Northern Labyrinth—A Key to Time, Space, Information


Northern labyrinths are stone constructions of different shapes, dating back to III-I century BC. They mainly appear on capes on peninsulas and islands up to 13-25 metresabove the sea level. Their area begins from Scilly Isles (England) and in the White Sea (Russia). Opinions of scientists concerning their designation are controversial. Assumptions about their practical meaning haven’t been proved: no burials have been found underneath; fishing equipment cannot be located so far from the area of tides. Most of the scientists link labyrinths with the sphere of spiritual culture: sanctuaries, altars, sacred places, schemes of rituals and magical centers. Assumptions about calendar designation link the picture of labyrinth with schemes of orbits of the Sun, the Moon, planets and stars. However they do not explain the application of this technology. The author’s concept is based on the opposite astronomical alignment by the shade of gnomon and considers peculiarities of the geographical space of Northern regions (polar days and white nights). The aim of the research is to prove that the key to decoding the picture of a classic Northern labyrinth is a gnomon located in the centre of the construction. Field research has been conducted on Zayztskiy Island in Solovetskiy Archipelago. Experiments of imitation modeling have been done, analysis of linguistic and toponymic materials, archeological, astronomical, ethnographical and mythological and other sources has been implemented. The research has proved that observations of the shade can help to create a calendar in a shape of a bispiral labyrinth. The structure of labyrinth is convenient for defining the North, dividing daytime and defining geographical altitude of the observation point. Orientation in space and time has become the basis for navigation frame of the territory. A set of stone instruments is the key of a navigation frame of the territory. Life-essential stages of the yearly lighting are reflected in specific geometry shapes of shades. They have been preserved in mythological images of the Sun, solar symbols and modern sign systems. Languages, alphabets, numeric systems can be considered as models of geographical space and have evolved thanks to observations of the light movement. Key results of the research: 1) in the past the Sun used to play the leading role in navigation in the North because reference points of the dark sky were not available for observation; 2) Northern labyrinths have been created and used thanks to gnomon; 3) gnomon has been in the sphere of sacred knowledge for a long time, it was integrated as sundial 2.5 thousand years ago; 4) most symbols of the Sun and the Time are connected with gnomon and labyrinth; 5) the Sun, observation tools and results of observations are reflected in models of the world around—navigation, linguistic, toponymical, mythological, sacral and semiotic; 6) The universal sense of Time helps to understand a wide range of meanings of a sign of a labyrinth: birth; life stages (status, transitions initiations); space time order; reproduction of the benefits, fertility, abundance; knowledge and forecast; management: law and order; eternity-revival; 7) Use of solar navigation in formation of information systems is based on steady ratios natural process—a geometrical sign (the sum of shadows in one day or year), universal opportunities of existential parameters for designation of objects, general availability and vital need of this knowledge.

Share and Cite:

A. Paranina, "Northern Labyrinth—A Key to Time, Space, Information," Natural Resources, Vol. 4 No. 4, 2013, pp. 349-356. doi: 10.4236/nr.2013.44042.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] G. Paranina and R. Paranin, “The Labyrinth: Orientation in Geographic Space and the Evolution of the Mark. Space Geocultural European North: The Genesis, Structure and Semantics. Materials IV Pomeranian Readings on the Semiotics of Culture, 7-11 July 2009,” Pomorski University, Pinezhsky, 2009, pp. 516-518.
[2] G. Paranina and R. Paranin, “Northern Mazes as Astronomical Instruments in Relation to Patterns of Mythology and Symbols of Culture,” Society, Environment and Development, St. Petersburg, Vol. 4, No. 14, 2009, pp. 120- 134.
[3] G. Paranina, “Light in the Labyrinth: Time, Space, Information,” Asterion, St. Petersburg, 2010, p. 123.
[4] A. Skvortsov, “How Many Monuments Are There in Solovki?” The Study of IP-Torik-Cultural Environment of the Arctic, 1990, pp. 282-300.
[5] V. Paranin, “Historical Geography of the Chronicle of Russia,” Petrozavodsk, 1990, p. 152.
[6] V. Paranin, “The History of the Barbarians,” RGO, St. Petersburg, 1998, p. 184.
[7] G. Paranina, “Reflection of Time and Space in Ancient Symbols (for Example, the Sign of Rurik),” Society, Environment and Development, Asterion, St. Petersburg, Vol. 2, No. 16, 2010, pp. 199-207.

Copyright © 2024 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.