Crop Circles in Sweden Tickle the Imagination

By Clas Svahn

At Harplinge north of Halmstad a woman sat down in the middle of a rye field to meditate. At Skyllberg south of Hallsberg curious people walked about in something that looked like a map of the sunken Atlantic. At Bräcke near Höganäs a dowser decided that it was all due to the position of the planets.

"I never thought that people could act in this way", says an 18-year-old from Borlänge, who together with two school friends created a huge pictogram near Orsa.

When the circle phenomenon came to Sweden the summer of 1993 it did so with a bang. But maybe it was no surprise after all that Sweden would be "hit" by the circles. In several lectures and TV programmes the general public was informed of the phenomenon. A major programme on the circles was shown on the commercial Channel 4 in March. Then "Night Cafe" on National television (TV2) invited people to discuss the circles on July 29th. Following this there are few Swedes who are unaware of the phenomenon.

Whereas almost a dozen crop circle cases were reported in Sweden not a single case was reported by UFO groups in Norway and Denmark. However one case was reported from Finland. At the beginning of August a circle was found at Luumäki. A fake pictogram was made here last year. This year's Finnish formation consisted of three circles, each six metres in diameter, forming a triangle. Two of them were connected by paths, half a metre wide.

In England the number of circles is down to about forty this year. This compares with 600-800 at their peak. The Grand Old Man of British cereology - Pat Delgado - has become tired of the phenomenon, as have many others. Delgado has made a lot of money from the phenomenon with his three books, Circular Evidence, Crop Circles, The Latest Evidence and Crop Circles, Conclusive Evidence? - the first two written with Colin Andrews.

"Two Dozen Genuine Circles"

Now Delgado has retired from cereology, Colin Andrews has emigrated to the USA to write about cattle mutilations and other mysteries. I gather that in a telephone conversation with Terence Meaden earlier this summer Pat Delgado accepted Doug Bower and Dave Chorleys' claims and that he now considers most circles to be fakes.

The interest of the British media has also dropped to almost nothing. "As far as I know only some 40 circles have been reported this summer", reports the Editor of The Crop Watcher Paul Fuller, to UFO-Aktuellt. He believes that every one of them must be fakes - and that includes the circles appearing in Sweden too!

UFO-Aktuellt is the first Swedish source to talk to an 18-year- old high school student who admits that on the night of September 4th he and two friends created the big pictogram outside Orsa. He prefers to remain anonymous, but his name is known to UFO-Sweden. Just in case he and his friends from S:t Mikael School in Mora have apologised to the farmer, Erik Sundin.

"When we heard people who had seen our circle talking about how it could not have been made by human beings - well, we didn't know what to think," he told me on the phone.

The Story of a Hoaxer

It was about 11 pm on Saturday September 4th that the three 18-year-olds went into a rye field at Knarrholen near Orsa. Equipped with some torches, a short plank, an iron lever and a compass they parked the car and entered a field belonging to Erik Sundin. It was wet and damp, which later turned out to be to their advantage.

"I would say it took us one and a half hours before we were satisfied. It was rather tough on our backs as we didn't think of attaching the plank to any strings so we had to crawl about. The place was rather secluded, but if we saw a passing car we turned our torches off".

"Later, when we saw the articles in the papers and heard people speculating about everything from earth radiation to aliens it felt kind of strange. I am interested in UFOs myself and have seen a few programmes about crop circles on the satellite channels. I guess that we got our inspiration from them."

The 18-year-old hoaxer says that what is most surprising is how naively everyone acted. Some people visited the circle with dowsing rods and reported feeling earth energies. Others stood inside the circle and told how an unknown energy surged through their bodies.

"I've learned a lot about psychology these last weeks," he said.

A few days later Bertil Kuhlemann had been interviewed by Barbro Hellberg from Radio Dalarna. He explained that it was his firm belief that the pictograms at Orsa represented messages from space. Kuhleman, who worked for many year with the contactee Sten Lindgren, believes that the circles are absolute proof that aliens are here on Earth.

Richard Andrews Visits Sweden

There has certainly been no inspiration for circle conmen this year. In late Spring one of the remaining enthusiasts held a series of public lectures in Sweden. With his angled branches ready at hand Richard Andrews described the formations of 1992 and presented his own thoughts on the subject to fascinated audiences in Stockholm and Gothenburg. Andrews and his colleagues believe that the circles have a direct connection to field lines of earth energy and prehistoric sites.

I met Richard Andrews during my visit to England in 1991, when the circles were at their peak. Besides giving us a lesson in dowsing he told us that the phenomenon would develop into "bigger, more complicated formations". In fact it turned out to be quite the opposite. (According to recent quotes in a Swedish newspaper he has now changed his mind, "There will be fewer circles in England and more in Sweden").

As far as Sweden is concerned it all started very quietly around July 6th 1993 when two brothers in Sala discovered a couple of circles beneath a high-voltage transmission line. One of the brothers told UFO-Sweden that he saw a light shifting in the sky and felt static electricity in the air early in the morning as he was out walking his dog. Later the other brother went to the place out of curiosity and discovered two circles in a rye field. After a lengthy discussion the younger brother decided to call UFO-Sweden anonymously.

A thorough investigation showed that the two circles (6 and 12 metres in diameter) had no traces of clay in them, though the surrounding ground was very muddy. Neither could the investigators from UFO-Sweden find any traces leading to the circles from the edge of the field. Both circles were swept clockwise and Mats Nilsson, who investigated the site on the evening of July 6th, described the interior of the circles "as smooth as a ballroom floor".

But this is only the beginning. UFO-Sweden has since learnt of ten other locations in Sweden where crop circles appeared:

  • July 17, Harplinge, 12 km NW of Halmstad. On circle 14.85 metre in diameter in a rye field. Counter-clockwise.

  • July 29, Skyllberg, 19 km SSW of Hallsberg. Complicated circle with two rings connected with spokes in barley. Clockwise at the centre. Counter-clockwise elsewhere. Total diameter 36.4 metres.

  • July 30, Äsperud, 20 kms SSW of Hallsberg. Circle with two rings and a reversed letter F in autumn wheat. Total diameter 88.4 metres. Counter-clockwise.

  • July 30, Bräcke, 20 kms NNW of Helsingborg, near Höganäs. Oval circle in a wheat field. Counter-clockwise.

  • July 31, Ljungby, 12 kms NE of Falkenberg. Slightly oval circle in barley. 14.88-16.29 metres in diameter. Counter-clockwise.

  • August 21, Säve depå, north of Gothenburg. Slightly oval circle in oats. 9.9-10.4 metres in diameter. Counter-clockwise.

  • August 21, Wärö Norrgård near Linköping. Circle 8 metres in diameter with a 20 metre long straight extension in autumn wheat. Clockwise.

  • September 3, Tjärna Ängar, 1.5 kms from Borlänge. 27.7 metres long pictogram in a barley field. There was a reversed F with a ring.

  • September 4, Knarrholmen, Orsa. 39 metre long pictogram.

  • Early September, Hamnäs near Söderhamn. 7-8 rings. 3-4 metres in diameter in barley.

    In the case of the Hamnas rings both the farmer and the investigator Karl-Erik Johansson from the Gävleborg UFO Group "unmasked the villains" as roe-deers.

    Hoaxers Exposed

    The following circle formations have been exposed as hoaxes:- Skyllberg, Asperud, Säve depå, Orsa and Tjärna Ängar.

    As for the circles at Harplinge, Bräcke and Ljungby everything points to the fact that they were made by the same group of hoaxers. They were almost all identical in size, their location (by the side of a road) was chosen for maximum exposure and the sweeping (counter-clockwise) swirl is typical of a man-made circle.

    The circle at Wärö Norrgård was in such poor condition that it was impossible to investigate it.

    The two circles in Sala are the only ones UFO-Sweden consider to be potentially important. We have found no traces of clay inside the circles, although the field was very muddy and we were there before anyone else.

    Whether genuine or man-made the circles have attracted a lot of curious people, each with their own favourite theory.

    The most inured person is probably farmer Olle Johansson at Harplinge, whose almost 15 metre diameter circle became known all over Sweden following his appearance on the "Night Cafe" programme:

    "Lots of people have been here," he told UFO-Aktuellt, "A woman even ate the rye believing it held supernatural powers".

    When Inga-Lill Wallin from UFO-Sweden visited the site another woman was meditating in the middle of the circle. The woman had flown down from Stockholm and taken a taxi out to Harplinge with the sole purpose of spending an hour or so in the circle.

    "What if it is not genuine ?", Inga-Lill Wallin suggested to the woman.

    "I really hope it is", she answered.

    Strange Lights

    When a circle is discovered, reports on other events - which are quickly linked to the circles, inevitably pop up. In several cases, including those at Harplinge, light phenomena have also been reported. But on closer scrutiny it can be demonstrated that these light phenomena were not seen when the the circles appeared.

    In the case of the fake circle at Säve depå, north of Gothenburg, a man claimed to have seen mysterious lights in the sky on the same night as the circle appeared. When Anders Persson interviewed the man it turned out that his sighting could not be linked to the circle as the man had probably seen spotlights reflected off clouds.

    Also, the fake circle at Orsa has been linked to observations of lights in the sky.

    This kind of linking of two unconnected events - "guilt by association" - is common in UFOlogy. Frequently the only common denominator is the fact that the two events concerned something unidentified. It is so easy to see a link which is not there.

    The link between UFOs and circles is very weak, all things considered. Not on any occasion has an unidentified object been observed at the same time as a circle has formed.

    A detail often presented as evidence that a circle is genuine - that is not made by humans - is the fact that the the stems are not broken. It is hard to understand this argument since stems only break when they are very dry. In moist weather, particularly like this, the straws are soft and lithe. The fake circle in Orsa is a good example of this.

    The problem is that even the most hardened sceptics soften at the sight of a circle. Many are sheer works of art. Even if most of the Swedish specimens this summer have been relatively simple and lacking the English extravagances, there have been exceptions, like the "Atlantis" circle at Skyllberg.

    Investigations conducted by UFO Sweden showed that the neighbouring circles at Skyllberg and Äsperud were made by the same persons. In the latter circle obvious traces of the hoaxer's tools were found.

    There is all the reason in the world to keep your cool as far as the crop circles are concerned. The most probable explanation is that almost all of them are made by men in order to deceive other men. Maybe a few of them are caused by some natural phenomenon, but after this year's crop of hoaxes I am no longer ready to bet on it.

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