Report on Eye-Witnessed Event at Salthrop, Wiltshire.

[I felt compelled to write this article as there doesn’t seem to be much out there on this topic which I find curious. This topic would seem to me to be the bottom line. Anyway, here goes and I hope it will help to clarify and reassure.] 

I arrived on the scene at around lunchtime the 7/7/13. The three characters had already been hard at it for some 5 hours and were looking pretty fatigued by this time I have to say. The time lapse camera mounted on a pylon was recording their every move supervised by the commissioning professional French film crew, about 6 in number as I recall. This was all in a field near Salthrop just south of Swindon farmed by the same farmer as at Hackpen Hill who I know personally so my information is reliable. The amount the farmer was paid far outweighed the value of the potential lost crop, a relatively small area in fact, so the farmer couldn’t lose and managed to harvest most of the crop anyway as hardly anybody visited it, so in consequence relatively little damage done! This is a point of interest to me as it seems collectively we still actually need indisputable eye witness account of an event being made by humans, as is the case here, to discourage our tendency to visit despite the attempts of the debunkers and the story tellers. After all, there is obviously zero magic with a known human made pattern. So many CCs have some sort of story associated with them commonly designed to discourage, as in the case of Yatesbury 2011 but many people still visited commenting on it’s beauty. It’s almost like in our hearts we instinctively know something mysterious has occurred. No such positive comments did I hear regarding the Salthrop pattern though…it was largely ignored despite being ‘open’. 

So, quid’s in, Mr Farmer! Personally I have no problem with farmers taking people’s money that are stupid enough to just come along and hand it over for some lame exercise such as this. Far better price than the going rate for barley which I believe was running at about £200 ton at that time. That laid area was probably worth about £50 max. Farmer laughing all the way to the bank as they say! However, I am under no illusion whatsoever as to what the film maker’s motives were here. Perhaps the farmer’s fee will be under review next season! Interesting thought that. We shall see. 

Anyway, the planking stuff was all done by about 4.50pm. having started at around 8am. They all went off looking pretty exhausted (one guy who I think was referred to as ‘John’ just perched on the five bar gate directly in front of me for a while sweating and looked totally knackered!...thought he might actually fall off at one point!) Hard to imagine this bunch (or any ) pulling a stunt like this off in a paddy field in Java or Sumatra (CCs there in 2011 I think) with humidity running at 80% with the risk of indigenous running around with machetes or some such! All the dogs would have been going nuts!

And then…at about 6pm… on came the official ‘Mr. Farmer’ representative. Well, well, well, a chap I recognised from Yatesbury two seasons ago. 

I must tell you that I found this whole business both fascinating and most entertaining…great fun!

Now, the farmer about to be interviewed was the very same farmer who would have us all believing his Yatesbury CC two seasons ago was made by a bunch of kids from a local youth club. Amazingly due to the misinformation and propaganda exercise going down at that time, he had the most gullible believing him…including, incredibly some well known so called ‘researchers’!!! But that’s another story. (I personally submitted undeniable photographic evidence and field report to the contrary in terms of biophysical anomalies much to his and his cohort’s annoyance I dare say! You can see the photos on CCC ) But from my point of view seeing him here was the perfect opportunity to cross-reference, identifying this guy as one who supports the human-made approach, likes being in the limelight and actively involved in debunking campaigns it would seem. Many farmers as we all know support the human made position but few go the extra mile by getting involved to this extent…they’re too busy for one thing! Anyway, I watched this guy pacing up and down for ages with a bit of paper (all absolutely true) rehearsing his lines in preparation for his staged ‘performance’…the farmer interview slot. The whole thing seemed like a bit of a farce to me but that’s probably because I had the advantage of witnessing it directly. To the gullible, naive and uninformed, when viewing the actual film it will probably all seem quite plausible no doubt. I don’t know how many times it took for him to get it right but it felt like an age…take after laborious retake…quite tedious. 

Finally, the crew put a drone in the air to do some movie ‘takes’ of the work and I’d suggest any tell-tale features/flaws moving at that height would not be clear. However, they seemed to pay particular attention to one area that I believe had been prepared/dressed for the take.

Anyway, I patiently waited until all was done, time noted 7.30pm. The crew were there the best part of 12 hours in all. Please remember, the planking started at about 8am. and took nearly 9 hours…finished 4.50pm! This is important to remember especially as all was done in broad daylight and in perfect weather conditions. At this time of year there are only around 5 hours of good darkness so it really does beggar the question, and this is the crux… “If it took them, allegedly the most skilled and experienced people in the business nearly 9 hours to do this relatively small, and as it turned out, a relatively simple pattern, how on Earth could a much larger and far more sophisticated one, and one containing biophysical anomalies and positioned in an inaccessible field/location, maybe on uneven ground requiring topographic adjustment and at night, be done and in less than 5 hours?” This would commonly be the case with many CCs. Just use common sense here… please. I watched the painstaking way in which these people paced and measured with a tape and a stick. Attempting to construct a more complicated pattern using this technique at night with time restraints and threat of discovery borders on the absurd…no, IS TOTALLY absurd! 

The location itself was perfect for access as literally right next to the road and there were no worries regarding ‘discovery’ as they worked with the full knowledge of the farmer who they were required to pay a considerable sum of money for the privilege. Well done Mr. Farmer! ( Mr. Farmer is ‘cottoning on’….English term for ‘getting wise’) [I know the precise amount but it would seem indiscreet to reveal it here]. My guess was the ‘doers’ who are recognised I believe as… “The most experienced there are”, were paid for the task by the film company/sponsor who also paid the farmer. If the planker’s vehicle was anything to go by I really don’t think these guys would have toiled away at this job all day long for zero gain…they looked like they needed a few quid and were clearly not getting much work!! Think about this. I thought to myself later after going into the CC…”Well, if these guys are the best in the business and this is the best they can do in these favourable conditions then case closed as far as I’m concerned.” 

Once all were away and gone I went over to the CC and did an appraisal of their work, a rare opportunity to use it as a ‘control’ sample, a comparison from a CC 100% known to be made by human beings (as opposed to people’s ‘claims’ and stories which do not count I’m afraid ) to countless others visited believed to be of mysterious/unknown origin. My first impression was…”Umm, not that bad I suppose.”

However, to an experienced eye the differences were simply obvious. Then I thought…”Bless them, they have done their best and had been at it for over 8 hours in good daylight”. At this point I remembered something. After the three plankers had finished this other guy came on the scene and spent a considerable length of time going systematically around the pattern adjusting and tidying, or that is all I can think he was doing, stooped down, moving slowly and methodically most likely making it look as smart as he could. What a long winded and time consuming business I thought. 

So to continue, I started to walk around with a more critical eye. The most obvious point to me was lack of finesse …it just didn’t have the ‘feel’. It’s like the auctioneer knowing the difference between the cheap reproduction and the valuable aged antique…you get to know and recognise your craft… the qualities. Evidence of foot tread was just about everywhere as you would expect, something not seen first thing in mysterious CCs obviously.( I am commonly 1st. person into new CCs and indeed have discovered CCs on the ground due to my camping in the landscape during the season so I’m in a position to compare.) No ‘machine-like’ quality, as I call it, about the lay at all. Nothing appeared tight and certainly no features I recognise from many other CCs like, still-standing flower/other species or single stem standing in otherwise laid areas…every plant was pushed down. Certainly nothing like ‘energy leak’ or tracking/pathing, underlayering, multilayering, barley ‘waterflow’ effect/contraflow, or unnecessary/’irrelevant’ design features…I could go on. (They’ll probably read this and think…”Umm, we must remember to include those next time”… Ho! ho!) But seriously, it didn’t do it for me at all, in fact to be honest it made me feel a bit depressed. The very thought of the lengths and expense some will go to and for what? Well, the closest I got to an answer was from one of these planking characters that when finished he came over to where I was parked, I felt in a little bit of an attempted intimidatory and arrogant manner (unsuccessful) and taking photos of me and my van. I said to him… “Why do you do this film”? ( literally nothing else). He replied…”It’s for you lot!!” and pointed his finger at me in a rather unnecessary way let’s say. Ok…. We left it at that. 

Chualar 2013 for instance on the one hand is huge and geometrically perfect. Salthrop on the other is relatively small and appears full of errors ...bottom and right-middle of frame are the more obvious ones...highlighting the maker's limitations evidently. 

So, if these people make errors with such a small and simple pattern with no pressures upon them, it begs the question..."How on Earth could they be expected to construct a huge pattern like Chualar.... or indeed, any far more complex, possibly 3D type forms often requiring topographic adjustment, having time and light restraints and with fear of detection etc.?" I haven't even gone into biophysical anomalies. ( Please see cropped photo...speaks for itself I think). The majority of CCs are 100% geometrically perfect if you look back in the archives.

[As a footnote, you may be interested to know that the so called ‘Engagement’ pattern publicised and confirmed as human made end of last year (2012), and again as I know the farmers personally, I can tell you that it too took about 8 hours to construct and a fee was charged by the farmer for compensation and inconvenience. Farmer told me they started about 9pm and finished at about 5am the following morning…so all without daylight on this occasion. (Why they chose to do it under the cover of darkness is a mystery since it was done with the farmer’s consent.) The farmer told me they said they were not happy with the final result as the… “Edges weren’t good”… for one thing. Interesting. The reality was that the image seen on the internet was nowhere near a true representation of the actual ground work. The image was enhanced and made to look tidy and neat by the use of vector lines, no question. All we could see from the air was the impression of a circumference line once it was harvested. This event was planned to happen and actioned literally just before the crop was due to be harvested. Perhaps they didn’t want to be watched. I believe this was deliberate so there was no chance to inspect the ground lay by other parties! So big point again, not forget, 8 hours to construct only 5 of which good solid darkness. 

The way things are going, it will take a very brave man indeed next season to try anything unauthorised. But of course this won’t happen anyway. However if anyone did get caught by a farmer attempting CCs unauthorised they will be dealt with to the full extent of the law I understand. But I dare say we will still get the usual claims and stories I was telling you about.] 

So, very educational day in all.

After a very hot and interesting day, I was packing up and the farmer’s wife popped by to say hello and showed me her new clutch of chicks together with proud mother hen she had in the back of her 4x4 vehicle. Brilliant...I loved that.

Now, that bit made so much sense…very grounding; the other, well, I’ll leave you to fathom all of that out! 

Happy Circling, Paul Jacobs. (CGI) 


Mark Fussell & Stuart Dike

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