As one of the world's most perplexing unsolved mysteries, crop circles are a phenomenon that have baffled people around the world for centuries. While many scientists have written crop circles off as being nothing more than a hoax, many enthusiasts believe that the unusual formations are the doing of alien beings or supernatural forces.
The first written accounts of crop circles actually date back to 1678, but they first started attracting media attention when they appeared in England's grain fields in 1975. The first documented crop circles were fairly basic in design - usually consisting of overlapping circles. But as the years went on their design became more complex. By 1990 the complexity of the circles resembled intricate pictographs and sometimes held coded messages.
Around 10,000 crop circles have been reported and recorded around the world. While many of them are in England - USA, Japan, Russia, Germany, Australia, and Isreal have all had them appear in their fields. The various patterns have come in many shapes and sizes and mysteriously appear overnight.
Whether they're actually mysterious miracles or just rural graffiti, people have been captivated by them for decades. Here are 30 mysterious facts about crops circles that will make you wonder if we really are alone in the universe.
30 A Mysterious Message?
Farmer Christopher Huttner discovered this mysterious crop circle in his field in July 2014 just outside of Raisting, Germany. Some media outlets in the area reported that the circles were probably the result of nothing more than students from the nearby University having some fun. But others argued the point, pointing out that the design was far too intricate for a group of students to create overnight. According to The Telegraph, Huttner told local media outlets that he had no involvement in the creation of the crop circle and had no knowledge of who might have done it.
This circle closely resembles the symbol for the Banner of Peace Treaty which was signed in 1935. This is of interest because two Russian astronauts took the banner on board their flight to the space station in 1990. The three circles originally represented arts, science, and spirituality, all surrounded by a larger circle representing culture. It's caused many to wonder if this circle is a message from another place about the state of things on Earth.
29 Often Found in Meaningful Locations
This crop circle representing a serpent appeared in a field in West Woodhay, England on July 29th, 2011. The small town is less than an hour's drive from Stonehenge, an area that has seen its fair share of crop circles over the years. The serpent is one of the largest and most intricate formations ever discovered.
Many of the crop circles that have appeared in England have been spotted near ancient megalithic stone sites like Stonehenge, Chalk Horse, and Silbury Hill. This has led people to think that crop circles somehow have some relation to the Earth's natural magnetic ley lines where the stone structures are built.
28 A Constant Debate Between Believers and Skeptics
Dr. Horace Drew, a respected scientist from Caltech in Pasadena does not believe crop circles are a hoax. In fact, he thinks there's a very real possibility that the circles are a message from beings on a far-away planet, but humans on Earth aren't yet advanced enough to understand their meaning.
But others have claimed that with careful planning, crop circles can be created by teams in just a few short hours. And some people have even tried to take credit for the circles that have popped up around the world. However, many experiments have been done in an attempt to replicate the circles and none have been able to successfully recreate the intricate designs, leading some to wonder if the so-called artists are just seeking their 15 minutes of fame.
27 MIT Grads Couldn't Make One of Their Own
In a Discovery Channel special, a team attempted to recreate a basic crop circle. The team consisted of graduates and students from MIT who were given 4 hours to complete the task. They had several weeks to prepare, flashlights, and custom equipment, but still failed to come anywhere close to creating a crop circle. They also attempted to use an explosive device to spread iron throughout the soil to replicate what had been found at various formations. This was also a failure - not to mention that an explosive device would attract attention if that was how the creators of the crop circles attempted to create soil changes.
One team member said, “It’s pretty clear with the evidence they have given me, and samples that I’ve looked at, that this isn’t just a couple of old guys with a board wandering around in a field. Someone put a lot more effort into it than that.”
26 Most Crop Circles are Discovered in England
This intricate crop circle was discovered in Aldbourne, Wiltshire, UK in August of 2007. A staggering 85% of all crop circles discovered have been in England. There's much we don't know about crop circles, and the reasoning behind their locations is another unexplained mystery.
But one thing is for sure - the area around Stonehenge is a popular location for Crop Circle enthusiasts. Curious visitors flock to the area every year hoping to see and experience the phenomenon for themselves. And the locals? Some have decided to profit from the formations by running guided tours that bring tourists to ancient sites as well as the crop circles.
25 A Powerful Phenomenon
The mysteries keep coming with crop circles, even after they're discovered. Ever since crop circles have been reported, people have reported unusual and unexplained events happening in and nearby the site of the formations.
Amongst the strange things that have been reported around crop circles are the failures of electrical devices when they're near the site. Helicopters hovering over circles have experienced power failures, cameras have failed when brought into the circles, and nearby cars have experienced trouble starting. No one is sure what causes these events, and as a result, they're often not reported by the media.
24 No One Can Figure Out Exactly How They're Made
This crop circle discovered on July 24, 2016 in Mammendorf, Bavaria, Germany is one of many that have baffled researchers for decades. Whether they're manmade or the creation of an extraterrestrial being, no one can say for sure what's used to create the intricate designs that appear overnight.
Biophysicist W. C. Levengood has analyzed thousands of plants from crop formations in the U.S., England and other countries over the course of his career. In the botany journal Physiologia Plantarum, he reported that a swirling plasma vortex had interacted with many of the crop formation plants and soils he had studied. But skeptics say that they're likely made by flattening the crops with wooden boards.
23 Ciphers from Another Place
There have been crop circles that have appeared close to each other over time and it has left some people wondering if they might be part of a larger coded message. Crop circles also have a penchant for showing up in fields that are near satellites, further leading believes to think that they're a message from another world.
The unique appearance of these formations has even brought believers to think there are serious messages about our future encoded in the shapes. But if crop circles really are ciphers from another place and time, no one has ever successfully been able to decode them.
22 Farmers Aren't Fond of Crop Circles
While some farmers have been accused of creating the formations themselves, it's important to remember that farmers typically aren't happy about crop circles appearing in their fields. Their crops are their livelihoods and crop circles damage them extensively, sometimes making a steep cut into their profits.
On top of that, human foot traffic can do some serious damage to the soil, meaning they have to do even more work to repair the area for more crops. Plus, they have to manage the crowd that shows up to see it. The money they might make by charging curious visitors admission is rarely worth the damage and extra work.
21 Skeptics Can't Easily Explain Them
Even people who don't easily buy into conspiracy theories have a difficult time wrapping their minds around how these circles could be the doing of local pranksters. Crop circles have intricate and symmetrical designs that seem to require an overhead vantage point to execute.
Farmers would notice a helicopter hovering over their fields or a giant crane entering their property, so do the creators smuggle tall ladders into the fields in the dead of night? It would also be nearly impossible to complete the task without some lights to see what they're doing which would likely attract some attention.
20 Almost No One Has Been Caught Creating Them
This crop circle is among the many that have appeared near Stonehenge. And while the area is fairly rural, there are still many people in the area who are constantly on the lookout for new formations. So why have so few people been caught trying to create them?
Only three people have ever been arrested for trespassing and damaging crops in an attempt to create a crop circle. When you consider that there have been over 10,000 crop circles reported, that's an incredibly small number of people getting caught. If these circles are manmade, then they're the result of careful and discreet artists who know how to evade watchful eyes of neighbors.
19 They Change the Soil Composition
Among the many oddities of crop circles is the fact that there are documented changes to the soil after they've been discovered. No one is sure what could cause these changes and no one has successfully replicated them.
In Linda Moulton Howe’s investigations of crop circles, Dr. Levengood found over 70% of 40 different crop formations that were investigated with magnetic drags turned up iron deposits on the surface of the soil. According to Dr. Levengood, these iron deposits could be evidence of micrometeoritic particles from the Earth’s upper atmosphere. It seems highly unlikely that this could be the work of pranksters invading fields for an evening.
18 Scientists are Reluctant to Study Them
Despite so many crop circles appearing over the decades, there hasn't been much of a movement amongst scientists to seriously investigate them. Wikipedia states that, “There is a scientific consensus that nearly all cases of crop circles are man-made. However, there has been almost no serious scientific study of the phenomenon.”
Scientists often shy away from investing too much effort into studying events that have a high probability of being a joke. It's understandable that they wouldn't want to waste time and resources to study elaborate pranks. But until more is known, many people would like to see more research conducted.
17 There's Unexplained Damage Done to the Crops
Various accounts over the years have witnesses reporting strange and inexplicable damage to the surrounding crops. The crops around the circles are often bulging in places and seem to have some sort of burning damage. Some researchers have discovered that there are inexplicable increases in radiation levels around the sites of crop circles as well.
Unexplained visual phenomenon has also been reported in areas around the crop circles - particularly at night. There are many accounts of people seeing swirling orbs of light and glowing skies over the formations. Several people have claimed that these lights are what led them to discover the sites.
16 One was Made in Front of Stonehenge Visitors
It's not unusual for crop circles to appear near Stonehenge, but in 1996, one appeared in full view of the public. The formation appeared in broad daylight and took less than one hour to appear from start to finish. It's considered one of the greatest crop circle mysteries of all time.
The timing of the crop circle's creation is known thanks to a small aircraft pilot and his passenger who passed over the field at 5:30 pm. When they came back at 6:15 pm, the crop circle was there. Investigator Lucy Pringle interviewed witnesses, one who claimed that a swirling cloud of mist spun over the field and left the creation in its wake.
15 Native Tribes Have Their Own Theories
While most crop circles appear in England, the United States has seen plenty of strange formations pop up across the country. Some of these have been on Native American land, and those tribes have their own theories about what the circles might be. Most don't seem to believe they're a hoax.
The tribes have credited the crop circles to the Star People of the Star Nation. These are the beings who came from the stars to Earth to begin their civilization. According to the tribes, some of these formations even contain sacred symbols that hold important meaning.
14 The Roswell Connection
In a surprising twist, a discovery in the desert might prove that there's an unexplained connection between Roswell and crop circles. Robert Ridge stumbled upon an unusual rock with a strange symbol carved into it while he was out hunting. The rock was also magnetic and unlike other rocks usually found in the area.
Ridge decided to investigate the rock further and discovered that a crop circle that had been discovered in 1996 in England shared the exact same symbol. The English crop circle was not considered to be a hoax and was one of the most mysterious ever found. Ridge never offered to sell the rock, claiming he had a deep emotional connection with it, but he did allow the History Channel to run tests on it.
13 The Observatory Messages
The Chilbolton Observatory in England is surrounded by large fields, and in 2001 two mysterious crop circles containing a startling message appeared around it. One of the formations looked a bit like a face, but the other used binary code which was similar to the 1974 Arecibo message that astronomers sent out to the universe.
The original message contained information about humans and our solar system, but the code in the crop formation apparently contained information about another being's genetic makeup as well as details about an unknown star system. While most people were skeptical about the authenticity of the message, believers took it as proof of alien life in other galaxies.
12 Several People Have Claimed Responsibility
Many people believe that crop circles are messages from undiscovered alien lifeforms in another galaxy, but plenty of people here on Earth have claimed responsibility for the intricate designs. Matthew Williams of Wiltshire, England is probably the most famous of these hoaxers as he's the only person who has ever been prosecuted for his creation.
People who believe that crop circles are genuine creations often cite the lack of known artists as a reason to believe in their authenticity, but Williams says that most crop circle artists prefer to remain anonymous. In an attempt to further silence the believers, Williams even recorded himself creating one of his creations and released the video.
11 Skeptics Have Been Converted
John Lundberg had created hoax crop circles of his own and had been vocal about his disbelief in any of the formations being anything more than the work of clever artists. But his opinion changed in 2012 when he visited a massive 1,500 ft crop circle in Wiltshire that contained over 400 perfect circles.
Many people accused Lundberg of creating yet another hoax, but he strongly defended the formation as genuine and said he had no involvement in its creation. Other experts have defended him, saying that the size and complexity of the design set it apart from most formations. Some of the individual circles span about 70 feet, making it incredibly unlikely that it was the work of one man.
10 An Unusual Culprit
Humans may be split on whether or not there's a real possibility that crop circles are a form of alien communication, but we can say for certain that a series of crop circles found in Australia was the creation of a non-human lifeform.
Australian farmers were stumped as to why mysterious circles were suddenly appearing in their fields. The designs were not terribly intricate, but they were nearly perfect circles. The farmers, convinced that someone was tampering with their fields, kept watch over the coming weeks in an attempt to catch those responsible. But in a surprising twist, it was discovered that wallabies were to blame. After eating opiate-laden crops, they began running in large circles and left the mysterious designs behind.
9 Experts Use the Bend Test to Weed Out the Hoaxes
Many crop circles are mysterious and have baffled investigators for decades, but some clearly are manmade creations. Experts claim that the best way to separate legitimate crop circles from the hoaxes is to examine how the crop circles have been bent. As you might expect, crop circles obviously created by people usually have carelessly bent stalks.
But the experts say that genuine crop circles are quite different and consist of carefully folded crops, almost as if someone bent each plant one-by-one. In some cases, the bends are so precise that the crops are still good to harvest. It's suggested that this could be accomplished by a quick and precise blast of intense heat, but certainly not by people using boards to stomp on the crops.
8 Nearly all Crop Circles Share Common Traits
No two crop circles are exactly alike, but nearly all of them share a set of common characteristics. To begin with, they all involve basic geometric designs such as circles which is how they earned their namesake. Nearly all of them are also created under the cover of darkness, which is why so many people believe they're the creation of humans using the night hours to cover their activities.
Another similarity that scientists tend to point out is that most crop circles are created in fields that are close to roads. Because of this, the formations are usually spotted by people within a couple of days of their creation. It would seem as though the crop circles are made close to roads to provide their creators with a quick escape route.
7 Crop Circles are Camera Shy
Aside from a few videos made by admitted hoaxers, no footage of a crop circle's creation actually exists. While digital surveillance in rural areas wasn't all that common in the 1970s, crop circles are still popping up every year and no one has managed to capture the process on video.
Neither skeptics or believers can explain this suspicious trait. Are the mythical forces behind the creations intentionally avoiding areas under surveillance? Or are the humans behind them just that good at avoiding getting caught on video? Either way, it's difficult to explain how cameras haven't caught the creation of a crop circle at some point in time.
6 The First Recorded Crop Circle Occurred in 1678
Crop circles surged to international attention in the 1970s, but they're hardly a modern discovery. The pamphlet, called The Mowing-Devil, or, Strange News out of Hartford-Shire, told a story about a farmer who refused to pay anyone to mow his crops and said he'd rather have the Devil do the work. The very next morning, he found that his crops were mysteriously cut in a precise manner that no one on earth would have been able to achieve.
The text doesn't specifically mention circles, but the illustration in the pamphlet does show a circular pattern. Because of this, some people still believe that crop circles are signs from evil forces that should be respected and avoided at all costs.
5 Is It All Part of a Greater Equation?
Many crop circles are hypnotizing to look at, but the designs are often more than pretty pictures. Many crop circles have been found to contain elements of complex mathematical equations. No one is sure what the meaning of the equations appearing in the fields might signify, but it has become a common occurrence.
An English crop circle that appeared in 2010 contained Euler’s Identity, an equation that has been called the most beautiful and profound mathematical equation in the world. Another crop circle in the same area contained a design that represented the first 10 digits of Pi.
4 Corporations Are Cashing In
In recent years, companies have cashed in on the buzz that crop circles generate and create formations of their own. These crop circles serve as creative billboards that capture the attention of people all over the world and even go viral online.
A few companies have attempted to be cryptic about the creations, but other corporations are much more open about the unique method of advertising. For example, Spotify recently commissioned a series of crop formations depicting popular country artists to promote their streaming service.
3 Not Without Controversy
Some crop circles cause more controversy than others, such as the one that appeared in Salinas, CA in a barley field in 2014. Scott Anthony, the farmer who owned the land was not amused by the formation and hired several security guards to keep curious people off of his property. He told the Monterey Herald that he had no idea how the crop circle got there and plowed it over shortly after it appeared.
Two Youtubers posted a video of them driving down the road and apparently discovered the crop circle first because of a strange glow that appeared over the field. But the video led many to believe that the crop circle was part of a marketing stunt. It turns out they were correct - Silicon Valley tech company Nvidia later claimed responsibility for the creation.
2 There are Many Varied Suspects
Humans have proved to be responsible for crop circles and countless people believe that aliens are to blame for the mysterious formations. But others believe that there could be different forces behind crop circles.
There are a lot of different suspects that have been blamed for crop circles over the years. Some believe that the earth itself is responsible with strange winds and magnetic forces at play. In the 1980s, some people even suspected hedgehogs. Others have claimed that crop circles could be proof that it's possible for time-travelers to visit the present and leave messages from the future.
1 Many Crop Circles Appear Near Aquifiers
Naturally, occurring crop formations seem to appear near aquifers in high numbers. These circles are different from the ones that appear overnight in farmers fields. They're usually solid circles of various sizes and lack the intricate patterns that are carved into crop fields. Because of this, they don't tend to attract as much attention from crop circle enthusiasts.
People believe that water from the aquifers mixes with nearby chalk deposits and creates a unique electrical charge. This electrical charge attracts plasma to the crops and forms the unique shape.
Sources: Medium, BBC, The Telegraph, Huffington Post, National Geographic