The Breamore Miz-Maze, Hampshire. Photo by Jim Champion.

As part of the work-related research this week I was looking for designs of old turf labyrinths. It turns out I have two pages of the things in a book I’d earlier considered dropping into Oxfam so that particular volume may have gained a reprieve. Before I went to the bookshelves I’d been browsing the rather wonderful Labyrinthos site which is just the kind of detailed resource you hope to find in these circumstances. There we find an explanation for the difference between a maze and a labyrinth (the general rule being that a maze has more than one choice of route), and a wealth of examples from ancient history to the present day. I’ve long been fascinated by the labyrinths found in churches and cathedrals, of which the most famous example is the one in Chartres Cathedral. They’re a rare incidence of a symbolic device in Christian architecture which is near-universal, and which has clear antecedents in the labyrinths and mazes found in ancient temples. Labyrinthos has a guide to some of the surviving examples to be found in England. As to England’s turf labyrinths, there’s a page devoted to those here with a number of photos.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Jeppe Hein’s mirror labyrinth