The Wizard’s Well, Alderley Edge, Cheshire.

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Alderley Edge is full of stories. They lead you on, they turn you around, they catch on your clothes. Every path has a hidden bend and beyond each of these leaf-littered, sandstone-edged turnings is a story: a stolen cow, a weeping woman, a circle of witches or a sleeping knight. The past is right there, thick as trees, waiting to sit you down and begin the once upon a time.

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And the most well known of these stories, and the inspiration for Alan Garner’s The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, is the Legend of the Sleeping Knights; a tale of a wizard, a white horse and a band of warriors who sleep beneath The Edge, ready to save the land from invasion. Although it is thought that Alan Garner’s great-great-grandfather, a stone-mason, was  perhaps the carver of the wizard’s head at the wizard’s well, there is little doubt that the spring that feeds the well, is as ancient as the many other springs along The Edge so…

“Drink of this and take thy fill,

for the water falls by the Wizard’s will.”

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The Legend of the Wizard’s Well.

There was once a farmer who had a milk-white mare.

He decided to sell it; so one day, he set off to Macclesfield Fair. As he reached Alderley Edge the horse stopped and refused to move, no matter what the farmer did. He saw an old man standing by the side of the road, holding a staff in his hand. The old man offered to buy the horse, but the farmer refused, thinking that he would get a better price at the market.

The farmer went on to Macclesfield; and although everyone praised the mare nobody would buy it. So, at the end of the day, the farmer set off for home. When he arrived at Alderley Edge the old man was waiting for him. This time he did agree to sell; and the old man told the farmer to follow him.

He led the farmer along many paths until they came to a big rock. He touched the rock with his staff, and the rock split open to show a pair of iron gates. The old man told the farmer not to be afraid, but to come with him. The iron gates, opened, and beyond them a passage went down into the hill

The farmer followed the old man into the hill, leading the horse, and they came to a cavern. Inside the cavern were 140 knights in silver armour and beside all but one was a white horse. The old man said that the knights were waiting to fight the last battle of the world, and that he was to wake them when that moment came. But there was one horse missing.

The old man took the farmer’s mare and laid it down in enchanted sleep; then he showed the farmer into another cavern, which was filled with gold and silver and precious stones. He told the farmer that he was to take as much of the treasure as he could carry, in payment.

The wizard, as the farmer now knew him to be, led him back up the passage to the iron gates. The farmer stepped outside, and when he turned round, the wizard and the gates were gone. – Source.

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