Author Benjamin Myers on the crop circle makers who ‘blew people’s minds’

June 23, 2022 People's Tonight 50 views

By Ian Youngs

When Benjamin Myers went back home to Durham for a holiday in 2019, burned out after publishing nine books in 10 years, he did not want to think about writing another.

“I went there for a rest because I was completely fried,” the West Yorkshire-based author says.

To get away from it all, he took a country walk, ending up in the middle of a crop field, in the middle of nowhere – the perfect escape.

But as he stood waist deep in barley, Myers says the outline for his next book arrived in his head virtually fully formed – in the space of 10 seconds.

“I just thought, ‘You should write a book about two men who make crop circles over the course of the summer of ’89 and they’ll be called this and there’ll be 10 chapters and they’ll take place at night,'” he says.

“Then I thought, ‘No, I don’t want to do that.’

“I was sort of arguing with myself.

“I thought, ‘I don’t want to write a book – shut up, you’ve come for a rest.'”

Benjamin1Benjamin MyersImage source, Bloomsbury

One of Benjamin Myers’ previous books is being turned into a BBC drama by Shane Meadows

His imagination – or perhaps some other higher force – got the better of him.

“Without being too cosmic about it, it sort of felt like I just downloaded the whole thing from the ether,” he says.

‘Total sceptic’

The power of crop circles to intrigue and inspire appears to have dimmed little since they entered the public consciousness in the late ’80s.

Then, the press and self-proclaimed experts delighted in speculating on what strange and other-worldly forces may have created the intricate geometric designs that appeared overnight in fields, mostly in the south-west of England.

But despite his bolt of inspiration in the barley field, Myers, 46, has always been “a total sceptic” about their origins.

He says: “The thing I remember in the press at the time was the alien visitation – ‘Is it UFOs?’ – and a lot of talk from experts and academics from made-up universities in Wyoming or whatever, saying, ‘Humans can’t possibly have made this.’

“Even at 13 I thought, ‘Of course they can.'”

DaveDave Chorley making a crop circle with a plank of wood in 1991Image source, Shutterstock

Dave Chorley, one of the godfathers of crop circles, demonstrating with a plank of wood in 1991

In 1991, two middle-aged men provided an answer – Doug Bower and Dave Chorley demonstrated how they had made crop circles, armed only with planks of wood and lengths of rope.

But Myers was more interested in why such breathtaking designs would be made – especially by people who initially had had little interest in claiming credit.

“To me, the fact that anonymous unknown humans made these crop circles is more interesting to me than any conspiracy theory or UFO stuff,” he says.

“So the jumping-off point for the book was really, ‘Why would people do this?'”

The Perfect Golden Circle is the story of a tender friendship between two men, Redbone and Calvert – not directly based on Bower and Chorley, the author says – who sneak into fields to flatten crops into elaborate formations simply “to inspire awe and bafflement and just to blow people’s minds”.

“I didn’t remember any articles about the artistry or the spectacle of this landscape art,” Myers says. “So that’s what I wanted to celebrate, really.”

FormationCrop circles in a field near Salisbury, UK, 23rd July 1990Image source,

This formation, from Wiltshire, in 1990, was used on a Led Zeppelin album cover

Others, though, have been less willing to believe the phenomenon is simply down to people with planks.

In 2000, a study funded by Laurance Rockefeller, one of America’s richest men, claimed 20% of crop circles were due to the Earth’s magnetic fields.

Monique Klinkenbergh, who set up Wiltshire’s Crop Circle Exhibition and Information Centre, says on the venue’s website the “crop-circle phenomenon is about a form of ‘contact’ or nature we don’t yet understand”.

And even mortal circle-makers have reported unexplained events such as hovering lights, in the days before drones, while they were flattening fields.

Temporary temples

John Lundberg started making crop circles while at art school in the early 1990s, simply “to see what was humanly possible – and if you did make a crop circle, what would happen”.

His very first creation, with fellow artist Rod Dickinson, immediately became accepted “as part of the genuine phenomenon, meaning non-human origin”.

“People were having funny feelings in it and their crystals were vibrating and their dowsing rods were going crazy,” Mr Lundberg says.

The pair had intended to make a one-off – but the reaction “sucked me back into the fields”.

“We basically leave these gifts for people and they’re like temporary temples,” Mr Lundberg says, “and people go into them and interact with them however they see fit.”