Cakebole Lane, Nr Rushock, Worcestershire. Reported 16th July

Map Ref: SO8803471422

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Updated  Tuesday 25th July 2023


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FIELD REPORT pictogram at Rushock, Worcestershire reported Saturday 15th July, visited Thursday 20th July 


Rushock is a small village near to Kidderminster in an area which has not hosted a crop circle before and with no visible ancient monuments. The formation is towards the far side of a field of wheat and is not really visible from the road, however my attention was caught by a number of patches of wind-damage to the crop which are closer by. It's unlikely that there was ever a prehistoric feature here as the low-lying ground is clay and marl and was damp pasture (there is a clue in the name!) before draining and ploughing in recent times.

The Jon Bonham connection

It is not unknown for a crop formation to be precisely repeated in a different place, but this has (almost?) always been associated with the first instance being erased by the farmer. The 33-year interval between the famous Alton Barnes original and this incarnation at Rushock is of course unique, and pictograms have long been out of fashion anyway. The supposed link to Jon Bonham had led to speculation that this must therefore be a man-made copy executed in some kind of homage to the long-deceased Led Zeppelin drummer. This is a tenuous connection, however. Yes, Jon Bonham's grave is in the Rushock churchyard which almost overlooks the site, and yes a picture of Alton Barnes 1990 was used on the cover of their boxed set released in that year as well as on the Remasters album (which contains selections from the boxed set). However, that is as far as it goes. I cannot find out who designed the LP cover but it was certainly nothing to do with Jon Bonham who had died ten years earlier without ever having heard of crop circles. His former partner still owns the family home in Rushock and lives there for part of the year, but both Mrs. Bonham and their son Jason Bonham spend most of their time in the USA and were in California when the formation appeared.

In the field

Still, taking all this into account, I approached the formation with some scepticism. However I found it to be as convincing as any other which has appeared this year. It's a heavy crop of wheat which still needed a week of good weather to ripen the ears, so the grain is now certain to sprout in the wet weather and to be unsalvageable. The lay is clock-wise and anti-clockwise in different circles and has a good flow with the toothy edges to the circles typical of the way tall corn is swirled at this time of year. The central features were a bit messy but may well have been trampled by previous visitors. In one place there was a very elegant swirl where the lay changed direction and some rows of corn bent left then right around the turn.

Comparing the two formations

As usual, there was standing green corn along the tramlines (but see below about this) and in the northernmost large circle there were also a good scattering of mature stems still standing amidst the laid corn and in the 'key' area. This gave the softer, fuzzy appearance to this part of the formation which is also visible on the published drone shots. It is as if the power ran out at the end of the circle-making process! This was one of only two points of departure I could see from the East Field original. Unfortunately the quality of 1990 photos was not great, though today's are not much better and at least Lucy Pringle managed to get an overhead shot of East Field, something which seems to elude today's drone pilots, so it is not easy to compare precisely. But I think we can see that the 'laying pressure' was equal throughout the formation in the original. It's also visible that both instances of this pattern are very precisely aligned with the tramlines and are in exactly the same position with respect to them. The second discrepancy is that the final two small circles are aligned on the same axis in the original, whereas at Rushock they angle off to the west. This variation actually makes them harder to fake because it takes you further away from the tramlines. I couldn't see any clear points of entry or signs of footprints into those circles.

Meeting Mr. Jennings

While we were examining the formation, the farmer came out to send us on our way. I empathized with him over the loss of his corn, which is not insignificant, and found him very reasonable and even friendly by the end of quite a long conversation. Mr. Jennings was devastated by the damage to his crop and his livelihood, just when the corn was looking good and almost ready to harvest at a time of rising prices. This is a small family farm (200 acres is barely viable by modern standards), not one of the vast landholdings owned by distant corporations which we are familiar with in Wiltshire and which often cover several thousand acres. Yes, he can claim on his insurance, at the cost of his premium doubling next year, but to do that he has to show vandalism, which means getting a crime report from the police, which is a job in itself that he doesn't have time for. His family were away on holiday and he was on his own trying to get the combine ready for harvest time, the corn he has nurtured over the last 9 months is lying on the ground and now the NFU are telling him he needs to block access to the field more securely. Meanwhile the narrow lanes around this sleepy village have been filling with car loads of strangers and people like us are wandering over the land which has previously been trodden only by himself, his father and his grandfather. Many of the visitors are foreigners, of whom some don't even speak English, he claimed - and we could verify that ourselves from a chance encounter with the next group of visitors we met back on the road. He's not familiar with the online world, and is reliant on his nephew to relay information to him about the whole crop circle phenomenon. All this is disturbing for him and of course he was distressed and worried about what to expect if the weather was fine the next weekend, and not everything he says is strictly logical. But he had seen that we were keeping strictly to the tramlines, had not blocked any gateways and were not doing any further damage. So he gradually opened up to us. The NFU have told him to mow out the formation but the crop is too heavy for that at this stage. If it dries out and he can try to harvest, the combine won't be able to pick up the grain so close to the ground. Even harrowing and ploughing it in would be a massive job taking many passes, as he has grown a variety of wheat with strong stems that are resilient against wind blow, which means a huge volume of organic material to deal with. Any mechanical intervention is also likely to damage further areas of still standing crop. He has a real predicament on his hands. To my suggestion of accepting a fait accompli and charging visitors to enter the field, he counters that he doesn't have time to sit at the gate, and an honesty box would probably be stolen. If he welcomes people in, his insurers may say he is not protecting his fields properly. If he puts up a Keep Out notice, that may just attract people in. Maybe he is right. I have a lot of sympathy for his situation.

Jennings Farm Blues

I realize that I have never really taken seriously the farmer's point of view, being used to the absent Wiltshire agro-corporations who it seems could easily spare a half acre of downed crop if necessary. for the sake of hosting a magnificent work of art in their fields. But Mr. Jennings has a real connection to this land and to this, his biggest field. He knows all of its history going back a hundred years, where it is exposed to the wind, where the corn grows strongest, where there are damp patches due to a broken drain, and so on. He would like to cultivate it organically, he told us, but the sums just don't add up in terms of yield and prices, so instead he uses the minimum of sprays. Conspicuous in the middle of the field is the stump of an old oak tree which he climbed and played around as a child, once part of a hedgerow, now long since dead but preserved for sentimental reasons. So it was interesting to hear his story. He told us that his cousin had supposedly seen people in the field at 7:30p.m. on the Saturday evening, but didn't know what to make of it, and nobody went close enough to check that out or took the number of a white Transit van seen at the same time. Drones were also seen the same evening, apparently (or was it the next day?) On Sunday the news broke, drone photos emerged and locals starting connecting the dots and researching the cc phenomenon, although Mr. Jennings himself was too distressed to go and look for himself until several days later as he 'couldn't bear to see the damage'. He is 100% convinced that this and all crop circles are made by vandals and is sure that it is the people with drones who make them and are therefore able to announce them first. I had to agree with him that it is remarkable how the same few drone pilots are always the first to 'discover' new circles, especially when there are no airfields nearby and no other likely ways anyone could have seen a formation which is not overlooked from any public vantage point.

Starting from the assumption that all crop circles are man-made, Mr. Jennings naturally thinks that anybody who visits them is 'away with the fairies', and cannot fathom the interest they provoke, though he did grant an exception for my friend and myself after initially calling us 'Muppets', which was by far not the worst I've been called! We discussed the phenomenon at length and I think convinced him that even sane and intelligent people can be fascinated by crop circles, even if we couldn't agree on much! He had an answer for every point I made in favour of not all ccs being so easily explained away, and one of them was even persuasive: he says that the young green corn in the tramlines which is not laid although the ripe corn around it is - which I have always taken as a sign that it can't have been pressed by a mechanical force - can indeed be pressed down and will spring back up, which I tested and seems to be true! So I learnt something, though I would like to test this on a bigger scale and with a plank. He also felt that this formation was messy (I didn't agree) and that some others he had now seen aerial photos of were much more impressive in their geometry and symmetry. Again a fair point, but I have a suspicion that thinking this was not even a distinguished pattern which had graced his fields had only added insult to injury.

We left the field in a thoughtful mood as Mr. Jennings faced a new carload of Dutch visitors at the gate. When I started researching the story, I was intrigued to learn that there was a Led Zeppelin song called 'Jennings Farm Blues', which was an instrumental out-take from the Led Zeppelin III recording sessions recorded in December 1969. It was originally only available on bootleg albums but was reworked into the Bron-y-Aur stomp and later appeared on some compilation albums. Wikipedia attributes this title to the name of a farm which Robert Plant rented in Wales in 1970. But that was in the year after the song was composed. Other websites say 1973. The Jennings Farm in Rushock, neighboring the Bonham family home and in the next parish to where the Plants lived, where all the band visited, and where they could easily have wandered along the stream - our friendly farmer told us that his mother knows Mrs. Bonham well - seems more likely. Now there's a real synchronicity!

 Graham T

Images Graham T Copyright 2023





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