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An Emotional History of Place: Alderley Edge and the Dead Man

A public lecture hosted by The University of Western Australia


Image: Nigel Dibben, image of the mines beneath Alderley Edge, 2022. Provided by photographer.

Date: Monday 29 August 2022
Time: 6:00pm AWST
Venue: Arts Lecture Room 4 (ALR4, G60) Ground Floor Arts Building, The University of Western Australia
Enquiries: marina.gerzic@uwa.edu.au

The public lecture will be followed by the Masterclass: 'Invisible Worlds: Visibility and Invisibility in Public-Facing Heritage Interpretation', on Tuesday 31 August, 10:30am–12:00pm. To register please visit the workshop Event page on the IAS website.

Alderley Edge in North-east Cheshire (UK) is a red stand-stone escarpment above a subterranean network of mines, associated with a long-lived legend of sleeping heroes, who will awaken at a time of national crisis. A non-built heritage site, now managed by the National Trust, the Edge is intensely meaningful to a relatively small group of local stakeholders alongside a worldwide audience of readers engaged with the works of the novelist Alan Garner. Garner is perhaps best known for his Weirdstone trilogy, a Tolkienesque fantasy, set in (and underneath the surface of) Alderley Edge, and his 2022 Booker prize longlisted novella Treacle Walker, which is similarly engaged with the haunted and mythologically resonant landscape of the wider region.

Based on research undertaken as part of the Arts and Humanities Research-funded Invisible Worlds project, this paper traces an emotional history of the Edge from the eighteenth century to the present, explicitly engaged with placemaking applications of the medieval at the site, and the emotional resonance of its multifaceted medievalisms. Like the broader project, the talk will explore the the risks and rewards of making visible invisible heritage of this type, not least in relation to the core questions: whose heritage, whose interpretation, and for whom? It asks this in relation to the contested uses of the figure of the (un)dead man, the waking sleeper beneath the Edge, a contemporary figure adapted from medieval political-legendary imaginings.


Victoria Flood is Associate Professor in the Department of English at the University of Birmingham. She has published widely on medieval romance, and the relationship between magic and geographical and political imaginings in the languages of medieval Britain. Her first monograph, Prophecy, Politics and Place in Medieval England, a comparative study of the uses of prophecy in England, Wales and Scotland, appeared in 2016. Her second monograph, Fantastic Histories, on medieval fairy belief and history-writing, is forthcoming with Manchester University Press.  

This public lecture is co-sponsored the ARC Centre for Excellence for the History of Emotions and the Institute of Advanced Studies at The University of Western Australia, and will be followed by the Masterclass: 'Invisible Worlds: Visibility and Invisibility in Public-Facing Heritage Interpretation', on Tuesday 31 August, 10:30am–12:00pm. To register please visit the workshop Event page on the IAS website.