This article explores another modern and highly transient manifestation belonging to the category of Landforms, the crop circle. Thought in seventeenth century England to be the work of a mowing devil, and more recently hoaxers, the large crop fields created since the post-war tractor revolution play host to "sacred art" designs that farmers find intrusive, attracting members of the public (to be a-mazed) and aviators to curate these patterns for posterity. The tabloids used to indulge full page colour sections to crop circles but then were dissuaded perhaps by officialdom (we are mad) and apathy (we lose interest) since the finest examples do not give any trace of manual construction.
Figure 1 The first known newspaper story involving a Crop Circle
The majority of reports of crop circles have appeared since the late 1970s as many circles began appearing throughout the English countryside. This phenomenon became widely known in the late 1980s, after the media started to report crop circles in Hampshire and Wiltshire. After Bower's and Chorley's 1991 statement that they were responsible for many of them, circles started appearing all over the world. To date, approximately 10,000 crop circles have been reported internationally, from locations such as the former Soviet Union, the UK, Japan, the U.S., and Canada. Sceptics note a correlation between crop circles, recent media coverage, and the absence of fencing and/or anti-trespassing legislation. See <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crop_circle>
Without doubt, the crop circle phenomenon created part of a configuration of interests relating to Landforms, under the less-neutral name of Earth Mysteries. The analysis of crop circles relates well to megalithic circles, the sacred spaces of the ancient and classical world, spiritual iconography, yantras, mandalas and a turning towards Celtic and Eastern traditions. A rich alternative vision of the world was provided for a post-industrial and post-war Britain. At its heart the ancient mysteries were more than escapism or indulgence since, whatever was causing crop circles, they energised an almost lost tradition in which such patterns had formerly been related to the land.
Figure 2 John Michell, prototype for Dr Who, and his bestselling book (1969)
Chief amongst the advocates of this position was John Michell who arguable initiated it with The View over Atlantis, full of numerology and analyses of both landforms and the sites punctuating these. Prominent was a "ley-line" called the Michael Line, a set of definite monuments and landscape features, aligned at a 30 degrees North of East, from St Michael's Mount in Cornwall and passing through Avebury at its centre. Michell acted as a elder for an alternative traditionalism which had enchanted the British and other landscapes, this involving number sciences associated with astronomy, geometry, metrology alogside mythologies, calendars and heroes; especially those pertaining to Atlantis, New Jerusalem and "the matter of Britain".
A Crop Circle Revelation
Sacred geometry is part of the western traditional arts which emerged out of a medieval worldview dominated by ecclesiastical interest in Arithmetic, Geometry, Music and Astronomy - the four subjects of the Quadrivium taught in early colleges. Yet its traditional roots in Britain evidently go thousands of years further back, to pre-Christian Celtic and Neolithic times. Since then, secular arithmetic had been developed in the Near East, using numbers as mere counters and, it seems for this reason, numbers became detached from sacred geometry. By the 20th century, sacred geometry forbade measurement of geometry and made geometrical patterns with only compass and straight edge. Crop circles seem to present this modern view of sacred art, as being without thought of measurement. Yet to construct crop circles, as raised or laid areas of crop stems, over hundreds of feet and without errors or trampling the crop, would present problems requiring surveying and probably the measurement of lengths and even, a prior rehearsal. Few crop circles have been accurately measured, partly because of their transience and partly because, in harmony with sacred geometrical thinking, measuring them was thought irrelevant.
A crop circle appeared overnight on 27th August 2002 near the small hamlet in Wiltshire called Crooked Soley. Noticed by an aviator, the crop circle photographer Steve Alexander, [www.temporarytemples.co.uk], arrived minutes before its destruction by combine harvesters visible in some of his shots. Allan Brown tells the story of how he applied the numerical arts in attempting to fathom the secrets of its design, cowriting the book: Crooked Soley A Crop Circle Revelation, with John Michell (see Bibliography below)
The dimensions of the monument have been deduced for us, so it is worthwhile seeing if there are metrological elements in the Crooked Soley crop circle, alongside its Form: a looped DNA-like design within an annular ring that does not reach the circumference of a donut of 72 circles which define leaf-shaped areas (knocked down or standing) to produce a circular design of 1296 diamonds, shapes akin to a projective geometry. The central disk is completely untouched, a standing crop with no signs of having been used to define any of the Form's concentric circular features.
Figure 4 My 2006 Blog posting marking the 360 foot implied width, 300 feet actual boundary and 210 diameter rotating circles (defining the grid for the DNA pattern)
The theoretical extent of the pattern is 360 feet in diameter, whilst the 72 overlapping circles defining the grid are 210 feet across, each offset by 360/72 = 5 degrees radially on the outside of the pristine central circle. Another abstract central circle, 60 feet in diameter, is lost in the central disk yet the 72 rotating circles seem to roll like a hula hoop around it. These 210 foot circles would have a circumference, stated by Brown & Michell, of one furlong or 660 feet which is 1/8th of a mile of 5280 feet. Both the mile and the furlong are meridian measures (in the ancient model of the Earth) since they contain the prime number 11 in English feet. In constrast, the 210 feet of the 72 circles contains the number 7 as a factor and this allows the pi value of 22/7 to yield the 660 foot furlong, having gained prime number 11 from pi. It therefore seems likely that Crooked Soley relates to the Model of the Earth revealed by Michell and Neal. I turn to that model and Michell's observation that the distance between Stonehenge and Avebury was exactly one quarter of one latitudinal degree on the mean earth.
Secrets of the 52nd Parallel
Crooked Soley lies just over a minute of a degree north of Avebury, within the 52nd parallel between 51 and 52 degrees. This degree has the unique property of having the same north-south width as every degree would have on an earth that was perfectly spherical and therefore did not rotate, at which point the earth would inscribe a unit cube equal to the mean earth diameter.
Figure 5 John Michell's model of the polar radius of the Earth as adapted in Heath 2014. Figure 6.12.
The north-south distance from Stonehenge to latitude (360/7 degrees) of Avebury is 17.28 miles. Multiplied by four this is 69.12 miles, the width of the 52nd parallel. The number of miles, 17.28, reminds of the number of feet in a canonical royal cubit of 1.728 feet, Michell analysing the quarter degree in terms of the royal cubit to arrive as his 1152 unit model for the polar radius in The Measure of Albion. The length is 91238.4 feet which in royal canonical cubits of 1.728 feet is 52800. However, correspondence and subsequent analysis led me to cleaning up this length by using a different type of foot, related to the Persian (21/20) and Manx (25/24) foot modules, and forming the geographical Manx foot of 1.056 feet, of which there are 86400 between Stonehenge and Avebury. The entire 52nd degree then has a width of 345600 Standard Geographical Manx (Std Geo Manx) feet. This metrology appears to have been used to link (a) the polar radius of the earth to (b) the 52nd Parallel and hence (c) the mean earth at Crooked Soley.
Figure 5 The Manx Module present in both the crop circle and the 52nd Parallel of Latitude. This module overlaps the Persian and was predicted as unique within metrology in my book "Sacred Number and the Lords of Time" 169-171, relative to the 52nd Parallel and the Astronomical Megalithic Yard. The Manx foot has been found historically by Paul Quayle, contained within Isle of Man measuring rods [Quayle, 2017]
The central and pristine disk of crop is 75 feet in radius and in Manx feet of 25/24 feet it is therefore 72 Manx feet, whilst the 72 circles that rotate about it are 105 ft in radius which makes them 100 Persian feet of 21/20 feet, a foot equally callable the Standard Canonical Manx foot**.
**where the word canonical that evolved by Michell from the fact that many measures or measurements could be made canonical - meaning without an endless fractional part - through the ratios 126/125 or 176/175; with seven a factor in the numerator or denominator, respectively.
Figure 6 The simplified geometry of Crooked Soley.
I propose a method for Crooked Soley's construction:
- An initial circle was probably defined by a square equal its diameter.
- An outcircle could then arrive at the incircle using a border width 72 x (sqrt(2) - 1) = 29.823 = 30 Olympic feet.
- A pole is raised every 44/7 Manx feet (defined using a 1 Manx foot radius).
- A rope is used to arc either side within the actual perimeter that gives 18 grid units along the arc.
- 72 x 18 = 1,296 grid "squares" form within which the pattern is created by flattening some squares.
Equating Polar Radius and 52nd Parallel
Crooked Soley appears to reference the Manx module (as in figure 5), but to understand why requires one note a numerical similarity between the Model of the Earth and the 52nd Parallel of latitude.
One of the extraordinary ways of viewing the polar radius is in terms of a Royal Mile which is 8/7 of the English mile of 5280 feet [Heath, 2007. ]. It is therefore 5280 royal feet and is 6034.285714 feet long. The polar radius is 3456 royal miles long. Strangely, the 52 Parallel is 345600 Std Geo Manx feet long revealing a metrological relationship between the two lengths.
The 345600 geographical Manx feet of the 52nd Parallel make it a scale model of the 3456 royal mile polar radius if 100 geo Manx feet are equated with the royal mile and, in Crooked Soley, the 72 larger circles are instead 100 canonical Manx feet. If the 52nd Parallel is 3456 x 100 feet wide, then these 100 feet must equal the 6034.285714 feet of the royal mile and each foot must represent 60.34286 feet. If one divides 60.34286 feet by 60, one realizes the ratio of the Greek Olympic foot of 176/175 feet, so that each foot at Crooked Soley equals 60 Olympic feet at the Pole. This means the polar radius is commensurate in Olympic feet, which it is!
- The polar radius is 3456 x 8/7 = 3949.7143 miles which is 20854491.43 English feet.
- Divide this by 176/175 to get 20736000, a canonical number(see **above) whose factors are 2^11 x 3^4 x 5^3 (= 20,736,000).
- Dividing this number by 60 Olympic feet one obtains the number we first thought of, 345600 such units in the polar radius corresponding with 345600 geographical Manx feet, the width of the 52nd Parallel.
The Symbolism of the Two Types of Circle
The Mean Earth: The central circle of pristine crop is 72 Manx feet of 25/24 feet whilst its circumference is 3168 Manx feet, and so one would draw the 72 circles with a rope 72 Manx feet from centers spaced five degrees (5 x 72 = 360), and this would be achieved as a length on the circumference of (3168/7) / 72 = 44/7 Manx feet, the value of 2*pi.
The Polar Radius: The radius of the 72 circles, being 100 Persian feet of 21/20, represents 100 x 60 = 6,000 Olympic feet of 176/175 feet, which equal 6034.285714 feet, the royal mile of which there are 3456 in the polar radius.
The physical Earth is rotating around the Pole whilst the polar radius is here rotating around the mean Earth as if forming 72 spokes, so that the outer circles are the actual earth in orbit around the mean Earth. The only manifestation in this crop circle is the band within which DNA is drawn out of pixels made from the juxtaposition of the 72 circles. Life occupies Tropics and temperate regions and the strand of DNA avoids the edges of the band, these representing the north and south polar regions. Everything else mentioned above, all the invisible points, lines and measurements and types of foot are invisible but support the central symbolism of the band as being life carried along by the solar year - which is a cereal paradise. Of great beauty is the fact that cereal fields used to be based upon the stade, of 600 feet, of which the furlong is the stade in which the Saxon foot of 11/10 = 1.1 feet were used for the British "furrow long".
Turning again to John Michell, the area of a circle of radius 12 feet is 3168/7 square feet [DoP, 43], the circumference of the central circle. This is because the central circle is 144 Manx feet whilst 12 feet squared is 144 square feet, then times pi. The distance between centers used for the 72 circles, around this circle, were 44/7 Manx feet apart - so that the 72 circles represent rotation of the Earth.
Brown, Allen & Michell, John. Crooked Soley: A Crop Circle Revelation. Sussex: Roundhill Press 2005.
Heath, Richard. Sacred Number and the Lords of Time: The Stone Age Invention of Science and Religion. Rochester: Inner Traditions 2014.
Heath, Robin and Michell, John. The Measure of Albion: The Lost Science of Prehistoric Britain. Cardigan: Bluestone Press 2004. reprinted in facsimile as Lost Science of Measuring the Earth: Discovering the Sacred Geometry of the Earth. 104.
Michell, John. 1971-2008.The Dimensions of Paradise, Sacred Geometry, Ancient Science, and the Heavenly Order on Earth. Rochester: Inner Traditions 2008. 43.
Quayle, Paul. Manx linear measures in; Isle of Man Studies Vol. XV: Proceedings of the Isle of Manx Natural History and Antiquarian Society.