City of Troy Maze in Dalby

City of Troy Maze in Dalby

In a remote part of North Yorkshire about 13-miles north of York on top of the Howardian Hills there is a turf maze that is the smallest of the eight remaining mizmazes in England. Much about this labyrinth is mysterious, beginning with the location. There it sits, on the side of a country road between the villages of Dalby and Brandsby with nothing of historical significance anywhere close by. Due to the proximity of Skewsby, another tiny village, the maze is sometimes referred to as Skewsby maze. Yet, even with all these nearby towns, the maze is so remote it remains very difficult to find.

Dalby maze pattern

The City of Troy Maze in Dalby is a mere 26-feet by 22-feet, and cut in a Classical design with seven rings winding to the middle. A slow walker would only take minutes to navigate the raised turf pathway from start to finish.

When it was cut and by whom is also a mystery. Theories abound, some believing the origins date to the Viking era. While a bit unlikely, the historic name referencing the ancient city of Troy implies a period far older than the more common Medieval era turf mazes. Additionally, the simplistic design is in line with the ancient patterns found on Greek and Roman pottery, etc.

It is also quite possible that the difficulty in setting a firmer date is because the current location of the Dalby maze is not the original site. There are strong indications that the turf maze was located about 100 yards further up the road, but through time, neglect, and wagon traffic over the changing roadways, it was damaged beyond repair. Local legends claim the maze was re-cut in the 1860s when the road was upgraded, the design duplicated from drawings in a newspaper and/or a carving on a nearby barn door.

Another mystery that surely shall never be unraveled fully is the use of this maze. The assumption is that the Dalby maze was used for religious purposes, whether Christian penance or pagan rituals. However, with no recorded churches or ruins found in the immediate area, this cannot be pinpointed either. Thankfully, locals keep the maze well-maintained so visitors can enjoy a slice of intriguing history while enjoying stunning views of the peaceful countryside from Howardian Hills.



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It doesn’t seem to present much of a challenge, and hardly seems suitable to bear the name maze! Although I admit that being claustrophobic myself it is infinitely preferable to a conventional maze! Maybe the original was created as a game for children?

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