Hedge mazes evolved from Renaissance knot gardens in Europe, and were first constructed during the mid-16th century. Early mazes were constructed from evergreen herbs and eventually the robust dwarf box became the more popular option. Italian architects had been sketching conceptual garden labyrinths as early as 1460 but the maze garden became most popular in Europe between the 16th and 18th centuries.
In the beginning the hedge maze’s purpose was not confuse, but to merely provide a walking path. The puzzle-like hedge mazes featuring dead ends and tall hedges were first seen in England during the reign of King William III. Ione of the most famous maze garden was the labyrinth of Versailles, built for Louis XIV of France in 1677 and destroyed in 1778. This maze was adorned with thirty-nine hydraulic sculpture groups depicting Aesop’s fables. The oldest surviving puzzle hedge maze, at Hampton Court Palace in Surrey, England, was built for King William in the late 17th century. Its distinctive trapezoidal shape is due to pre-existing paths running alongside the maze.
In modern times, hedge mazes have increased in complexity. A hedge maze at Longleat House in Wiltshire, England, designed in 1978, features a three-dimensional maze that uses bridges and a grid-less layout to confuse visitors.