three things you should know about microwaves - one, they can be beamed from a satellite, and their energy dissipates quickly; two, the frequency involved (gigahertz of GHz) can damage sensitive tissue and deform seeds; and three, depending on the time of application and length of exposure, it can give you a headache, and as Marconi once discovered, overexposure will even kill animals. With the exception of headaches, these are not traits traditionally associated with genuine crop circles.

I returned a third time, with a group of about 20 dowsers in tow. Without telling them a thing, I asked them to dowse the crop circle; no one seems to have picked up anything, and yet, barely one hundred feet away lay the vestiges of three circles from the previous year. Here, we could pick up the energy pattern still present in the triplet, its former physical presence referenced by the few patches of immature wheat. So here we have two crop circle separated by twelve months and yet the older one was still dowsable, the other not. That is the differfence between man-made and genuine.

Another week, more hoaxes at Rybury (poor execution of the path of a vibrating string, straight out of a book), and a five petal flower, commissioned for a TV programme.