How old is the crop circle phenomenon? Most people think that we are dealing with a modern contemporary phenomenon only, born out of the blue in the 1970s in England. However, the truth is different as the history of crop circles dates back many decades, centuries and maybe even millennia and reaches much further than only Britain. The first descriptions of what we would today call ‘crop circles’ can be found in legends, folklore and fairy tales spread over different continents. However, these orally past tales are hard to date.
As soon as written documents came into use, events appearing to be crop circles became part of written history. The oldest document that was found so far is a report of a witch trial held in 1590. But it t would take another four centuries (1990) for the phenomenon to become known worldwide. And that happened only a mile from Honeystreet where our Crop Circle Centre & Exhibition is located, see map below.
Fig. The East Field on Andrews’ and Dury’s Map of Wiltshire, in 1773. Honeystreet Village left below. © Map of Wiltshire. Originally published by Ordnance Survey, Southampton, 1878-1890.
For many centuries crop circles were mainly small and simple in design, and the phenomenon was relatively unknown to the general public. This situation changed fundamentally on 12th July 1990 with the mysterious appearance of a 600ft. long-drawn pictogram in East Field, near the parishes Alton Barnes, Alton Priors and Honeystreet in the Vale of Pewsey, Wiltshire.
The event made headlines and awakened a worldwide interest in the crop circle phenomenon. Thousands came to Wiltshire to experience them first hand. Research organizations multiplied in numbers. The event preluded a new era in modern crop circle history. Throughout the years that followed a sudden increase and shift took place in crop circle designs, size, numbers and locations.
Much has been learnt since. The timeline and exhibition features the most essential events, topics, facts and factoids from ‘Before and After 1990’.
The East Field Pictogram from the air. The villagers of Alton Barnes were left with two burning questions: How did it get there, and why? Photo © George Wingfield