How to Repair the Mistakes in Historical Scandinavian Labyrinths, Part 1

Richard Myers Shelton advocates in his guest contribution from January 17th, 2021 the thesis that the alleged errors in some historical Scandinavian labyrinths are not at all, but that these labyrinths had a completely different meaning than we assign to them today. So they were deliberately created in this way.

I can understand his train of thought, but still allow myself a different perspective on these labyrinths.
All these labyrinths were laid on the floor with stones. This makes them very susceptible to change. During our Sweden tour in 2007, we, the participants of this trip, organized by Jeff and Kimberly Saward, always carried out small “repair work” on almost all the Troytowns we visited, by bringing slipped stones back into their correct position.

It is therefore easy to imagine that improper procedures or willful “sabotage” have changed the layout over the years. Or that people simply acted in ignorance of the meaning of the labyrinths. These labyrinths were also not laid out according to the well-known basic pattern. A mistake in the layout of the labyrinth could have crept in.
The researchers’ records could also contain errors.

Most of the surviving Scandinavian labyrinths from this period look like what we imagine labrinths to be today.

First a “correct” labyrinth. I use the images from Nigel Pennick: European Troytowns. It is a walk-through labyrinth that I like to call a Wunderkreis. In the center there is a double spiral, the outer circuits wind around two turning points. Depending on which path (here on the left, the 7th circuit) I take first, I come first into the spiral  or in the outer circuits (here by entering on the 5th passage on the right side). In the end I walked through the whole labyrinth. There is no actual center like in the classical labyrinth. The labyrinth can also be mirrored or have more or fewer circuits (as it is in fig. 3).

Fig. 1: A stone labyrinth type Wunderkreis

Fig. 1: A stone labyrinth type Wunderkreis

Now the second Borgo labyrinth. Again, I use the illustration by Nigel Pennick.

Fig. 2: The "faulty" Borgo labyrinth

Fig. 2: The “faulty” Borgo labyrinth

I added the numbering of the circuits to the drawings.
It is an open labyrinth with direct access to the center. This sometimes happens in Scandinavian Troytowns. If you look more closely, however, it is a Wunderkreis with a branch in the path, a so-called walk-through labyrinth.
The inner double spiral (admittedly: very bulged) is formed by the circuits 8 – 15. The outer lanes are formed by the circuits 1 – 9.

So where is the mistake?
Roughly speaking, the Wunderkreis is formed in three stages. First the center and the entire upper part up to two thirds of the entire circumference is built. Then the right and left lower part. In Figure 1 you can see that the 5th (right) and the 7th (left) access lead into the labyrinth.
In the Borgo Labyrinth (fig. 2 and fig. 3) this would have to be the 7th on the left side and the 9th on the right side because the labyrinth is larger and mirrored. On each side I always need an odd number of lines to be connected (as explained in more detail in the 2nd related post below). In our case, four lines have to be moved to create a free end.

And this is how the “correct” labyrinth could look like:

Fig. 3: The "repaired" Borgo labyrinth

Fig. 3: The “repaired” Borgo labyrinth

In my opinion the mistake was made by the person (s) who built this labyrinth, not the rapporteur, Aspelin.
The labyrinth was probably created in a transition period from the classical labyrinth, laid out according to the seed pattern, to the walk-through labyrinth such as the Wunderkreis, which is laid out according to other principles.
Or perhaps the builder (s) really wanted to close the passage to the middle (on the 7th circuit) and lead to the dead end in the fourth circuit, as Richard Myers Shelton suspected?

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3 thoughts on “How to Repair the Mistakes in Historical Scandinavian Labyrinths, Part 1

  1. Pingback: Twists and Turns of Life (Or, A Labyrinth in Iceland), part 2: Calming Rituals or Magic Devices? – Ancient Dan

  2. Pingback: How to Repair the Mistakes in Historical Scandinavian Labyrinths, Part 3 | blogmymaze

  3. Pingback: How to Repair the Mistakes in Historical Scandinavian Labyrinths, Part 2 | blogmymaze

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