Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Wakefield's Labyrinth

A symbol potent with multiple layers of mythology and meaning, the roots of the labyrinth and maze can be traced back at least 4000 years: and occur in many different cultures throughout the world, in various different forms. In all, the labyrinth appears to symbolise the path to follow in our daily life, with its seasons and cycles, its twists and turns. As such, this powerful motif can be a useful guide: a spiritual tool for further understanding, self-knowledge and transformation.

Rocky Valley Labyrinth, Tintagel, Cornwall
Rocky Valley Labyrinth, Tintagel, Cornwall


Wakefield Cathedral and Labyrinth

I love labyrinths. I love the designs that seem to speak to me on some other level, and I also love the deceptive, yet powerful simplicity of the spiritual concept of walking them. I love how these designs, to me, seem to transcend any particular religion, as labyrinths and mazes have a history that can be traced back over 4000 years, yet they have continued to exist in a bewildering array of places and are still created today.

I have walked many turf labyrinths, but never one inside a building. I read many years ago of the enigmatic labyrinth in Chatres Cathedral, and promised myself that one day I would visit....

Wakefield Cathedral
Wakefield Cathedral

We recently came to Wakefield to visit some of the sites such as Sandal Castle, the Hepworth Gallery, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and the amazing Medieval Bridge Chapel. As part of the trip we also popped into Wakefield Cathedral. Last time I came here, many, many years ago, it was quite dour and crowded with Victorian pews. Imagine my surprise when I discovered a beautiful, transformed interior, "transported back in time into a wonderful medieval space," and.....

Wakefield Cathedral interior
The beautiful spacious interior of Wakefield Cathedral

....containing a wonderful labyrinth, beckoning me to walk it.....

Wakefield Cathedral labyrinth
Wakefield Cathedral labyrinth

"Walking the labyrinth can still our minds, ground our bodies, reduce stress and open our hearts. When we walk the labyrinth, we use the same path to walk to the centre, and to return transformed to our daily lives. The path is clear and will aid as a metaphor for our own lives or to focus on a particular issue of situation." Cathedral Guide

Wakefield Cathedral guide to the labyrinth
A guide to walking the labyrinth

The Cathedral is built on the site of a Saxon church, and has a history of over 1000 years of worship on the site. There are many other fascinating things to discover within and without its walls, including fine medieval carvings, beautiful stained glass, the tallest spire in Yorkshire; but, for me, the labyrinth eclipses everything....and I was lucky enough to have a nearly empty building to experience walking it. Thank you Wakefield Cathedral.


Interior Wakefield Cathedral

Well worth a visit, if you're in the area. As ever, please consider a donation.

A Little About Wakefield

"a very quick market town and meately large; well served of fish and flesh both from sea and by rivers...so that all vitaile is very good and chepe there. A Right honest man shall fare well for 2d. a meal...There by plenti of se coal in the quarters about Wakefield."  John Leland 1538

Wakefield Bridge and Chantry Chapel by Philip Reinagle 1793 Public Domian Wikimedia Commons
Wakefield Bridge and Chantry Chapel by Philip Reinagle 1793 Public Domian Wikimedia Commons

Dubbed the 'Merrie City' in the Middle Ages, Wakefield is an ancient City, with finds dating back to prehistory, the name Wakefield could either derive from the Old English Wacu (a watch or wake) Feld (an open field in which a wake or festival was held, or 'Waca's field' (open land belonging to 'Waca.') 

Site of a major battle during the Wars of the Roses and a stronghold for the Royalists during the English Civil War, Wakefield became an important market town and centre for wool, exploiting its position on the River Calder to become an inland port.

Thanks for reading!

 Justbod Team

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  1. Excellent! Definitely a place to visit.

    1. Thanks - well worth visiting Mike, when you get the chance :)

  2. I think there is one in churchyard near me, must check it out. That looks like a great place to visit

    1. I hope you do find one there Bill - I find them fascinating :)