Happy Puzzle Day! I just love a good puzzle. My favorite ones are the hedge mazes. I am just fascinated by them. I even included a scene in my next book that takes place in a hedge maze. I would love to spend a day in a hedge maze, solving it's mysteries.
So what is a hedge maze? Remember this scene in Harry Potter?
Hedge mazes are outdoor gardens or labyrinths in which the walls are made out of vertical hedges. Hedge mazes are found throughout the world. Longleat Maze, located between Bath and Salisbury, England, is the world's longest hedge maze. Comprised of more than 16,000 English Yews, the maze has nearly 1 3/4 miles of twisting an turning paths. It sits on 1.48 acres. Other than it's enormous size, Longleat distinguishes itself from all over maze in it's three dimensional design. The maze contains six bridges in which puzzle solvers can stand upon to gain a better perspective of their location and their target, the tower. Longleat Maze was first laid out in 1975 by designer, Greg Bright. It is still being used as a source of entertainment at the Longleat Safari and Adventure Park. http://www.longleat.co.uk/explore/adventure-park/hedge-maze.
Like J.K. Rowling, who wrote that the hedge maze was alive in her Harry Potter book, writers can create struggles for the characters and suspense for their readers by using a hedge maze as the setting in one of their scenes.
Here's a link to some other amazing hedge mazes. http://www.oddee.com/item_96667.aspx
Ireland has two hedge mazes. Dunbrody Abbey http://www.dunbrodyabbey.com/maze.htm and the Peace Maze at Castlewellan Forest Park http://asearchersdiary.blogspot.com/2012/01/irish-must-sees-castlewellan-peace-maze.html
Hedge Maze History
Mazes and puzzles have fascinated mankind for thousands of years. Known as Labyrinths, walking mazes have been constructed using a wide variety of materials since ancient times. The puzzles have stirred the imagination of more than one artist, storyteller or author. Who can forget the infamous Greek legend about Theseus and the Minotaur in the Knossos Labyrinth?
You can learn more about the history of mazes at http://medievalcastles.stormthecastle.com/essays/medieval-castles-mazes-and-labyrinths.htm
The move towards utilizing walking mazes for a purely entertainment standpoint came in the Middle Ages. European kings and princes often had hedge mazes constructed in their formal gardens so they could peacefully engage their critical thinking skills without the threat of war. The most famous of these is the Hampton Court Maze. The Hampton Court Maze was planted sometime between 1689 and 1695 AD by George London and Henry Wise. King William III dedicated the maze in 1700, two years before he died of pneumonia. http://www.hrp.org.uk/HamptonCourtPalace/maze
|Bob takes a wrong turn by Lisa Harbin|
In France, The Labyrinth of Versailles was a hedge maze with groups of sculptures and fountains depicting Aesop's Fables throughout the maze. The first design for the maze was conceived by André Le Nôtre in 1665 AD. Author, Charles Perrault, had advised King Louis XIV that the gardens should be redesigned to fit the needs of the dauphin's (the crowned prince) educations. The king agreed. André Le Nôtre would continue to redesign his plans from 1672 to 1677 AD. Construction of the maze was completed in 1677. It was an unusual maze for its time in that there was no central goal, thus making it easy to get lost in. The hedges were only five meters high, allowing anyone who was inside to be able to see over the maze. Thirty-nine fountains and 333 painted metal sculptures were scattered throughout the maze. Each fountain contained a plague in which one of the fables was written upon by the French poet, Isaac de Benserade. The Labyrinth of Versailles was very popular with all the nobles and it was here in which the dauphin learned how to read by using the fables inscribed on the fountains. The Labyrinth of Versailles was demolished in 1778 by King XVI.