A Labyrinth of Stone and Puzzly Invention

Many artistic and creative endeavors have a puzzly element to them. But it’s hard to think of one more intricate and puzzly than the construction of dry stone walls and structures.

Dry stone walls are built without mortar, relying entirely on careful selection and placement of stones that interlock and reinforce each other. Anyone who has ever enjoyed a game of Tetris, solved a brain teaser about fitting pieces into a particular space, or packed a bag for a long vacation has engaged in this sort of puzzling.

But dry stone structures put those piece placement skills to the test. They’re load-bearing collaborations.

Stone creations built in this manner can be found all over the world, from the English countryside to the mountainous heights of Machu Picchu.

But in the Dalby Forest, inside North York Moors National Park in England, ambitious puzzlers are taking this marvelous endeavor a step further.

They’re creating a labyrinth entirely from dry stone walls.

Yes, if all goes to plan, by 2024 this will be the home of the world’s largest dry stone wall maze.

Four inner circular walls, surrounded by five square outer walls, as well as small holes for wildlife and children to use as shortcuts (known as smout holes), will form a 260-square-foot labyrinth.

(Plus the designers plan to periodically update and rearrange the maze through the use of phantom gates — a technique for disguising passageways not in use — to encourage return solvers.

The first stone was placed in 2014, and a decade later, more than four thousand TONS of sandstone will reside there, assembled into a mind-boggling artifact of monstrous puzzly proportions.

Made from nothing more than stone and human ingenuity, we could soon see the completion of an iconic work of puzzly wonder. I for one cannot wait to see how it all turns out.


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