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Crop Circles:

Note: this file was my first article on this case; a more complete file is available here.

What follows is only intended to demonstrate what appears in the conclusion. Any other point of strangeness or alleged aspect of the "crop circles mystery is dealt with elsewhere, here.

The claim that there was a crop circle in Assen, the Netherlands, in 1590:

In the French version of their latest book on the crop circles [cs1], "experts" Colin Andrews and Stephen J. Spignesi say that the first recorded event with several characteristic that are common with the formation of crop circles was on August 8, 1590, and was described in a book published in 1686 with the title "The Natural History of Stafford-Shire", by Robert Plott.

Andrews and Spignesi write that someone named Nicolae Lang-Bernhard ("Lang-Bernhand" in the English version) was going home about noon when he noticed activity in a field near the road. He approached and saw a group of people dancing in a circle in the field. He approached more, close enough to see their legs and feet, and saw that some of them had forked feet. While he observed them, all the dancers flew up in the air and disappeared.

In the field where they had danced, there was a circular mark which remained until the farmer who owned the field harvested it at the next harvest. Several people of the close area visited the field while it was still visible. Plott also said there were powerful tornadoes during the event, and that one of the was strong enough to lift "the" peasant and take it into a field at some distance.

The authors comment that it understandable that a certain skepticism remains because the event was put in writing 100 years after if reportedly occurred, but if ones discards from the story its most fantastic features such as the forked feet and the disappearance, the story is in essence that of the appearance of a crop circle in a field, and they had that the "event" had "several witnesses".

On the French-speaking website "Portail des Energies" ("Gate of Energies"),, which publishes about crop circles, Reiki, "Energies of Atlantis", "Lightarian Rays", "Archangels", "Etheral crystals" etc, the home page says:

The first known circle seems to have appeared in Assen, in Holland, in 1590.

On the "Touraine Insolite" website [ti1], by one "Mykerinos", I read:

The first Agroglyphs.

History of the crop circles.

One of the first documentary sources on the crop circles phenomenon is a report of 1590 (Wilson 1998), it tells of the discovery on August 18 of the same year, of a flattened circle in crop field, close to "Assenuncuria", undoubtedly what is now Assen, in the area of Drente in the Netherlands. Night dancers are said to have been the authors of the crop circles, the inside of the circle seems to be trampled by "feet with shoes" (Plott 1686). This report is included in a book entitled "A Natural History of Stafford-Shire" and published in the university of Oxford by Robert Plott, professor of chemistry. In his book Plott still describes other strange designs in the shape of circles or rings which [he] had found at the times in the surrounding counties.

On the ufology website RR0 by Jérôme Beau, there is a page devoted to the crop circles [jb1]. I read this claim there:

"Many people think that the crop circles represent a relatively recent phenomenon, a product of the 20th century. In fact, like with UFOs as of 1947, the crop circles have a "modern era" which starts at the beginning of the 1980's, but also seem to have been described well before."

In the same page, there is a list of three mentions of crop circles and 5 hyperlinks to files said to be "Examples of case of crop circles or assimilated".

One of these examples is headlined: "Circle of prints in Alsace in 1590"; it is specified "And not Assen (Holland)". The link brings you to another page web [jb2] which is a kind of chronology of ufological or Fortean events for year 1590; in which you can find:

25 Jul

midday Between Guermingen and Assenoncour (Alsace), Nicolette Lang-Bernhard sees a group of men and women - supposed to be sorcerers - dance: the undeniable and final proof of the truth of the event was the fact that at the place where this dance had been performed one found... pressed in a ring as one finds some in a circus when horses run around in a circle, and among the other traces were recent marks of the shoes of goats and oxen.

The sources are indicated as:

  • Plot (Robert Plott?): Journal of Meteorology, 1696 cited by Wilson, Terry: The Secret History of Crop Circles, December 1998
  • Remy, Nicolas: Daemonolatreia, 1595, republished "Demonolatry, edited with introduction and notes by Montague Summers", Rodker, 1930

On the Dark Ride blog, which is about the "Strange", "Conspiracy theory", Cryptozolology, Creatures and so on", "Ghost Stories", " UFOs" and other Fortean topics, one can read in the introduction of an article on the crop circles [dr1]:

While everyone now knows the crops circle fiew [sic] people know that their stories go up very far in certain case. In 1590 in Assen in Holland appeared what one can think to be the first crop circle.

On Marina Missier's website, among articles on the "21 December 2012", "UFOs and the E.T.", "P.S.I Powers" and the Graal, and so on, a crop circle article of hers starts by a claim that, "many people think" that the crop circles are "a relatively recent phenomenon (these 40 last years)" but that crop circles seem to be described quite before that. It is claimed that one finds "similar formations" before the Sixties, even in the 16th century "when an incident was recorded in Holland in Assen in 1590."

On the French-speaking website (""), Erick Fearson, who is introduced as a ghost hunter, writes [mh1]:

The crop circles are, according to him, only sketches plotted by skilled pranksters in the crop fields. Here once again, a bold claim. It is true that two retired men, Doug Bower and Dave Chorley , claimed, in September 1991, being the authors of the phenomenon of these strange circles, in the middle of the Seventies. This was enough for skeptics to scoff, to be satisfied with this explanation and reject the affair without further look. This is forgetting very fast that one lists crop circles in more than 40 countries in the world. Let us add that the first traces of this phenomenon go back to more than 400 years and, more precisely, to 1590, in Assen, in Holland.

A PDF file, without clearly indicated author, with a mention "Source: Dauphiné Libéré" (a French regional newspaper), available on "paranormal" website [ip1] says:


The first known circle seems to have appeared in Assen, in Holland, in 1590.

I could go on providing citations, but... why bother? So here is just a bulk list of a small portion of web sources claiming that there was a crop circle in Assen in 1590:

So, now I have to check whether this is purely and simply invented, or a distorted story, badly documented, I have to check whether it is legitimate to call this "a crop circle", and to check if it is honest to call it an example of a crop circle before 1978 which was thus neither made by Doug Bower and Dave Chorley, the men who invented the crop circles in 1978, nor by any other human using of ordinary tools.

Well, I did not need to start a long and difficult search: it was already done in 2003!

Indeed that year, Dutch ufologist Theo Paijmans published the result of his investigation [tp1] on this alleged "crop circle before Doug and Dave".

Here is what he found out.

Terry Wilson mentioned this story in his just-published book "Secret History of Crop Circles", as being "a crop circle" he claims was found in 1590 close to the town of Assen in the Netherlands, and Theo Paijmans thinks it comes from Jenny Randles and Peter Hough in their "Encyclopedia of the Unexplained", and, as I showed, is now widespread on the Internet.

It is Wilson who quotes apparently as source an unspecified article said to come from the Journal of Meteorology, in 1696.

But Theo Paijmans discovered that the original story goes back to one century earlier, appearing in "Daemonolatreia" by Nicolas Remy in 1595, reprinted as "Demonolatry", Rodker publisher, 1930, reprinted by Frederick Muller, 1970, pages 50-51, where the author gives the location as between the towns of Guermingen and Assenoncour, in France, and not the town of Assen, in Drenthe, the Netherlands. Worse, the famous "Robert Plot" does not exist. Instead, there is indeed an English naturalist, Dr. Robert Plott, who was the first professor of chemistry at the Oxford University.

In "The Natural History of Staffordshire", in 1686, reprinted in 1973, this Dr. Robert Plott was a proponent of the theory that "fairy rings" [who are not crop circles] are formed when ball lightning hits.

Theo Paijmans also discovered - he gives the references of his sources - that the year of the source Terry Wilson gives, 1696, Robert Plott is in fact deceased.

According to Remy, says Paijmans, the witness, Nicolette Lang-Bernhard, saw on July 25, 1590 at noon a group of men and women who danced - they were interpreted as being sorcerers and witches.

Paijmans cites:

"...the final and incontrovertible proof of the truth of the occurrence was the fact that the place where this dancing had been enacted was found... trodden into a ring such as it is found in a circus where horses run round in a circle, and among the other tracks were the recent marks of the hoofs of goats and oxen..."

Theo Paijmans then says:

A story of circular marks made by animals and allotted to sorcerers and witches was changed more than 400 years later into the oldest crop circle report".

One will refer for more details and additional notes to Theo Paijmans' article:

Like Theo Paijmans, I conclude:

There never was a crop circle "in Assen in 1590", nor any "crop circles phenomenon" before Doug Bower and Dave Chorley started to make rounds in the fields in 1978 to make believe that flying saucers had landed. And I add, no crop circles in Assen in 1590, obviously no crop circles "in Alsace between Guermingen and Assenoncour in 1590".

What did we read? This for example:

"Many people think that the crop circles represent a relatively recent phenomenon, a product of the 20th century. In fact, like with UFOs as of 1947, the crop circles have a "modern era" which starts at the beginning of the 1980s, but also seem to be described well before."

I have to correct:

There are people who want you to believe crop circles existed before Doug and Dave invented them in 1978, but until proof of the opposite appears, this is totally false. No real crop circle was described before, it is only one more fraud by the "crop circle experts", one more fraud that is believed by the gullible. The "1590 crop circle in Assen" is not a crop circle, but a good example of the "crop circles before Doug and Dave" fraud.

Personal additions:


The fact is that Assenoncourt (then Assenoncour) - as its name suggests - is not in Alsace now, but in the Moselle department. Germinguen is probably not a city, and probably not a village, but probably a hamlet place name, a mill, the original source says. But Assenoncour is close to the Bas-Rhin, an Alsatian department, and it may thus be that the place of the alleged events is, or was at the time, in Alsace.

"Alsace" per se did not exist then as a formal political entity. The area where it allegedly occurred was divided in several political districts, counties, owned by one or the other lord, some from Alsace, who used to sell territories one another occasionally. In a way, it is a but strange that someone said this occurred in Alsace instead of naming the owner of the county, for example. This is of course all a vague story, there is not much hope to find the place now.

This was my comment about that when I initially published my article on April 17, 2010. A reader of my website communicated to me the information below on April 19, 2010; which I immediately reproduced:

Hello Mr. Gross,

A minor remark about your article on "the first crop circle".
Having a second home in Assenoncourt, which I confirm to you, is indeed located in the Moselle, Lorraine, and not in Alsace, I was puzzled by the name of "Guermingen". Indeed, a small village located at a few kilometers in the north of Assenoncourt is called "Guermange". The consonance is striking, and it could thus well be that this is the same village, the more so as it is almost next to Assenoncourt. While looking on a Cassini map, I was able to verify that at the time, there indeed was a wood between the two villages, which is consistent with the report. In all the cases, the proximity of the two villages cannot take us as far as Alsace... (and even if it would not be Guermingen, it is hard to imagine a farmer woman walking 50km to go to the mill).

I am well aware that my remark is not invaluable help, the case being what it is, but this precision did not cost me much. I take this opportunity to congratulate you for your website, and wish you good continuation.

Best regards, [Name]

Robert Plot?

It seems all references to Robert Plot (1640-1696) and his book, and both are for real, write his name Plot, not Plott.

His book "The Natural History of Stafford-Shire", was first "Printed at the Theater, Oxford, 1686". There was a reprint in Manchester by E. J. Morten in 1973. The original edition is a rare book, with prices generally over $500. It is still copyrighted.

So why did Theo Paijmans note the correct name to be Plott? All I know is that someone told there was this misspell on the title page of his book's first edition.

Left: Dr. Robert Plot.

See for example:,com_hotproperty/task,view/id,278/Itemid,33/

But did Robert Plot really tell in a book devoted to the Staffordshire, England, this alleged "Dutch" or "Alsatian" crop circle story? Well, I have no evidence thereof at hand for now, and I suspect that there is a possible confusion of the sources of two different stories...

The "sighting report".

It was distorted so that the feature that would most repel the reasonable people are removed. Here is the part about the alleged "observation" in Remy's book:

As Nicolette Lang-Bernhard was returning from the old mill of Germinguen to go to Assenoncour on July 25, 1590, and as she followed a forest way at noon, she saw in a nearby field a band of men and women who danced in a circle. But because they did that in different manner than the current practice, turning their backs at each other, she looked better and saw that there was also among those who danced some who had deformed feet similar to those of the goats or oxen. Almost dying with fear, she started ("as we do when some sinister disaster threatens us") call upon the saving Name of Jesus, and begged that he at least lets her return home healthy and safe. Upon that, all the dancers seemed to disappear all of a sudden, except one of them, named Petter Gross-Petter, who quickly rose in the airs, and was seen then dropping a mop like those bakers use to clean the oven before use.

I hope that anyone can understand that the simple fact that the alleged Nicolette Lang-Bernhard knows the name of the man who did not "disappear" suddenly, Petter Gross-Petter, shows this story - which has nothing to do with the crop circle phenomenon, is certainly just a tall tale!

Lastly, I note that the Remy's story is also appearing in the book "The Witchcraft Sourcebook" by Brian P. Levack, Routledge publisher, USA, 2004, on page 84, and that the research by Theo Paijmans was then summarized in the crop circles book "In Graancirkelkringen: een Etnologisch Onderzoek naar Verhalen uit de Grenswetenschap", by T. Meder, Amsterdam University Press publishers, the Nerthelands, 2006.

Just by reading the rest of the story should be enough for everyone to comprehend that there is no crop circle at all here, but a most doubtful story, a witchcraft story, complete with consents obtained by torture, confrontation with the judge. "Several witnesses" claimed Colin Andrews.. when actually the cited names are the names of the people who were accused to have been the dancers... A crop circle? Not. A round trace like those left by animals feet...

Below: the complete story in Nicolas Remy's book:

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This page was last updated on April 19, 2010