FIELD REPORT from
UFFINGTON WHITE HORSE / DRAGON HILL
I visited on Sunday
20th May at 10:30.
This formation must have
been spotted immediately after its creation as it's clearly visible from
the busy B4507 which runs along the escarpment parallel to the Ridgeway,
as well as from the Ridgeway and the Uffington White Horse itself, and
it's quote large though I can't put any numbers on it, sorry.
It was easy to find
tramlines running from the roadside straight into the formation.
Especially on the road side, the rapeseed here is well advanced, up to
1.5 m tall, and the larger stems are brittle. This can be seen in the
tramlines both in and outside the formation, where there are many broken
and crushed stems, caused I guessed by a tractor being driven through
within the last couple of weeks as there were fairly fresh tractor tyre
[damage in tramline]
Inside the main ring of
the formation, the lay is clockwise and also angled inwards towards the
centre in many places, though my photos don't show this.
I think the crop was
slightly more flattened that in last week's formations and the edges
also seemed slightly better defined. As in the other formations, there
were many nice examples of single plants remaining upright in the midst
of laid stems.
[upright plant in
At ground level, there
was a whole range of damage to the stems ranging from gentle bending
through severe kinking (with the epidermis split and showing the cortex
beneath) to stems being totally snapped off.
[bending with cracked
However, the vast
majority of the laid crop, especially if you look at the stems hidden
beneath the adjacent flowering heads and outside the tramlines, is bent
right at the base and without any marks on the epidermis.
[typical bending in
My impression was that
the younger softer stems were gently bent, the medium ones quite
forcefully and the oldest thickest ones were most likely to be more
visibly damaged or broken. A bit like aikido really - the ones which
bend readily, suffer the least from the circle making force, while the
ones which resist get the roughest treatment! And there is a wide range
of size and maturity in this crop, so it would hardly be possible to
calibrate the circle-making force to suit all thicknesses of stems.
[most bent, a
The lay was similar in
the central circle, with the additional feature of a nice central
bouquet wrapped in some tightly swirled stems.
In the two small circles
which bud off that circle and the two which bud off the ring, the lay is
different. Here there is a more focused 'hair-dryer' swirl effect, with
the stems splayed out over each other in the centres instead of being
more or less neatly folded in the same direction
[centre of swirl in
The field and the
formation are overlooked by the Uffington white horse and Dragon Hill
There was no one else in
the formation while I was there but after a while I noticed a man in
black looking for a way in on the west side of the field, while on the
SE a white jeep which had been cruising by several times had now parked
and revealed its fluorescent decals to me. Two police officers stood
waiting for me as I made my out (discretely removing the memory card
from my camera and hiding it, in the paranoid fear that I was about to
be arrested and have my camera confiscated!) and the 'man in black'
joined us as I did so. They turned out to be 3 young, very pleasant
local coppers and the male officer was curious enough to have looked for
a way in and got yellow pollen all over his nice black outfit, so I
showed them the tramlines and encouraged them to have a look for
themselves, but they didn't take up my suggestion and I got the
impression that the female officers' scepticism ("We don't know who made
them" was not said in a way which suggested any other possibility than a
criminal act!) was putting a rein on the man's interest. They had just
been passing by and had not received any complaint but seemed to expect
one and wanted to prepare themselves for that, apparently.