Prince Charles mooted the idea for a maze when he visited Castlebank Park in June 2019.Prince Charles mooted the idea for a maze when he visited Castlebank Park in June 2019.
Prince Charles mooted the idea for a maze when he visited Castlebank Park in June 2019.

Prince Charles backs Lanark Labyrinth

Arguably, Her Majesty the Queen's Platinum Jubilee year has not got off to the most auspicious start.

With one son making the headlines for all the wrong reasons, Prince Charles contracting Covid for a second time and Her Majesty also being diagnosed with the virus, it's been a tough couple of months.

However, The Gazette has some good news to share which might be a tonic for our Monarch.

It comes in the form of a donation her son Prince Charles made to a Lanark project in 2019 which has now come to fruition.

Prince Charles visited Castlebank in June 2019, during which plans for a new labyrinth around the sun dial lawn were discussed.

A few weeks later, Lanark Community Development Trust’s chairwoman Sylvia Russell was surprised but delighted to receive a sizeable donation for the project, courtesy of His Royal Highness.

Like many things, Covid saw the project postponed for a time but the Trust’s hard working volunteers have been hard at work and the labyrinth is now open for visitors to enjoy. Unlike a maze, there’s no chance of being lost in its midst – but it is hoped it will offer people a quiet place of reflection.

Sylvia said: “We were surprised but delighted to receive the funding from Prince Charles. It was a lovely gesture and we can’t thank him enough for his support.

"We’re delighted that the labyrinth, after much toil, is now open at the sundial lawn and we hope visitors to Castlebank Park will enjoy it for years to come.”

The sundial lawn is certainly a wee bit more interesting now – thanks to a suggestion mooted by Prince Charles during his visit.

Lanark Community Development Trust had been considering for some time how to make the lawn more attractive to visitors.

Prince Charles suggested creating a maze there and, following his visit, sent a generous donation to see it created.

However, discussions ensued as the Trust feared a maze would be difficult for its volunteers to maintain.

Chairwoman Sylvia Russell explained: “We decided that we didn’t have the manpower for the upkeep of a maze so the idea of creating a labyrinth was born.

“Labyrinths have been around for a very long time, perhaps 7000 years. Many cathedrals throughout Europe and the UK have a labyrinth laid out on the floor as an aid to meditation and prayer.

“The Castlebank Labyrinth is a classical seven-circuit design from ancient Greece, rich with symbolism. The seven circuits were seen to correspond to the seven visible planets.

“Unlike a maze, which is a complex branching puzzle with a choice of paths and directions, the labyrinth design has only one path which leads to the centre. You cannot get lost so this frees the walker to focus on contemplation instead of navigation.

"Some call this prayer, others meditation. Whatever the name, the practice has been used around the world for several thousand years.”

The Castlebank project started before the first Covid lockdown and involved a huge amount of planning by educational gardener, Stuart Ritchie. The circles were measured out and six cherry trees planted round the perimeter.

When lockdown was imposed all work came to a standstill and, in the ensuing two years, the layout disappeared – meaning Stuart had to start again last autumn.

Sylvia added: “Our hard working volunteers, SLC Community Payback squad, Clydesdale Community Initiatives and Skills Exchange Scotland have all contributed to the project and done an impressive job in recent months, with many aching backs as a result.

"However, the end result has been very worthwhile and we hope many people will enjoy walking the Castlebank Labyrinth.”