Farmer David Hues is furious that his fields near Silbury Hill are targeted each year by crop circle makers.

He says it is not just because of the value of crops destroyed but also the damage done by the hundreds of ‘croppies’ who wade through the fields to see and photograph them.

The crop circle season opened last week with the appearance of what was believed to be the first one in England so far this year – although there was one reported in Wales the previous week – in a field of Mr Hues’ oilseed rape next to Silbury Hill.

The farmer said: “My attention was drawn to it by helicopters which were flying over.”

Mr Hues said he was concerned at the damage done to crops by the people he blamed for making the circle formations and then the damage made by the many crop circle enthusiasts who flocked to see the patterns.

“They have done quite a lot of damage,” he said. “They pick on this same field every year and I would love to be able to get the evidence to prosecute whoever does it for criminal damage.

“We all know they are fakes and it annoys me that people think they have a right to go on your land and destroy your crops.”

Mr Hues’ belief that the floral pattern in his field of oilseed rape was crudely made was borne out by comments on crop circle web sites.

A woman in Berlin said: “You can see two flaws in the two smallest circles where the creators have had to ‘jump’ into an open space to create these features.

“I have seen better crop circles where this is not required by the design. Amateurs.”

Another web comment was: “Where on earth do these people find the time? Don’t they have employment?”

However, one of the country’s top crop circle experts, Lucy Pringle, who was among the first to fly over and photograph the new formation, believes most of the crop patterns – or art in the countryside as non-believers call them – were genuine.

Ms Pringle, a founder member of the Centre for Crop Circle Studies, said the Silbury pattern was the first of the year.

“The start of the season is always exciting,” she said. “I never know what’s going to happen for the rest of the year. This latest circle is a floral pattern which I have never seen before. There’s never been one identical to another.”

Fact file

The Gazette’s sister paper the Wiltshire Times was the first British newspaper to publish a picture of a crop circle when three round shapes appeared in a field of oats beneath the Westbury White Horse in 1980.

It was believed by many to be cast-iron proof of extra terrestrial contact, the finding launched an unprecedented response from self-confessed 'croppies', with the number of circles appearing in Wiltshire fields increasing year on year.

Many experts believe Wiltshire's rich treasure chest of ancient sites is the reason why the county has become a magnet for crop circles.

But a bitter war still rages between genuine crop circle researchers and a clan of secretive yet highly skilled fanatics, dubbed the circlemakers, who claim to be behind some of the world's most elaborate and complex designs.

Alton Barnes, near Devizes, attracts international interest every summer. Some of the world's most spectacular circles have been discovered in fields close to the hamlet.

The Barge Inn at Honeystreet has become the focal point for crop circle researchers and fans of all things mystical. The pub’s back room is dedicated to UFO phenomenon.