Unravelling the truth behind the Legend of Alderley

current archaeology

Alan Garner, grew up in Alderley Edge. The Legend of Alderley was the catalyst for his first novel ‘The Weirdstone of Brisingamen’, which has never been out of print, and which celebrates the 50th anniversary of its publication on the 10th day of the 10th month of 2010.

Griselda Garner, Alan’s wife told me ”There will be events celebrating this achievement throughout the year in London, Oxford, and Chester, culminating in a weekend of events in, on and under Alderley Edge, over the weekend of 10.10.10.”

The ‘Weirdstone of Brisingamen’ is a classic, which has inspired archaeologists to start unraveling the truth behind the Legend of Alderley.

This month’s issue of Current Archaeology contains a fascinating article by Chris Catling looking at the archeology behind the Legend and Alan Garner’s role in the discovery of an ancient shovel, which was followed in 1995 by the Derbyshire Caving Club finding a hoard of Roman coins dating from AD330-340.

As a result of these discoveries the mines of Alderley Edge, which had previously been considered relatively modern, took on a new significance and the Alderley Edge Landscape Project (AELP) was set up by the National Trust and The Manchester Museum. The purpose of which was to carry out an extensive study of the entire area.

AELP, which was completed in 2005, has “tentatively confirmed the place of Alderley Edge at the dawn of metal working. The members of the project team believe that metal prospectors came to Alderley Edge at the beginning of the Bronze Age.”

Speaking with Alan Garner about AELP he said “My main feeling is one of vindication and pleasure at working for ten years with a team of enthusiastic specialists, who all found the Edge to be as exciting and important in their own different fields of expertise as I had known it through being born to the place.
As for the shovel, I remain awed by three aspects of the matter: the tenuousness of the thread of survival; the unscholarly attitude of many archaeologists, who seem to work on the principle of, “If I don’t comprehend it, it can be of no significance”; and the importance of the human aging process.”
Alan explained “I had not changed my story since I was eighteen years old. Yet we had to wait forty years before my hair was white enough for me to be heard. And I was fortunate in meeting the open mind of John Prag. So I would urge all scholars to listen to the young. They do, at least, have better eyesight; and are capable of squirming through the lumber of a village school.”

Click here to read the full article from Current Archaeology “Magic & Mining: the Alderley Edge Landscape Project”.

Many thanks to the team at Current Archaeology for kindly allowing us to share this article with our readers and of course to Alan and Griselda Garner for their time.

For more information on Current Archaeology, including how to subscribe to the magazine, visit their website or call 08456 44 77 07 should you wish to purchase a copy of issue 238.

Alan Garner, Archaeology, Local History, The Edge, The Legend of Alderley, The Weirdstone of Brisingamen