How to Repair the Mistakes in Historical Scandinavian Labyrinths, Part 3

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.

In Part 1 I focused on the Borgo Labyrinth and in Part 2 on the Wier Labyrinth.
Now it is about the three remaining Icelandic labyrinths.

For a better understanding I show the diagrams of these labyrinths again:

Jónssonars diagram for Dritvik, ca. 1900
Fig. 1: Jónssonar’s diagram for Dritvík, ca. 1900
Diagram for NMI 3135
Fig. 2: Diagram for NMI 3135
Diagram for NMI 5628
Fig. 3: Diagram for NMI 5628

Figures 2 and 3 show the same lines, only in mirrored form.

The black lines mark the stone setting, the red, yellow and white lines mark the paths between the stones. You either end up in a dead end (yellow and white lines) or you can’t get there at all (red line).

Obviously there are no clearly recognizable mix-ups or “wrong” connections of lines, as was seen in the Borgo or Wier labyrinth.
So the labyrinths were consciously and deliberately laid out in this way. They thus deviate from everything we can see in the other labyrinths from this time.

Richard Myers Shelton thinks they were intended as traps or for magical purposes. Here is a short quote from his post:

But the evidence and the stories from Scandinavia (and further east into Estonia and Russia) hint at a darker purpose: many of these devices were probably intended as traps, perhaps inheriting the idea that led the Romans to place labyrinths near entry-ways to ward away evil.

These labyrinths are simply too holey to be “traps”. The magical purposes, however, seem very plausible to me. But I would focus on something else.

In my opinion, in these stone settings, the path or the free space between the stones has no meaning at all. They were also not intended as walk-in facilities. Only the stone setting itself makes sense. In the pictures these are the black lines. And they show a clear shape: They form a single, uninterrupted line, as we know it from the Ariadne thread.

In Figures 2 and 3, both the beginning and the end of the line are not accessible from the outside.

In Figure 1, however, the black line starts and ends in the middle. That strikes me as something bizarre that we don’t know from any other labyrinth.
For me this could e.g. represent a coiled serpent guarding the center. And that in turn is something like the gateway to the underworld.

Can these stone settings be converted into “real” labyrinths? What did other stone settings from this time and region look like?
This would require considerable interventions in the given structure, which I would prefer not to do.

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

  1. Pingback: How to repair the Mistakes in Historical Scandinavian Labyrinths, Part 4 | blogmymaze

  2. Pingback: The Dritvík Labyrinth on the Snæfellsnes peninsula in Iceland | blogmymaze

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

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