Troy Towns is the name given to turf mazes in Britain and their counterparts, the many stone lined labyrinths to be found in Scandinavia, the Baltic countries and as far east as Russia, where Arkaim is considered by some to be a form of troy town(d).
*W.H. Matthews (1882- ) listed a total of thirty-seven extant English turf labyrinths in his 1922 book , noting that there were once many more, including some in Scotland and Wales. Today, only eight historic turf labyrinths survive in England, only two of which still bear the name of Troy: The City of Troy in Dalby, North Yorkshire, and Troy at Troy Farm, Somerton, Oxfordshire. Saffron Walden is home to the largest, and some maintain oldest, surviving English turf labyrinth.(e) *
All these are supposedly inspired by the ‘original’ labyrinth on Crete. To suggest(c) that labyrinths or Troy Towns are in any way intended to memorialise Plato’s description of the layout of Atlantis is just unbridled conjecture.
The Labyrinth and the double-headed axe, the labyris, are usually associated with Minoan culture. However, the labyrinth is an ancient symbol found around the world in locations such as Italy, India(g), Egypt(h), England, Finland and even in the New World as Evan Hadingham has shown[1309.261] at Pacatnamú in Peru. In Scandinavia they are known as Troy Towns – Trojeborgar. Sweden has the greatest number with 200(e).
The largest example in Sweden was discovered at the Mesolithic site on Blå Jungfrun Island(j).
India’s second largest example, measuring 56 feet by 56 feet, was partly uncovered in Gedimedu near Pollachi(i) in 2015. It is estimated to be 2,000 years old and has a design similar to those found on clay tablets found at Pylos, Greece, from 1200 BC.
It has been suggested by a number of writers that the labyrinth had some connection with Atlantis(a)(b). This suggestion is interesting but highly speculative. J. D. Brady touches on this in his book, Atlantis as well as Lewis Spence in The History of Atlantis. What I find interesting is that so many widespread examples of the labyrinth retain the irregular elements of the symbol even when depicted in a rectangular rather than a rounded style. An extensive website covering all aspects of labyrinths and mazes is worth a visit(c). There is also The Labyrinth Society(f) to further whet your appetite.
*In 2017, an extensive article by John Reppion offers further information on the history and geographical spread of labyrinths(k).*
Some researchers have attempted to link the outline of the labyrinth with the concentric design of the harbour of Plato’s capital city. The harbour was described as a series of perfectly concentric circular features ‘as if created on a lathe’ (Critias 113d), whereas the labyrinth is more spiral with a slightly offset entrance. My conclusion regarding the labyrinth is; fascinating– yes, Atlantis – probably not.
The persistent use of this ancient symbol was highlighted by an aerial image, sent to me by Hank Harrison, of a Catholic school in California.