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For many years countless thousands of visitors have regarded crop circles as the central part of the Avebury “experience”. The Barge Inn, Honey St has been the must-visit venue for all “croppies”, being right in the centre of the area where many formations appear and catering for all things mysterious. One of its central attractions has been its painted ceiling painted by artist Vince Palmer in 1997, showing Silbury Hill, Avebury, Stonehenge, Barbury Castle,  the elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water, UFOs, aliens – and of course, crop circles.




The pub has recently changed hands and the new owners intend to paint over the ceiling. Although the heyday of crop circles has passed, many still regard the plan as regrettable and there is a petition to save the ceiling here.

Essays we like. Rob Irving: Art and Artifice featured in The Circlemakers.

Metaphor is the key: we don’t necessarily have to either believe in, or reject, the phenomena to gain from the vision. By presenting us with unexpected novelty which threatens, cajoles and ultimately ridicules blind belief and its mirrored twin, blind scepticism, we learn new ways to perceive it.

Before they disappear this year, crop circles must surely appear as an article on the Journal. Now all good sceptics amongst us just know that they are made by the hand of man.  Mysterious flying objects from the sky that touch down, make an intricate pattern in the wheat, and then disappear without any appearance of their alien pilots, it  is unbelievable!  But in a long and cleverly argued essay by Rob Irving  the fact that the phenomena of manmade crop circles is an act of creative imagination which leads us forward in our thinking should not be dismissed.

So let’s welcome the sight of the intricate geometrical designs spread with such ease on the Wiltshire landscape, and don’t ask the more pertinent question as to why aliens are attracted to prehistoric monuments, could it be the white horses? or maybe it’s a ‘Banksy’ alien given to doodling graffiti in the wheat, or maybe it’s the human challenge of ‘designing’ something that will excite the imagination.  And on a more serious note, yes the farmers do get cross by what can often be seen as vandalism or destruction of valuable crops, especially by ‘crop circle tourists’ that invade the areas round Avebury and tramp round the circles with solemn expectancy of ‘earth energies’ but some farmers do seem to manage to profit by charging entrance fees, according to the following John Vidal article.

So whether you are a believer or a sceptic, read Rob Irving but if you are a tad sceptical, read John Vidal’s  article in the Guardian in 2009 titled – The bizarre revival of crop circles – and advice on how to make your own. It is a good historical overview of crop circles.



June 2022

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