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Restored but medieval maze is still a puzzle after centuries[UK]
Yorkshire Post ^ | 19 June 2007 | Simon Bristow

Posted on 06/20/2007 4:47:34 AM PDT by BGHater

A maze is designed to puzzle, but whoever dreamt up the intricate earth and grass labyrinth that is Julian's Bower can be especially pleased –it remains a mystery after hundreds of years. The medieval maze in Alkborough, near Scunthorpe, has been reopened to the public after a major returfing project, but experts are no closer to solving the riddle of why or when it was made.

The 44ft relic cut into the landscape has many interlocking rings, and the theories surrounding its origins are just as complex.

Some have observed how Alkborough's maze is strikingly similar to a floor design in the 13th century French cathedral of Chartres.

There, pilgrims followed the circular route, sometimes on their knees, as an act of penitence, piety or meditation, the centre of the maze being known as Jerusalem. Strong claims have been made for a similar ecclesiastical origin and purpose for Julian's Bower.

What is known for certain is that the maze was a playground for local people for centuries and once had a nearby companion, now lost to history.

In 1697, the Lincolnshire diarist and antiquarian, Abraham de la Pryme, noted: "They have at (Alkborough) two Roman games, the one called Gillian's (for Julian's) Bore, and the other Troy's Walls.

"They are nothing but great labyrinths cut into the ground with a hill cast up round about them for the spectators to sit round about to behold the sport. The two labyrinths are somewhat different in their turnings from one another."

Shakespeare mentions similar mazes in both A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Tempest.

The name Julian's Bower may have been inspired by Julius, son of Aeneas of Troy. In legend, the walls of the ancient city of Troy were built in such a confusing way that an enemy who entered would never find a way out.

The site is designated as a Scheduled Ancient Monument. It had been closed for three months for repairs after countless feet had compacted the soil and eroded its surface.

English Heritage inspector of ancient monuments, Keith Miller, said: "Julian's Bower is a name which was given to turf mazes in several different parts of England.

"The Alkborough relic is incredibly puzzling and its survival is nothing short of miraculous. But by its very nature it is both ephemeral and vulnerable.

"Returfing has gone extremely well and the specially hard-wearing grass mix, the same used for top-flight football grounds, should wear well.

"Even so, visitors can help preserve the maze by leaving their heavy boots at home."

It is thought the maze was last returfed more than 40 years ago.

It is located on a spectacular bluff overlooking the confluence of the rivers Trent and Ouse.

North Lincolnshire Council spokesman Tim Allen said: "Julian's Bower retains its power to fascinate and intrigue.

"Thanks to the South Humber Bank initiative we have been able to work with local people to ensure this old landmark stays at the centre of the community, while attracting visitors seeking to delve into its mysterious purpose."

A-Maze-ing facts...

The origins of mazes probably go back to Neolithic times, but among the earliest recorded was the Egyptian Labyrinth, which some believed surpassed even the Pyramids. A vast palace complex, it consisted of thousands of rooms and 12 large maze-like courtyards.

The oldest-known church labyrinth is at the Basilica of Reparatus in modern-day Algeria, which dates from the fourth century. Many mazes were included in churches built in the 12th century in Italy and France.

Church mazes didn't catch on in England – but turf mazes did, and their origins may date back as far as Roman times.

Many turf mazes were called "Shepherd's Race" – possibly referring to curious custom shepherds once had of cutting the turf in the form of a labyrinth.

The country's most famous hedge maze was built at Hampton Court Palace, near London, in 1690.


TOPICS: Miscellaneous; United Kingdom
KEYWORDS: cathedral; godsgravesglyphs; labyrinth; maze; medieval; uk
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1 posted on 06/20/2007 4:47:38 AM PDT by BGHater
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To: BGHater

That is amazing!


2 posted on 06/20/2007 4:57:48 AM PDT by Graymatter (New legislators. No new laws. ... Let's clean house. And senate.)
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To: BGHater
That's it? That's sort of a let down. I was expecting something more along the lines of this:


3 posted on 06/20/2007 4:58:18 AM PDT by tfecw (It's for the children)
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To: tfecw

LOL, I was thinking the exact same thing. I saw saw the picture and thought, gosh that thing is sort of little after all that build up.


4 posted on 06/20/2007 5:07:53 AM PDT by foolscap
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To: BGHater

Another view of the Julian Bower.
5 posted on 06/20/2007 5:08:03 AM PDT by BGHater
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To: SunkenCiv

Ping. For your list?


6 posted on 06/20/2007 5:12:59 AM PDT by dynachrome (Henry Bowman is right.)
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To: BGHater

Is it ADA compliant?

It does look cool.


7 posted on 06/20/2007 5:19:45 AM PDT by Mark was here (Hard work never killed anyone, but why take the chance?)
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To: Mark was here
Here, you can solve the maze yourself.
8 posted on 06/20/2007 5:26:14 AM PDT by BGHater
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To: BGHater

A bulldozer would have best ended all the time wasted on this non-important remnant from the past.

I get so tired of people expecting everything from the past to be preserved forever; regardless of how meaningless.


9 posted on 06/20/2007 5:37:53 AM PDT by WBL 1952
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To: WBL 1952

Historical preservation is just such a nuisance, isn’t it? Raze all that old stuff and put up a parking lot for a nice modular building.


10 posted on 06/20/2007 5:47:57 AM PDT by Clara Lou (Fred D. Thompson for POTUS!)
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To: WBL 1952
A bulldozer would have best ended all the time wasted on this non-important remnant from the past.

Year Zero! It's not just for the Khmer Rouge!

11 posted on 06/20/2007 5:49:28 AM PDT by agere_contra
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To: BGHater
Still can't beat the ingenuity of modern bank lobby mazes.


12 posted on 06/20/2007 5:50:20 AM PDT by Larry Lucido (Duncan Hunter 2008)
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To: BGHater

With this photo, it doesn’t even look like you can get “trapped” in the maze unless you traverse it on your belly.


13 posted on 06/20/2007 5:55:31 AM PDT by weegee (Libs want us to learn to live with terrorism, but if a gun is used they want to rewrite the Const.)
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To: BGHater

Julian’s Bower? Sounds like a Bergholt Stuttley Johnson to me.


14 posted on 06/20/2007 5:55:31 AM PDT by Tennessee_Bob ("Those who "abjure" violence can only do so because others are committing violence on their behalf.")
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To: BGHater
In legend, the walls of the ancient city of Troy were built in such a confusing way that an enemy who entered would never find a way out.

I had often wondered where our city's traffic engineers got the inspiration. The labyrinths provided, however, don't seem to offer any opportunities for meditation or personal reflection, other than for new heights of swearing.

15 posted on 06/20/2007 5:58:08 AM PDT by DeFault User
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To: BGHater

Help! I can’t get out!


16 posted on 06/20/2007 6:04:50 AM PDT by Ditter
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To: Clara Lou
Historical preservation is just such a nuisance, isn’t it? Raze all that old stuff and put up a parking lot for a nice modular building.

Well, at the risk of getting th ings thrown at me, you have to admit that WBL has a point: You (a society) has to draw the line somewhere. Everything from "the past" isn't worth keeping. There comes a time and circumstance when "that old stuff" should be razed and a parking lots or a nice modular building put up in its stead. Things like...


Beaugancy (France)


Lavardin (France)


Redhouse, (Scotland)


MiddleHam, (England)

17 posted on 06/20/2007 6:33:19 AM PDT by yankeedame ("Oh, I can take it but I'd much rather dish it out.")
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To: Clara Lou

Nobody said anything about a parking lot did they?

My point is that everywhere you turn there is this push to preserve everything no matter how meaningless in history it was.

I would bet the response of those that built these structures would be one of amusement that future society would think so highly of some of the junk produced in their age.


18 posted on 06/20/2007 6:38:16 AM PDT by WBL 1952
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To: WBL 1952

“Put up a parking lot” comes from a song by Carly Simon.

On what basis do you determine what to label “junk”? Your lack of interest? That’s fine for you, but everyone doesn’t share your standard, apparently.

It’s hard to understand why the preservation of a centuries-old maze would set off your comments. Apparently, quite a percentage of the population finds value in the preservation of such—not to mention the tourist dollars associated with such historical attractions. For some locales, no tourism, no income.


19 posted on 06/20/2007 6:58:16 AM PDT by Clara Lou (Fred D. Thompson for POTUS!)
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To: BGHater

its a prayer labyrinth - seen em before


20 posted on 06/20/2007 7:16:05 AM PDT by Revelation 911
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