Permanent Labyrinths

Danville Labyrinth Project

by | Sep 17, 2018 | Labyrinths

Early December 2002

Robert Ferre, of  Labyrinth Enterprises, was commissioned by the Danville Labyrinth Project to cut a Veriditas variation of the Chartres pattern into their slab. I was fortunate enough to be invited by Robert to help.

The 43 foot sandstone slab is very impressive. They quarried it from within a formation of 15 successive layers of sandstone. You may be familiar with sandstone that’s at the surface. It’s hard. This freshly quarried stone from deep in the earth is soft! It’s almost like a sandy clay.  It’s 43 feet across. The stone mason had to be gentle with it when laying it on the bed of gravel he’d prepared. Otherwise, it could have cracked. The slab itself is about 6 inches thick . It’s on the west side of the church with a view of Centre College campus.

the red tape was so cold it wouldn't stay stuck to the sandstone

December 3rd, 2002

27° Fahrenheit  The sandstone was so cold our layout tape wouldn’t stay stuck to the slab.

That’s Colonel Centre on the pedestal to the right. Centre College Cafeteria with the blue roof to the left.

Robert and Chuck lay out the Rose at the center

December 4. 10:15 am 26° F

You may notice that it is dark. The snow clouds are moving in!

The faint horizontal lines in the foreground are the path lines Robert cut on December 3rd.

The hardest part of this job was the lebendy seben times I had to take my gloves off to make a precise measurement or cut, and then put them back on!

sweep and cut - sweep and cut!

12:15 pm December 4th. 28° F

It got dark!

Robert on the left, Chuck on the right.

It was starting to become a challenge to work. We got into the rythm of sweep and cut, sweep and cut.

You can see Robert’s unique method of anchoring the ‘center pivot’ of the labyrinth cutting compass between us. It’s a stack of three 45 pound bar bell weights on top of the pivot!

completely ridiculous! We got a job to do.

After lunch, 2:15 pm, 28° F

It is darker and the snow has gotten deeper. We keep sweeping and cutting.

Rollin Tarter leans into the task

4 Dec. 3:30pm 26°F

Rollin Tarter arrives to save the day. His muscles were probably sore enough the next day for him to know how valuable his assistance was. I don’t think we let him know HOW MUCH he helped by shoveling the snow off the slab! Thanks again, Rollin!

It was still snowing so we decided to cover up the shoveled slab with some tarps we’d been gifted by Chuck Whitehouse. It was beginning to sleet. We went home a little early this day



The sign in the snow


The 5th of December was a day of progress. It was colder but it had stopped snowing. I only took one picture that day…

We were helped by folks from the physical plant at Centre College. David Robertson alerted them. They rolled back the tarps we laid down the day before and swept the snow off the slab. Donald Good, grounds superintendant from Centre College was our guardian angel. He kept coming by and checking on us to make sure everything was OK. The  Presbyterian Church of Danville supplied the de-icer and snow shovel!


Ahhhh. A clean place to work!

December 6th, 2002 

17° Fahrenheit  with a breeze. And we thought it was cold the day before! 

Bottom center of this image is a thermos of fresh, hot tea brought to us by the guardian angel of this Labyrinth, Shelley Richardson from The Elmwood Inn Tea Room. 

I’ve never tasted such excellent tea! Not only did it warm our bodies, it warmed our hearts.

lunation at the entrance

December 6th. 

Robert’s lunation cutting is second to none! That ice just won’t go away!

a closeup of a trefoil in the Rose

December 6th. 21° F 3:50 PM

Detail of a trefoil in the Rose, intersected by one of the joints between the sandstone blocks.

The sun is out! Our cutting is done!

I got to walk this pattern before I left for Asheville. There is something very grounding about walking on sandstone. If you ever get to Danville, this is one pattern you won’t want to miss walking!

Just before Christmas! Chuck Whitehouse and DeeDee finished coloring the pattern.

He set up a small tent to keep the painting area warmer and dry. 


Photo by Bruce Richardson


The finished pattern for the Danville Labyrinth Project

The Veriditas variation is apparent in the wide spaces between the turns. The extra space is supposed to allow people to stand ‘off ‘ the pattern to allow others to pass.

A pure Chartres pattern would have space between the turns as narrow as the wall width.


Photo by Bruce Richardson




Pathway of Peace: The Danville Labyrinth Project

Three years ago, a portable labyrinth was created that was used by many in the community. Its availability has been restricted, however, as appropriate indoor space is limited. The Danville Labyrinth Project, Inc. (a not-for-profit corporation) was formed with the goal of placing a permanent labyrinth in the community. Measuring forty two feet in diameter, plans for the labyrinth included a beautiful pattern etched in stone, surrounded by benches and existing trees. The Presbyterian Church of Danville gave permission to build the labyrinth in McDowell Park, adjacent to the churchyard and Centre College. This is an ideal setting, a place of serenity , accessible to all.

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