The labyrinth and

page 3
the medieval church.

    Also in England labyrinths can be found in churches though not half as spectecular as in France. They do not date from medieval times but date from Victorian times, a revival so to speak. The labyrinths or mazes outside the churches are older and often more outstanding. In the church however, the best is to be found in Ely Cathedral just inside the main entrance under the west tower (picture left). Because of its position - the main entrance - it is not easy to walk the labyrinth. The labyrinth is 6m10 wide and laid in 1870 by Sir Gilbert Scott during the restauration of the cathedral.
In Alkborough, Humberside, is a turf maze which must have had an impact on the villagers as in the oak porch of the church - St John the Baptist - a labyrinth has been laid and one can find a labyrinth in the chancel window "Christ, Light of the World". Furthermore there is a labyrinth on a gravestone in Alkborough cemetry.


In the parish church of St Helena and St Mary in Bourn, Cambridgeshire the labyrinth is laid on the floor in 1875 but is small in size. The parish church of St Mary Redcliffe in Bristol (1390), shows a labyrinth on a roof boss (picture right). In Itchen Stoke in Hampshire is a more sizable labyrinth. It measures 5m10 and is on the floor of the apse and dates from 1866. The pattern is similar to the labyrinth of Chartres.



  In Scandinavia several labyrinths can be found as wallpaintings or sketches on the vaults or wall of churches.  
  Here a drawing of a labyrinth on the vault of the Maaria Kyrka in Turku, Finland   In Finland the labyrinth is since ages related to a special dance. Two boys have to dance their way into the labyrinth to bring out the girl who hides in the center. Here a wallpainting from the 15th century in the church in Sibbo.


Right you see the classical shape of a labyrinth as we know from the Cretan coins.
We also find this type of labyrinth in Scandinavia, marked by large bolders.
From Iceland to within Russia there are more than 600 and many are sveral hundreds of years old.
Even in Denmark, where no labyrinth can be found, there are clues that many have been there. This is shown by place names such as for instance Trojborg. The name Trojborg, in english Troyburgh (borg = burgh = burcht in dutch), means "the town of Troy". This name reminds us of the Greec legends and Roman labyrinths but it also means the labyrinth itself. One can find the name of Troy anywhere in Europe and with many people one finds stories which tell of Troyan refugees who settled elsewhere and founded new townships, everytime according to the same building pattern.
Also in the UK there are many Troy towns and in the Netherlands, in particular West Friesland - Medemblik and Fryasburcht on Texel - and in Friesland near Starum (Stavoren).  The Troyburghs in the Netherlands were places for women or cloisters. The concept of a cloister dates of long before the foundation of the Roman Catholic Church.   Fryasburcht was founded by Frya, the first of the wise women inthe northern parts of the Netherlands. Frya is considered to be the ancestress of the Frisians.

Today there are no Fryaburghs (Fryaburchten) to be found.




  In Ireland the shamrock is a national symbol so it is not a surprise that this is also visualised in a labyrinth.  

From a 7th century Etruskian Vase.

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