The mines at Alderley Edge are not unique, as there are several similar sites around the Cheshire/Staffordshire basin. Nevertheless, Alderley has long proved of interest because of the extent of the mines and the variety of minerals found there.
Geologically, Alderley Edge is a horst of Triassic sandstone, capped with the base of the harder Helsby (Keuper) Sandstone series, but formed mainly of softer Wilmslow (Bunter) Sandstone. The minerals are mainly carbonates of copper and lead, although a considerable amount of galena is also present. Cobalt was mined at times.
The history of mining is unknown before 1700, although there is evidence of probable Bronze Age origins. After 1700, the mines were worked sporadically until 1919 with the most productive period being between 1857 and 1877. The mines were blocked off in the 1960's, and have been reopened from 1970 onwards by the Derbyshire Caving Club.