|About the Book|
Alderley Edge is a sandstone ridge rising 180 metres above the Cheshire plain, a dozen miles south of Manchester. The Edge itself, now owned by the National Trust, has become a honeypot for Mancunians, and the village below, formed by the railway as a commuter dormitory for Manchester cotton-kings, is now nicknamed the champagne capital of England. Beneath lie copper and lead mines and, according to legend, a sleeping king and his knights ready to save England in the last battle of the world. In 1953 the schoolboy Alan Garner rediscovered an old wooden shovel found in the mines- nearly forty years later - and by now a world-famous author - he presented the shovel to the Manchester Museum in the University of Manchester, thereby inspiring a research project that called on every discipline in the museums armoury and many more besides. The Alderley Edge Landscape Project, a joint venture by the Museum and the National Trust, set out to study every aspect of Alderleys story. Its first report, in 2005, was The Archaeology of Alderley Edge. This second volume covers everything else, from the natural world to the story of the mines, from social and oral history to conservation. The list of chapter-headings reads like an encyclopedia, for thanks to its position in the university the project could call on specialists of the highest calibre, and many of the approaches and techniques used were ground-breaking at the time. Alderleys story includes the discovery of two new species of bramble, and a retelling of the legend by Alan Garner that takes the story back into prehistory - and his shovel was radiocarbon-dated to the Bronze Age.No other project and so no other book has covered the entire, complex story of a single village and the landscape in which it is set in such detail. It will be read not just by landscape historians but by students and scholars in all those disciplines and at all levels, and by anyone interested in any aspect of history and of the countryside, whether out on the Edge or in the comfort of an armchair.