Nightbringer | The Arthurian Online Encyclopedia

Wishing Well of Alderley Edge

Wizard’s Well

Alderley Edge is a village located in Cheshire, England. It is known for its picturesque woodlands and natural beauty, and it is home to a well-known location also known as the “Wizard’s Well.”

The Wizard’s Well is associated with local legends and stories, and it is said to be the dwelling place of a legendary wizard or enchanter who sleeps beneath the hill, waiting to be awakened in times of great need. The well itself is considered to have magical properties, and people have traditionally made wishes or offerings at the well for good fortune and blessings.

The stories associated with the Well has been passed down through generations. Some of them are:

  1. The Wizard of Alderley Edge
    The central figure in the legends is the enigmatic Wizard. According to the stories, the wizard is a powerful and ancient figure who resides in a cave or chamber beneath the hill at Alderley Edge. He is said to be a guardian of great knowledge and abilities.
  2. The Sleeping Wizard
    In one version of the legend, the wizard is described as being in a deep sleep or slumber. It is said that he was placed in this state to be awakened in a time of dire need or national crisis. The wizard’s presence beneath the hill serves as a source of protection and guardianship.
  3. The White Mare
    Another key element of the story involves a white mare (a horse) that is said to be stabled near the wizard’s chamber. The mare is said to be enchanted and possesses magical properties. In some versions of the legend, the wizard uses the white mare to transport individuals to his hidden chamber.
  4. The Farmer’s Encounter
    A well-known aspect of the legend involves a local farmer who, in some versions of the story, encountered the wizard and the white mare. The farmer made an arrangement with the wizard, leading to various trials and tests of his character and integrity.

On the stone is carved a face that local legend holds is Merlin’s. An inscription on the well, carved in modern times, reads

Drink of this and take thy fill,
for the water falls by the wizard’s will.

According to a folktale, a local farmer encountered Merlin at the well at the close of the seventeenth century. Merlin offered to buy the farmer’s horse, saying that one of Arthur’s knights needed it. The rock parted, revealing a gate which led into a cavern. Merlin told the farmer that Arthur and his knights were sleeping in the cave. The scared farmer sold the horse to Merlin and ran away. The rock closed behind him, and the cavern has remained hidden ever since.

The story was told by Parson Shrigley (died 1776) who maintained the events had occured about eighty years before his time. In a rhyming version by J. Roscoe the king is identified as Arthur. Alan Garner used the story in his novel The Weirdstone of Brisingamen (1960).