Crop Circles and More

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An Angle to Oliver's Castle 1996

  In 1996 the world became enriched with a piece of video that right from its birth was the subject of controversy and heated discussions. Anybody who has the slightest interest in crop circles, and many who have no connection to this phenomenon at all, will have at least seen this video once. I myself have seen it hundreds of times. It became known as the Oliverís Castle footage and you can find dozens of copies on YouTube. Is it real? Is it a hoax?
This article is not meant to add to the controversy, but I do feel compelled to share my recent findings with you, which show that the claims of John Wabe cannot be true.

A brief history.
On the morning of Sunday, 11 August 1996, a man calling himself John Weyleigh, steps into the Barge Inn (Honeystreet, Alton Barnes, Wiltshire, UK) and shows to the few people present a piece of video that would become known as the Oliverís Castle footage. Weyleigh tells the people in the pub that he had spent the night on the ancient hill fort named Oliverís Castle and that he woke up early in the morning witnessing balls of light (BOLs) floating over a field below. He had grabbed his video camera that was with him in his sleeping bag and filmed the BOLs while still laying on the ground in the sleeping bag.

The footage not only shows balls of light flying over a field. It also shows the forming of a crop circle at the spot where the balls are flying. It takes only seconds for the crop circle to be totally formed. An amazing piece of video! Is it real or is it an elaborate hoax? Since that 11 August 1996, the controversy over the Oliverís Castle footage has only grown. And it has gotten worse since John Weyleigh vanished a few weeks later.
Olivers Castle 1996 Olivers Castle 1996 Olivers Castle 1996
Frames taken from the Oliver's Castle footage. Click on the images to see an enlargement.

About a year later, in 1997, I man called John Wabe apologises to the world and Ďadmitsí that he has fabricated the Oliverís Castle footage. Yes, fabricated. On a homemade video he confesses everything. Sitting on the western tip of Oliverís Castle, and filmed by a friend, he explains how he was driving around early Sunday morning, 11 August 1996, when he spotted a crop circle in a field just below Oliverís Castle. Right there and then he decided to play a joke on the world. He films - from the same spot he is sitting while being interviewed - the crop circle in the field, rushes to his home in Bristol, manipulates Ďballs of lightí into the footage and rushes back to Wiltshire. He claims that he went to the Barge Inn, telling people inside the pub his name is John Weyleigh, and showing these people his footage of which he claims he had shot that morning. A new controversy was born.

His Ďconfessioní raised several questions. One of them was the question how he was able to edit Ďballs of lightí into a footage that was shot with a handheld camera? How did he deal with the camera shake? Even professional and very seasoned animation experts were baffled. It would take them days to accomplish such a feat! Realise it was 1996, and computer aided video editing was still very immature at that time. The explanation was childish simple. The crop circle was filmed while the camera was mounted on a tripod. No camera shake. The Ďballs of lightí were edited into this footage which was subsequently projected on a screen, at the same time this projection was filmed with a handheld camera. Hence the camera shake in the final product. Truly simple and highly effective, but also one of the reasons why John Wabeís claims cannot be true as you will see.

John Wabe re-enacting for National Geographic his claim of how he filmed the 'Olivers Castle' field on 11 August 1996.
Notice the big tripod he is carrying and the use of it during the filming.

Over the years I have tried, with more or less success, to stay away from all the discussions. Then, a few years ago I again see the Oliverís Castle footage. This time I see a new element. I am shocked. The reason that I never saw this element before is due to the fact that 99.9% of the copies in circulation donít show this element! Right at the end of the footage, the camera zooms out and just before the footage stops, while still zooming out, an object comes into the screen on the right hand side. This last bit, the zooming out, has been cut off in nearly all copies available in the world to see. The object that comes into the screen, drew my immediate attention. First I thought it was a tripod with a camera mounted on it. How could this be? John Weyleigh never mentioned a tripod with camera and John Wabe used his tripod to film. He never mentioned a second camera on a tripod. At closer inspection I saw that the object was not a tripod with camera, but a little tree, which shocked me even more, if possible.
Olivers Castle 1996 Olivers Castle 1996 Olivers Castle 1996
Frames taken from the end (the zooming out part) of the Oliver's Castle footage. Notice the little tree on the right.
click on the different images to see an enlargement

John Wabe claimed that he filmed the crop circle, using a tripod, from the tip of Oliverís Castle, but ... there are NO little trees on the tip! Also not back in 1996. I decided to shoot some photos from the tip and compare these with the video footage. I was in for a new shock. The angle of view from the tip of Oliverís Castle is not the angle from which the original video was shot back in 1996.
Olivers Castle 1996 Olivers Castle 1996 Olivers Castle 1996
Photo taken from the tip of Oliver's Castle. Notice how the photo does NOT line up with the video.
click on the different images to see an enlargement

Now I was really intrigued. I walked around Oliverís Castle to find the exact spot from where the video was taken. After a while I found it. The location is at the north-west side of the hill fort. A few meters down from the path that runs around the hill. I took a photo from that spot. I took it very close to the ground, just over a foot above it, and - now it comes - a few feet away from a little tree on the right. Looking at the result back home I saw that I had found the exact location, but I also noticed that I had kept my camera a little too high! The correct height would have been less than a foot from ground level. The best way to achieve this, would have been by laying on the ground, which I didnít do.
Olivers Castle 1996 Olivers Castle 1996 Olivers Castle 1996
Photo taken from the north-west side of Oliver's Castle. Notice how the photo does line up with the video.
click on the different images to see an enlargement

We now have arrived at a very interesting situation.
  1. The original footage was not shot from the tip, as John Wabe claimed, and;
  2. The camera was positioned just above ground level and the height between the ground and the camera was insufficient for a tripod to fit. There was simply not enough space. The camera that filmed the Oliverís Castle footage of 11 August 1996, could not have been mounted on a tripod. It had to be a handheld camera!
Both claims of John Wabe Ė filming from the tip and the camera mounted on a tripod Ė can simply not be true!
The claim made by John Weyleigh, that he was laying in his sleeping bag while filming, does hold!
Click here to see an overview of the actual situation.

Like I said before, I didnít write this article to ignite new discussions and controversy, but at the same time I felt it my duty to show and share my findings with the world.
What this all means? I leave that up to you, but I do encourage you to go to Oliverís Castle and test all my findings yourself!

© Bert Janssen, 2011.