Labyrinth

Wing Maze

One of eight remaining historic turf labyrinths in England, the Wing maze was probably built by medieval monks for religious purposes.
Founded: Medieval | Location: Wing, United Kingdom

Saffron Walden Maze

The Saffron Walden maze is the largest of the eight historic turf labyrinths still in existence in England. Although probably created in the Middle Ages for religious purposes, the maze has more recently been used for games and festivities.
Founded: Probably medieval | Location: Saffron Walden, United Kingdom

Hilton maze

Unlike most historic English turf labyrinths, the Hilton maze was not cut in medieval times, but in the 17th century. It was created to celebrate the restoration of the English monarchy and a return to more carefree times. (Oliver Cromwell had banned the playing of maze games.)
Founded: 17th century | Location: Huntingdon, United Kingdom

Julian's Bower

Julian's Bower is one of England's eight remaining turf labyrinths. It is thought to date from the 12th century, although its origins may be earlier. The original purpose may well have been religious, for devotional or penitential purposes.
Founded: Medieval | Location: North Lincolnshire, United Kingdom

St Catherine's Mizmaze

One of eight historic turf labyrinths remaining in England. St Catherine"s mizmaze was built, possibly in the 17th century, on the edge of an Iron Age rampart and near the site of a Norman chapel destroyed in 1537.
Founded: Possibly 17th century | Location: Winchester, United Kingdom

City of Troy Maze, Dalby

City of Troy, in Dalby, North Yorkshire is one of eight historic turf labyrinths still remaining in England. It may date back to the Middle Ages, or earlier, being influenced by Viking mazes of similar design. Or it might have been cut in the 19th century.
Founded: Probably medieval | Location: North Yorkshire, United Kingdom

Breamore Mizmaze

The Breamore mizmaze is one of eight remaining ancient turf labyrinths in England. The first record of the mizmaze is in 1783, but it is thought to be much older than that. It is of a circular design, a labyrinth cut into quarters by a Christian cross.
Founded: Medieval | Location: Hampshire, United Kingdom

Trojaborg, Visby

The island of Gotland has many stone labyrinths, but the most famous is Trojaborg in Visby. It may have its origins in a pagan cult, but in more recent times it has been used for games and festivities.
Founded: Medieval or earlier | Location: Innerstaden, Sweden

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Eketorp Fort

Eketorp is an Iron Age fort in southeastern Öland, which was extensively reconstructed and enlarged in the Middle Ages. Throughout the ages the fortification has served a variety of somewhat differing uses: from defensive ringfort, to medieval safe haven and thence a cavalry garrison. In the 20th century it was further reconstructed to become a heavily visited tourist site and a location for re-enactment of medieval battles. Eketorp is the only one of the 19 known prehistoric fortifications on Öland that has been completely excavated, yielding a total of over 24,000 individual artifacts. The entirety of southern Öland has been designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The Eketorp fortification is often referred to as Eketorp Castle.

The indigenous peoples of the Iron Age constructed the original fortification about 400 AD, a period known to have engendered contact between Öland natives with Romans and other Europeans. The ringfort in that era is thought to have been a gathering place for religious ceremonies and also a place of refuge for the local agricultural community when an outside enemy appeared. The circular design was believed to be chosen because the terrain is so level that attack from any side was equally likely. The original diameter of this circular stone fortification was about 57 metres. In the next century the stone was moved outward to construct a new circular structure of about 80 metres in diameter. At this juncture there were known to be about fifty individual cells or small structures within the fort as a whole. Some of these cells were in the center of the fortified ring, and some were actually built into the wall itself.

In the late 600s AD the ringfort was mysteriously abandoned, and it remained unused until the early 11th century. This 11th century work generally built upon the earlier fort, except that stone interior cells were replaced with timber structures, and a second outer defensive wall was erected.

Presently the fort is used as a tourist site for visitors to Öland to experience a medieval fortification for this region. A museum within the castle walls displays a few of the large number of artefacts retrieved by the National Heritage Board during the major decade long excavation ending in 1974. Inside the fort visitors are greeted by actors in medieval costumes who assume the roles of period artisans and merchants who might have lived there nine centuries earlier. There are also re-enactment scenes of skirmishes and other dramatic events of daily life from the Middle Ages.

Eketorp lies a few kilometers west of Route 136. There is an ample unpaved parking area situated approximately two kilometers west of the paved Öland perimeter highway. There is also a gift shop on site. During peak summer visitation, there are guided tours available. Visitors are assessed an admission charge.