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Secrecy as crop circlers take the field

(First Edition)

HIGH security surrounds a crop circle competition to be held today at secret locations in Buckinghamshire, writes Tim Coleman.

Twelve groups of up to six members each, will have five hours in which to make a crop 'pictogram' 180ft (55m) by 60ft (18m).

The competition is being sponsored by The Cerealogist magazine -the journal for crop circle studies - The Koestler Foundation and PM, a German magazine. The team whose crop circle most closely resembles the design allocated to them will receive pounds 3,000.

The organiser, Rupert Shelldrake, a new age biologist and author of The New Science Of Life, said: 'We wanted to include features that are supposedly hard to hoax . . .'

In order to recreate conditions similar to those in which genuine crop circles form, the competitors will have to work at night, with marks being deducted for noise and excessive use of lights. To sort the wheat from the chaff and rule out the possibility of cheating, the winners will have to recreate their circle in daylight.

The crop circle phenomenon began in earnest in the mid-Seventies with the appearance of swirled circular depressions in fields in southern England.