The Ansty Crop Circle Mystery ~ Interview with Karen Price
Saturday 24th September 2016
© Lucy Pringle
In light of the debate and controversy surrounding the amazing Ansty crop circle, I hope you will find the following interview with Karren Price helpful in clearing up certain areas of misunderstanding.
The hamlet of Ansty (situated in the south west of England between Salisbury and Shaftesbury, Wiltshire) is a small and sprawling village lying on the A30 between ancient high banked narrow lanes - clearly once used as drover’s tracks. In the southern part of the parish is White Sheet Hill, on which there are Bronze Age barrows including a long barrow. Ansty is in the Vale of Wardour. The A30 Salisbury to Shaftesbury road follows an ancient course, north-west of (and parallel to) the Ridgeway on the greensand terrace, and includes the steep northern slopes of White Sheet Hill.
The Church of England parish church of Saint James dates from before 1210 and is a Grade II listed building. The south wall of the nave is considered likely to be a survival from the original building, and the font is also Norman.
Boasting some 120 inhabitants, Ansty has no village shop or post office. Ansty Pick Your Own (PYO) is therefore the only amenity and lies directly on the A30. It is clearly marked with roadside signs.
Driving in, you enter a large area where cars can park and farm vehicles such as tractors can manoeuvre. The PYO shop abuts a large shed containing farm vehicles and other farming equipment. To the south, and closest to the shop, are rows of strawberries placed in pots shoulder high to prevent the interest of slugs and avoid soil-borne diseases - and to make picking easy.
They are often covered in white plastic sheeting to prevent rain damage and protect the fruit. Beyond lie the various rows of fruit and vegetables. Further still are the fields. From the image below you can clearly see patches of green in the standing crop showing Convolvulus cneorum (Bindweed) throughout the entire field, not just on the flattened wheat.
The crop circle was in the field beyond and to the left of the raised lines of strawberries. It is visible from the shop.
If a crop circle were being made during night or day during a two week period, as suggested by other reports (including the week that Karren was away), surely people picking and attending to the rows of strawberries or working alongside the field in which the circle appeared, would have seen marks in the field? They would have been clearly and unmistakably visible due to its proximity. If this is so, can we conclude that the event appeared in one night?
Ansty PYO is no ordinary farm shop. Consisting of a farm shop, tea room and kitchen, and despite being small in size, the farm shop, as well as basic items, stocks delicious teas and jams, honeycombs, and mouth-watering home baked pizzas, Eccles cakes and Sally Lunn current buns to name but a few. The tea room is where people come for coffee or tea and to feast on Karren’s freshly baked goodies.
Just as Ansty PYO is no ordinary farm shop, Karren Price (also known as K) is no ordinary person. Small, and as slender as a whippet with her light brown hair tied back in a ponytail, she is a whirlwind of activity. You will find her serving behind the counter or baking in the kitchen - where she says she is happiest - or coming through with platters of hot freshly baked food just out of the oven.
Married with two active young sons, she somehow seems to manage to combine all three activities. She told us her husband does a ‘proper’ job. One of the things we noticed was how Karren seems to be on such friendly relations with everyone who came into the shop. She told us that she has many regulars, some of whom come at different times of the year, some to pick or buy fruit, during the summer months, and later in the year for pumpkins and Christmas trees; whilst many regularly come to buy her produce.
Karren is ably assisted by cheerful helpers. Run as a family business, the fruit farm was taken over in 1998 and since then has developed into what it is today. On the wall behind the counter are pictures of several maize mazes that Karren told us she herself had designed and made in the fields with her team.
The first one she made took six weeks to design, plan and place in the field. As they gained experience and skill they were able to speed up the process with the advancement of technology ‘...but we never achieved it in a day - very far from it!’ When asked if she could make the recent crop circle, she laughed and said that given all the time in the world, she couldn’t possibly have done anything like that.
She will soon be framing and putting up two images I sent her.
This then was the setting when the crop circle appeared in early August, one of the busiest times of the year. As soon as word got around, Karren unthinkingly opened it to the public and was totally unprepared for the hundreds of people who descended on her shop and disrupted her already busy life. Armed with microphones, recorders, cameras etc., and wanting to speak to her and her staff, she was inundated, and swept off her felt feet as though she had been struck by a bolt out of the blue.
A naturally courteous person with a ready twinkle in her eyes, interview after interview was requested by all and sundry. Eventually she declined to enter into any further debate on the issue as she was so exasperated at how things she had said had been chopped, changed and edited.
Gary King and I kept in touch with Karren over this period, respecting her privacy and gaining her confidence. She was therefore prepared to give us one last and final interview on the subject.
On the morning of Saturday the 24th of September we met in the courtyard at Ansty PYO shop. Just at that moment the representative from Wiltshire Air Ambulance arrived to receive money Karren had collected from people visiting the crop circle. The circle had been harvested on 24th August.
Seeing that Karren was busy with shop full of people we decided to drive around, and later returned to Ansty PYO to have coffee. Karren spotted us, and as the shop was having a quiet spell, she suggested we did the interview there and then. Sitting in the tea room with cups of coffee, she told us her story.
She made it quite clear from the start that she did not want to be recorded on tape, nor did she want us to comment on any negativity already written about her or the event. She simply wanted to rectify a few untruths that had been printed. She started off by telling us that she wanted to thank everyone who had visited the circle and told us that she had met some really charming and interesting people as a result. Regarding the question about when she and her parents went on holiday, it was clear that confusion surrounded this and she wanted to clear it up.
Point 1. On the 31st July, Karren together with her husband and children went on holiday to Devon (she even showed us a photograph on her mobile of one of her sons with bucket of crabs he had caught dated the 2nd August and another dated 4th August of the bay where they had been staying). THE CROP CIRCLE WAS NOT THERE WHEN THEY LEFT.
Point 2. Karren and her family returned home late on the evening on 5th August.
Point 3. Early on the morning of the 6th of August Karren saw the circle from her bedroom window. This was the first time she had seen it, and it was complete. Therefore there are just seven days when it might have appeared.
Point 4. Despite reports to the contrary they did NOT go on holiday with her parents. Her parents went on holiday shortly after she returned.
Karren explained that she ‘sat’ on the circle for several days uncertain what to do about it. It was enormous, covering two acres of crop. Her husband has a drone and took several photographs of the circle. He said that people were already in the circle.
Her PYO lies close to two airfields, Compton Abbas just a few miles away, and Old Sarum near Salisbury. Planes fly over the farm constantly. As reported in a previous article, a farmer’s herdsman daily moved the line of the field overlooking the circle and in which the cattle grazed, in order to give them fresh grass. He saw no circle partly made, or being made, in the field below during those seven days. As word got around, Karren decided to open the crop circle to the public.
The famous crop circle web site, Crop Circle Connector (CCC) published the first photographs of the event on the evening of 12th of August. (They had been notified of the circle about noon that day and in case it might be cut-out, Mr Gyro - Mat Stainton - flew over it that evening and took some photographs. He regretted not being able to include the hill behind it due to the light at that time of day.)
Regarding the suggested involvement of the a small American, Bellingham-based company called ‘Mothership Glass’ (run by the artists Scott Deppe and Jake Collins who make glass pipes) and the similarity of their logo to the crop circle, Karren said she had never heard of Mothership Glass until Saturday 13th August. She has never communicated with them, nor has the secretive Mothership Glass responded to any communications from any crop circle researchers.
In addition, Karren wanted us to report that she has very good relations with her neighbours. This seemed clear to us anyway by the happy, friendly relationship she had with all the customers visiting her shop; many of whom were local.
Karren was delighted to donate the profits raised from people visiting the circle to the Stars Appeal - £1107.16 and £1275 split between the Somerset and Dorset Air Ambulance and the Wiltshire Air Ambulances. Together with other donations, this makes the total donated from the Farm Shop to charities this year - to date - to almost £8000! Karren also managed to squeeze in training for the London Marathon this year!. Coming from a small family run business that is an amazing achievement!
In conclusion, one thing in particular struck us both when interviewing Karren. This was her transparent honesty and her determination to tell the truth down to the very smallest detail. Unless you have witnessed this personally face to face, it is a quality that may not be apparent over the telephone - especially if she is busy. (We both consider ourselves good judges of character).
Several people may have been disappointed when trying to get in touch with Karren, and a previously arranged interview during a time when she is not busy is a very different scenario to speaking to her over the telephone unexpectedly and hoping for a verbal interview there and then, when she may be extremely busy at that particular moment serving customers or baking in the kitchen.
I will write more about the symbolism of this crop circle and the many other aspects in my annual article but until such time as there is photographic evidence of the crop circle being made (despite all the claims) or any concrete proof of exactly how or when it appeared during the seven day period, this event must remain a tantalising mystery.