The Wizard of Alderley Edge
Alderley Edge may have been a sacred site for many thousands of years; the area is steeped in folklore and legend. King Arthur and his men are said to sleep somewhere beneath the sandstone cliffs, and the area is associated with the wizard Merlin. There is a carving of a bearded face above a well next to which the words “Drink of this and take thy fill, For the water falls by the wizard’s will” are carved. The date of the carving is unknown.
Once upon a time, a farmer from Mobberley was on his way to Macclesfield Market to sell a white mare. The horse was the finest of his stock, and he was sure that he could get a good price at the market.
As he passed by the steep sandstone cliffs that make up Alderley Edge, he was stopped by an old man of noble stature with a white beard, and clothes that seemed to belong to an earlier period of history. The old man asked if the farmer would sell his horse to him for a fair price. The farmer refused, hoping that he could get a better price for such a fine animal at the market.
Once at the bustling market it seemed as though he had been bewitched. Although his animal was admired and commented on, not a single offer was made, although lesser animals were sold quickly for good prices.
Dejected the farmer set off back to Mobberley, as he passed Alderly Edge the same old man appeared and asked if he could buy the horse. The farmer agreed and the wizard motioned him to follow, he led the farmer through trees to the foot of the sandstone cliffs that make up the edge. The wizard touched the rock with his staff, and the rock parted with a thunderous sound to reveal a huge cavern. The old man led the farmer inside the earth reassuring him not to be afraid.
The farmer could not believe his eyes, for inside the cavern hundreds of armour clad warriors lay in a deathly sleep. Every warrior bar one had a white horse standing next to him. The old man (who seemed now to be a wizard of great power) explained that the host was ready and waiting for the day when their countrymen would need them, then they would arise and fight to save the country. The wizard led on to a pile of gold and jewels, and told the farmer to take his fill as payment for his mare.
The farmer grabbed a handful of golden coins and jewels, stuffed them into his pockets and walked out through the opening into the bright sunlight. The farmer, overwhelmed by his strange experience, set off running as the rock closed with a dull thud behind him. Although he tried, neither he nor anyone else could ever find the door again.
The theme of sleeping warriors is repeated at a number of sites in Britain including the Eildon Hills and Blencathra.