Labyrinths

Haarp

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There is a lovely spot with an ancient maze on St Agnes, Isles of Scilly... Also called 'Troytown.'

Here's a picture...

troy_town_maze_st_agnes_isles_of_scilly_united_kingdom_europe_1146520.jpg


Haarp x
 

GNC

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How big is that? It's difficult to tell from the photo, could be little or quite vast.
 

rynner2

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Troytown is an ancient maze on St Agnes?

I hadn't heard of that one, although I've been interested in prehistory for much of my life. And I've been to Scilly many times, including St Agnes, and still never heard of it!

But by the magic of the internet, I find it does exist. But it's not ancient:

"Troy Town" maze on St Agnes, the Isles of Scilly, is a small maze of turf and small stones and is reputed to have been laid down in 1729 by the son of a local lighthouse keeper.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troy_Town# ... in_England
 

Haarp

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rynner2 said:
Troytown is an ancient maze on St Agnes?

I hadn't heard of that one, although I've been interested in prehistory for much of my life. And I've been to Scilly many times, including St Agnes, and still never heard of it!

But by the magic of the internet, I find it does exist. But it's not ancient:

"Troy Town" maze on St Agnes, the Isles of Scilly, is a small maze of turf and small stones and is reputed to have been laid down in 1729 by the son of a local lighthouse keeper.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troy_Town# ... in_England

Hi Rynner,
I have a strong connection with St Agnes and have spent lots of time there... and although I had heard the lighthouse keeper story before, the word on the street amongst the islanders seems to be that he might have built it on the site of an ancient maze - though no one really knows !
I know you are local Rynner, so next time you are over there, pop in for an icecream at the Troytown Farm shop, then follow the footpath past the campsite in a south-westerly direction and you will come across it after about 10-15 minutes... Happy hunting!
There is also a Geocache at St Warna's well if you're into that sort of thing.... :)

gncxx said:
How big is that? It's difficult to tell from the photo, could be little or quite vast.

Hiya,
I estimate that the maze is about 4 metres across, you can fit several people on it at once :) which just adds to the fun :) !
 

GNC

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Haarp said:
gncxx said:
How big is that? It's difficult to tell from the photo, could be little or quite vast.

Hiya,
I estimate that the maze is about 4 metres across, you can fit several people on it at once :) which just adds to the fun :) !

Thanks, although I imagine you'd have to be careful not to displace the stones while having a try at it.
 

EnolaGaia

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Some labyrinths are just convoluted single pathways (ie there are no braches or decision points). These are sometimes claimed to have been used for ritual processions. Something like a mini-pilgrimage, perhaps...

Labyrinths and mazes are commonly categorized with respect to whether their structure affords only a single path (unicursal) or a multitude of branching sub-paths (multi-cursal).

The ritual or processional attributions are strongly associated with unicursal layouts, wherein there's only a single path in and out with no branches or dead ends.

This distinction is sometimes reflected in the terminology, with 'labyrinth' connoting a unicursal layout and 'maze' being reserved for a multicursal layout.

This distinction therefore focuses on what sort of options the layout can afford. A unicursal layout may test your patience, but you can't get 'lost'. A multicursal layout invites or fosters getting lost and / or disoriented.

The original thing named 'labyrinth' was the structure intended to contain the Minotaur. Even though the containment theme implies a multicursal maze, Cretan and Greek depictions of the Knossos labyrinth were most commonly rendered as unicursal layouts.
 

blessmycottonsocks

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Labyrinths and mazes are commonly categorized with respect to whether their structure affords only a single path (unicursal) or a multitude of branching sub-paths (multi-cursal).

The ritual or processional attributions are strongly associated with unicursal layouts, wherein there's only a single path in and out with no branches or dead ends.

This distinction is sometimes reflected in the terminology, with 'labyrinth' connoting a unicursal layout and 'maze' being reserved for a multicursal layout.

This distinction therefore focuses on what sort of options the layout can afford. A unicursal layout may test your patience, but you can't get 'lost'. A multicursal layout invites or fosters getting lost and / or disoriented.

The original thing named 'labyrinth' was the structure intended to contain the Minotaur. Even though the containment theme implies a multicursal maze, Cretan and Greek depictions of the Knossos labyrinth were most commonly rendered as unicursal layouts.

The coin from Knossos in the Wiki article certainly depicts a unicursal labyrinth.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labyrinth

The article suggests however that the earlier form (probably more difficult to depict on a small coin!) would have been multicursal.
Having spent a wonderful day at the vast, sprawling complex at Knossos two summers ago, the palace/temple attributed to the semi-legendary king Minos (Mwi-nu from the Linear A) certainly feels like a huge, convoluted, 3D and most definitely multicursal maze.
 

Mikefule

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A unicursal maze (a single convoluted path, usually to the centre of a circle, fits a very long route into a small space. I have walked unicursal mazes at Wing (Rutland UK), Saffron Walden (Essex UK), and Julian's Bower, north Lincolnshire, UK. I have also seen unicursal mazes set into brick or block paved areas in modern settings.

The common assumption is that the ancient unicursal mazes were used for ritual processions. At one time, penitents or pilgrims may have followed the routes of mazes on their hands and knees as a ritual act of penitence.

There is a theory, which I regard as tenuous, that there was once a unicursal maze that was a processional route to the summit of Glastonbury Tor. People have tried to map a unicursal maze onto a series of terraces or level areas they feel they have identified on the sides of the mound.

Unicursal mazes were carved into rocks in prehistory. It takes some skill and planning to design and lay out a labyrinth, and I can imagine the task combining the mystique and satisfaction of drawing a Celtic knot.

I had one special experience on a maze which I believed at the time gave me an insight into what the maze was built for. It happened at Saffron Walden. The route of the maze is around a mile long and it makes 17 elaborate circuits. It takes about 15 minutes to get to the middle, and requires some concentration as the path is narrow.

At the centre of the maze is a small mound. I reached this and stood on it and looked around me. Although the mound is only small, the walk along the maze made me feel like I had reached the summit of a small hill, and I looked about me and noticed what I could see. I could have seen everything just the same from the start of the maze, or at any point along the route, but I found myself paying more attention to the view, as if it was something I had achieved, and was seeing for the first time.

Me being me, I traced the route back to the start, rather than "cheating" and cutting across the maze. The whole "expedition" to the summit of the tiny mound was therefore probably 40 minutes long, and there was almost a meditative quality to it: symbolically taking myself away from the normal world to a place where I could stand and look, and see the world through fresh eyes.


Wing turf maze: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wing,_Rutland

Saffron Walden: http://www.saffronwaldenmazefestival.co.uk/pdf/SAFFRON_WALDEN'S_FOUR_PERMANENT_MAZES.pdf

Julian's Bower, north Lincs: http://www.stone-circles.org.uk/stone/juliansbower.htm

Images of prehistoric labyrinths: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/245024035948725050/
 

Mythopoeika

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A unicursal maze (a single convoluted path, usually to the centre of a circle, fits a very long route into a small space. I have walked unicursal mazes at Wing (Rutland UK), Saffron Walden (Essex UK), and Julian's Bower, north Lincolnshire, UK. I have also seen unicursal mazes set into brick or block paved areas in modern settings.

The common assumption is that the ancient unicursal mazes were used for ritual processions. At one time, penitents or pilgrims may have followed the routes of mazes on their hands and knees as a ritual act of penitence.

There is a theory, which I regard as tenuous, that there was once a unicursal maze that was a processional route to the summit of Glastonbury Tor. People have tried to map a unicursal maze onto a series of terraces or level areas they feel they have identified on the sides of the mound.

Unicursal mazes were carved into rocks in prehistory. It takes some skill and planning to design and lay out a labyrinth, and I can imagine the task combining the mystique and satisfaction of drawing a Celtic knot.

I had one special experience on a maze which I believed at the time gave me an insight into what the maze was built for. It happened at Saffron Walden. The route of the maze is around a mile long and it makes 17 elaborate circuits. It takes about 15 minutes to get to the middle, and requires some concentration as the path is narrow.

At the centre of the maze is a small mound. I reached this and stood on it and looked around me. Although the mound is only small, the walk along the maze made me feel like I had reached the summit of a small hill, and I looked about me and noticed what I could see. I could have seen everything just the same from the start of the maze, or at any point along the route, but I found myself paying more attention to the view, as if it was something I had achieved, and was seeing for the first time.

Me being me, I traced the route back to the start, rather than "cheating" and cutting across the maze. The whole "expedition" to the summit of the tiny mound was therefore probably 40 minutes long, and there was almost a meditative quality to it: symbolically taking myself away from the normal world to a place where I could stand and look, and see the world through fresh eyes.


Wing turf maze: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wing,_Rutland

Saffron Walden: http://www.saffronwaldenmazefestival.co.uk/pdf/SAFFRON_WALDEN'S_FOUR_PERMANENT_MAZES.pdf

Julian's Bower, north Lincs: http://www.stone-circles.org.uk/stone/juliansbower.htm

Images of prehistoric labyrinths: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/245024035948725050/
I lived in Saffron Walden for a while and never got to go round the maze. It was always shut when I went there, so I gave up.
 

hunck

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There's a maize maze near where I live.

Would that be the Quex House maize maze by any chance? I was there a couple of weeks ago but didn't get to go in the maze as the place was closing up for the day.

Interesting place to visit though - the house is in amazing [!] period condition & the museum well worth a look. The sheer amount of stuffed animals is astonishing, plus artifacts from around the world.
 

PeteS

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Would that be the Quex House maize maze by any chance? I was there a couple of weeks ago but didn't get to go in the maze as the place was closing up for the day.

Interesting place to visit though - the house is in amazing [!] period condition & the museum well worth a look. The sheer amount of stuffed animals is astonishing, plus artifacts from around the world.
No wrong end of the country. It's in Singleton on the Fylde coast. On a farm I believe- I've not been yet.
 

blessmycottonsocks

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Here is the photo I took in the Heraklion museum a couple of years ago of the model of the (reconstructed) Knossos complex. Its maze-like qualities are evident and you can almost imagine King Minos/Mwinu's pet cryptid patrolling the corridors and central courtyard.

DSC_0181.JPG
 

Ringo

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I was always under the impression that a Maze and a Labyrinth were two different things. The purpose of a labyrinth is to find the centre where as the purpose of a maze is to find the exit. Is that correct?
 

Bad Bungle

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I was always under the impression that a Maze and a Labyrinth were two different things. The purpose of a labyrinth is to find the centre where as the purpose of a maze is to find the exit. Is that correct?

Very interesting question: English Heritage site says you can never get lost in a labyrinth, it has one circular path leading to a centre. A maze has several paths, maybe none of which lead to the centre.
 

EnolaGaia

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Mikefule

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I was always under the impression that a Maze and a Labyrinth were two different things. The purpose of a labyrinth is to find the centre where as the purpose of a maze is to find the exit. Is that correct?

I agree there are those two different sorts, but not with the strict separation of the definitions of the two words, maze and labyrinth.

The Labyrinth was the maze that the minotaur lived in. It is generally understood to have been a "puzzle maze" in which it was possible to get lost. That is why Theseus needed to use a string to find his way back out after killing the minotaur.

"Labyrinth" is believed to derive from a word for a double bitted axe, and possibly linked to the fact that the double bitted axe was a motif associated with goddesses, rather than gods. I looked it up because I had always vaguely (and incorrectly) connected the "laby..." sound with "labor" (work) as in "laborious".

Coins were later struck with a representation of a unicursal maze (single path, not a puzzle) which was intended to represent the original Labyrinth. Already, in ancient times, there was some confusion over the distinction between the single-path maze and the multi-path puzzle maze, and which one should be termed a "labyrinth".

"Maze" comes from the same root as "amaze" and implies that it is something that "drives you crazy": a frustrating puzzle.

However, in common usage, the two words can be used to refer to either sort: the single route or the puzzle maze. Therefore, when the distinction is important, it is usual to refer to a "unicursal maze" or a "puzzle maze".

"Labyrinth" tends to be used less often when describing actual mazes (very few people refer to Hampton Court Labyrinth rather than Hampton Court Maze) and is more often used figuratively: "He lived in a labyrinthine manor house..."

A unicursal maze has a single route through it. In effect, it is a path with many twists and turns but no forks or junctions. There is no reason why a unicursal maze could not be designed with an entrance and an exit, but nearly all of the traditional and "ritual" ones have a path that leads to the centre. There's one way in, and the reverse route to exit, assuming that you don't cheat. (In my experience, all of the unicursal mazes I have seen have had no hedges, walls or fences, so there is a theoretical possibility of just taking a short cut, but only a cad and a bounder would do so.)

Puzzle mazes have forks and junctions, and it is possible to get lost in such a maze. A puzzle maze could be designed with several possible "solutions" but most of them have only one. In my experience of puzzle mazes that I have visited, all or most have a central objective. You go in through the entrance, wander about a bit, find the middle, where there is often a bench or statue or other feature, then you find your way back out.

Therefore, both kinds (unicursal and puzzle) are commonly designed for you to find the centre, although either sort could be designed for you to get from the entrance to the exit, with no central point.

The "standard" 7 ring unicursal maze, which is a common motif, is made of 7 concentric loops and the overall shape is roughly circular. However, more elaborate examples have lobes (e.g. the one at Saffron Walden) and there may be many more than 7 rings, although there is still only one route.

There is an important distinction between two sorts of puzzle maze. If all the sections of hedge are in contact with each other, then it is simple to find the centre (or exit): all you need to do is trail your fingers along one wall and keep walking. You may have to walk a long way and down and back along several blind alleys, but you will always "solve" the maze. However, if the maze is designed differently, then some parts of the hedge will not be in contact with the others. Therefore, if the solution to the maze involves passing through one of these, you cannot solve the maze simply by following one wall.
 

AlchoPwn

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Okay fellow Forteans, time to split a few linguistic hairs:

A maze is a complex branching (multicursal) puzzle that includes choices of path and direction, may have multiple entrances and exits, and dead ends. A labyrinth is unicursal i.e. has only a single, non-branching path, which leads to the center then back out the same way, with only one entry/exit point. https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/144052/difference-between-labyrinth-and-maze

Incidentally I had a hare for Xmas, and it was definitely split. Italian high cuisine FTW.
 

Mikefule

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Okay fellow Forteans, time to split a few linguistic hairs:

A maze is a complex branching (multicursal) puzzle that includes choices of path and direction, may have multiple entrances and exits, and dead ends. A labyrinth is unicursal i.e. has only a single, non-branching path, which leads to the center then back out the same way, with only one entry/exit point. https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/144052/difference-between-labyrinth-and-maze

Incidentally I had a hare for Xmas, and it was definitely split. Italian high cuisine FTW.

You quoted one of the answers to the question. That answer was written by someone under the nom de plume, "Anongoodnurse". It is far from definitive, it is that person's opinion. https://english.stackexchange.com/users/58761/anongoodnurse

Even a formal dictionary, such as OED or Collins, the result of academic study and rigorous formulation, is only descriptive rather than prescriptive about the way that words are used.

The word, "labyrinth" originated from one specific example: the labyrinth in which the minotaur resided. That was definitely a multicursal maze.

In daily usage in British English, "labyrinth" is always used to describe something complex with many routes through it: e.g. the labyrinthine back streets of London. Day to day, "maze" is more commonly used, probably because it is easier to say and spell.

The two words come from different linguistic roots, but have essentially the same meaning. In a more technical context, I believe that prehistorians tend to use "labyrinth" more often than "maze" when referring to a unicursal design.

The very fact that intelligent people with a genuine interest in the language can disagree about the distinction (or whether there is a distinction) between two words is itself evidence that the words now overlap almost completely. "The meaning of a word is its use" and the important thing is the distinction between the ideas, and the clarity of whatever language is used to describe them. These two words both require a qualifier such as "unicursal" or "puzzle" to ensure clarity.
 

Ghost In The Machine

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Recently went up here - by recently I mean a couple of months ago, before the shenanigans. It's between villages so have found it online as the Brandsby turf maze but also Dalby. Basically, we stumbled on it one day coming out of or going into Terrington, on the Howardian Hills near York.

http://apictureofengland.blogspot.com/2013/03/brandsby-turf-maze.html

It's yet another City of Troy. Apparently, its age is uncertain so it could be from 100 years ago or much longer.

Video here: https://youtu.be/UHLjTzfEzPg


IMG_0185.JPG


IMG_0191(1).JPG
 

Ghost In The Machine

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Just my theory, but I think the older ones may have some connection with what's now called Elen of the Ways - following a trod, or path that is circuitous as part of some lost ritual..?
 
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