As an undergraduate at the University of Manchester in the 1970s, the mineralization at nearby Alderley Edge in Cheshire was a subject of local interest in our economic geology class. Despite making extra-curricular visits to areas of mineralization in the Peak District, Lake District and North Wales, all within easy reach, I failed to take my chance to examine Alderley Edge, a thoughtless oversight on my part. Neither did I avail myself of a copy of Chris Carlon's The Alderley Edge Mines when it was first published. So, I am glad to repair some of the gaps in my education by reviewing this new edition.
Carlon and Dibben have produced a fine guide to the mines and geology of Alderley Edge. I was reading this book as a generalist and greatly enjoyed it. The text is well written and, more importantly, readable. The wealth of historical detail was particularly interesting to me—I would have expected mines to leave, on the whole, detailed records, but this is obviously not always the case. The illustrations are entirely satisfactory, including both modern photographs in colour showing the modern appearance of the mines, both inside and out, and historic images in black and white. Particular praise is due to Paul Deakin who has provided admirably detailed surveys of many of the mines. The bibliography, glossary and index all appear adequate, and the six appendices provide additional mineralogical and historical details. The book is pocket-sized, just right for the field.
Any criticisms that I have with The Alderley Edge Mines are minor. The many recent underground photographs of cavers in the mines would have been enlivened by a sentence or two on who they are and what they are up to. Indeed, most figure captions would have benefitted from being longer. Figure 9 has lost its labelling, although here the caption includes ample, interesting detail to enable different ore samples to be differentiated. The authors use that dreadful geological four-letter word—marl—when they mean marlstone (p. 22). And Rhynchosauroides and Chirotherium were the spoor of reptiles, but not dinosaurs (p. 25).
My comments are quibbles. The Alderley Edge Mines is a readable and well-illustrated introduction to a jewel in Britain's geological crown. I recommend it to geologists at all levels, as well as anyone with an interest in mines and caves. Copies can be obtained from Nigel Dibben at 2 Kiln Cottage, Audlem Road, Hatherton, Cheshire, CW5 7QT, UK (Email: email@example.com; website: <http://www.dibben.org.uk/main/data_shop.php>).