An image decoded from the 2002 Crabwood crop formation

William C. Treurniet, June, 2010
(Revised, July 4, September 19, 2010)

Summary. A crop formation that appeared near Wilton Windmill, Wiltshire, on May 22, 2010, contains two text strings encoded with ASCII symbols. The first was found to be an approximation to Euler's identity. The second is recognized here as an instruction for decoding an ASCII symbol sequence to an image format. The instruction is applied to the 2002 Crabwood formation which displayed a bit stream that had already been decoded to meaningful words. The image decoding instruction from the 2010 Wilton Windmill formation converted the 2002 Crabwood symbol sequence into a 9x9 grayscale image. The image can be interpreted as a representation of a bipedal figure extending a three-fingered hand in greeting. It may be an image of the entity the accompanying text message told us not to trust. The discovery of an image in the 2002 formation using a key delivered in a 2010 formation indicates that the time scale implied in the 2002 text message is relatively long.

On May 22, 2010, a crop formation appeared in a field at Wilton Windmill in Wiltshire (see Figure 1). A field investigator reported that the formation had characteristics beyond what could be created with a simple crop flattening technique. The plants were not crushed or flattened, and displayed "a rope type pattern which appeared to be equal throughout the entire ring of complex yet to be analyzed code".

Figure 1. The Wilton Windmill formation. 

A number of researchers quickly recognized that the circle contained ASCII symbols used to electronically encode letters of the alphabet. Specifically, the text string "e^(hi)pi)1=0" was decoded in one interpretation of the symbols. This equation is a close approximation to Euler's identity, a well-known mathematical formula. The formula is written correctly as "e ^ (i pi) + 1 = 0".

An article written by JPC from Australia decoded another string from the formation using a different but not independent subset of the ASCII codes. The resulting text string in this case was ",But45x459!y". These were again all printable characters, but the meaning was not obvious. Since the codes for the two different readings are not independent, the errors in Euler's formula may be necessary in order to encode the correct characters in JPC's reading. This suggests that the latter code may require more precision than the former.

In comments submitted to an ongoing discussion, the author recognized that JPC's string could be manipulated to create what appears to be an instruction for decoding ASCII codes into a visual image. The string contains 2 numbers, 45x459, that are both divisible by nine. They may be rewritten as 9x5x9x51. This, in turn, may be expressed as 9x9x255. The number 255 is the decimal value of an 8-bit (or byte) character code with all bits turned on, and represents the color white in a grayscale image. The 9x9 could specify the size in pixels of an image array. So the string ",But9x9x255!y" could be instructions for organizing an array of bytes into a visual image. The "!y" characters may mean that the bits in each y byte are to be negated. The ! symbol is the logical NOT operator in some computer programming languages. Therefore, a translation of the original text string would be ", but see the image decoded using 9x9 arrays of bytes with bits inverted".

But to what data should the decoding instruction be applied? At least one person has commented on a possible connection between this crop formation and a formation at Crabwood in 2002. Figures 2 and 3 show two photographs of the formation accompanied by the same images smoothed using a Gaussian filter. The filtered versions help with interpretation by removing irrelevant higher frequency components. Notice that some subtle differences between the two photos are extraneous effects resulting from different lighting conditions when the two photos were taken.

Figure 2. The Crabwood crop formation.
Image courtesy Lucy Pringle
Figure 3. The Crabwood crop formation.
Image courtesy CropCircleConnector

The disc-shaped part of the Crabwood formation contains ASCII data which was translated to read

"Beware the bearers of FALSE gifts & their BROKEN PROMISES. Much PAIN but still time.
BELIEVE. There is GOOD out there. We oPpose DECEPTION. Conduit CLOSING\

The existence of a second message is implied here as well by the odd mixture of upper and lower case letters. As in the Wilton Windmill formation (see here), the ASCII representation of the text message may have been altered to allow a second message to be encoded with better precision. That is, the capital letters may have been substituted for the lower case letters in order to improve the encoding of an image in the same sequence of bits.

The bit sequence extracted from the Crabwood formation was published in an on-line article by Red Collie. The sequence is reproduced here in a text file with the separator characters removed. This data was then processed using the algorithm decoded from the Wilton Windmill crop formation. It was implemented in Microsoft Visual C++, and relevant code snippets are included here.

The left part of Figure 4 shows the image created using all the available data. It consists of two 9x9 arrays, with the second one positioned to the right of the first. To overcome somewhat the perceptual limitations of such a low resolution image, the right image shows the effect of blurring with a Gaussian filter. The immediate impression is that the right side of the image has more extreme black and white values than the left side. Given this difference, is there any indication that all of the data should not be used to generate the image?

Original image  Gaussian blur 
Figure 4. Image using all the available data, including blurred version. 

Paul Vigay provided a possible rationale for truncating the data before the end. He observed that the word with extra bits, eventually decoded as "BELIEVE", is separated from the main message by two full stops. The file with data truncated at that point may be seen here. Figure 5 shows the original truncated version of the image on the left and the same image blurred using the Gaussian filter on the right.

Original image  Gaussian filter 
Figure 5. Image of truncated data, including filtered version. 

Interpretation of the image

The image has a low resolution that it is very much open to interpretation. However, from our everyday experience, the immediate impression is of a bipedal figure in motion. Particularly in the image with Gaussian blurring, lighter and darker areas appear to be placed strategically to give the body a 3-dimensional appearance. With a little imagination, the lighting arrangement may cause one to see the head and one leg project towards the viewer. Although the perspective is incorrect, the left side of the image may be seen as a three-fingered right hand. The disproportionately large size of the hand relative to the body strongly suggests that it is extended towards the viewer.

Does the figure in the decoded image represent the same entity as the one overtly depicted in the rest of the crop formation? Figures 2 and 3 show that the entity is leaning through a portal to present the encoded messages on the disc with the left hand. Especially in Figure 3, we can see that two tentacle-like fingers are supporting the disc, and that the right hand is supporting the entity against the frame of the portal. The row of three dots next to the chin could be the three finger tips of the right hand, and the dot immediately below might be the tip of the thumb. Since the figure in the decoded image has just three digits and its head has a much flatter top, it appears to represent a different class of entities. A nighttime visitor with a similar flat head was drawn by a child as related by Mary Rodwell in her video entitled The Reality of Contact. Figure 6 presents both the decoded figure and the drawn figure taken from the Rodwell video. The appearance of the same unusual head shape in entirely different contexts where aliens are thought to be involved may be more than coincidence.

Figure 6. Comparison of the decoded image to the drawing from Rodwell.
Right image courtesy of Mary Rodwell - The Reality of Contact


Encoding an image as a text string is not difficult. The image bytes are converted to readable characters using Base64 encoding. The result is a string that contains only a-z, A-Z, 0-9, ", %, &, ', (, ), *, +, -, _ and , characters. However, such a string typically has the appearance of a random sequence of letters. It is impressive that the circle maker was able to encode an image in such a way that the resulting text is made up of meaningful words and sentences.

Crop formations that have appeared in the last decade might be grouped into two categories. One category appeals to our sense of aesthetics. They contain holistic symbols that are meaningful in themselves, such as crosses, birds in flight, concentric circles, and other geometric forms. The other category uses symbols as intermediaries to be read and interpreted, so the symbols are more data than art. For example, some of these formations represent astronomical phenomena such as the locations of planets in our solar system or the phases of the moon. These symbols are read sequentially and lead to the description of an existing or predicted condition. Since the rules governing such interpretations are logical and based on spatial cues, the symbols are in some sense still universal. The relatively few formations featuring ASCII symbols are an extreme form of this category, and maybe should be placed in a category by themselves. The ASCII symbols are transformed according to rigid man-made rules to yield a text string written in a particular human language. There is, therefore, a strong tendency to expect that humans were involved in the design of such formations.

When the Crabwood formation appeared, seasoned investigators held the view that it was likely created by humans using a novel, sophisticated technology. Paul Vigay, for example, had the impression that it was "an elaborate and well constructed hoax", although he had no physical evidence to support this feeling. Similarly, Eltjo Haselhoff was convinced, again without the support of physical evidence, that "it's a man-made hoax".

The Wilton Windmill formation seems to be of a similar nature. It's construction was impressive and the vegetation did not bear the marks of manual construction with boards. Andrew Pyrka says the "formation did have bent stems as well as broken stems but plants within were not crushed or flattened and did not display any action of aggression". That some were broken, however, might be an indication that a less-than-perfect technology was employed. Creations closer to perfection have been seen in other formations. The two formations are also logically connected, since the Crabwood image was decoded using the Wilton Windmill key. Therefore, they must have had the same maker; i.e., either they were both man-made, both had a non-human maker, or the designs were a collaboration between the two.

Candidates for a human element in crop formation construction are members of the possible breakaway civilization proposed by Richard Dolan in Volume II of UFOs and the National Security State. These would be people in possession of new scientific and technical knowledge who may already interact with non-human intelligence. This knowledge would allow, and perhaps require, this group to grow apart from mainstream human society.

The successfully decoded image offers additional information concerning the correct interpretation of the Crabwood text message. We were told "Conduit CLOSING", which appears to say that the means for communicating was being lost. Apparently, this did not happen immediately, since the key for decoding the Crabwood image came to us via the Wilton Windmill formation much later in 2010. It seems that the time scale implied in the Crabwood message is relatively long, and the conduit may still be in the process of closing.

In 2002, we were warned by the entity overtly depicted in the crop formation that promises had been made which should not be trusted, and that we should expect a time of suffering. In 2010, we were given an algorithm to decode an image. When applied to the 2002 formation, the resulting image appears to be of a humanoid figure different from the entity who delivered the message. The extended hand in the decoded image might be a friendly gesture, but it comes from the same bit sequence that contains the text "Beware the bearer of false gifts and their broken promises. Much pain but still time." Since the warning statements and the image were decoded from the same set of bits, the image likely shows us the form of the entity who is not to be trusted.