1997 was yet another bumper year for crop formations, with over 100 designs appearing the the UK alone. In fact, we witnessed some of the most elaborate designs ever, in the fields of Wiltshire and Hampshire.
As usual, I tried to visit as many formations as possible, and as quickly after creation as was practical, in order to carry out my scientific testing. Because I am testing for sensitive electromagnetic (EM) fluctuations, I really need to visit formations as soon as possible, before too many visitors alter the energy levels.
From careful testing over the years I have detected the fact that people themselves will affect the readings I get from my sensitive equipment, so in order to get uncontaminated results I need to visit new crop formations ideally within a day of creation.
From over five years of monitoring the background EM energy inside and around crop formations I have come to the conclusion that the genuine ones exhibit some kind of temporary 'warp' in the EM field. Because the levels we are dealing with are very small, people visiting the formation will affect the levels. The first formation I tested which led me to believe that people alter the levels was the 'Charm bracelet' formation which appeared a couple of fields northwest of Silbury Hill in August 1992 (fig.1).
I was one of a group of about eight people who were the first people into this formation and I got some interesting results on my 'gizmo' (see Enigma issue 1)
By interesting I mean that I got 'normal' readings outside the formation, yet when I entered the formation I got no readings at all. The signal fell to zero indicating a complete lack of electrical energy - sort of as if the formation had been 'earthed'. However, after about an hour I found that one region around the southern side of the formation started to give readings.
This initially puzzled me, but I then realised that this was the area in which we had put our camera bags, equipment and coats etc. Therefore had received more 'human' activity around it. If the readings could be affected to this level after only an hour of us carefully moving around the formation, then imagine the effect after a few days worth of sightseers.
Since 1992 I have been refining and improving my original gizmo and in 1996 I invested in some commercial Radio Frequency (RF) detection equipment of the kind used for military 'bug' detection.
This piece of equipment (the OPTO Electronics Scout) will give a digital indication of the RF signals in the proximity of the handheld meter. Although the equipment has various levels of filter on it, in order to 'lock on' to a potentially strong signal - such as a real 'bugging device', I was using it in the non-filtering mode, which is also its most sensitive. In this way there is a constantly fluctuating display of RF background frequency.
In laymans terms this is displaying the frequency of the hiss you get on the radio when you are not tuned into a radio station. Depending upon the terrain and local landscape (and proximity of local radio stations) the background 'count' is generally between 100 and 600 million cycles per second, or MHz.
By carefully monitoring the area around crop circles I can get an idea of the background frequency being detected, and store the values on a portable computer. Then, when I enter a crop formation with the equipment I can monitor whether or not the frequency deviates from the average background reading by much of a percentage.
I try to do this testing in every crop circle I visit, although I have found that you need to get to a circle location as soon as possible after creation because people walking around the formation will affect the readings quite dramatically - as I discovered in the 1992 Silbury Hill formation.
The first formation that gave me some interesting results was one that appeared at the end of June '97 near Danebury Ring (see fig.2), just south of Andover. Unfortunately, because the farmer didn't want too many visitors I didn't manage to visit the formation until about three weeks after creation - by which time nothing conclusive could be gained.
There was however, a very faint difference between the readings inside the formation and those outside which made me believe that had I got there earlier I might have got some more interesting results.
Around the field outside the formation the readings were around 300-400MHz. which was quite a narrow band of frequencies. However, as I entered the formation, the display started indicating frequencies of between 200 and 600MHz, giving a much expanded bracket of frequencies. As I said however, the readings were fluctuating quite a lot and no really conclusive evidence could be gained - due to my personal high demands on accuracy when taking readings. Worth a quick mention though!
The first formation which gave very interesting, and anomalous, readings was one of the most elaborate formations to appear during the season of 1997 - and arguably ever in the history of crop circles. This formation (fig.3) appeared on the 23rd July in the field just to the north of Silbury Hill near Avebury in Wiltshire.
This shape is known as the 'Koch' fractal, the mathematics are beyond the scope of this article, but basically the Koch curve is defined as "the fractal curve of Hausdorff Dimension ln4/ln3, whose generator is formed by erecting an equilateral triangle on the middle third of a straight line". Fig.4 shows the first four iterations of this fractal, as calculated by computer.
As you can see, the Koch curve is built upon a six pointed star. Six fold geometry played a prevalent part in the formations of 1997, as a high percentage were designed around six fold shapes.
Again, it was two or three days before I was able to visit the Koch formation in person, so I was lucky to achieve some quite remarkable results with my equipment.
I started walking towards the formation with the equipment turned on. I was picking up a background radio frequency of around 400-500MHz, which was reasonably normal.
However, as soon as I entered the formation I saw that the readings suddenly dropped - quite dramatically - down to around 300 MHz and even lower as I walked across the formation.
On exiting the formation the other side, the readings went back up to around 500MHz. This intrigued me enough to start logging the results with the aim of plotting an accurate graph of readings.
I not only take readings at various points inside and outside a formation, but also at various heights from the ground; one at ground level, another at approx. 1m above ground level and a third at 2m above ground level. This gives a fairly accurate representation of the RF levels in and around the formation.
On average, the RF background level was about 200-300MHz lower inside the formation than the readings outside the formation. I currently have no explanation for this, but believe that these readings are enough to warrant continued research into RF anomalies inside crop formations.
When I returned home, I decided to plot accurately the results I had measured, so that I could see any RF fluctuations graphically. The resulting graph is shown in figure 5. As you can see, there was quite a dramatic change in the background RF inside the formation.
For clarity I have stacked the bars in the graph with the 2m readings in the foreground because RF readings are generally higher the closer to the ground you put the sensor. The most dramatic (and anomalous) readings were the ones given at about waist height, or around 1m from the ground.
From experimentation I've found that there almost seems to be a band about a metre wide, centred at around waist height which gives the most noticeable readings.
No sooner than the crop circle community had been amazed and impressed by the Silbury Hill formation, another one soon appeared approximately five miles to the south, just below the white horse on Milk Hill near Alton Barnes.
This second Koch fractal was discovered on the 8th August. Although slightly smaller in diameter, it looked more elaborate due to a miniature version of the Koch curve left standing in the centre (fig.6).
This second Koch formation was very untidy on the ground when I visited it (the day after creation) but again I got some interesting RF anomalies inside the formation. This was interesting because not only did I detect something on my RF meter, but I could also listen to an audible interference signal on a wide band radio receiver. Normally a steady hiss comes from the speaker - very similar to that heard from a TV if you unplug the aerial and turn the volume up.
However, inside this formation there were certain areas that gave a distinctive 'hum' when you walked around it. These seemed to be in lines going roughly north-south through the formation. However, the hum stopped immediately I got to the edge of the formation.
The second surprise was that a few minutes after I entered the formation, an elderly gentleman entered the formation with some dowsing rods. He proceeded to do his own dowsing oblivious to what I was doing. After a while he spotted me and came over to enquire as to what I was doing. When I told him, he suggested that I try a particular spot - which I did.
To our joint surprise, I got the recognisable hum again and managed to trace it in a line exactly corresponding to a line he had previously dowsed. It now seemed that whatever my equipment was picking up was perhaps a similar energy to that picked up by dowsers. This was getting interesting.
We continued wandering around the formation confirming that there were indeed two roughly straight lines going through the formation (fig.7) which made the dowsing rods react as well as produce a humming noise on my equipment.
I never like declaring any particular formation to be 'genuine' or 'hoaxed' because I believe in sharing notes and letting people come to their own conclusions, but certainly both the Koch fractal formations seemed to give repeatable anomalous results on my RF equipment. Make of that what you will!
The last elaborate fractal formation of the year appeared on August 18th at Hackpen Hill, north of Avebury. This was similar to the Silbury and Milk Hill formations except that it was based upon a three sided triangle (fig. 8) rather than a six pointed star.
Unfortunately, I wasn't able to visit this formation personally before it was harvested, so no readings were obtained.
Although 1997 was a bumper year for crop circles, I must confess that only a very small percentage of formations gave me personally 'good vibes'. Of course, feelings experienced whilst visiting formations are totally subjective and personal, so no conclusions can be gained from this perspective.
However, I would be very interested to hear any personal reports from Enigma subscribers relating any interesting experiences witnessed during the 1997 season.
Finally. I would also like to thank John Sayer for giving me permission to use a couple of his diagrams to illustrate this article. For those of you who are interested, he has produced an excellent Enigma sized booklet containing diagrams of all the 1997 formations. This is available by sending a cheque for £5.00 to "John Sayer", (contact me for details)