The Manton Grove Polar Clock?

by Karen Alexander
Temporary Temples Blog
June 16, 2012

Manton Grove, nr Marlborough, Wiltshire 2nd June 2012 – Barley
Click on any of the images to enlarge them.

Circle at Manton Grove – Does it show a polar clock?

Circle at Manton Grove – Does it show a polar clock?

The formation that appeared at Manton Grove on June 2nd was almost immediately identified as a polar clock. The formation is the first of 2012 to appear in barley. The unseasonable and changeable British weather in 2012 has meant that the crops are somewhat behind for the time of year; in 2011 we had our first barley circle on May 17th at East Kennett.

In fact there is not much barley growing in the Wiltshire countryside this summer, farmers have opted for more oilseed rape. An article on the ‘Telegraph Online’ website (posted 29th May) was headlined “Oilseed rape at record levels sparks hayfever and pesticides fears”. According to the reporter there was a 10% increase on the planting of the crop this year because of high demand for cooking oil and because frosts in other parts of Europe had killed many crops.

But this was causing concern amongst hayfever sufferers because of the pollen levels and fears that people deciding to walk in these colourful fields would be exposed to the toxic pesticides used to spray the crop – not to mention its impact on the wider environment.

The people inside the formation give it scale. It is the largest circle to have appeared in the UK this year – so far!

The people inside the formation give it scale. It is the largest circle to have appeared in the UK this year – so far!

In another rather bizarre report on the same website (this time posted June 3rd) the headline read “Japanese tourists flocking to visit the UK’s rapeseed fields” apparently the crop is not grown in Japan and the tourists are amazed by its brilliant and beautiful colour, so much so that they flocked to photograph and visit the fields. I swear (this is utterly true) I saw on my local regional news a film report showing the intrepid Japanese getting of their tour bus to visit an oilseed rape field and the slightly bewildered, but smiling farmer only too happy to accommodate them at £1 each.

So now we have the happy phenomenon of tourists visiting farmers fields, even when there are no crop circles! Sadly the rapeseed flowers have now all but gone from our fields (or happily if you are a hayfever sufferer), and the crop circles have moved into barley.

(I have put links to the news stories at the bottom of this blog so you can see them for yourself)

Polar Clock app on the iPhone

Polar Clock app on the iPhone

The Manton formation is by far the largest circle to have appeared this year, I estimate that it is between 200ft – 250ft in diameter. At first glance it seems to be a circle containing a group of concentric rings of different lengths, but it was not long before people began to see it’s distinct similarity to a polar clock. If you google ‘polar clock’ you will immediately see colourful versions of the clock appear, especially if you search for pictures. The premise is simple, dates and time are displayed as concentric rings within a round clock face. Many polar clocks also change colour as each ring travels around its 360 degrees. There are polar clock apps for both apple and android phones. You can even download a polar clock screen saver.

There are some who have questioned this interpretation and I think that’s healthy. There has been at least one astronomical interpretation and there are many who are still looking for another meaning to its design. As ever, I am open to all ideas. There is also some questioning of how a time and date might be arrived at if we don’t know the specific order or designation for each ring – this is a good point – most polar clocks allow for you to rearrange, add or subtract the rings as it suits you. However, there is a kind of standard order and when this is applied the result does make sense.

Working from the centre:

Ring 1 – Month
Ring 2 – Date (day of the Month)
Ring 3 – Day (day of the week)
Ring 4 – Hour
Ring 5 – Minute
Ring 6 – Second
There is no ring for a specific year.

Drawing of the Manton Drove formation

Drawing of the Manton Drove formation

As with all these things you have to accept some margin of error without a theodolite to accurately measure the angles. The results of this methodology show that the date is August 4-6th, a Saturday at approx 17 hours 46 minutes and 52 seconds – again there is room for hours, minutes or seconds either side of these.

If it is August the 4th, that could mean it is a date later this summer as August 4th falls on a Saturday this year. If it is August 6th – the next August 6th on a Saturday would be 2016. Make of this what you will, it is an open ended interpretation not a definitive one.

Drawing a polar clock by hand is somewhat tricky as each ring (apart from minutes and seconds) have to be divided differently. If you want to try it for yourself I would advise you use a protractor to help you, this is not an exercise that would benefit in anyway from the classical compass and straight edge (only) method.

If you take the order I have given to the rings:

Ring 1 – Month: divide by 12 (30° per month)
Ring 2 – Date: depending on the month divide by 28/29/30 or 31
Ring 3 – Day: Divide by 7 – you have to be slightly creative here as 360 does not divide equally into 7.
Ring 4 – Hour: Divide by 24 (15° per hour)
Ring 5 – Minute: Divide by 60 (6° per minute)
Ring 6 – Second: As per minutes.

You could try changing the ring designations around and see if any other coherent date is possible.

Manton Drove with colour – based on classical polar clock colourations. Drawing ink & promarkers on Watercolour paper

Manton Drove with colour – based on classical polar clock colourations. Drawing ink & promarkers on Watercolour paper

There have been several formations over the years that have showed times and dates, or planetary positioning indicating a date. I guess only time will tell if this is a clock, and if it is, if its encoded information is meaningful. Perhaps the design has no meaning – who knows! I think that’s why they call it the crop circle mystery.

I recently received an email asking me if I had tried spinning the circle to see what would happen. This query is based on Benham’s disk – an experiment where black and white images are spun and can produce the perception of colour depending on the frequency. This is because it is human perception that interprets frequencies as colours. This is a fascinating notion. I will be pursuing this to see what happens – I’ll let you know. There is a link to a web page below with instruction on creating your own experiment.


Useful Links:

Record levels of Oilseed Rape

Tourists flock to see rapeseed fields

Polar Clock

Benham’s Disk

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