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Updates for the Whispering Knights woodland project - Neolithic Echoes.


Nature Takes Control of Labyrinth Design

Karl Gunter

People started walking the labyrinth almost as soon as it was roughly laid out, but now the form is coming together more, it is proving to have a very good feel to it and, from the feedback I've been getting, it is working in the mysterious way that labyrinths are able!

The paths are not clear of debris yet because work continues, but it is now possible to follow it without too many unintended obstacles. Each day's work starts with walking to the centre, and the day ends by walking from the centre back to the entrance. The action of walking the labyrinth seems to open up interesting states of mind and the relationship between those and other meditative and esoteric practices is taking some serious exploration.

Labyrinth cascade early on

On a more mundane level, the world has informed me that the idea to simply stack a 'cascade' foolishly overlooked a number of things... most notably that the world has little consideration or worry for human aesthetic ideas (like balancing things) which attempt to ignore the fact that nature is not a simple system or machine that humans control by pushing buttons or 'just because'.

A few gusts of 30mph+ sharply re-introduced me to the idea that nature is in charge.

In this case, I thought perhaps a judicious use of some glue might help.

Well, nature took that glue and raised me a bucket full of wind-speed to point out that my glue didn't key well to smooth bark and I'd better up my game.

The labyrinth cascade grows…

Labyrinth from up a Ladder

Karl Gunter

Cutting rounds and moving them to the labyrinth has been a time-consuming task. To begin I was counting to keep a running total which seemed like a never ending job; so, rather than risk becoming a Styglian Enumerator, I stopped counting after the thousandth round fell to the floor and rolled away on a mission of its own.

That was back in December, and by the end of January it looks like the bulk of that will be done.

Of course, that is just the base, then comes the next stage of cutting!

At the moment it is mainly a case of holding an amorphous shape and feel of the labyrinth in my head; the markers really help but the thing seems to be evolving day by day but not in obvious way. After all the basic preparations are done, my hope is that it will start to come together a bit more quickly - the work does not produce visible results in a linear progression - like the other structures - "chaos with a hint of order" - put in a fancy way - "the development is more akin to the line of a golden spiral slowly resolving into focus from Fibonacci numbers".

More prosaically, "it is still a bit of a mess, but the chaos should be about to yield some signs of order"

Of course, still no idea of what it looks like from the air, but did get up a ladder to at least get an indication of whether it was going to be a pleasant spiral shape or intestines spilled crudely on the ground. Here are a couple of pictures showing the current layout.

View of labyrinth layout from the south

Labyrinth layout view from up a ladder

Haven't measured it yet, but pacing from one side of the labyrinth to the other could mean it is over 30 metres wide.

As for the length of the path, not sure exactly, could be around 400 paces from the entrance to the centre, then of course, another 400 or so paces back out.

Am trying an experiment with the crossing point:


A Labyrinth of Ideas

Karl Gunter

Work continues on doing repairs to old structures, moving materials around and starting to cut rounds for the base of the labyrinth walls. This year there is not so much brash so rather than major refreshes, repairs need to be more subtle so they don’t stand out too much.

A rough estimate of the distance to cover by walking the labyrinth path walls means I'm going to get some practice in my sharpening skills because of the amount of cutting needed. Cutting where I find useful sections, stacking and then moving them to the labyrinth is time consuming but gives a space to mull over layout and possibilities.

Been thinking a lot about numbers, spirals, directions and turns. Some of the aspects of these thoughts tie in so well with with so many things that the feeling is strong that there are ideas to be explored..

A labyrinth as a gateway to ideas?

Labyrinth Layout

Karl Gunter

Working on repairing existing structures and considering the labyrinth layout – I started wondering about how people might walk the labyrinth. That led to thinking of widening the paths so that there might be space for people to pause, a bit more room so that they can pass in opposite directions and to walk side by side at some points.

Widening the paths by scaling is all very well, but to scale the entire thing would make the need for a dizzying amount of extra materials... in the end, the best compromise seemed to include wider and narrower areas along the path - also, there are certain points where sitting spaces would be nice. There is a risk of distorting the shape… if so, I'll put that down as 'part of the organic look'.

One of the puzzles for the labyrinth is to decide on the best placement to allow use of what is already there and putting in new planting to succeed the felled trees.

This has meant adjusting the path markers again... with so many tree sections to move, the arborist's lifting tongs have been a fantastic help.

From the ground the shape seems to be coming together.

The Neolithic Echoes Labyrinth begins

Karl Gunter

The Neolithic Echoes Labyrinth begins

The area to build the labyrinth was determined by the trees that had to be thinned, so, after picking an orientation, the next job was the gathering sections of felled ash to mark out a labyrinth shape.

Getting the logs together is all very well, but on a practical level, the question has been where to start - in the end, the crossing point near the centre seemed like a reasonable place to begin. Setting out rough markers to indicate levels/circuits and give 'eye guides' so that the labyrinth, from the air, would look like a reasonable pattern and not just a giant intestine. We won't be able to see it from the air for a while, so just using a ground level best guess.

Using logs to layout the labyrinth

Another view of the layout

The entrance to the labyrinth

A Year in Four Minutes

Karl Gunter

From a misty spring morning to the depths of winter - Karl has compressed a year of woodland scenes into this 4 minute video. Located next to the Rollright Stones and Whispering Knights dolmen, Neolithic Echoes makes use of woodland brash to create habitats and visually pleasing designs.

Conversations in the woods

Karl Gunter

Work continues in the woods and we thought it would be nice to share a few of the many positive reactions... Thank you to everyone for so kindly agreeing to share their impressions.