© George Wingfield (1991), Francine Blake (1998), Lucy Pringle (1996)
Some examples of crop circles in East Field near Alton Barnes, Wiltshire (UK): The famous "1991 Pictogram" (known to many from the legendary Led Zeppelin LP-Cover), the 7-fold "Snowflake" that covered more than 6.000 square meters of flattened crop in 1998 and the "DNA-Helix" discovered in 1996.
Researchers behind the "Crop Circle Exhibition & Center" report a major breakthrough in tracing back the crop circle phenomenon in the world's hotspot - the village of Alton Barnes in Pewsey Valley in the heart of the south-western British county of Wiltshire. The memories of Shirley Carson, mother of East Field farmer Tim Carson, reveal that the area not only plays a key role in the modern-day crop circle phenomenon - but also hosted crop circles already in the 1940s and 50s.

Having organised and curated the very first exhibition on crop circles and the research behind the phenomenon in a science museum in 2014, crop circle researchers Monique Klinkenbergh and Andreas Müller present the extended version of their exhibition this year at the newly renovated barn house of The Barge Inn, a local pub at Honeystreet (near Alton Barnes) in Wiltshire.

Parallel to the exhibition and information centre, the two researchers also ask their visitors - especially local farmers and residents to crop circle fields - to share their experience with the phenomenon and carry out field investigation and interviews with the eyewitness.

© A. Müller/M. Klinkenbergh
Shirley Carson
In the course of this search Klinkenbergh and Müller learnt of the crop circle related memories of Mrs. Shirley Carson, mother of Tim Carson of Manor Farm in Alton Barnes, who farms the famous East Field at Alton Barnes, a field that played host to some of the most intricate and famous modern day crop circles.

Speaking with Shirley Carson in person it became clear that she remembers two crop circle events she had experienced herself during her childhood.

The first event happened in the late 1940s:

"One day my father came home from the fields and was quite exited, because he had discovered a circular ring flattened into the crop and wondered about what could have caused it. Its diameter was about 30 feet (10m) in diameter and its path was something like half a meter wide. My Father was a down to earth and rational man, he explained it soon to have been the work of an eerie whirlwind or dust twister - the ones you can see lifting up straw and dirt on a road. He thought this would be a reasonable explanation for this ring."
© A. Müller
Diagram based on description.
The second event happened in the early 1950s:

"This first explanation became questioned just a few years later when my father discovered another 'circle', but now made of two concentric rings of a similar size. While the crop in the inner circle was precisely laid in one direction (clockwise or anti-clockwise) the outer ring was laid in the opposite direction. In the view of this new "circle" we all realized that this could hardly bee explained by by a whirlwind anymore."

"We had no idea what could have caused it. But we did not wonder to much about it. However, we took it as a little mystery."

"It was a time when the fields had no tramlines (the tractor's drive-ways through the fields) yet, so the rings center in both cases was in the middle of undisturbed standing crop and while both circles were placed not two far from the field's edge, also this (feature) was kind of a mystery to us.
© A. Müller
Diagram based on description.
Both events were discovered in fields on the left hand-side between New Town and Old Shaw Village below Furze Hill.

While Shirley Carson herself clearly remembers the two "crop rings" she is not aware of any older and similar discoveries told by her grandparents and parents nor of anything after that: "...until the crop circle thing started again in the 1980s". She added: "There might have been circles and formations of course, but I am not aware of that."

While the story could be regarded by some as one of many vivid memories by farm family members, this case holds major clues for a better understanding not only of the modern day crop circle phenomenon in general but also for its past history dating back decades and even centuries ago.
© Steve Aexander, temporarytemples.co.uk (1998) / Andreas Müller (2001)
Also today those fields are still the home of several crop circle formations, for example in 1998 (l.) and 2001.
While crop circle researchers already learnt of other old crop circles in Wiltshire fields, like at the nearby Devizes in the 1920s or around the famous stone circle of Stonehenge in the 1960s, until now such reports from around East Field within Pewsey Valley were unknown and crop circles here were thought to have appeared here for the first time in the early 1990s (see images above).

Now we have a confirmation that crop circles also appeared in what is seen by many of the 'homeland' of the modern day phenomenon already in the 1940s and 50s. And this has several implications:
  • We now know, that crop circles appeared around Alton Barnes already in the 40s and 50s. This means nearly 40 years before the first examples of the 'modern phenomenon' were discovered here for the first time and made headlines world-wide.
  • We also see a geometrical evolution between the two examples described by Mrs. Carson: Already a ring (with no flattened centre) resembles a higher order in geometrical complexity, but the addition of a second concentric ring of the same width but flattened in opposite directions even takes it another step further.
  • It is of further note that 'Doug & Dave', the two pensioners famous for their questionable claim to have invented the phenomenon in the late 1970s and that they were "responsible for all crop circles" until their coming-out in 1991, never claimed to have worked in the Pewsey Valley at all. They also claimed that they had been inspired by so-called "saucer nests" discovered in the 1960s in Australia but not from early examples in the UK.
  • Carson's memory puts their claims for inventing the British crop circle phenomenon again in major question.