Down-to-earth crop circles

STEPHEN PULLINGER Mystery or mischief? Strange patterns have been showing up in Norfolk's crop fields.Retired garage owner Mike Page, who has been taking aerial photographs for the EDP since 1960, snapped these two intriguing pictures from his two-seater plane after taking off from Seething airfield, south of Norwich, on Thursday evening.

STEPHEN PULLINGER

Mystery or mischief? Strange patterns have been showing up in Norfolk's crop fields.

Retired garage owner Mike Page, who has been taking aerial photographs for the EDP since 1960, snapped these two intriguing pictures from his two-seater plane after taking off from Seething airfield, south of Norwich, on Thursday evening.

While cynics dismiss patterns appearing in fields around the country at this time of year as the work of practical jokers, others believe, equally vehemently, they may be an indication of something out of this world.

Mr Page, 66, from Strumpshaw, near Norwich, is firmly in the first camp and was quick to reassure readers that he does not think his images of Martham and Horning mean aliens have landed in the county.

Of the flying saucer-shaped circle captured at Martham, he said: "I am sure it is a home-made crop circle. I have seen many like it over the years and I liken the people who do it to vandals."

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However, Mr Page was stumped by the patterns in the Horning field, which he described as "quite an impressive piece of work".

He said: "I am after some answers from readers. When I was up in the air I wondered if it was part of some special plant propagation scheme."

After consulting local farmers, regional NFU spokesman Brian Finnerty believes he has found a more mundane explanation.

He said: "We think it is work going on to create a roadway and car park at a new tree house adventure park being developed in the village."

The Hoveton Fruit Farms-backed scheme, expected to attract 80,000 visitors a year, won planning approval in January despite villagers' opposition.

Mr Page said crop circles, like the one at Martham, were a phenomenon more associated with the West Country and less common on East Anglian farms.

"These things look impressive from the air but they cause damage on the ground, more so if people get to hear about them and come along to have a look.

"It is akin to trampling over someone's back garden," he said.