Thursday, June 26, 2014

Hartford-Shire Mowing Devil

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When retired artists Doug Bower and Dave Chorely came forward in 1991 and claimed responsibility for hundreds of "crop circles" around England, the book was closed for many as crop circles being anything but a fraudulent hoax. Still, Bower and Chorely said they got the idea for creating the first simple, but increasingly elaborate crop art from a 1960s incident in Australia known as the "saucer nest case."  The saucer nest case involved a farmer finding a circular area of flattened crop in conjunction with a UFO landing sighting...but is there any earlier cases of a similar nature?


A woodcut pamphlet was produced in 1678 telling of the strange tale of the Hartford-shire mowing devil.  According to the pamphlet, a laborer quoted to a farmer a certain price for mowing his oat field.  The farmer refused to honor that price, stating that he'd rather have the Devil himself come mow the field than to pay the poor laborer.

And, like in many cautionary tales, the farmer soon learned that you must be careful what you wish for.  That night, the oat field appeared to be on fire.  Suspecting his entire crop burned, the farmer returned the next morning, amazed to find the area perfectly mowed...TOO perfectly mowed for any man to have committed the act.

Credit for bringing this tale to light is given to historian Betty Puttick who submitted knowledge of this woodcut she ran across to Jenny Randles in response to Randles' 1989 book on crop circles.

Obviously, there is no mention of little green men from outer space, but many cereologists (the people who study crop circles) believe that this might possibly be the earliest recorded case of the modern phenomena.

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