“Old Maze” at the Village of Wing in Rutland
The best-surviving turf maze is on the village green beside Glaston Road on the edge of the picturesque village of Wing in the East Midlands county of Rutland. This particular example does not have a designated name. If it ever had a specific name, there are no records or legends shedding light on what it may have been, so today it is generally referred to as the “Wing Maze” or the “Old Maze.”
As with the other eight turf-cut mazes that remain in Britain, the exact age of the Wing Maze is unknown. More accurately a labyrinth, as all turf mazes are, researchers believe this one probably dates to the Medieval period. In the Leicester and Rutland Directory of 1846, it is described as “an ancient maze, in which the rustics run at the parish feast.” Britain’s Historic Sites says it “may be well over 2500 years old.”
Wing Maze follows the circular unicursal form known as Cretan, Classical, or Chartres (as explained in a previous blog). It measures roughly 50 ft (14 m) in diameter, eleven circuits ultimately leading to the center. In this case, the path to walk is along the raised grass turf, as opposed to the narrow bare earth track.
Nearby is Thorney Abbey, which dates to the Middle Ages, and as mazes of this sort were often part of ritual penance, it is speculated that ancient monks may have constructed the maze. An informational board at the site suggests a link to the Christian Crusades—
“Instead of travelling to Jerusalem people walked or maybe even went on their knees around a maze as part of a spiritual journey.”