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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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To: Revelation 911

You could jog your whole three miles in an itty bitty space. Japan should look into this.


21 posted on 06/20/2007 7:21:47 AM PDT by bannie
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To: Revelation 911

That’s one suggestion as the article mentioned. But why would it be called a game watched by spectators in the late 17th century if that was the only possibility.


22 posted on 06/20/2007 7:31:19 AM PDT by billbears (Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it. --Santayana)
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To: BGHater

Thanks.


23 posted on 06/20/2007 7:34:42 AM PDT by Mark was here (Hard work never killed anyone, but why take the chance?)
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To: Clara Lou

Er, I think you mean Joni Mitchell.


24 posted on 06/20/2007 7:42:24 AM PDT by Freedom4US
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To: Freedom4US

You’re right. I meant to put an “(I think)” in there.


25 posted on 06/20/2007 7:48:40 AM PDT by Clara Lou (Fred D. Thompson for POTUS!)
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To: WBL 1952; yankeedame; Clara Lou

Here in Knoxville TN, the city government has recently declared the “5th Avenue Motel” to be an historical site. LOL

The building has been a flop house, homeless shelter, prostitution destination and crack house for most of its life. Other than overdoses, drug dealing and murders, I’m pretty sure nothing of historical note has ever happened there. Mostly it’s known as a place you don’t want your car to break down while passing by.

The motel is currently being restored at taxpayer expense to its “former glory” so that it can then be turned into yet another downtime homeless shelter. LOL

Fletcher J


26 posted on 06/20/2007 7:55:16 AM PDT by Fletcher J
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To: dynachrome; blam; FairOpinion; StayAt HomeMother; Ernest_at_the_Beach; 1ofmanyfree; 24Karet; ...
Thanks dynachrome. Years ago such a maze, long forgotten and undetected, was rediscovered near a major pre-Roman site. Obviously, due to the antiquity and total lack of contemporary written records from even Roman times, there's not much way to figure out how such sites were originally used, irrespective of the way they may have been used during the Middle Ages. :')

The various old dance forms (which have survived mostly in one form, the Square Dance) are likewise very old. The Morris Dance was conducted on purpose-built level grass platforms, called Morris floors. These were so egregiously pagan that Oliver Cromwell banned the dancing and destroyed these floors wherever possible.

Another pagan survival is the maypole dance.

To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list. Thanks.
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27 posted on 06/20/2007 8:38:30 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (Time heals all wounds, particularly when they're not yours. Profile updated June 15, 2007.)
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To: SunkenCiv

“not much way to figure out how such sites were originally used”
My thought is that it was used a lot like we do with the cornfield mazes. Entertainment


28 posted on 06/20/2007 8:43:39 AM PDT by dynachrome (Henry Bowman is right.)
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To: BGHater

That’s not a real maze, it doesn’t have any dead ends! It’s just a windy twisty path through four quadrants of a circle.

Kind of a let down.


29 posted on 06/20/2007 8:47:29 AM PDT by FourtySeven (47)
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To: dynachrome

:’) Cheaper than cable.


30 posted on 06/20/2007 8:50:40 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (Time heals all wounds, particularly when they're not yours. Profile updated June 15, 2007.)
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To: WBL 1952
Someone beat up to this one


31 posted on 06/20/2007 8:55:03 AM PDT by KosmicKitty (WARNING: Hormonally crazed woman ahead!!)
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To: KosmicKitty
Someone beat up you to this one
32 posted on 06/20/2007 8:56:15 AM PDT by KosmicKitty (WARNING: Hormonally crazed woman ahead!!)
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To: DeFault User
The labyrinths provided, however, don't seem to offer any opportunities for meditation or personal reflection, other than for new heights of swearing.

Dunno. Loads of people, who never otherwise would, call upon God in traffic...

33 posted on 06/20/2007 8:59:56 AM PDT by null and void (Tired of living in the shadows? Move to Sunny Mexico!)
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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.

great idea!! then we would have more room to put up an amusement park, or a breeder reactor or a strip mall!!

34 posted on 06/20/2007 9:00:01 AM PDT by martin gibson ("I care not what course others may take, but as for myself, give me Ralph Stanley or give me death")
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To: Revelation 911
its a prayer labyrinth - seen em before

Yup. The idea was the devil/evil spirits would get lost on the turns, because the Debble could only travel in straight lines.

These days we expect Christians to walk the straight and narrow...

35 posted on 06/20/2007 9:03:07 AM PDT by null and void (Tired of living in the shadows? Move to Sunny Mexico!)
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To: Freedom4US; Clara Lou
I was gonna say. Carly Simon is way better than that weirdo Joni Mitchell
36 posted on 06/20/2007 9:08:18 AM PDT by higgmeister (In the Shadow of The Big Chicken)
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To: BGHater

I had heard that if you keep turning to your right, you can make it through a maze.


37 posted on 06/20/2007 9:59:41 AM PDT by marsh2
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To: SunkenCiv

The radio bosses also banned “Morris Dance” music from the airwaves in the 1940s and 1950s because it was so maddenly repetitive and over used. My mother can attest to the “maddening” part of it because I used to practice it on the piano!


38 posted on 06/20/2007 10:02:09 AM PDT by afraidfortherepublic
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To: martin gibson

How about just less clutter in the world. Like I said earlier I bet the builders of this junk, if told future generations would spend time & money preserving this stuff, would say why bother.


39 posted on 06/20/2007 10:34:52 AM PDT by WBL 1952
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To: Freedom4US

A more appropriate song, then, would be “The Circle Game”. ;’)


40 posted on 06/20/2007 10:39:25 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (Time heals all wounds, particularly when they're not yours. Profile updated June 15, 2007.)
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