How Crop Circles Work

Circlemaker John Lundberg displaying one of the 'stalk stompers' (and standing in front of the combine) his team will use to create the formation.

Photo courtesy

How Do You Make a Crop Circle?

Crop circles appear to be very intricate formations, with many geometric shapes linked in sophisticated patterns. But the basics of crop-circle creation and the tools involved are actually fairly simple.

In general, circlemakers follow the following steps:

  1. Choose a location.
  2. Create a diagram of the design (although some circlemakers decide to come up with an idea spontaneously when they arrive at their intended site).
  3. Once they arrive at the field, they use ropes and poles to measure out the circle.
  4. One circlemaker stands in the middle of the proposed circle and turns on one foot while pushing the crop down with the other foot to make a center.
  5. The team makes the radius of the circle using a long piece of rope tied at both ends to an approximately 4-foot-long (1.2-meter) board called a stalk stomper (a garden roller can also be used). One member of the team stands at the center of the circle while the other walks around the edge of the circle, putting one foot in the middle of the board to stomp down the circle's outline. Photos courtesy Circlemakers Rod Dickinson and Wil Russell in action
How Crop Circles Work

This is the resulting formation. Created in a field opposite Silbury Hill in Wiltshire, it took the team five hours to create.

Photo courtesy

In August 2004, National Geographic contacted a team including circlemakers John Lundberg, Rod Dickinson and Wil Russell and requested a daylight demonstration in Wiltshire in support of a crop-circle documentary. These are the plans they worked from:

Circlemakers avoid getting caught by working under cover of night and by hiding their tracks in existing tractor-tire ruts.