Castlewellan’s Peace Maze is the world’s second largest permanent hedge maze and was designed to commemorate the peace and reconciliation efforts of Northern Ireland in the past century.
The hedge is comprised of 6,000 yew trees, many of which were planted by people from all over Northern Ireland during December of 2000. The hedge height of 1.5 meters, is lower than the usual hedge maze height, so as to facilitate communication and interaction between visitors in different areas of the paths.
Planning for the maze began in 1998, the attraction officially opening on September 12, 2001. The original concept was created by landscape designer Beverly Lear, though input from nearly 4,000 schoolchildren was taken into account in an effort to encourage a sense of common ownership. The entire construction heavily reflects the steps being taken in order to help uphold the peace brought about by ending “The Troubles.” This is most strongly recognized by the maze’s two distinct halves, which must be crossed in order to escape the maze. In the centre lies the Peace Bell, which visitors ring to indicate they have solved the puzzle.
The yew was specifically chosen for its connotations of peace and natural longevity; the physical maze and its message of peace will outlast those who planted it and exist for future generations.
The Peace Maze held the record of Largest Permanent Hedge Maze until 2007, when the Pineapple Garden Maze in Hawaii expanded to a total path length of nearly 4,000 meters.
The average completion time is 40 minutes, and the ringing of the centre bell is encouraged upon finishing.
Enjoy the Forest Park and remember to follow The Countryside Code