The Canterbury Labyrinth

Cut into the slopes below the University of Kent at Canterbury and overlooking Canterbury Cathedral, this labyrinth enjoys a unique setting which shows off the beautiful stone and turf design by Jeff Saward and Andrew Wiggins.

This original seven circuit design in the medieval four fold style has topological symmetry (each section walked in the first half is mirrored in the second half). The use of grass is in keeping with the English tradition of turf labyrinths which were literally cut into the ground, however the conventional format is reversed with the grass forming the ‘walls’. The path is formed by three courses of natural stone setts.

The labyrinth is situated on a direct line between the Universities’ Eliot College building and Canterbury Cathedral symbolising the link between the University and  local community. The York stone from which the paving setts were cut ‘on site’ is widely used in both the old and new pavements of Canterbury City adding a physical dimension to the connection.

The impetus for the building of the labyrinth came from Dr Jan Sellers of the Universities’ Unit for the Enhancement of Learning & Teaching who envisages that the labyrinth “will provide a valuable teaching and learning resource”.

The crescent shaped bank which partially encloses the labyrinth creates an amphitheatre-like space suitable for use as a new performance area for the University.

Building the Canterbury Labyrinth

 

The intricacy and high quality workmanship of our labyrinths is evident when viewing the finished installation. However this is often the beautiful tip of a rather larger iceberg as can be seen from the slide show above. Extensive groundwork and much hidden construction is involved to ensure that beauty is underpinned by structural integrity. Very few of the known ancient labyrinths remain today - we see our installations as the monuments of the future!

Labyrinth Facts

Design Jeff Saward and Andrew Wiggins.
Construction The Labyrinth Builders, August 2008
Style Original design of four fold medieval style
Circuits

7 plus enclosing ring

Diameter 15.3m (17.1m including enclosing ring)
Distance to the centre 202.5m
Paths 300mm wide formed by 100mm square sawn York stone paviors.
Number of paviors 8000
Walls Turf  600mm wide

 

 

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The labyrinth design
The labyrinth design

The Canterbury Labyrinth
The Canterbury Labyrinth

The labyrinth is aligned with Canterbury Cathedral
The labyrinth is aligned with
Canterbury Cathedral

Paths are formed by individual York stone setts
Paths are formed by individual York stone setts

The labyrinth is cut into the landscape giving the setting a sculptural quality
The labyrinth is cut into the landscape giving the
setting a sculptural quality

 
Design for the UKC labyrinth
The Canterbury labyrinth
The labyrinth is aligned with Canterbury Cathedral
Paths are formed by individual York stone setts
The labyrinth is cut into the landscape giving the setting a sculptural quality