Troy Town Maze in Somerton

Troy Town Maze in Somerton

This unusual turf maze is located in a garden at Troy Farm Bed and Breakfast, a privately owned dwelling about one-mile east of the village of Somerton in Oxfordshire and 16-miles from Oxford.

Somerton Troy Town maze pattern

 

Troy Town Maze is in an atmospheric setting hidden among trees and close to an ancient pre-Roman road. It is one of the largest remaining turf mazes, measuring 50-feet by 60-feet. The one-foot wide pathway consists of fifteen concentric circles which, if stretched, would be a quarter of a mile.

The land on which the maze stands was at one time owned by Bishop Odo of Bayeux (died 1097), who was named the Earl of Kent after fighting in the Battle of Hastings alongside William the Conqueror, Odo’s maternal half-brother. The existence of a pavement maze inside Bayeux Cathedral might have inspired Odo to create a labyrinth on his own ground, and if so, the purpose would likely have been religious for prayer or penance. Bear in mind, however, that any turf maze cut in the 11th or 12th century would have long ago been reclaimed by nature unless carefully maintained, and there are no records of this happening. That clarified, it is not unusual for ancient patterns to be passed on in some fashion.

By 1327, the land upon which Troy Farm now stands was owned by the Aston family, who lived there until the establishment of Troy Farm in the 16th century. Researchers date the existing maze to anywhere from the late-15th to early-17th century, a broad range that would encompass when formal gardens began incorporating mazes. A manor house dating to the mid-1600s (perhaps earlier) appears on a map as Troy House, and since the word “Troy” was practically synonymous with “maze” it is likely the maze already existed. As further proof, using the word loosely, a circular pond to the southeast of the maze “cuts across an area of ridge and furrow and is therefore likely to have been made in the post-medieval period.”

Today, the maze is well-maintained by the owners of Troy Farm. However, as a private establishment, it is open for guest of the B&B but only to the public by advanced reservation.

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