aMAZEing Maps

A Conference talk plus map quiz by David Sherren. Map Librarian. University of Portsmouth.

David Sherren began by introducing us to his OS map quiz; answers at the end of the conference. He then kicked off proceedings with a fascinating talk about finding mazes on maps.

Upon discovering a former local resident in Southsea was a prolific maze designer with over 700 designs under his belt, David was hooked. He began to research maze history and among many early examples found evidence of an Iron Age turf maze at St Catherine’s Hill in Winchester and an early stone maze at Tintagel in Cornwall. In total, he found nearly 500 examples of mazes and labyrinths on a website called Labyrinths in Britain. Interesting fact: A maze has a choice of routes to the centre, a labyrinth has only one.

Then a library colleague was browsing a map of 1874 in the University of Portsmouth’s Library map collection and spotted a hedge maze in the garden of, what was then, the largest house in Southsea. David realised it looked very similar in shape and design to a drawing of 1894 he had seen of the original seventeenth century maze at Hampton Court Palace. Using the University of Portsmouth’s Vision of Britain website he found a further 83 map references of mazes that shared the same attributes as Hampton Court. It seemed there were Hampton Court mazes everywhere. He was truly amazed!

There were many interesting facts I learned in David’s talk but I think the most memorable were these: always go to the toilet before you begin your walk round a maze and yes, it’s true you can find your way to the centre by keeping the hedge to your left all the time. However it will take twice as long to find the middle but if, like me, you have no sense of direction it will take forever anyway… even with the cheating.

Oh yes and the winner of the map quiz was Ginny Franklin who correctly identified all the locations.

Review: Lizzie Wildgoose, University of Portsmouth

Wi1234, 2007. Chartres pattern in octagonal form, Cathedral of Amiens, France [Online]. Available from: [Accessed 6 August 2021]. CC BY-SA 3.0


One response to “aMAZEing Maps

  1. It was great to hear about the Kerdroya Project a new labyrinth being built on Bodmin Moor in Cornwall. Definitely one to visit again and again by the sounds of things.


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