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Thirteen Unsung Circles Excellent Formations That Sank Without Recognition

Some crop circles are rightly remembered as iconic classics. But there are many others which may be just as complex or impressive but which, for one reason or another, didn't make the grade and were swiftly forgotten about. Here's our personal pick of the thirteen best unsung circles, a number that reflects their unfortunate status.

West Kennett, Wiltshire

May 1998

Photograph by Steve Alexander

Perhaps the best formation ever to appear in oilseed rape, this Beltane wheel was centred in standing crop with 33 'flames' that have a freestyled look to them. There's even a story of a photographer shooting nearby West Kennett Longbarrow on the night it appeared who saw and heard nothing. But oilseed rape circles tend to be overlooked by default, as croppies eagerly anticipate what wheat and barley wonders await them that season.

West Kennett, Wiltshire

July 1999

Photograph by Steve Alexander

A personal favourite of the 1990s fractal series of formations, and beautifully made. We well-remember visiting it a day or two after its discovery and being captivated. So why is it overlooked? It's in prime Wiltshire crop circle real estate, and is a marvel. Perhaps it is because a new circle or two was appearing every day back then, and formations were swiftly forgotten about in favour of the new?

Highclere, Hampshire

July 2002

Photograph by Steve Alexander

We're surprised 'eye in a pyramid' designs haven't been done more often, but it would be hard to beat this one. Though we can't say we much like the design, it's exquisitely constructed. Note also the grid pattern underlying the eye. Today's circle makers have a lot to learn from formations such as this.

Sharpenhoe, Bedfordshire

June 2003

Photograph credit unknown

This beauty appeared in Bedfordshire, far from the usual crop circle stomping grounds, likely the reason it is unknown today. But the pentagram is impeccably made, and as far as we're aware it's the first time a free-standing pentagon appeared in a crop circle, a motif that would make itself present in later, better-known circles.

Porchester, Hampshire

June 2004

There have been a number of twin spiral designs over the years, but Porchester 2004 is undoubtedly the best, and the most elaborate. Alas other, lesser 2004 designs – some featuring spirals – stole its thunder and the Porchester formation has lapsed into obscurity.

Photograph by Steve Alexander

Chalgrove, Oxfordshire

July 2005

Photograph by Andrew King

This delicate 2005 design was virtually unseen even in its day, likely due to its appearing in a part of Oxfordshire unknown for crop circles and only being photographed from the air by one person. Did anybody even visit it, and wander its spiral pathways? We hope so.

Boxley, Kent

July 2006

Photograph by Andy Fowlds

2006 was a slow year for crop circles. So when this wonder appeared, it should rightly have received the praise it deserved. Instead, it sunk without trace. Why? Perhaps because it was in Kent, far from Wiltshire cerealogical ground zero, perhaps because it came late to the fractal crop circle party of the 1990s. Either way, we're happy to include it here and give it the praise it deserves.

Waylands Smithy, Oxfordshire

July 2008

Photograph by Steve Alexander

At over 300 foot and comprising 248 circles, this formation should have been one of the highlights of the 2008 season. It is second only to Milk Hill 2001 in highest number of circles in a single formation. It's also revolutionary, in a way; previous formations comprised of myriad circles in a pattern always featured underlying pathways joining the circles, but all the circles here are free-standing. So why was it ignored? Perhaps because it was tucked out of the way in Oxfordshire, a world away from the action of central Wiltshire, where new formations were appearing every few days. Still, it's a beauty, and it's sad that hardly anybody these days even knows it existed.

East Field, Alton Priors, Wiltshire

August 2008

Photograph by DD and PRS

An unsung formation in Alton Priors ... East Field no less? Hard to believe, but this 450 foot riff on seven-fold geometry appeared very late in the season and was only shot from the air by two photographers, being cut the morning of its discovery. Some may consider the design a tad overblown, but it's still regretful that more croppies didn't get to see and experience it.

Temple Balsall, Warwickshire

July 2011

Photograph by Steve Alexander

The Temple Balsall formation was somewhat obscure and controversial at the time it appeared, with the location being hidden by The Crop Circle Connector so that others couldn't see and photograph it. Something to do with national security matters. Apparently. Thankfully Steve Alexander discovered where it was, and flew up to get pictures. This was to the benefit of many, who otherwise wouldn't have got to experience it. Its Warwickshire location, a long way from Wiltshire crop circle central, didn't help matters, either. A quite stunning variant on eight and sixteen-fold geometry, it soon sunk without trace and is virtually unseen now.

Cheesefoot Head, Winchester, Hampshire

August 2012

Photograph by Steve Alexander

2012 was a strange year for crop circles. Unrealistic expectations in the build-up to the end of the world no doubt played a part. Still, the Cheesefoot Head circle should have been a firm contender for formation of the year, with its fragile and innovative 'never-ending knot' motif. So why was it so overlooked? No doubt its location, though croppies with an eye for history should have appreciated that. Unfounded allegations by the folk at Crop Circle Wisdom that it was commissioned for the nearby Boomtown Festival also damaged its standing. Still, we're happy here to reinstate its place as a formation of high regard.

Wappenbury, Warwickshire

August 2012

Photograph by Steve Alexander

Like many of the entries here, the Wappenbury formation appeared a long way from Wiltshire, likely the chief reason for its being so neglected. Featuring 192 separate circles arranged in a hexagram and without any connecting pathways, if it had appeared in Wiltshire it would likely be regarded as an iconic formation.

Cherington, Gloucestershire

July 2014

Photograph by Steve Alexandere

The Cherington 2014 formation is very much a crop circle of two parts. A ring apparently containing a code of some kind (which has still not been deciphered; where's Red Collie when you need him?) surrounds a quite astonishing central circle. Any other formation would have featured a pentagram marked out by standing and flattened segments. Cherington's pentagram is flattened into the lay, the rest of the crop woven in quite beautiful fashion. One of the most complex lays ever seen, and second only to the famed Bishops Cannings 'basket' of August 1999 In our view, Cherington has earned its place as a crop circle classic. That it is so underlooked now perhaps says more about its Gloucestershire location and the fickleness of croppies than it does its own merits.