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Turf Labyrinth arrives in Overseal, Derbyshire

After a year of fund-raising, designing, and planning, the village of Overseal in south Derbyshire now has its very own turf labyrinth...

In 2014, Overseal parish council acquired a piece of scrubland in a quiet yet central location close to the village hall and playing field. Through community fund-raising and support, the villagers have worked together to turn this previously unloved piece of land into an orchard and wildflower meadow – Croft Orchard. The significance to the community of this shared space is evident in the traditional orchard ‘wassail’ the villagers hold every January. It was a privilege to be with them this year, to ‘wake up the trees’ and give thanks to the sacred feminine forces of nature so apparent in spring, especially as the orchard was the site they had selected for the labyrinth.

Based just a few miles from one of the geographic centres of England, Overseal is close to the neolithic monument near Lichfield known as the ‘Sunburst’. Sensitive to the ancient significance of the wider area, and mindful of the village’s continuing relationship with its living history, a traditional turf labyrinth surrounded by an earthen mound was decided upon. The first day was spent on orientation and layout of the design; dowsing for the orientation of the labyrinth ensured the input of the living world, and the labyrinth is oriented on an east-west axis with the centre facing due south thanks to this participation. A small army of smiling volunteers turned up to help with digging on day two; by sunset the walls were dug out, lined with permeable membrane, and the first layer of granite pressed into place on top.

Now that the labyrinth is in place, the community will continue to build up the earthen mound circling the perimeter, hoping eventually to plant it up with wildflowers that will attract butterflies and other pollinators. They are also having a sculpture made in situ by local artist Gary Williamson. The sculpture will be carved with a replica of the labyrinth design, offering an alternative method of engagement for those visiting the labyrinth. It is hoped that this beautiful space will offer sanctuary, peace, and a place for reflection and quiet contemplation to the villagers of Overseal and the surrounding neighbourhood for many years to come.

Deep gratitude for the beautiful photos to M Knight

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