Wednesday, 13 January 2021

The Maze at Wing

The Labyrinth at Wing in Rutland, England

This is the “Maze” (actually a unicursal labyrinth) at Wing, which is about five miles from my home. It is one of only eight remaining turf-cut labyrinths in the U.K. It is about 40ft (12m) in diameter.

The information on the board makes a lot of Wing’s Viking name, and it has been suggested by some sources that the maze is over 2500 years old, but it is most likely to be Medieval.

I’ve been looking at some old local history books and it has been suggested that there were labyrinths at nearby Liddington and Holt; though not much is written about them, and their secrets have been lost to time.

It is thought that people would recite prayers as they walked them, or shuffled along on their knees; and that they provided some sort of meditative purpose.

There is a local legend (referred to in 1843) that says a roosting cuckoo would be penned in the maze, in a symbolic attempt to “keep spring eternal”, however I can’t help but laugh at the idea of it simply flying off each time this rite was attempted.

It has also been suggested that it was used as a “walk of shame” inflicted by the church onto wrongdoers; and I wonder if this is at the root of some Christians disapproving of labyrinths, considering them “pagan” or “new age”.

Apparently they were once common in England, Denmark and Germany, and similar labyrinths were found in other parts of Northern Europe, but these were formed by placing stones rather than cutting turf.

There is a lot of rich history in this area. The folklore and customs of Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire and Cambridgeshire overlap, as they all border Rutland (which is tiny!), and there’s an abundance of holy wells, hill forts, barrows, mazes, sacred stones and even caves here. I look forward to reading (and sharing) more about them. One thing is for certain: when trying to learn about my ancestors the information I find only just scratches the surface, and leaves me wanting more.

© Original content; repost with clear, written credits. @the_cemetery_witch

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