Combe Hill, Nr Bratton, Wiltshire. Reported 30th July 2023

Map Ref: ST9092751294

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Updated  Thursday 3rd August 2023


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Field Report Combe Hill recorded 30th July, visited 31st July


This formation is in a stunning location on the edge of Salisbury Plain, looking north over the Avon Valley with Bradford and Bath to the left, Bratton and Trowbridge in front and Devizes to the right. It can be accessed by lanes and drivable by-ways from Westbury, Bratton or the Westbury White Horse direction, and all roads lead you past the huge Iron Age enclosure known as Bratton Camp, within which is a much earlier Neolithic long barrow. There's a big car park there and you can also continue east along the Ridgeway to find the crop circle in the third field on the left after the former White Horse Farm on the corner. To the south of the Ridgeway starts the Ministry of Defense land, as marked on the OS map and with warnings on firing practice clearly signed along the trackside. The Ridgeway itself is open to all traffic here, there are places to park alongside which allow room for passing farm machinery and there are numerous public paths criss-crossing the edge of the plain and down the escarpment to Bratton village: lovely walks for a sunny day!

In the valley below is the airfield of RAF Keevil which is now run by Joint Helicopter Command, whose activities will be familiar to regular crop circle visitors as far north as the Pewsey Vale and the Milk Hill area. However the airfield is also host to model aircraft flying and a glider club, so there are plenty of people who could have seen the formation as their planes caught the thermals up onto the plain.

 Keen observers will know that Bratton Camp has attracted crop circles several times before, notably in 1990, 2007, 2010 and 2019, but they have never before appeared in the field in question or its immediate neighbors. The reason for this was apparent on entering the field. The patch of green visible just below the formation on some of the drone photos turned out to be a large stand of nettles around a galvanized cattle trough still supplied with water and perhaps leaking slightly. This was apparently pasture land until recently. It now carries a heavy crop of short-stalked wheat which is ripe and ready to harvest as soon as it can get enough sun to dry out properly.


It was raining lightly during our visit but there was no mud in the field on this thin chalky soil favoured by the circlemakers. It was easy to go in at the corner gateway without damaging any crop and to walk along to the fifth tramline down before heading north across the field. Sadly two car-loads who followed us in, and saw us carefully exiting along the perimeter tramline, nevertheless charged straight through the crop. No wonder access gets closed down... Five tramlines pass through the formation, making the total size of the pentagonal pattern about 140m across (assuming a 24m tramline separation). It is highly symmetrical, with little variation between the lay in different parts: nice and flowing throughout the 5 'spiraling' arms (which are actually all halves of circles) and 5 evenly spaced concentric rings, with surprisingly little compression considering the stage of growth. I failed to measure these pathways but they were wide and spacious, maybe 2m across. The 'arms', the outer ring from which these emerge and the next ring in are all laid clockwise, the third ring is anti-clockwise, the fourth clockwise, the fifth anti-clockwise and it's back to clockwise for the inner circle. The crop was still quite springy where not already walked on; I seem to remember laid wheat being a lot more flattened when this close to harvest time back in the day, and I wonder if this is due to a lighter application of the circle-making force or perhaps to yields being higher and the crop more bulky.


In the 5 three-quarter circles marking the corners of the pentagon and in the central inner circle, the lay was softer and looked messy with plenty of stalks still standing, apparently at random. However from the one usable aerial shot we have so far, it was clear that there was a 'combed' pattern going on here, with the laid crop concentrated in circular rows which are again concentric throughout, not spiral. As always it would have been wonderful to have some sharply focused and high-res overhead photos showing the details of this, which were very hard to discern on the ground. Near the centers of all the outer circles was an elaborate feature involving multiple layers both swirled and straight, with in a couple of cases the remains of a small standing tuft at the very center of the lay (although as usual, not at the geometrical center of the circles). Perhaps these were originally in all the circles, before the corn was battered by wind and rain. We suspected that the formation may not have been immediately discovered despite its proximity to the the airfield and it may have been there already for several days while no-one was flying due to the bad weather.


I noticed that the tramline tracks were unusually wide in this field (i.e. made by a wider tractor tire). At the same time, picking up on a topic from previous reports, the strips of unflatten crop stalks along their edges in otherwise laid areas were substantial and included mature as well as green stalks. What is more, when I tested by hand (admittedly only three stalks), they flattened easily and did not spring back up, so they were never laid.


This was a very impressive formation which gave us a sense of peace and somehow reminded me of T.S. Eliot's Burnt Norton:


At the still point of the turning world, neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.  






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Mark Fussell & Stuart Dike