The New Typology of Begehbare Labyrinthe

Type and Style

In my post Type or Style / 4 from August 2015, I have discussed the typology of the website Begehbare Labyrinthe (related posts 4). In the meantime, this typology has been completely revised (additional links). The new typology adopts our principles relating to type (related posts 3) and style (related posts 2). Furthermore it combines type and style. All walkable labyrinths were now attributed to types according to their course of the pathway. Labyrinths with the same course of the pathway (pattern, sequence of circuit) are of the same type. These types were then further divided into groups according to the style. Also the naming of the types has been reworked.

This whole thing can be well explained using the basic type. „Basic type“ is the new name of the type that formerly or elsewhere has been termed „classical“ or „Cretan“ type of labyrinth. This type has one axis, seven circuits and the pattern shown in fig. 1.

Figure 1. Pattern Basic Type

Figure 1 shows the pattern in pure form on left, and on right with an aid how to read it. It is read from top left to bottom right (related posts 5). To this corresponds the course of the path in it’s sequence of circuits 3 2 1 4 7 6 5 (related posts 1). By this, the type is accurately described. It is the most frequent type of labyrinth worldwide. And also in the typology of Begehbare Labyrinthe it is by far the most frequent type. Means that of the currently included 305 walkable labyrinths, 133 are of the basic type. These are designed in various styles:

  • „triangle“ (1 example)
  • „rectangle“ (1 example)
  • „classic“ (97 examples)
  • „Knidos“ (15 examples)
  • „concentric“ (15 examples)
  • „Man-in-the-Maze“ (1 example)
  • „other“ (3 examples).

Each type of a labyrinth in each of its styles is depicted with a figure of one corresponding labyrinth example. Figure 2 shows as an example the section representing the basic type in the classical style with its 97 examples.

Figure 2. Section Basic Type in Classical Style

If you move the cursor over the image of the labyrinth, the pattern is overlaid. At the side of the image all attributed walkable labyrinths are listed. Moving the cursor over a name makes an image of the corresponding labyrinth fade in. A click into a link brings you to the page with the full entry of the corresponding labyrinth. This often includes a comprehensive image of the whole labyrinth, and an extensive description of it including type, style, number of circuits, number of axes, size and measurements, materials and other information.

At present, the typology includes about 60 different types and some 10 styles. However, not every type is represented in each style. Despite this, the typology at the moment contains 92 groups composed of types and styles, what is more than the 60 pure types, that are based exclusively on the course of the pathway. These groups cover all walkable labyrinths listed in the website. However, from time to time, new labyrinth examples are added and therefore also the number of types and styles may increase further.

The full list of the types of labyrinths is ordered in increasing order first by the number of axes, then by the number of circuits. So, first all one-arm types of labyrinths are listed, and these in ascending order by the number of circuits from the smallest with 3 circuits to the largest with 11 circuits. Next follow the types with 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 und 8 arms, each again in ascending order by the number of circuits.

This new typology is now systematic, consistent, clearly reproducable, and completely covers the listed walkable labrinths. Furthermore it can be easily extended if labyrinth examples in new types or styles are added to the list.

Related Posts:

  1. The Level Sequence in One-arm Labyrinths
  2. Type or Style / 7
  3. Type or Style / 6
  4. Type or Style / 4
  5. How to Read the Pattern

Additional Links:

  1. Typology Begehbare Labyrinthe

Type or Style / 4

The Typology at Begehbare Labyrinthe (BL)

In the meantime, this typology has been completely reworked and is not valid anymore. For the new valid typology see my post The New Typology of Begehbare Labyrinthe.

The website BL contains a list of types of labyrinths. Unfortunately it is not possible to directly link to it. Therefore the link to the typology has to be found on the homepage (right half lower area). From the types, the user is directed by links to the corresponding labyrinth examples. The typology refers to the labyrinths listed in the catalogue of the website and in this respect seems complete. I find it very useful, when the labyrinth types are illustrated with a full image. Unfortunately, this is not the case in every type.

It is not clear, what constitutes a type of a labyrinth. Some types may differ with respect to the layout. E.g there are separate types for the labyrinths of Chartres and Amiens. Both have the same course of the pathway, albeit on different layouts. And also, the well-known alternating one-arm labyrinths with the level sequence 3-2-1-4-7-6-5, referred to as the “Cretan type” by Kern, can be found here in five different types, a. o. in the „Labyrinth-Typ Otfrid 7, Umgänge“.

In other types, the layout plays no role. So the type „klassisches Labyrinth, drei Umgänge“ is illustrated with a rectangular and a circular variant of it. These have both the same course of the pathway. However, not all examples of this type are attributed correctly. The labyrinth of Köln-Bocklemünd clearly has another course of the pathway.

Some other types’ names or attributions of labyrinth examples are confusing. For instance, a four-arm and a one-arm labyrinth example are attributed to the „Labyrinth-Typ Chartres, 8 Umgänge“ (fig. 1).


Figure 1. Typ Chartres, 8 Umgänge

It is not understandable, what these, particularly the one-arm labyrinth, have to do with Chartres (pro memoria: Chartres has 4 arms, 11 circuits asf.).

Quite a lot of types and examples of labyrinths are assembled in the „Labyrinth-Typ Chartres 7 Umgänge“. Even though all types illustrated there have four arms, they have different courses of the pathway, that deviate strongly from the original Chartres type. None of them has a high quality and order comparable with Chartres.

All these labyrinths with four arms and 7 circuits have less in common with the labyrinth of Chartres than the labyrinth of Grey’s Court (fig. 2). If any four-arm labyrinth with 7 circuits could be justifiably be referred to as „Labyrinth-Typ Chartres, 7 Umgänge“, this would in first line apply to the Grey’s Court labyrinth.


Figure 2. Labyrinth Typ Grey’s Court (Chartres), 7 Umgänge

This, however, is treated as a labyrinth type of it’s own „Labyrinth-Typ Grey’s Court (Chartres), 7 Umgänge“. In my opinion this is correct. But, consequently, the other labyrinths listed under the type „Labyrinth-Typ Chartres, 7 Umgänge“ would then have to be treated as separate labyrinth types too.

It beats me, what the following labyrinth (fig. 3) has to do with Ravenna. There exists a labyrinth of the type Ravenna. However, this has 7 circuits and a clearly different course of the pathway.


Figure 3. Labyrinth Typ Ravenna, 5 Umgänge

This type, called „Labyrinth-Typ Ravenna, 5 Umgänge“ can be directly derived from the Chartres labyrinth. The course of the pathway is almost identic with the five innermost or the five outermost circuits of the Chartres type labyrinth. .It is therefore also known as „Inner Chartres“ oder „Outer Chartres“. So rather this type could be labelled as type Chartres, 5 circuits.

“Labyrinth Typ Chartres, 5 Umgänge”, however, is used here as a name for another type of labyrinth (fig. 4).


Figure 4. Labyrinth Typ Chartres, 5 Umgänge

Except for the four arms, this type of labyrinth has hardly anything in common with the original Chartres type.

The website BL draws the attention to contemporary walkable labyrinths. Among these, there are many examples of common historical labyrinth types, particularly of the Cretan and Chartres types. However, a surprising high number of new labyrinths with an original course of the pathway can be found there. The definitions of the types and the attributions of individual examples to the types seem to be quite arbitrary.

Related posts: