Friday night at Knap Hill was quiet with no unusual sightings. However, a new crop formation had appeared along Avebury Avenue on Thursday night, which we went to investigate on Saturday afternoon. The farmer who owned the field was totally 'anti' and wouldn't give permission for anyone, even researchers, to enter the field. We settled for taking photos from the road (see fig.1), vowing to creep in to the field during the night - when we wouldn't be seen.
Although the formation was a little way off, it was on a slope and easily visible from the road. Everyone's impressions were that it was a 'good one'. We travelled on to the Barge Inn to have some food and wait for darkness. Whilst there, I met up with Colin Andrews who had earlier taken some aerial photographs of the afore-mentioned formation. They were very impressive and I couldn't wait to examine the formation in more detail.
Whilst we were waiting for our food to arrive, a rather distressed friend of mine entered and exclaimed that the farmer had just destroyed the new formation. Apparently, he had arrived just after 7pm with a small rotovator and had destroyed the internal pattern of standing corn in the formation, supposedly because he didn't want sightseers trampling his crop to get into to the formation. After eating, we immediately returned to Avebury Avenue to examine the damage. The first thing that struck me as odd was that the farmer had hardly destroyed the formation (fig.2); he had merely cut down the 14 small standing circles within the big one. The circumference and grape-shot circles seemed intact.
This puzzled me a lot because anyone visiting the formation who had not seen its original design would not know that it was damaged and still want to view it. Why the farmer would want to go to all the effort, simply to remove the internal bits still eludes me. Why not just cut the formation into a square or some equally ambiguous shape. We decided that we would still enter the formation under safety of darkness to examine the floor lay of the remaining grape-shot circles.
We decided to split up and meet later. Returning to the Barge at around 10pm we noticed that a number of fellow 'croppies' had arrived so we shared notes over a drink. After a little while, Robert Irving (a known sceptic) arrived and I decided to introduce myself and have a friendly chat. I joined him and two others; Adrian Dexter and Paul Mann at the bar. Although he claimed that all formations are man-made, I couldn't pin him down to any he may have specifically hoaxed himself. Adrian and Paul remained quiet whilst I spoke to Rob.
Irving seemed interested in my electro-static gadget and wondered what results I had had with it. I merely stated that I thought quite a few were hoaxed but that I certainly believed in a genuine phenomenon and told him of some of the anomalous effects I have personally witnessed. He seemed surprised at some and tried to obtain the exact formations from me. I subtly skirted around the topic, refusing to give him any solid facts so that he couldn't later claim that they had been hoaxed.
We left the pub just before midnight and made our way to Avebury Avenue. To remain quiet and inconspicuous, we took just one car and parked some way back along the A4 and walked the final distance.
To avoid being seen we left our torches behind and proceeded carefully up a track to the side of the field. It was a dark night with little moonlight, which made it difficult to see more than a hundred yards or so. As we reached the top of the track, near the long barrow, we heard voices behind us, nearer to the Avebury road. We froze, trying to discern their exact location. How many people were there and what were they doing at this time of night? Were they croppies like us, hoaxers, irate farmhands or just people passing by?
After a few minutes, silence returned so we continued our trek around the top of the field; our plan being to climb over the fence and enter the formation from the top of the field, below the long barrow. As we reached the corner of the field, Andy climbed over the fence to count tramlines along to the formation. The rest of us started to climb the fence. Suddenly there was a noise to the left, inside the field. Someone was obviously trying to creep through the crop. We froze again and ducked behind the fence. This was no passer-by, so who was it? After some moments of silence, while both parties remained still to avoid making further noise, Andy decided to continue towards the formation. We remained outside the field, straining our eyes to see any movement.
Whoever was in the field was obviously lying in a tramline to avoid being seen. They were also not about to move and give their position away. After five or so minutes passed, we decided how ludicrous this was - that four of us, who were doing no wrong (being on public land) were crouched behind a hedge in the middle of the night. We gave up keeping quiet and moved about freely. In fact, I decided to run towards the edge of the field thinking that my movements may make the people in the field move. Still all was quiet. We gave up messing around and decided to wait for Andy to return from the formation. While we waited we heard more noises coming from the direction of the long barrow. At first we thought it may have been deer or small animals but a couple of solid sounding 'crunches' made us have second thoughts. I went to investigate, but the dense undergrowth on our side of the long barrow prevented me getting far.
Andy returned from the formation, claiming that the swirl on the grape-shot was not that good after all and he seemed quite disappointed by the general quality of the formation - although we didn't know how many people had already entered the formation, and what damage the farmer had done earlier. No further sounds were heard as we made our way back to the car.
As the night was still young - in croppie terms - we decided to resume a night-watch at Knap Hill. When we got there, the car park already seemed crowded; a group of UFO watchers from South Wales were already carrying out a watch. They too, it seemed, had got some events to report. Paul Damon, a friend of mine, reported that earlier Rob Irving had arrived, asking for me. What he wanted, I had no idea. We positioned ourselves for a watch.
Roughly ten minutes later, Irving returned, accompanied by Paul Mann. Andy and I joined in conversation with him for some time. I wondered where Dexter, with them earlier, had gone off to. After a lengthy chat, Irving left and we resumed our night-watch. Nothing much happened until about 5am when we heard an exclamation over the CB radio we had. A new formation had appeared during the night in East field. This was too good to be true - even though we hadn't seen any anomalous lights.
We rushed down the road and parked along the Alton Priors road to the South of East field. Paul Damon and a couple of others rushed along the tramlines, although I was initially suspicious and remained in the car. It didn't feel 'good' and it looked rough through the binoculars.
However, in the interests of my research I returned first thing in the morning with Andy, to do a more complete survey. When we got into the formation itself, we were most unimpressed; There were bent stalks everywhere, the lay was rough and erratic and it was obviously a hoax - and a fairly poor example at that. Nonetheless, we spent nearly an hour drawing it up and taking measurements for the record. After all, we need to know what readings hoaxes give, to enable us to discriminate against them in future research.
Thus another busy weekends research drew to a close.
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