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Crop Circle Geometry

Decoding the famous Barbury Castle Crop Circle.

Geometrical construction and patterns are a fundamental part of Crop Circle design, and Wiltshire is home to many famous examples. Whilst some of the more basic designs are simple circles, many expand on this and reach far higher levels of complexity. Symmetry, ratios and proportions common throughout crop circles and provide a fascinating insight into the carefully laid down Euclidean geometry that often features at the heart of a Crop Circle.

The most well known proponent of theories basing crop circles on geometric principles has to be the Astronomer and former University Professor Gerald Hawkins, from Boston, USA. He studied many circles and discovered common ratios and specific dimensions throughout. Whereby the size of squares to circles would often be an exact multiple.

One of the most well known examples of direct mathematical influence has to be a 2008 circle that appeared in Barbury Castle, Wiltshire; a well known ancient site and Iron Age Hill Fort not far from the Barge Inn. Featured in the national press this fantastic formation was decoded to read the first 10 digits of Pi.

How hoaxes are constructed.
It is often argued that not all crop circles are of an otherworldly origin, but instead created by teams of dedicated hoaxers. A large part of the controversy surrounding this claim lies in the challenges associated with constructing such large and detailed formations, in the dark and over the space of only a few hours; all without being seen!

A genuine Crop Circle? Or a hoax?
Based on our Crop Circle research, these are some rough ideas of how it may be done.
- Start with a good plan and drawing. Try to stick to designing a pattern with more simple triangles and circles as these are easier to layout. Fractals, spirals and other more advanced designs are much more difficult to reproduce perfectly and take a long time.
- "You'll Never Stomp Alone". Whether you are an E.T or decidedly more human in origin, Crop Circles require some serious sq.ft'age of flattened crops. It is infeasible for any single person to make a large size crop circle on their own, so a team is often needed.
- Speaking of stomping, "Stomping boards" - about 4ft in length being the preferred size - are a vital part of the equipment used to construct Crop Circles. Other handy things to have would be a good length measuring tape (100ft+), GPS equipment (if you are really fancy), Portable Microwaves, step ladders and maybe an invisibility cloak...
- It is important to wait for the right conditions before deciding to make a crop circle. Make sure the weather has been dry and it is a clear moonlit night.
- Make sure to enter the field through the tramlines, go back the same way you came in and cover your tracks. As the National Trust would say, "Take only pictures, leave only footprints" - Except don't take any pictures... or leave any footprints for that matter...