These labyrinths are made of stones that have been laid on the surface of the soil.
Island of stone labyrinths
Bolshoi Zayatsky Island is a small island (1.25 km2), belonging to the group of Solovetsky Islands. It is covered with boulders, moss and large bushes.
This small island has got 13 or 14 labyrinths as well as more than 850 heaps of boulders and numerous other stone settings (e.g. a unique stone Sun with radial spokes).
In total there are 35 labyrinths, or as locals call them – “vavilons” in the Solovetsky Islands. All the stone settings have been made of local boulders. Excavations in the stone heaps have yielded parts of bones (4.).
All the labyrinths are concentrated in an area of 0.4 km2 on the western part of the island. In the eastern part of the island (Sopka Hill) there is another enormous complex of stone settings that does not include any labyrinths.
Besides the labyrinths there are numerous other stone settings in islands.
Description of labyrinths
The diameter of the labyrinths on the island is between 6 and 25.4 meters.
Labyrinths, for the most part, are formed by boulders set in a row. The boulders are not especially large (roughly 30 – 40 cm in diameter). The rows are twisted in the form of a spiral; often there are two spirals set one into another as if two serpents with their heads in the middle looking at each other. Along the spiral, there are intermittent thicker/ wider heaps of stones and the ends of the spirals are widened as well.
The entrances are located in the southern part of the labyrinths, but sometimes these entrances can also be found in the south-western, eastern and western parts. Although the labyrinths have five types of settings, each of them has got one entrance which also serves as an exit.
It has been suggested that they can symbolise a border between our world and the underworld.
The purpose of these stone settings is unclear. It may be assumed that the labyrinth was used for specific rituals to help the souls of deceased travel to another world.
Another hypothesis is that the stone settings served as a model for complex fishing equipment.
Other labyrinths nearby
Labyrinths are located on nearby islands as well: on Bolshoy Solovetsky (near Kislaya Guba) and on Anzersky (eastern end near Kalguyev spit). There are, or existed at an earlier date, labyrinths at the mouths of the rivers of the White Sea – Umba, Verzuga, Kem, Ponoi. These petroforms always are located within sight of the sea.
- Соловки Энциклопедия
- Picture gallery
- Буров Владимир. О семантике каменных лабиринтов севера. Этнографическое обозрение, № 1, 2001 (drawn schematic plans)
- Мартынов Александр. Археологическое прошлое Соловецкого архипелага: материк — море — острова. Альманах “Соловецкое море”. № 1. 2002
- Виноградов Н. Новые лабиринты Соловецкого архиппелага. Лабиринты Б. Заяцкого острова // Материалы СОК. Вып. 12. Соловки,1927. С, 14-30.
- Виноградов Н. Соловецкие лабиринты. Их происхождение и место в ряду однородных доисторических памятников. Материалы СОК. Вып. 4. Соловки, 1927
- Гурина Н. Каменные лабиринты Беломорья. М., С. 125–142. 1948
- Куратов А. Древние лабиринты Архангельского Беломорья. Историко-краеведческий сборник. Вологда, С. 63–76. 1973
Stone labyrinths of Bolshoi Zayatsky Island on the map
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|Location, GPS coordinates:||64.972149 N 35.662697 E|
|Categories:||Cairns and mounds, Megaliths|
|Where is located?||Europe, Russia, Arkhangelsk Oblast, White Sea, Solovetsky Islands, Bolshoy Zayatsky Island|
|Name in Russian:||Каменные лабиринты на Большом Заяцком острове|
|Age:||2000 – 3000 BC ?|
|UNESCO World Heritage status:||Part of “Cultural and Historic Ensemble of the Solovetsky Islands”, 1992, No.632|
Video of the Stone labyrinths of Bolshoi Zayatsky Island
Dan Ragin, August 2014
The largest country in the world, Russia, is associated in the minds of many people with the onion domes of Orthodox churches and the massive walls of the Moscow Kremlin. But besides the unique architecture, Russia offers many more unusual and exciting attractions.
One of the most fascinating groups of archaeological monuments are prehistoric structures made of large stones – megaliths. Through the ages, people have loved to strain their minds to find a sensible explanation to the many riddles posed by these landmarks.
Megalithic monuments are among the most striking remains of the Neolithic period of northern and western Europe and are scattered across landscapes from Pomerania to Portugal. Antiquarians and archaeologists early recognized the family resemblance of the different groups of tombs, attributing them to maritime peoples moving along the western seaways.
“Magic Stones” documents, in stunning and evocative photographs, our ancestors’ obsession with stone. Throughout Europe stone has been used to create dwellings for the living and the dead, as a canvas for our earliest art, to celebrate the heavens and in ways that are still, even today, beyond our understanding.