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OLIVER’S TWISTS - 02/01/2005

MARTIN JOHNSSON digs back into the highly controversial 1996 Oliver’s Castle video (in which a formation is seen to appear under balls of light), with his own observations and ideas…

For some time, I have read, studied, and analysed the circumstances surrounding the Oliver’s Castle video footage. I have looked at some specific questions that puzzle my mind, and most likely others, and now I have put together this into an article that you are free to put on Swirled News. I guess this will give rise to some emotions, which I hope we dare to face. But most important is to see if I/we can come closer to the truth.


This article is trying to analyse the circumstances and commentary that is available via two main sources; the chapter entitled ‘Flaky: The Oliver’s Castle Video’ from Andy Thomas’s book ‘Swirled Harvest’ (Vital Signs Publishing, 2003 – see - which will from now on be referred to as “Andy’s book”) and what is said by Michael Glickman and Patricia Murray in this matter in video no. #4 in the series of ‘The Crop Circle Lectures’, entitled “History and Geometry” (which will from now on be referred to as “Glickman’s video”). Though I’m not sure if I succeed, an aim is to apply “cold analysis”, ie. analysis as free as possible from some in whatever way predicted outcome. At least it is probably true in one particular sense, in that I was not in any way involved in crop circles at this time (not during the 90s at all for that matter). So let go through what has been documented and said and see what may come out of it!

In Andy’s book, John Wheyleigh [the videographer] tells people at The Barge pub that he was going up to Oliver’s Castle with a camcorder, and nothing more is mentioned about this in Andy’s book. However, in Glickman’s video, it is mentioned that he asked people if they would like to join him. This is a significant discrepancy in the story-telling, and if it is as mentioned in Glickman’s video, then very much more is talking in favour of John W and his credibility, ‘cos if a hoax/fake was in his plans, he should not have asked. But, on the other hand, he could have taken a slight chance to ask to improve credibility with potentially little risk that the project would anyway be jeopardized, as the weather conditions were so bad that most likely no-one would like to follow him.

Regarding the very bad weather conditions - and in Glickman’s video it is said in such a way that it counted for the whole weekend - with lots of rain and muddy soils, this clearly sounds very disadvantageous for doing a man-made formation to support the video fake. Due to this, and also what was said about the formation’s quality in Glickman’s video and how it is similarly judged and commented on in Andy’s book, very little talks in favour of a hoax. And in addition, as it is stated in Andy’s book that the formation was certainly not there the evening before (ie. on Saturday evening), the formation must have been created from that point in time and before lunchtime on Sunday when a team visited the formation. This further limits the possibilities for a hoaxed formation. Still a slight possibility is that measurements and markings could have been done before Saturday night, and left for the night was just the stomping of the crop (anyway, we are left with muddy soil and rainy weather that must be accounted for…).

Finally however, the formation itself was not really in the focus of John W, see further below.

I’m not a video expert, nor a special effects expert. But considering a) the sequence of events, b) the time period until Sunday evening when the video was first viewed by a group of people at The Barge, and c) combined with judgements from different experts as referred to in Andy’s book and Glickman’s video, this leaves very little possibilities for an advanced video fake. This would require very advanced planning prior to the night between Saturday and Sunday. What is most disturbing though is that the presence of the formation being created under the balls of light is unclear, especially from statements made by the witnesses at The Barge on that Sunday evening, and specifically because it never was mentioned by John W himself. This is really a mystery, as it seems really, really unlikely that even if only a tiny viewfinder was available both for John W as well as for those at the Barge, that they could have missed the formation being created. And John W should have been able to view the video on a TV set or another monitor of significant size, or at least several times via a viewfinder, during all his time he had on Sunday before he met with the group of people at The Barge. We should, however, note that Freddy Silva and Lee Winterston both think, according to Andy’s book, that what was shown on Sunday evening is also what was shown later on, ie. the formation being created under the balls of light. And Freddy wanted John W to contact Colin Andrews about the footage…

Now, interesting to notice from Andy’s book are the two guys who were given a copy of the video, namely Colin Andrews and Peter Sorensen. Peter even borrowed the master tape, but was then later on only provided with a copy according to Andy’s book. What we have to do here, as we have no further statements from John W, is to trust Colin and Peter (and Lee Winterston) that the copies (or at least Peter’s copy, as it is not clear if anyone besides possibly Colin has seen the copy given to Colin himself) later on seen by others were the copies as provided by John W. Putting it this way is to give room for a conspiracy that at least Peter could have had the chance to further manipulate the video and thus add the formation being created under the balls of light. This assumes they had the resources and time to make a virtually immaculate fake, and even the slight chance, but which should have been known to John W, that the master tape contained another sequence showing the formation being created, assisting Peter in his doing a fake. This conspiracy could, however, be jeopardized if John W would eventually come forward and say that his copies had been post-processed for the purpose of discrediting him. So for this conspiracy to work, John W must be kept silent, which (of course) discredits him and adds a significant piece to those who want to increase confusion around the crop circle phenomenon. John W is further indirectly discredited, besides statements made by Peter and Colin, as also Lee Winterston and Freddy Silva believe that John W’s original copy equals Colin’s and Peter’s; i.e. the source of all possible manipulation goes back to John W in a consistent way if collaborating all the statements from Colin, Peter, Lee, and Freddy. And why do they keep anyone else out-of-reach of John W by not having a chance to contact him via the only contact point known (a mobile phone number, according to Andy’s book)?

This is almost impossible, as we have so little information about him. But at least it seems that if he was a deliberate hoaxer, it was very well covered up. And was he into it for the sake of money? If yes, then he really did it all wrong, which, trait-wise, is kind of opposite to being a deliberate hoaxer. Or did he look for 15 minutes of fame? Probably not even that. Why should he be afraid of standing behind his video if the experts can’t provide evidence for a fake? No, it looks more like John W has been fooled, and perhaps even put into silence.

One might look at some other possibilities regarding John W and a fake made by him. He could have done the balls of light fake at Oliver’s Castle prior to the weekend, and then by announcing his visit there at The Barge, he got the right opportunity to release it. But balls of light flying over a field - would that be such great news in 1996, even if their flight was vivid and quite awesome? It doesn’t seem likely it would be worth all the effort to do this type of fake with not much news value. Another alternative is that John W captured the formation being created, and then added the balls of light, but why then not mention anything at all about the formation? No, this alternative also seems highly unlikely.

From what has been discussed above, it is most likely so that John W did manage to catch balls of light on video footage, flying around as distinct entities seemingly under intelligent control. That alone is awesome, and even more so when we know that a formation was created just where they flew (if “flew” is the right word here). There is also the slight chance that the formation also was created as shown by the video during the fly-over of the balls of light. As seen from above, the video capture, in this alternative with high probability genuineness, would add a very significant piece to the overall crop circle research.

It is also hard to see that John W was into some fake or hoax, but instead he might have been caught in a “trap” by Colin, Peter, Lee, and Freddy, who then managed to add confusion to the video by questioning its authenticity, further possibly aiming at cornering crop circles to being a business of hoaxers.

To all those who believe they can add clarity and/or further pieces to the questions surrounding the Oliver Castle video footage, please feel free to contact me via my email address at:



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