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Rand in circles

By Paul Fuller
Rand CapronThe January 2000 edition of Nature carried a reprint of an article first published in 29 July 1880, in which amateur scientist John Rand Capron reported his investigation into some circles found in a crop field near Guildford in Surrey. Capron's letter described how:
"The storms about this part of Surrey have been lately local and violent, and the effects produced in some instances curious. Visiting a neighbour's farm on Wednesday evening (21st), we found a field of standing wheat considerably knocked about, not as an entirety, but in patches forming, as viewed from a distance, circular spots.
Examined more closely, these all presented much the same character, viz., a few standing stalks as a center, some prostrate stalks with their heads arranged pretty evenly in a direction forming a circle round the center, and outside these a circular wall of stalks which had not suffered,
I sent a sketch made on the spot, giving an idea of the most perfect of these patches. The soil is a sandy loam upon the greensand, and the crop is vigorous, with strong stems, and I could not trace locally any circumstances accounting for the peculiar forms of the patches in the field, nor indicating whether it was wind or rain, or both combined, which had caused them, beyond the general evidence everywhere of heavy rainfall. They were suggestive to me of some cyclonic wind action, and may perhaps have been noticed elsewhere by some of your readers."
Capron's investigation of these crop circles predates the next contemporary account of crop circles (at Evenlode, Gloucestershire, England) by sixty years. The account given is reminiscent of many of the early accounts of crop circles which UFOIN members have discovered in the UFO literature and elsewhere. It is also very similar to the King's Bromley (Staffordshire) case investigated by meteorologist David Reynolds in 1989, in which an entire field was covered in crop circles (some precisely defined, many not) and other features were present. Many of the early crop circles were retrospectively reported years later and few photographs have survived. However, it is important to document these earlier cases as they are suggestive of a natural atmospheric mechanism for some circles.
UFOIN has visited the Surrey History Center in Woking. We have obtained biographical details of Rand Capron and located his weekly meteorological records in the Surrey Advertiser. We have also tried to determine the precise location of the 1880 crop circles and we have obtained contemporary maps of the likely location. Rand Capron was a well known amateur scientist who was in contact with many of his Victorian contemporaries. He kept daily meteorological records and wrote a number of scientific treatises. A solicitor by profession he was also Chairman of the local gas company and a leading light in local politics.
UFOIN hope to locate Rand Capron's original notes of the circles he visited. It is possible that the sketch mentioned in the original Nature article may also have survived. These notes will be important to establish what occurred that summer's day 120 years ago. It may also finally undermine the modern myth that crop circles are a "new" phenomenon attributable only to "aliens" or "non human intelligences".
Photo: John Rand Capron, Clerk of the Peace for the Borough of Guildford, Chairman of Directors Guildford Gas Light & Coke Company, Solicitor, For some years Coroner. Born 19 Feb 1826 12 November 1888.
Photo: Courtesy Guildford Institute.

Rand in Circles