The Wonder Of Alderley Edge
by Michael C Oakes
Between goldenstone and wizard’s well
Over stormypoint and devil’s grave
Down to saddlebole where goblins dwell
You may find the sleepers cave.
Past sacred grove where incense smokes
Upon the altar of wood and rock
A stone stands under pines and oaks
Irongates hidden by a magical lock.
This is where the great warriors rest
In ancient mines of dwarven ore
Awaiting the time to fulfill their quest
Below the woods of elven lore.
Within the Mage’s stronghold
White horses, knights and a treasure hoard
Dwarven axe head bars of gold
And their King with his enchanted sword.
Sealed by the Wizard in days of old
The truth now lost in history
Only remembered in stories told
About this place of mystery.
Till England has been forsaken
Then open the gates and blow the horns
The old magic shall reawaken
Return to this world faeries and fauns.
The King will arise with his lords
The country they will heal
Donning helmets and drawing swords
Arthur’s enemy will taste cold steel.
So come and take the Wizard’s Walk
At stormypoint gaze over the ledge
Sit in the woods to relax and talk
For this is the wonder of Alderley Edge.
The Wonder of Alderley Edge YouTube Video Poem Link:
Alderley Edge is a wood owned and managed by the National Trust, it is open throughout the year, near to the Cheshire village of Alderley.
The woodland has many old mine workings and historic features, from when it was an open heath, and later when it was parkland. The Edge, which is a popular view point, is an escarpment of weather resistant sandstone rock, lying upon softer sandstone, which includes many geological faults beneath.
The public house by the main car park on the Edge is called "The Wizard Inn", there is also a Cafe behing The Wizard Inn which is open at weekends.
"There are several local legends, the most famous being that of the Iron Gates. The location of the Iron Gates is unknown but they are supposed to lie between Stormy Point and the Holy Well.
Tradition says that a farmer from Mobberley was taking a milk white horse to sell at the market in Macclesfield. Whilst walking along the Edge, he reached a spot known locally as "Thieves Hole." Suddenly an old man clad in a grey and flowing garment stopped him. The old man offered the farmer a sum of money for his horse but the farmer refused, saying he could get a better price at the market. The old man told the farmer that he would be at this spot again that evening when the farmer returned, not having found a purchaser for the horse. The farmer failed to sell the horse and, cursing his luck, made the journey back home along the Edge. At the same point, the old man appeared again, offering the farmer the money, which this time was accepted. The old man told the farmer to follow him with the horse. As they approached an area just past Stormy Point, the old man banged on the ground with his stick and, to the farmer’s shock, the rock opened up to reveal a set of Iron Gates. The old man beckoned the farmer to follow him through the gates into a large cavern. In the cavern, the farmer saw countless men and white horses, all asleep. The old man explained that all these sleeping warriors were ready to awake and fight should England fall into danger. The farmer was shown back to the gates and stepped outside back onto the path. Immediately the gates slammed shut and the rock face returned to its previous state."
There are several versions of the same legend from different places.
"Further variations say that the Wizard was Merlin and the sleeping men were King Arthur and his army. Yet another version sees the old man saying to the farmer "There will come a day when these men awake from their enchanted slumber and will descend the plain, decide the fate of a great battle and save their country. This shall happen when George the son of George shall reign."
A tale told by Parson Shrigley, is similar to the Iron Gates legend. In this tale, the old man is named as Thomas of Erceldoune and the horses are black. Once in the cave, the old man asks the farmer to choose between a sword and a horn. The farmer chooses the horn, and immediately the horses all jump up and start to stamp their hooves on the ground. The terrified farmer is expelled from the cave by a whirlwind and hears the words "Woe is the coward that ever was born, that did not draw the sword but blew the horn". This tale is actually very similar, including the sword and horn words, to a tale told by Sir Walter Scott where the action takes place not at Alderley but in the Eildon Hills in Scotland.
An alternative reading of this and other local legends can be found in Alan Garner's novels The Weirdstone of Brisingamen and The Moon of Gomrath. Garner was born in Congleton, and was raised in Alderley Edge."
There are many prehistoric features on the Edge, as well as other interesting places, such as:- The Beacon, The Wizard's Well, The Holy Well, The Wishing Well, Church Quarry, Thieves’ Hole, The Golden Stone, Old Alderley Quarry, Pillar & Doc Mines, Stormy Point & Devil’s Grave, Saddlebole, The Druid’s Circle, Castle Rock and Engine Vein Quarry.
There are tours around the Edge and also tours of the mines under the Edge, which take place at different points of the year.