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Our investigative article back in December 2005 on the authenticity of the 17th Century ‘Mowing Devil’ woodcut, apparently showing a historical crop circle, sparked some useful comments and further information, as follows…

If Swirled News readers haven’t yet seen the article in question, which looked at the authenticity of the 1678 document, the several redrawings of it which have caused confusion, and the implications of its significance to the crop circle community, they are advised to do so before reading these follow-ups. The article, ‘The Mowing Devil Investigated’, can be found in our December 2005 archives – Ed.



While I do not want to use this platform again for a discussion about the question of what the pamphlet really describes, being one of the mentioned ‘hybrid’ authors in Andy Thomas's recent article re-investigating the ‘Mowing Devil’ pamphlet, I would like to take the oportunity to comment on some of the arguments and ideas pointed out by the author.

First of all, the article again presents the interest of at least some researchers, of which (due to articles and presentations I have given on the subject) I am known to be one, as being based on the urge to use historical or/and antiquarian hints and evidence for crop circles as some sort of ‘security blanket’, as Michael Glickman once called it. It is suggested that people who feel comfortable with such ‘ancient’ evidence are looking for something that tells them: ‘You do not have to bother, fear or even wonder about the crop circles, because they have been here all the time and must therefore be something of a very natural unthreatening occurrence.’

Being one of those researchers who find the existence of such ancient evidence (and the Mowing Devil is by far not the only or strongest of them) as very important, I NEVER EVER thought in this ‘security blanket’ way at all! For me it was, and still is, the very opposite: BECAUSE the crop circles (in my view at least) are much older that we all thought about ten years ago, therefore they are even MORE important. As someone once said, if we want to understand our present and future, we need to know (and learn from) our past. However, I admit that the idea of an ancient phenomenon might take the power out of some more contemporary hypotheses of what crop circles are.

The second subject I would like to comment is the alleged confusion about the different versions of the ‘Mowing Devil’. It is not at all this way that none of us (who used and still use) the pamphlet in books and lectures are not aware of this, or did not check their information, data and sources.

To cut a long story and discussion short, even if I indeed used the hybrid version in my book(s), at the same time I was, and am, aware of the fact that several versions are circulating. But I honestly thank Andy for his work in sorting out which version is which. Furthermore, my research, writing and speaking about the subject is based on checked facts, data and sources. I personally base my research NOT on the 1990 re-publishing in the Fortean Times magazine, but much more on the 1970(!) edition of W B Gerish's collection of such pamphlets, ‘Folk Lore Reprints - Hertfordshire Folk Lore’, which was originally published in 1905. (This edition, however, shows yet another version of the illustration, one of lesser artistic quality, very likely made by the author himself.) In this book, most of the questions Andy raises about the origin of the pamphlet, like the fact that there are different versions of different ages, as well as the question of whether the pamphlet is a genuine antique object, are discussed by this renowned antiquarian.

This feedback is not meant to be hostile or unfriendly in any way, but only meant as supportive information and a constructive critique. [Taken as such! – Ed]



I just recently came across your most interesting article, ‘The Mowing Devil Investigated’, which prompted me to take out of my crop circle file an article from the Daily Telegraph newspaper of 19th March 1994, concerning the Mowing Devil. It is very illuminating, as the article mentions an 1810 repro, and also that there are original 1678 prints held by Harvard and Princeton universities in America.

Looking at the image of the Mowing Devil in the Telegraph cutting, it does not appear to conform to the definition of the ‘correct’ Devil with the large eye, as this one has a small one, so I wonder if it is the 1810 repro? [It is definitely one of the later repros, at least – Ed.]

I wonder if you have had any other responses to your article from Swirled News viewers? Perhaps other twists in the story will come to light!!



You can buy a proper image of the Mowing Devil straight from the British Library at:

And, I've bought a copy of ‘Bygone Hertfordshire’ from a dealer for £15. Should arrive in a couple of days!


I thank you for your excellent pursuit into the history of the Mowing Devil document, and the different versions of the woodcut now published. Clearly you have done your homework.

I have had the opportunity to investigate forgeries. Some are so well done only the most informed scholar could detect the difference. (We had a case here in the States from a Mormon who deceived the whole Church hierarchy, but that is another story.) You mentioned that the red ink bled into the hardboard covers added by the staff at the British Library. Given this evidence, I would have become suspicious. Of course, the 1898 book by Rev. Andrews suggests that any forgeries had to predate that publication.

Be that as it may, other reasons exist for not accepting the 1678 pamphlet as related to crop circles.

Not a single modern crop formation can be properly observed or understood EXCEPT FROM THE AIR OVERHEAD. We cannot make sense of them solely from a location on the ground. The diagrams Andy Thomas presents on page 24 of his book ‘Vital Signs’ demands this approach, as do all other geometric analyses. Unless you are willing to accept that the people of the 1600s had ready means to propel themselves through the air, they would not have known about aerial views of the Devil Circle. Yet it seems all modern minds assume that those olden people could view the field from up in the air. (Of course the woodcut makes it appear as if viewed from the air.)

[I certainly do not assume this, nor entirely agree this is relevant – Ed]

Hence, I am unwilling to accept that this woodcut and pamphlet was for anything more than the purpose of its message. It had nothing to do with overhead views of crop fields. (We have the additional technicality of cutting the grain versus laying the grain.)

Now consider another aspect of our attempt to reach into the past for evidence of crop circles. The same fault lies with all: THEY DEMAND THE ABILITY TO TRAVEL THROUGH THE AIR WITH VIEWS FROM ABOVE.

I think we are agreed about origins: the crop circles are not natural [but see my point below – Ed]. That point was settled way back in July 1989 when Busty Taylor photographed the ‘swastika’ design.

Since the circles are of intelligent design, are they man-made or do they derive from other intelligence? If they derive from other intelligence, why would that intelligence provide evidence that would not be visible to people living a hundred years ago? Since we have not the slightest evidence in historic documents that people were making circles in the ancient past, then the logic of cause for ancient circles, man-made or other intelligence, falls flat on its face. (I recently did an investigation into my ancestry. I come from a long line of farmers. I can assure you that they had neither the time nor the inclination to go about making circles in fields that nobody could view.)

On the basis of this logic, I must reject attempts to reach into the past to support crop circles. They must be a strictly modern phenomenon suitable to an air age. Our attempts to find historical support is simply a psychological need.

SWIRLED NEWS REPLIES: But it may well be that some circles DO have a natural origin – as I have put forward before, it may well be that there is a mechanism in nature that CAN produce simple circles, but which something else has begun to utilise in a more ordered fashion more recently to create complexity. Thus it is quite possible that the 1678 event, and the several other pre-aeroplane accounts – which cannot simply be dismissed - might well be crop circles, which weren’t ‘designed’ to be seen from anywhere, but were just there due to a random force at that point in history – Ed



[Not being mathematicians, we’re not sure we entirely understand this, but some of you out there may do! Essentially, Peter appears to feel our sudden focus on the Mowing Devil may have been subliminally prompted by the appearance of a Sussex crop circle and its inherent geometry last summer – Ed]

The Mowing Devil is an important feature and was supposed to be closely examined to establish a possible link between the cause of the Hertfordshire event and the agency responsible for the modern crop circles. The tool to find out was time. If the event was not designed by a mind, the date of the occurence would be random/unrelated, and the circle makers would not refer to it. But they did; first things first.

Take the full set of diatonic notes [as mooted by the late Professor Gerald Hawkins to be inherently present in many crop circle measurements] and remove 5: 1234-678

Find what 5 refers to here:

Divide the five Hawkin's theorems as 1/234/5. The reason for that is to distinguish the reference. Note that theorems 2, 3 and 4 deal with regular polygons inscribed into rings. Now test the hypothesis that someone designed the theorems to appear whilst looking at the picture of the Mowing Devil. If so, the removal of 234 from 1234-678 causes 1 to join 678, and the year of the event 1678 shows up. Now you need to utilize 234 to come up with the rest of the date. You can transform 234 into 23/4 (23 April), but that would mess up the story needed to reinforce the Devil in the workings. But if you transform 234 = 234th day of the year = 22 August, you are in the harvest time, and the farmer can say that he would give the job to mow his field rather to the Devil than pay the high price to... whatever it was.

In order to move from a speculation to the hypothesis, the circle makers should utilize the first time option 23/4, or 23 April, and make a ring so it would be found on that day. It has to be a ring to reinforce the link between 23/4 and the 2nd, 3rd and 4th ring theorems, an example of which showed up the last season at Earwig Hill and was reported on 23 April 2005:

If not a coincidence, then the geometry of the formation must be subordinate to the polygons inscribed into the path of the ring:

Since there are three ring theorems, the path of the ring should accomodate three nested polygons:

But why don't we see three nested squares or triangles as an equal option? Why are there three nested hexagons? The reason for that is that the sign of the Devil is 666, not 444 nor 333.

Now what? Well, we wait and see whether the energies inside the formation would inspire someone who visited the ring. Allan Brown came up with the hexagonal geometry, and since you [Andy Thomas] were there, and the record shows that your mind is atuned to the energies through manipulating the phenomenon with meditation techniques [members of Southern Circular Research did some apparently successful psychic interaction experiments with the circles back in the early 1990s, as recorded in the book ‘Quest For Contact’ – Ed], you then get inspired and write an article on the Mowing Devil, where the rest of the argument is.

So these are the initial arguments. The ‘Devil’ took the whole thing much further than you could imagine, actually developing a hypothesis, meaning that the opinions of those who would resist the explanation to the purpose of the Earwig Hill formation and its reference to the Devil through three nested hexagons as 666 is virtually worthless - unless the opponents come up with a maths-tested alternative hypothesis of their own. Of course, they have the option of ignoring the arguments, as much as the mainstream folks influenced by the academic brass ignore the crop circles.

These guys out there are very good - perhaps to our own detriment. I try to put the whole package together so we can learn all the encoding techniques and spy on the private messages between the circle makers and (...?) government guys or those ‘humans’ that asked too much for mowing a field of oats back in 1678 in Hertfordshire.


So there we have it – a selection of interesting, and sometimes cryptic responses to our Mowing Devil investigation. I have also received many spoken comments and questions about the article, so it’s nice to know our little jaunt to the British Library last summer wasn’t in vain – Ed


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