Alderley Edge, England: Witches and Wizards and Mystical Goings-On
By Norman A. Rubin
Alderley Edge is a picturesque town that took its name for the wooded escarpment towering above the Cheshire Plain on the lowlands in northwest England.
The village nestles at the bottom of the Edge, a quiet town with quaint shops, pubs and a soccer team that caters to the town folk and the visitors alike.
Many historic buildings are there including Chorley Old Hall – the oldest surviving manor house in Cheshire. The town is known to be the site of Bronze Age copper mining, and several ancient gold bars have also been discovered there. It is also the setting of The Weirdstone of Brisingamen by local author Alan Garner.
The important sighting in the town is the Wizard Wood, National Trust; the area has been association with wizards, and witches and mystical goings-on.
It seems in the past witches used to meet there every Hallow Eve (Halloween) in the full of the moon and to perform strange rituals and dance about naked.
(Note: Visitors are warned not to go the woods at night as the area is full of cliffs, sinkholes and old mine shafts.)
The town of Alderley Edge and its surroundings have been a sacred site for thousands of years; the area is steeped in the lore of the legend of King Arthur and his knights of the round table.
The Wizard’s Well
Folk tales relate that the king and his knights are said to sleep somewhere under the sandstone cliffs, and the place is also known for the Wizard Merlin.
On Alderly Edge you can visit the Wizard’s Well and on it you can see a carved bearded face above the well next to which the word, “Drink of this and take thy fill. For the water falls by wizard’s will” are etched in the stone.
(The date of the carving and the etching is unknown.)
The Legend of the White Mare
There is a legend that attested to the wizard of Alderley Edge: Once long ago, a farmer from the nearby town of Mobberly was on the way to the market to sell a white mare. The horse was the finest of his stock, and he was quite sure he could get a fair price at the market.
As he trekked along the steep sandstone cliffs around Alderley Edge, he was hailed by an old man of noble stature with a long white beard, and clothes that seemed to belong to another century.
The old man looked upon the fine horse and asked the farmer if he would sell the white mare for fine price; but the farmer refused as he thought he could get a better price at the market. Then the farmer bid a polite greeting to the elder and went along his way.
Once at the bustling market it seemed as though the good farmer was bewitched. Although his animal was admired and commented on by all prospective buyers, not a single offer was made to purchase the horse, although he saw that lesser animals were sold quickly and for good prices.
The farmer was quite dejected at not being able to get an offer for his horse, and he left the market and took the animal back to his farm in Mobberly.
As he passed again around the cliffs of Alderley Edge, the same old man hailed him and again asked to purchase the horse. This time the farmer agreed and the elder mention him to follow to where he would make payment.
The Sleeping Warriors
The farmer agreed to follow and he was led through trees to the foot of the sandstone cliff that made up the Edge. The elder, a wizard in reality, touched the cliff with his staff, and rock parted with a thunderous road that opened to a vast cave.
The wizard tied the horse to the entrance and then led the farmer inside the cavern reassuring him not to be frightened.
The farmer could not believe his eyes when he entered the large cavern; there in front of his bewildered sight was hundreds of armor clad warriors that lay in a deathly sleep.
Every warrior had a white horse steeped in a trace standing next to him. The wizard then explained to the farmer that the host was ready and waiting for the day when their king and country would need them; then they would arise and defend the realm.
Greed Was His Undoing
The wizard led the farmer onto a pile of gold, coins and jewels, and told him to take his fill as a fair price for the payment of his horse, but no more or no less.
But the farmer was a bit greedy and he grabbed handfuls of treasure and stuffed his pockets and then walked slowly to the entrance of the cave and to the bright sunlight.
|Another view of the escarpment|
But greed was his undoing, as he neared the opening the rock closed with a dull thud before him. Although he tried desperately to find an opening, neither he nor anyone else could find the door again till this very day…
Lovely Walks and Mine Tours
Alderley Edge is a place of two halves – the village and the Edge Itself. The village nestles on the bottom of the Edge, which is the flat Cheshire Plain.
Along the woodlands one can take lovely walks through the oak and beech. (Organized guided tours and country walks are within the Edge).
And on the gently sloping hills are the remains of the copper mining heritage since prehistoric and Roman times. (The mines are open twice a year, organized by the Derbyshire Caving Club)
The plain is disturbed by gently-rising land which suddenly drops again back to the flat landscape. This is the geological Alderley Edge, an escarpment of soft red limestone which hovers about 600 feet above the surrounding land.
On the top of the Edge are fine views of Cheshire towards the Peak district.
Note: Alderly Edge is under the supervision of the National Trust – Admission is free.
For Information on accommodations, directions and activities contact:
C/o Cheshire Countryside Office, Nether Alderley,
Macclesfield, Cheshire SK10 4UB
Telephone: 01625 584412
Tel: 01625 584412
Fax: 01625 587555
Norman A. Rubin of Afula, Israel is a former correspondent for the Continental News Service, USA. He’s written on Near East culture and crafts, archaeology, history and politics; religious history and rites, etc. He’s been featured in publications world wide – Jerusalem Post, Israel – Coin News, Minerva, Oriental Arts, etc. England – Ararat, Letter Arts Review, Archaeology, etc. USA – Spotlight, Japan – International B, Hong Kong. He’s been a freelance writer for the past sixteen years of short stories of all genres.
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