November 22, 1991 Article
Red faced scientists may well have to re-write their text books in the light of revelations being made by a former North Yorkshire shepherd.
For Bob Johnson, who retired last year at the age of 70, claims the mysterious phenomenon known as ‘Corn Circles’ which have baffled the scientific world for months, were all his own handywork. And not only that, he also claims that many other unexplained phenomenon, including UFO’s, the Loch Ness Monster and Stonehenge are also down to him.
After years of practical joking, during which Bob has baffled the world’s leading scientists with his incredible hoaxes, he has finally decided to own up, and plans to reveal all in a book soon to be published.
His most recent ‘mystery’, the corn circles, baffled farmers and scientists after the strange, symmetrical patterns appeared in fields the length and breadth of Britain. Various theories were put forward, among them freak weather conditions, UFO landings and rabbits.
But according to Bob, the cause was nothing more sinister than a lawn mower, a pole, and a piece of string. “I got the idea from that cigar advert where Russ Abbot cuts the lawn in his back garden. I just tied my lawn mower to a stick and then sat back, and hey presto”.
Bob claims that the first circles were a practical joke at the expense of local farmers. But when the press began to take an interest, he couldn’t resist the temptation of carrying on the hoax. One thing which left puzzled scientists scratching their heads was the vast distances between many of the circles. Overnight one might appear in Scotland, while almost simultaneously another would crop up in the Home Counties. Bob offers the breathtakingly simple explanation.
“I used my bicycle”, he told us. “I would ride up and down mostly at nights, so noone could see me. And of course a pedal cycle is very quiet, so I didn’t wake anyone up either”.
Although Bob was proud of some of his cornfield creations, he believes his best hoax to date was Stonehenge. “Yes, I did that as well”, he told us. “Mind you, it was a lot harder than the corn circles. At times I wondered whether it would be worth the bother”. Working singlehanded, it took Bob two days to erect the massive stone pillars which stand in a perfect circle on Salisbury Plain.
“The hardest bit was getting the big ones on the top”, he added. “I nearly put my back out doing that”. And Bob has finally ended speculation as to how the massive stones were transported to Stonehenge. The answer, according to Bob, was so simple the experts failed to see it. “I got them all there on a sack barrow”, he told us.
Bob is always amused when he sees hippies flocking to the stone circle in the mistaken belief that it has great religious significance. “All that nonsense about the summer solstice, and the positioning of the sun makes me laugh. I was just trying to make it into the shape of a smiling face, like those smiley badges, but I ran out of stones”.
A lot has been written about the existence of mysterious ‘Lay Lines’ emanating from Stonehenge, and covering the whole of Britain. The points where these lines cross are said to emit strange and unexplained forces or energy. But Bob has bad news for the theorists. “I made the lay lines as well”, he told us. “I just used old lengths of clothes line, hanging from trees”.
Stonehenge is not the only tourist attraction for which Bob admits responsibility. But two of his other works of art are best viewed from above. “I was looking after my sheep one day when I got bored, so I decided to draw a big horse on the hillside. I only had a few boxes of white chalk on me, so I used that. I thought it would wash off overnight, but years later it’s still there”.