With the imminent release of 'Signs' came the inevitable copycat design gracing the movie's poster at Alton Barnes. Meanwhile, an inferior design to 2000's 'magnetic field' glyph appeared at Windmill Hill. Very badly damaged crop, no anomalies, and lots of post holes. The small design is also a carbon copy of a tessellated pattern from a Dover book (incidentally, the 'magnetic field' crop circle, also claimed to have been taken from the same book, was encoded with strategic geometric ratios and appeared at the crossroads of three energy lines ­ elements not evident in this design); a few days later, a portion of its bisected diamonds were found flattened. Back at Alton Barnes, an unintelligent source planked out the challenging word 'tits' ­ a possible connection to the Earth Mother, or more likely a fitting description of its creators.


These three are, essentially, examples of Land Art. They should also be a reminder that not every coherent marking in a field nowadays is a crop circle. The first was made by Team Satan/circlemakers and commissioned by US television's The History Channel. '1081' was made by Peter Sorensen and friends (if my sources are correct) as a commission for an Italian TV station; a nearby 'Celtic' cross design may also have been of their making. And thirdly, this electricity plug (for American readers, this is what a British plug looks like) was commissioned by Weetabix, the breakfast cereal manufacturer; the logo and slogan 'Weetabix electricity' was added a few days later. The work is part of an on-going TV advertising campaign.


This design at Avebury contained, for me, no evidence pointing to a supernatural cause, and appears to be an improvement on similar designs of the past two years. Obviously this particular team is getting better each season! This was followed by an immature design at Dunstable. And then, a pattern resembling a dragonfly appeared below Dragon Hill, literally less than fifty yards from the beautiful (and genuine) 'rose' design of last year (which could still be seen as a darker pattern in the newly-grown wheat). The ground evidence left me unconvinced, and besides, the reference between the name and the design is just too contrived. Historically, crop circles appearing beside sacred sites will often make reference in very veiled terms, such as 1994's 'spider web' at Avebury (full description in Secrets in the Fields, (Silva) ).


Late in July, Uranus was said to have been prominent in the heavens. The simple circle at Etchilhampton, with its single orbital ring, appears to be some kind of validation, although I was unable to visit (the circle, not Uranus). By contrast, the small, yet elaborate tree design at Alton Barnes was another piece of human stupidity, and no evidence suggesting otherwise. The same applies to the set of pentagrams at Avebury, which featured every hallmark of human involvement.


I was unable to visit this 'bubble' pattern across from Silbury Hill, so I can't say any more other than it was located on the 1999 site of an Aztec-style 'compass' design, which did look far superior. Yet another design at Alton Barnes, this time resembling 'dolphins', or at least that was my first reaction. Again, I found no physical evidence pointing to a real phenomenon, nor did the formation dowse (interestingly, one geodetic line did cross part of the formation, and this seems to have been intuitively located at the time by a group practicing Tai Chi inside the crop circle). However, I did receive several reports from people who, at that time, had been working with or discussing dolphins and the state of the Earth. I felt the synchronicity to be uncanny, although the wheat on the ground had clearly been planked.


As with the infamous 'face' formation of last year, 2002 ends with yet another set piece that attempts to take our attention away from the real prize, so to speak. Using an imaging technique familiar to the printing industry, this 'alien holding a disc' is a clever use of a medium to good visual effect. During my original interview, the farmer said he'd had no former knowledge of the design, yet the story that emerged a day later concludes that the 'alien' design was constructed over the course of three days. This is substantiated by pilots who flew over the site and saw the outline of the design already in place before the figure was added. Ground evidence also showed much damage to the crop, heavily compacted soil around the centre of the disc, marker lines under the wheat, and the backfilling of positioning holes; I was also able to find a small electronic device with an LED display, possibly used as a location or communications device between the vandals.

The design appears to be a left-over from a national advertising campaign promoting tv shows, which commissioned the hoaxers Team Satan/circlemakers (amazing how these people make more money each year than the researchers); these designs use identical construction techniques but feature the shows' presenters instead; they were also created in more remote parts of the British Isles lest the makers be caught. One therefore assumes that the team decided to create the alien as extracurricular fun at the expense of crop circles enthusiasts.

Personally, I think it's a good piece of fun (assuming the farmer was in on the deal, which now seems to be the case), and an accomplished piece of Land Art. And that's all. As I described at the beginning of this article, there are far more important things happening in the real phenomenon. Enjoy this, but don't let it distract from the genuine phenomenon.

By the way, for a laugh, I dowsed to find out who made this 'alien': the answer was Team Satan/circlemakers and a total of 13 people, the same response as the large Milk Hill design of last year. While it was later discovered that Team Satan/circlemakers had made it is a good start, but I'd love to validate the rest of this piece of investigative dowsing!