The Dorsetarian

Dorset Ghost Walks

If you are looking for something different this year, then ghost tours can provide some great entertainment, especially if they're ghost tours after dark.
Alistair Chisholm's Dorchester Ghost Walks
Weymouth Ghost Walks
Haunted Harbour Tours
Granny Cousin's Ghost Walks of Old Poole Town
The Bridport Ghost Walk

The Miz-Maze

Location: Leigh

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Witches Corner 

Miz-MazeThis maze was one of many that could be found in villages through out England many centuries ago. There are other places in Dorset besides Leigh that had mazes these being the 'Troy Town' at Pimperne and Troy Town near Dorchester though these no longer exist. According to Sir Frederick Treves he believed that the old British name for mazes was Caertroi and that troi means turning or winding and not to be confused by the Greek City as often thought.

No one is really knows for certain what the reason for these mazes were for, ideas suggested that it was a game played by the Romans, that it represented a form of penance or used for seasonal or religious celebrations such as May day or Whitsuntide.

The Miz-Maze was a turf cut maze, and due to its earth banks forming a hexagonal shape the maze was probably a complicated circular maze design very similar to mazes at Alkborough, Lincolnshire; Hilton, Cambridgeshire and also at Wing, Rutland. The complex pathways of the Miz-Maze were still in existence until the nineteenth century. The Dorset historian, Rev John Hutchins mentions in his book 'History and Antiquities of the County of Dorset' in 1744, states that it was the custom for the young men of the village of Leigh to re-cut the turf paths and repair the earth banks once in six or seven years. After the maintenance of the maze, celebrations and festivity would take place on the site by the villagers. It would seem that the interest of the games and festivities had declined so the maintenance of maze was neglected.

The Leigh Miz-Maze has also a connection with witchcraft and is often referred as 'Witches Corner' by the local residents of Leigh. William Barnes the Dorset Dialectologist and poet submitted a short paper about the Leigh Miz-Maze to the 'Dorset Field Club's proceedings, vol. iv, P. 159' in 1879. In his paper he writes about a man who told him, that a corner of Leigh Common was called 'Witches Corner'. A friend of Barnes later gave him some old depositions on witchcraft taken before the Somerset magistrates during the times of 1650 to 1664. The majority of the cases were Somerset, though some involved the county of Dorset. One of the witches of the coven said that they met at Leigh Common.

However, there may have been a unfortunate mix between the Miz-Maze and Witches Corner, as Rodney Legg in his book 'Mysterious Dorset', mentions that Barnes may have allegedly confused the two Leigh placenames from Joseph Glanvill's 'Sadducismus Triumphatus' of 1681. Barnes may have mistaken the Witches Corner of Leigh Common at Bayford, near Wincanton, Somerset, with the village of Leigh linking it with the Miz-maze.

But this could be disputed, as the British Museum, London have in their possession a old map which dates back to 1620 in which the words 'Witches Coven' can be found near the Miz-Maze, sixty one years before Glanvill's publication.

So whether the witches really did exist at Leigh and held their midnight viduals on the maze we shall never know, but one can easily imagine their presence can be still felt there on that solitary hill overlooking the village.