Old Labyrinths


Trollish Dowser
(Courtesy of Rolff Lidberg and Trollrike.)

Glastonbury Tor Labyrinth >>

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Old Labyrinths

Viking & Sweden

TibbleSeed patternTibble is the largest classical type labyrinth that I know of. It is in central Sweden, has fifteen circuits, and a seed pattern of a Cross with three right angles and a dot in each quadrant.





Seed pattern

Lindbacke is also an old Classical Seven Circuit Labyrinth. It was clearly on the coastline at one time - you can still easily see the beach, but the land is still rising from the last Ice Age, and now, there is an entire city (Nykoping) between this labyrinth and the sea! The people in the labyrinth are Dan Mattsson and his son. Dan has a great web site on other Swedish prehistoric sites.




Seed pattern

There are more full-sized labyrinths in Sweden, Finland and Estonia than anywhere else in the world. Some were built by the Vikings; however, most of them were built by fishermen from about 1500 to 1900 CE who walked these labyrinths before going fishing to ensure a good wind and a good catch.

Galgeberget girls

Sometimes, labyrinths are meant to be run. These kids at Galgeberget began by walking, but they just had to go for it!

Galgeberget means "Gallows Hill." Criminals were hung here, just North of the walled Hanseatic port city of Visby on the island of Gotland, off the East coast of Sweden.


These two typical labyrinths below were walked by fishermen as recently as 1900 CE for good luck before going fishing in the Baltic. They were also used to keep the pesky trolls (Swedish leprechauns ) from going fishing with them. The fishermen would walk in slowly, with the trolls following, Then the fishermen would run out and jump in their boats. The trolls couldn't figure out how to get out fast enough, and would be left behind.

Borgen Seed pattern Norrholmskobbarna
Borgen   Norrholmskobbarna

What do you call the kind of fishing where you let a line go out behind a slowly moving boat?

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Old Labyrinths

Chartres Cathedral


Chartres labyrinth


Chartres Cathedral in France has one of the most famous labyrinths in the world. The labyrinth is the same distance inside the front door as the rose window is above it. The rose window and the labyrinth are exactly the same size.

Many see the labyrinth as a birthing instrument. Some have said that there are 272 stones used in the construction of this labyrinth - the same as the average number of days in the human gestation period.

Notice that the Chartres labyrinth is divided into four quarters, and that each of these quarters has seven turns. But see in the animated gif on the right, the path divides itself into four different quarters - inner left, inner right, outer left, outer right.



  Amiens floorplan   Amiens labyrinth

There is also a labyrinth in the Gothic Cathedral at Amiens, North of Paris in France. This floor plan at Amiens shows its location is similar to that of the Chartres' one - in the nave. Architect and sacred geometer Henry MacLean stands at the middle of the Amiens labyrinth.




Reims   Reims floorplan   Reims labyrinth

Another Gothic Cathedral is Reims, North East of Paris. As at Chartres and Amiens, the labyrinth at Reims is at the same location within the cruciform cathedral. If one see's the building as Christ on the Cross, this would put the labyrinth at His knees. The knees are ruled by Capricorn. According to the Church, Jesus was a Capricorn. This labyrinth is different from the other "Chartres-type" labyrinths in that there are four sub-labyrinths outside. But it retains the essential quarternal nature of these types of labyrinths.

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Old Labyrinths

Nazca & North America

Nazca Fish

The Nazcan civilization of about 500 CE in SouthWestern Peru constructed a number of labyrinthine figures (magical single path tools) on the Pampa Ingenio, an unbelievably dry flat desert. Many times, their colorful pottery imitated these enormous drawings as with this fish.


Nazca spider Seed pattern

Nazca Illustrations: The spider is also a labyrinthine figure, and perhaps her spirit could be captured by walking this magical representation. Note the variant of the classical three circuit labyrinth.

Nazca rays

While the picture to the left isn't a labyrinth, it is in Nazca, and I wanted to include it, as it is evidence of South Americans' interest in lines coming together at what are called "ray centers." Notice the lines in the Nazca fish above. These are reminiscent of the ley system in England where not all alignments carried the straight line yang energy called energy leys. Sig found that it was the specific lines that connected the ray centers that carried the energy leys.

Tohono weave

The Native Americans of the SouthWest (O'odahm and Hopi) use a labyrinth that is essentially identical to the classical seven circuit labyrinth. This O'odahm example is called "The Man in the Maze."

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This collection of pictures of "Old" Labyrinths (built before 1900 CE, and admittedly arbitrary figure) is not meant in any way to cover the entire range of possibilities. More, it is a record of labyrinths that Sig, or his friends have visited, but it gives a general picture of labyrinths on both sides of the Atlantic. They are in rough chronological order.

Meander pattern

The Meander Pattern, or Greek Key, goes back way into our prehistoric past. Marija Gimbutas found this meander pattern on the figurine on the left in the Ukraine dated at 15,000 to 18,000 BCE. She also found it in this bird goddess figurine on the right from the Vinca Culture in what was Northern Yugoslavia. (reprinted from Sig's book, by permission of HarperCollins Publishers.)

The Meander River and the word "labrys" and it also appears that "labyrinth" come from an area of SouthWestern Turkey that was called "Caunia." The Meander is one key to making the labyrinths. The seed pattern is, of course, another.




The most famous labyrinth, of course, is the one in Knossos, on the Eastern Mediterranean island of Crete. Here King Minos constructed the famous labyrinth that held his monster son, the Minotaur. This is the story of Thesius, the most famous human hero in Greek mythology. Sent on a mission to defeat the Minoans, after receiving the "clew" from Ariadne, Thesius unrolled a ball of yarn as he descended into the monster's lair. This actually was a maze not a labyrinth. The Greeks didn't realize that there was a difference between the two, that's the confusion.

Notice on the illustration on the left of Thesius and the Minotaur, that it is surrounded by the meander pattern, or the Greek key.

Cretan coins

The earliest recorded labyrinth was found in C.1200 BCE, in King Nestor palace Pylos, Southern Greece. Nestor fought with Agamemnon at Troy. Many labyrinths in Northern Europe are called Troytown, Walls of Troy, Trojaberg (in Sweden). Caerdria, the leading English language magazine on labyrinths means "hill of turning" or "hill of Troy."

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15 circuit seed pattern


15th century small Danish Church Labyrinth in Roerslev.
Drawn on the ceiling clearly using the Fifteen Circuit Seed pattern.

I know of only four full sized older Classical Fifteen Circuit Labyrinths - three in Sweden and one in England. I must admit that I find fifteen circuits to be too big. By that I mean that it is difficult to maintain one's focus for the length of time it takes to walk them. One of the results is that several of them have faded back to the earth due to lack of maintenance. One other almost disappeared, but is now being restored, and the fourth one is made of head-sized rocks on an solid rock surface, so it is in better shape.

Tibble near Anundshög, Vasteros, Sweden

tibble tibble drawing

Tibble - most of the paths are still
visible, but near the cross in the
seed pattern, it has become
very confusing.


This is the drawing
of the Tibble labyrinth
on the sign near the labyrinth.

Note that the drawing on the right is a probably a seven circuit labyrinth. Apparently the people who put up the sign didn't know the difference! Most of the stones that make up the walls of this labyrinth have disappeared under the turf. Fortunately, John Kraft, an expert on Swedish labyrinths, lives in near by Vesteros, made the following drawing of Tibble using a screw driver to probe for the walls.

tibble drawing

Drawing of Tibble made by John Kraft.
This is one of the oldest fifteen circuit labyrinths - perhaps 2000+ years old.


Tibble Earth Energies

The Earth Energies at Tibble as dowsed by Sig 18 May 1988. Pink straight lines are energy leys, the circle with lines exiting is a dome with seven veins of primary water. Again, drawing by John Kraft.

 Rösaring on Lake Malaren, west of Stockholm, Sweden

This classical fifteen circuit labyrinth is about the same age as Tibble, but it is in much worse condition - again, due to lack of maintenance. One approaches Rösaring from the North along a dead straight road.

end of dead straight road
Beginning of the dead straight road at
Rösaring, where the death walk began.
 Rosaring Map
end of dead straight road  
While there appears to be a bend
in this "road" today, it runs from the
flattened mound in the foreground
to the remains of the structure
at the other end.
  The plan for the Rösaring complex
with its dead straight road,
series of mounds, and the
fifteen circuit labyrinth
at the bottom left.


Rösaring Classical Fifteen Circuit Labyrinth - drawing by John Kraft


Rosaring Labyrinth
Rösaring Labyrinth with mound in background. Note how the labyrinth has almost disappeared due to lack of maintenance.

 "Dead Straight"

The term "dead straight" in English comes from these roads. "Reg" in Sanskrit means "ruler" - the king who rules, but also, a ruler is a tool that makes a dead straight line.

The Dutch word for these dead straight lines is "doodweg." Also, interestingly enough, also called "leyweg." In medieval times, it was a law in the Netherlands that you had to take a dead body in a straight line to its final place of rest. Here is a map from 1733 of a number of "doodwegen" coming together at St. John's Church and cemetery in het Gooi, east of Amsterdam.

See all the roads (doodwegen) coming up
from different towns to the cemetery
from the south east.
In the parish of Laaren.

 Jungfrun Labyrinth

The Jungfrun Fifteen Circuit Classical Labyrinth

This stone labyrinth is on the Isle of Blå Jungfrun in the Baltic Sea (outside of Kalmar). According to John Kraft, who kindly allowed me to use his drawings of bothe Tibble and Junfrun, this is the biggest labyrinth in Sweden. There are one-day boat tours to the national park from Oskarshamn on the coast, and from Byxelkrok on Öland. It appears to be in quite good shape.

Jungfrun Labyrinth plan
Plan of Jungfrun Labyrinth, Blå Jungfrun, Misterhults socken, Småland, Sweden.
The lines in the drawing are cracks in the bedrock (you can see them clearly on the photo).
Drawing by John Kraft 26/6/1980

 Troy Farm Labyrinth, Somerton, Oxfordshire, England

Troy Farm Laby Drawing
Troy Farm Photo

This picture was taken in 1990. Unfortunately, it fell into some disrepair in the next decade; however,
it is now being restored iby the owner.

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