This talk is the culmination of 11 years of research. In 2006, Geoff Stray was walking across the 800-year-old Labyrinth in Chartres Cathedral when he noticed circles of light moving across it. A search for an explanation in all the books in the cathedral bookshop revealed nothing (though one single guidebook dismissively mentioned a similar light in the transept that was installed 500 years later in 1701). The strange phenomenon was conspicuous by its absence.
Further research showed that all printed sources were silent on the phenomenon, so a Chartres specialist was consulted – a student of Keith Critchlow. Critchlow is a professor of architecture specialising in sacred geometry and has studied Chartres Cathedral for over 40 years, and his student had visited Chartres six times, particularly to study the Labyrinth, but had never noticed any lights on it. Somehow everyone has missed this “elephant in the living room”.
Geoff returned in 2011 to video the real “son et lumiere” — you will see the video during the talk — and took a further six years to crack open the mystery, which solves a question people have been asking for years about Chartres: “What is the purpose of those unique ‘cusps’ that surround the Chartres Labyrinth?” Labyrinths at the cathedrals of Amiens, Rheims, Poitiers and Sens were all built after Chartres and all were destroyed, (though Amiens has been rebuilt) and none of them had cusps.
The conclusion will be controversial but only to historians and the clergy. To the open-minded it will seem suddenly obvious. … and members of the audience may be inspired to become involved in this Labyrinth Mystery by going to Chartres themselves to check the findings independently and hopefully find the hypothetical smoking gun.
Geoff Stray is the author of Beyond 2012 and The Mayan and Other Ancient Calendars in the Wooden Book series. He also wrote a little book called Mysteries of the Long Count and will soon be producing an anthology of bus stories called Mendip Madness about his encounters with “cider-soaked fruitcakes” while driving a bus around Somerset. There is another book project in the pipeline but he only talks about it in hushed tones. He used to be a shoemaker but has recently given it up due to a bendy wrist, which has caused him to smash most of his crockery, but still builds classic motorbikes. He also drives the tour-bus for the “Megalithomania” conference.
A still from the labyrinth moving lights video