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Fountains Abbey


The abbey ruins at Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden, North Yorkshire

Sunday 30 June 
Depart: Parkinson Steps: 10.00
Arrive: Parkinson Steps: 19.00
Price: £60.00

Fountains Abbey is one of the best preserved and most important medieval Cistercian monasteries in Europe. It is also one of the most intensely studied, both historically and archaeologically. An adoptive daughter-house of Clairvaux, it is in fact a succession of three monasteries, two of which can still be identified from the standing ruins, which demonstrate the Cistercians’ developing concept of architectural planning. Built first of timber in 1133, it was replaced by a modest stone monastery between 1136 and 1144 and was then rebuilt on a massive scale from the mid-1150s as the mother-house of a substantial family.

This tour will examine the church, cloister ranges and buildings both east and west of the claustral nucleus, looking particularly at the development of the buildings through time and placing them in the context of evolving Cistercian planning. It will also take a fresh look at the wider precinct, an area not normally open to the public. Among the earthworks on the south side of the valley there are potentially the remains of an earlier settlement of late-10th century date.

The guides for this excursion are Glyn Coppack (Archaeological and Historical Research), and Stuart Harrison (Ryedale Archaeological Services), who have been working on a detailed study of the site and its significance in the international Cistercian canon for the past 40 years.

For more information about Fountains Abbey, please visit