New app brings Legend of Alderley Edge to life with wizards, knights and horses

Visitors to Alderley Edge are in for a magical treat this Christmas, thanks to a new app developed with our experts

Child standing at entrance to cave

A tunnel exit in the Church Quarry at Alderley Edge and Cheshire Countryside, Cheshire. ©National Trust Images/Paul Harris

A new app will bring the Legend of Alderley Edge to life for visitors to the iconic Cheshire location this Christmas season.

Launched on 21 December, the Invisible Worlds app will enhance the visitor experience at the beauty spot, which is managed by the National Trust, as well as allow people around the world to remotely explore the magic of Alderley Edge.

Through their smartphones or tablets, visitors and users will be able to explore Alderley Edge with augmented reality wizards, knights, and white horses appearing throughout the landscape, as well as specially commissioned soundscapes providing an atmospheric background. Perhaps most excitingly, users of the app can also explore mines underneath Alderley Edge from their own homes.

The Legend of Alderley Edge – of the wizard, in search of a single horse, who watches over an army of subterranean sleepers – is of great significance for our understanding of the legendary history of Cheshire. We are excited to bring this new experience of the Legend to life.

Dr Victoria Flood, School of English, Drama and Creative Studies

The app has been produced for the Invisible Worlds research project, which is led by the University of Birmingham in collaboration with the Institute of Historical Research, School of Advanced Study, University of London, and the University of Lincoln.

Dr Victoria Flood, the principal investigator on the project, said: “The Legend of Alderley Edge – of the wizard, in search of a single horse, who watches over an army of subterranean sleepers – is of great significance for our understanding of the legendary history of Cheshire. We are excited to bring this new experience of the Legend to life.”

But the app is not just about wizards and horses. Users will be prompted to share their responses to the Legend and the versions of it that they are familiar with. The research team will use this information to write a crowd-curated history of the Legend, tracing its contemporary life.

Dr Flood continues: “We want to study the history and diversity of storytelling reflected in the data we collect – from versions of the Legend passed down through families, to the responses of new visitors to the site both in person and virtually. We will be able to collate all this information to see how the local and international community engage with legendary placemaking.”

Alderley Edge was made famous by the author Alan Garner, who inherited the Legend of Alderley from his grandfather. It became central to The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, The Moon of Gomrath and Boneland, with the result that the Edge is now best known to the public through his novels. The Edge continues to inspire the imaginations of those who live in the region today, but visitors to the site are often unaware of the Legend.

Rachel Thomas, National Trust general manager for the Cheshire Countryside, said: "The app is launching just in time for people to enjoy it when they are going out for their Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year walks at Alderley Edge. We hope that it will give people the chance to see the Edge in a new way and add some extra magic to their visits.

"We're also really excited that users of the app will be able to experience the stories of Alderley Edge digitally, even if they're unable to visit us in person."

The Invisible Worlds app will be available on iOS and Android from 21st December.

Notes for editors

For more information please contact Ellie Hail, Communications Officer, University of Birmingham on  or alternatively, contact the Press Office out of hours on +44 (0)7789 921165.

About the University of Birmingham

  • The University of Birmingham is ranked amongst the world’s top 100 institutions. Its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers, teachers and more than 8,000 international students from over 150 countries.

About the Invisible Worlds project

  • Invisible Worlds is a collaboration between an interdisciplinary team of researchers at the University of Birmingham, the Institute of Historical Research at the University of London, and the University of Lincoln, alongside cultural partners, and creative practitioners working with visual media, soundscapes, and storytelling: John Dipper, Elizabeth Garner, Nick Hennessey, Lunatraktors, Nayan Kulkarni, and Owl Project.
  • The project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and runs from 2020-23.
  • Invisible Worlds has been developed as a case study, with extensible potential across heritage sites and organisations. It engages with the capacity of Augmented Reality for the representation and analysis of imagined worlds, overlaid upon the geographical real, as a vital component in communicating new dynamic histories of non-built heritage, or sites with invisible, legendary or difficult histories.

About the National Trust

  • The National Trust is a conservation charity founded in 1895 by three people: Octavia Hill, Sir Robert Hunter and Hardwicke Rawnsley, who saw the importance of the nation's heritage and open spaces and wanted to preserve them for everyone to enjoy. Today, across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, it continues to look after places so people and nature can thrive.
  • The challenges of the coronavirus pandemic have shown this is more important than ever. From finding fresh air and open skies to tracking a bee's flight to a flower; from finding beauty in an exquisite painting or discovering the hidden history of a country house nearby - the places the National Trust cares for enrich people's lives.    
  • Entirely independent of Government, the National Trust looks after more than 250,000 hectares of countryside, 780 miles of coastline and 500 historic properties, gardens and nature reserves.
  • The National Trust is for everyone - it was founded for the benefit of the whole nation. It receives on average more than 26.9 million visits each year to the places it cares for that have an entry fee, and an estimated 100m visits to outdoor places that are free of charge. Paying visitors, together with their 5.6 million members and more than 53,000 volunteers, support their work to care for nature, beauty, history. For everyone, for ever.

About The Blackden Trust

  • The Blackden Trust was founded by Alan and Griselda Garner, and Patsy Roynon to preserve, explore and share, a very special piece of history. Set on an acre of land in rural Cheshire, with evidence of human activity dating back 10,000 years, are Toad Hall, the late Medieval home of Alan and Griselda Garner, and The Old Medicine House, a Grade II timber framed building from Staffordshire that the Garners saved from destruction and which is now home to the Trust and its activities.
  • A vibrant community of educators, historians and archaeologists, scientists, writers and musicians, continues to discover and tell the stories of this ancient site. Creativity thrives here and the past is brought to life.

About the Derbyshire Caving Club

  • The Derbyshire Caving Club (DCC) has membership from Manchester, Stockport and north east Cheshire. The Club was formed in 1960 by cavers in the Stockport area who regularly caved in Derbyshire. In 1969, the DCC negotiated a lease from the National Trust for the Wood Mine which had been sealed in 1965 and was then reopened by the DCC. Over the following 50 years, members of the DCC have reopened most of the other known mines. Visitors are regularly taken down the mines on evening trips and two special weekends a year. Over the last 50 years, there have been tens of thousands of visitors led round the mines by DCC members. The DCC has around 100 members, all volunteers, ranging in age from 20 to over 80.