Alderley Edge (Cheshire)

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A rocky outcrop near Macclesfield, honeycombed with old mining tunnels. A farmer was once stopped there by a wizard, who insisted on buying his white mare, and led him through huge iron gates inside the rock, where he saw many horses and warriors asleep. These, the wizard explained, would ride out and decide the fate of a great battle to save England, ‘when George the son of George shall reign’. Then he paid the farmer from the treasures in the cave, and led him out; the iron gates shut, and no one has seen them since.

The tale has been noted by many local writers from 1805 onwards; it is said to have circulated orally since the 1750s. The earlier versions do not name the wizard and the sleepers; later ones identify them as Merlin, Arthur, and his knights. A spring in the rocks was called the Holy Well in the 18th century, and its water was thought to cure women of barrenness; it is now called the Wizard's Well, and used as a wishing well.

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