I mentioned finding a labyrinth on a walk in Boscastle. It’s carved into the dark rock of a granite cliff behind an abandoned mill. There are two, next to each other and dated to around 1,200 BC by the National Trust, although there are some who say they are from the 18th or 19th century.
That’s quite a time gap...
But they do go back a very long time in general.
Indeed, they can be found in Italy to as far back as the early Iron Age, 1,000 BC, and as decorations on Etruscan vases. In Spain back to the Bronze Age. The Romans used them as ornament through to medieval times, and all along the coast of the Baltic and northern Europe they appear.
But what is a labyrinth?
First, it ought not be confused with a maze.
A maze is constructed of dead ends and blind alleys, built to confuse and trap those who enter. In contrast, a labyrinth is a single path that leads to the centre; impossible to get lost in. All you need do is turn and walk back out. Interesting healing properties are associated with walking the route of a labyrinth, perhaps through a focussing of the mind, but I’m not covering that. Instead I’m going to worry the thread that these designs are so often associated with Troy.
They are called:
The Walls of Troy
or the City of Troy...
To name a few. So my layman thinking is might not there be some truth in this. Might there really be a connection with these designs that are found all about the coast of Europe and the Mediterranean. Is it a symbol and a sign left by the survivors of the fall of Troy?
Certainly there were survivors.
Aeneas fled to Africa and then Latium with the Aeneads. This might explain its appearance on an Etruscan vase at this time. Aeneas' grandson, Brutus, is said to have liberated the Trojans captured and enslaved by King Pandrasus in Greece. They then sailed on in a mighty fleet to North Africa and Gaul, did find more Trojans scattered on their travels. Corineus for one, after who Cornwall is named. Indeed, folklore and legend has it Britain is named after Brutus.
Brutus of Troy;
A refugee king who founded London and called it Troia Newydd;
Which in itself is translated as 'New Troy'.
Might not these images, found all along the coast, be a reminder that although the walls of Troy did fall, its people did not. I like to think so. After all, the labyrinth as a design is not easy to visualise and draw on paper, let alone carve into granite as the oldest ones are by an ancient people. To them this design must have been something incredibly important, before it was ever associated with Medieval art and used by the Church. Home, perhaps.
Where heroes of myth once did battle and died.
Hector and Paris, their souls still alive.
It’s a nice thought.