A Paved Chartres Labyrinth

In the meantime, I have already seen several Chartres labyrinths in paved form or slab-lined. But none could persuade me properly. Hence, I have considered how one could build a Chartres labyrinth as a stone labyrinth and what should be taken into account. Thus I developed this layout.

First a look at the original, shown in a self-sketched drawing:

The Chartres labyrinth

The Chartres labyrinth

This labyrinth is considered by many labyrinth enthusiasts worldwide to be the most beautiful and perfect one. It is really unique and has some particularities: The alignement, the middle with the six petals, the lunations, the proportions of the single elements and most notably the quality of execution. It was built shortly after 1200 and presumably at the same time with the remaining floor in the cathedral of Chartres. It is a inherent part of a Gothic church.
Some believe that one might recreate a Chartres labyrinth only 1:1, so in the original dimensions and in the same form.
If I want to build a Chartres labyrinth outside and in the today’s time and with the building materials available today, I do not need, in my opinion, to keep slavishly to the original. But I should pay attention to the basic facts.
These would be for me: The correct alignment of the axes, the proper sequence of lines, a uniform path width, approximately the same proportions as the original. These are, e.g., 1:4 for the relation of wall width to path width or that the middle is one quarter of the whole diameter.
In the original the path is on average 34.4 cm wide with a limitation wall of about 8.2 cm (dimension between axes therefore 42.6 cm). In a confined space this is just acceptable. But inside an open-air labyrinth the way should be broader a little. There are 40 – 50 cm possibly the minimum. Hence, one must not necessarily observe the original measurements. 
On an implementation with paving-stones the passages of the arch-shaped and radial stones at the narrow turning points are especially important. Here the exact position and the direction of the joints is very important.
The middle can be built with the six petals, however, could be also simply empty.
To my opinion the lunations are not absolutely necessary, because the sense and purpose of the same is not clear. They possibly are simply anchorage stones or transition elements in the floor of the cathedral.

A paved 11-circuit medieval labyrinth

A paved 11-circuit medieval labyrinth

The draft is a sort of system drawing which can be scaled just as one likes. The relation of path limitation (20 cm) to road width (80 cm) is 1:4 and therefore results a dimension between axes of 1 m. Besides, the whole diameter would be 29.40 m at a middle of 7.40 m and a path length of 626.18 m. Through a reduction by the factor 0.5 one would have 14.70 m for the diameter and a path length of 313.09 m.

Here in detail how the middle could be made:

Details of the centre

Details of the centre

Here you can see, print or copy the design drawing for a paved 11-circuit labyrinth in Chartres style with the essential measurements as a PDF file.

2 thoughts on “A Paved Chartres Labyrinth

  1. Lunations do serve a purpose. They were used as a lunar calendar and marked when certain holy events took place. I.e. Easter. It’s a lot of work to incorporate them, but I like that they do symbolize something meaningful. Hope that helps.


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