Text © Freddy Silva 1997. Photos © Michael Hesseman, Colin Andrews, Steve Alexander.

Given the formidable efforts of hoaxers and government debunkers over the previous two years, the fields in 1994 were comparatively devoid of people as well as media attention. In fact not one piece of information reached the public, which led most to believe the whole thing had been explained and the culprits caught.This was to prove a blessing for researchers.

Almost as if in defiance to the negative attention, the Circlemakers not only resumed their yearly descent on the fields of England but they did so in large numbers, with cyclopean designs that made full use of the canvas of corn. Reports from North America and Europe also began to appear in a more quantitative and qualitative manner than ever before- Czech Republic reported its first circles, some beside ancient burial mounds; regular sightings were coming from Krasnoyarsk in Siberia. Japan reported rings in rice fields. Back in England hordes of impressive and complicated formations lay pristinely in fields.

With the new array of designs the Circlemakers also made the point of making life very hard for hoaxers. There were formations resembling scorpions, spiders, mandalas and interlocking crescents.

The characteristics continued. In the case of the Winsford 'scorpion' the discrepancy between the radiation at the edge of the formation and the centre was 100% above normal, followed by the deformation of seeds: evidence implying an application of intense heat. The circles also began to show predictive qualities. In the case of another 'scorpion' design incorporating 13 circles and moon symbols, it became clear that these elements actually foretold the date of its appearance 13 days after the last lunar eclipse of the century.

But a more mysterious event surrounded the appearance of a similar design a few days later. Colin Andrews received a visit in his U.S. office by Aztec elder, Tlakaelel, who had been looking for a symbol associated with a prediction. Tlakaelel had never heard of crop circles. He drew a design, 'the site of the last ceremonial dance', a Celtic-cross type arrangement with a tail of ever-decreasing circles and a pair of crescent moons at either end. Within moments of Tlakaelel's departure a fax came in to Colin's office from England bearing Tlakaelel's drawing which had just appeared opposite Silbury Hill ; the farmer on whose land this appeared noticed that his dogs had barked uncontrollably around the same time period just after dawn, and had himself witnessed small white spheres gliding along the design.

No less than 110 reports had come in, with 60 new designs added to the ever-expanding crop circle language. Patterns resembling galaxies now appeared, their floors laid with immaculate precision around tufts of circular standing crop. One of these angered the farmer so much that he cut it down immediately. The Circlemakers had obviously considered this design to be of some importance because a week later they laid down a similar design a few miles away. The rapidity at which events were materializing in July was breathtaking; fifteen pictograms in one week, culminating with a 'magic eye' design in the now legendary field at Alton Barnes. On the night of July 23rd, six massive pictograms appeared around Wiltshire, followed by a sighting of luminous balls down the Avebury stone avenue which preceded a 420ft by 100ft pictogram. Five more pictograms appeared on the night of the 27th including triple crescent beneath Olivers Castle, which the author John Michell called, "the symbol for the restoration of kinship."

If the media had been turned off by the premeditated hoax stories, the army certainly hadn't. In one blatant incident a CPRI research team was harassed on a road overlooking the East Field by two unmarked army helicopters. The craft was actually stooping so near the research team that it nearly collided with the nearby tumulus. As Colin describes: "one of us grabbed the video camera and filmed how one of the helicopters was roaring about us in a kind of low-level attack. The second helicopter, full of recording equipment, hovered a few feet in front of us. Minutes later they turned around, heading towards the pictograms already in the field, where one researcher was taking photos. He had to duck. Then the second helicopter shot toward a neighbouring field, seeming to have traced something, which we now saw and took film of: a luminous ball, about one foot in diameter, gliding through the cornfield. The helicopters went into tilting position, seeming to be filming the object before the object shot away. Then the helicopters turned around, leaving the area." The video of this incident was later confiscated by the authorities, but not before copies had been made.

But perhaps the biggest accomplishment of all in this remarkable year was the way known hoaxers came forward to researchers and actually admitted that they were aware of a real phenomenon taking place. One team had made a circle and when they later returned to check their handiwork discovered not only a new circle in the same field but saw an orange ball of light emanating from it which spooked them to no end. Jim Schnabel, a hoaxer who'd often joked about his ties with the CIA and author of one of the most disparaging books on crop circles, admitted in a video, "I actually believe there is a genuine phenomenon that is beneath all the hoaxing." Even famous Doug and Dave claimed that on occasions they felt as if something unseen was guiding them to create something other than the design they had planned to perform.