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TEN ESSENTIAL cerealogists acknowledging the most iMPORTANT of all time

Cerealogists. The people who have driven the circles phenomenon. You may love certain names, hating others. Regardless of their individual personalities some researchers have played an important role in the development of the crop circle world and have left a legacy behind them. Others may have had a far shorter involvement but produced work that sets them apart from their peers. Based on these criteria, prepare to be introduced to possibly the ten most important cerealogists of all time. But first...

THOSE WHO MISSED OUT

PATRICK HARPUR - Harpur is a Fortean and author with a huge knowledge of Western Esotericism. More so than any other cerealogical writer, Harpur recognised the similarity between the circle making force and the trickster figures from ancient cultures. His article 'Mercurius in the Cornfields' appeared in the first issue of The Cerealogist and remains the gold standard in croppie literature.

RICHARD ANDREWS - It seems quaint in 2020 but dowsing was a disputed skill utilised by a good number of cerealogists to establish the paranormality of a crop circle. Pat Delgado ... Busty Taylor were just two, but leading the herd was Richard Andrews, a long-term devotee of the art. He believed the circles were formed in two separate stages. ‘First, an intelligent force acts from above on earth energies and thus creates an invisible pattern which predetermines the direction in which each individual corn stem will fall. At a later time, a subterranean force starts the process which creates the visible form in the corn field.’ Within genuine formations, Andrews claimed, one could find dowsable lines of energies. If they weren't there you had a 'hoax'. Andrews was instrumental in guiding other croppies to take up the dowsing rods, holding the view that crop circles were the bearers of some hidden knowledge that humans were only beginning to understand. From time to time one can still bump into a dowser inside a crop circle. Ask them about Richard Andrews and see if you can stay awake for the next six hours.

MICHAEL GLICKMAN - Adored and despised in equal measure, Michael Glickman is a former architect who stepped into croppiedom during 1990 and refused to leave. He has provided endless delight to readers of his books and articles on geometric reverse-engineering of crop circles, and interpretation of hidden meanings in their designs. Unknowingly or otherwise, Glickman's near-fanatical hatred and incredulous though misguided disdain of human circle makers still provides paranormalists with a figure to rally behind.

JOHN MARTINEAU - Martineau is one of the more curious figures from the cerealogical golden era. He was among the very first people to make any significant studies of the geometry contained inside crop circles, but was also the non-stomping 'creative director' of UBI, a circle making group who were attempting to converse with extraterrestrials. Today Martineau runs the Wooden Books publishing company.

Ten to Six

TEN

TERRY WILSON

Time for a largely unsung figure... Few other cerealogists have spent so much time researching the prehistory of crop circles as Terry Wilson. His resulting book documented possible circles through the centuries and remains a key reference work on the phenomenon. Sadly and unfairly, Wilson's reputation took a bit of a dent when he spent time producing his own crop circles as a research exercise. He maintains the Men Who Conned the World and Old Crop Circles websites and clearly still believes there is a genuine mystery.

NINE

BUSTY TAYLOR

The best hair in cerealogy ... Busty Taylor

For so long part of the leading cerealogical team with Colin Andrews and Pat Delgado, Frederick Taylor is featured here not for his ideas but his pioneering photography, being the very first to use a pole mounted camera to capture novel images from the ground. A pilot's licence also allowed Busty to take to the air and it was from this perspective he captured some of his most memorable photographs. A dispute over Taylor's contribution to Andrews and Delgado's book Circular Evidence led to a well publicised rift, though Busty remained on the scene and has contributed his photographs to a huge assortment of publications.

EIGHT

LUCY PRINGLE

Lucy Pringle ... more relevant than ever.

It seems like Lucy Pringle has been around forever and at this moment she unwittingly fills the role of the crop circle phenomenon's leading guardian. Possessing the gravitas of experience and always overflowing with enthusiasm, she epitomises the gently eccentric middle-class clique who set up the Centre for Crop Circle Studies in 1990. If it's anything to do with circles, custard cream biscuits, Agatha Christie books or garden parties then Lucy will know about it. We've all seen her photography, read her books and heard her anecdote laden interviews. Her studies into the effects of crop circles on the human body may not be truly scientific but have consistently made people sit up and take notice. Pringle is gracefully immune to any criticism thrown at her, navigating through the flak and continuing to fight the cerealogical cause of those who still dare to dream. Hurrah for Lucy!

SEVEN

GEORGE WINGFIELD

Say what you like about George Wingfield; he made it onto Larry King's show!

A systems engineer with IBM, George Wingfield encapsulated the paranoia whipping above and around the confused minds of cerealogists during the first half of the 90s. He loved a good bit of drama, did George, spending time as a contributor and editor to both The Circular, the journal of the Centre for Crop Circle Studies, and The Cerealogist. During this time he became totally convinced of Doug Bower and Dave Chorley's role as secret services puppets, their confession in TODAY newspaper being copyright of MBF Services, an organisation he believed was a Ministry of Defence contractor. Not long after, he quit his post of editor of The Circular after the CCCS's leadership refused him permission to out circle maker Jim Schnabel as an alleged secret agent. Nobody else since - not even Andy Buckley - has come close to viewing the relationship between crop circles and the powers that be through such suspicious eyes.

SIX

JOHN MACNISH

John Macnish

Macnish found himself drawn into the croppie bubble during his stint as a production staff member on BBC's Daytime Live television show. With guests including Colin Andrews and Delgado playing up the phenomenon's mystery angle, Macnish became enveloped in what was occurring in the fields of southern England. Using his own money Macnish began to produce his own film on the circles, Crop Circle Communique (see above) but his journey would veer off on a sceptical tangent after news broke of Doug and Dave's claims to have made many of the crop circles between the end of the 1970s and 1991. Macnish used the opportunity to work with the pair across the 1992 season, filming their work using timelapse photography. He also ventured out into the fields with American circle maker Jim Schnabel to watch him at close hand. Macnish's involvement in critical cerealogy came to a close with the release of his Crop Circle Communique 2 film and Cropcircle Apocalypse book. Both were widely criticised by paranormalist croppies but serve as a cutting insight into the realities of 1990s cerealogy and circle making.

Five to One

FIVE

JOHN MICHELL

The late John Michell ... Earth Mysteries legend.

Esotericist John Michell was already a counterculture legend when he became involved in cerealogy. His books The Flying Saucer Vision and The View Over Atlantis provided a hugely influential New Age take on the relationship between Albion, leys (straight alignments of significant landscape features), UFOs, earth energies and the origins of our ancient ancestors. A proponent of the British-Israelite movement - a belief that England is destined to become the New Jerusalem as home to the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel and their arcane knowledge - Michell infused his writing with a warm, mystical, nationalistic pride. He truly felt England to be the hub of a hidden knowledge just waiting to be rediscovered by its people. It seemed a natural progression for Michell to take an interest in crop circles during the 1980s; his knowledge of geometry and numerology allowing him to offer intriguing comment on the possible meanings of formations, notably the Crab Wood alien and the Crooked Soley DNA loop. His co-authored book on Crookey Soley remains a high point of crop circle inspired literature. Michell became the first editor of The Cerealogist magazine in 1990. During this tenure he possessed the thoughtful dignity of an individual prepared to allow all viewpoints and perspectives on the phenomenon.

FOUR

Pat Delgado

Cerealogical nice guy ... the late Pat Delgado

Though not as widely revered as his research partner Colin Andrews, the late Pat Delgado was the first of the pair on the scene. A former soldier, engineer and designer, Delgado was intrigued by the circles he saw near Winchester in 1983. He compiled a report of these markings and submitted it to Flying Saucer Review magazine for publication. This was to have a massive effect on the phenomenon’s development, bringing it to the general attention of the ufological fraternity. The association has never gone away; say 'crop circle' and someone close by will begin to loudly ponder the existence of alien life. Whilst Delgado shared the high points of his cerealogical career with Andrews he was very much alone in the early autumn of 1991 when he declared a circle made by Doug Bower and Dave Chorley to possess a 'genuine' supernatural origin. Even now the subsequent report published in TODAY newspaper makes for uncomfortable reading as Delgado pleads with Bower and Chorley to gently tail off the circles to avoid breaking the hearts of paranormalists. Fallible yet dignified, Delgado had the self-respect to step back from the cerealogical front line and watch from afar, occasionally reverse engineering the designs of complex crop circles and submitting his reports to magazines such as The Cerealogist.

THREE

Terence Meaden

Terence Meaden ... the kindliest looking face in cerealogy.

Possessing a PhD equivalent in physics from Oxford University, Terence Meaden stood as one of the leading anti-paranormalists in the cerealogical world. He strove to demonstrate how science could trump superstition and, as a consequence, experienced strained relations with many of his peers. Yet Meaden was also a pioneer … albeit one prepared to cling to a discredited theory for far too long. Following contact by a Bristol based UFO investigation group, Meaden, as editor of the Journal of Meteorology, suggested three small circles discovered at Bratton Camp in 1980 could have been created by isolated, stationary whirlwinds formed after pockets of air were trapped up against a hillside. Weaknesses in the hypothesis arose as early as 1983 with the discovery of a crop circle at Upton Scudamore well away from a hillside. Nonetheless, Meaden simply shifted the boundaries of his concept to do away with escarpments in favour of ‘gently rolling hills’ within an ‘undulating landscape’. Further movement of the goalposts occurred when witnesses claimed to have heard a circle forming. In turn Meaden ventured the noise could have been the consequence of the whirlwind developing an electrical charge as it span. The arrival of pictograms in 1990 forced Meaden to acknowledge the extent of human circle making, though he still believed some simple circles could have been caused naturally. What Meaden failed to reckon for was collusion between a known hoaxing group and a documentary making team to create simple circles on land near Marlborough. In front of the cameras Meaden declared these circles to be 'genuine in every way’, effectively ending his cerealogical career.

TWO

Colin Andrews

Colin Andrews looking very technical in one of those 1980s jumpers...

From the late eighties and into the following decade, Colin Andrews and Pat Delgado were the public face of cerealogy. Talking of unknown intelligences manufacturing the circles, the pair's names and faces were spilled across television screens, magazines and newspapers. They cooperated to measure, examine and record the details of new formations and used this data as the backbone of their best-selling 1989 book Circular Evidence. That same year both believed they had witnessed the sound of a circle making force during the Operation White Crow field watch. They even shared the public humiliation of being duped by human circle makers in front of global media during 1990's Operation Blackbird. But both men were individuals in their own right. Andrews, a former local authority electrical worker of some sort (exactly what he did is the subject of debate) was by far the more combative and perhaps took the circles a little too seriously. With a reputation for threatening litigation against critics such as Paul Fuller, Andrews developed the image of a tough, stubborn figure able to see through any setbacks he endured. However, a softer edge was apparent as Andrews began to link the appearance of crop circles with environmental issues, the implication being Gaia was not a happy parent. Rather than follow Delgado into retirement following the Doug and Dave affair in 1991, Andrews stuck around and received sponsorship to conduct his own work into the capabilities of human circle makers. Unsurprisingly, Colin is still around today and pops up from time to time to pass comment on crop circles and various personalities in the scene.

ONE

William Levengood

The late WC 'Lefty' Levengood. It's all about those nodes...

In case you’ve forgotten it, the inverse square law of cerealogy reads as follows: the further one resides from Wiltshire, the less decent research and investigation one will produce. If you ever need to look for a good example then twist your head towards Michigan and the work of the late (alleged) biophysicist William Levengood. This is the individual with at least one highly dubious academic qualification who documented ‘physical changes … in crop circle plants … by evaluating hundreds of sample plants’ over a ten year period. And what did he find? Magic. Plants taken from inside crop circles had undergone physical changes. The included the infamous bent, elongated and blown nodes on the stems of individual plants. Somehow Levengood found he could replicate the elongations and popping by sticking plants in a microwave oven for half a minute. It sounds fun, but from this Levengood became convinced the circle making energies included an electromagnetic element. On another occasion Levengood stumbled across some forgotten, boxed up plant samples that had been deprived of water and light. The control samples had died, whereas those taken from crop circles continued to grow. From all of this magic Levengood concluded some kind of intelligent, unknown force was doing its thing in the fields through the medium of a plasma vortex. (Note the crossover between paranormal theory and Terence Meaden’s electrically charged whirlwind idea!) Levengood’s message was spread through the website of BLT Research, the team he founded alongside wannabe assistants John Burke and Nancy Talbott, and two very questionable academic papers. The latter of these was published by Physiologia Plantarum and ‘suggest[ed] that over 95% of worldwide crop formations involve organized ion plasma vortices’. The journal’s subject editor later described the article’s publication as ‘regrettable’ observing the poor quality of the ‘science’ it was based upon. Nonetheless, Levengood’s work has become massively influential among croppies around the world and has been quoted in a vast range of circles literature. It is pointed to again and again in online arguments debates. These ideas refuse to go away. This popularity seems to stem from Levengood’s love of the white lab jacket; he was one of the very few mystery friendly ‘scientists’ and ‘science’ writers published on the subject of crop circles. All hail the blown node for making William Levengood the most important cerealogist of all time.

Finally, there are other names that could have been included on this list but didn't make it; Paul Fuller and Michael Green being just two. If you have any comments, feel free to email thecroppie@gmail.com.