Rievaulx: Archaeologists uncover clues to abbey's medieval farm

  • In Science
  • 2022-11-24 11:34:53Z
  • By BBC

Clues to a medieval farm linked to an abbey in North Yorkshire have been found during an archaeological dig.

The wealth and quality of the finds at the site near Rievaulx Abbey had surprised experts, the North York Moors National Park Authority said.

Jet rosary beads, pottery and glazed tiles were among some of the items pointing to the farm's "high status", a spokesperson added.

Keith Emerick, from Historic England, said it was "truly remarkable".

Located four miles outside Helmsley, the farm site was known to be the location of a medieval grange built shortly after the Cistercian abbey at Rievaulx, which was founded in 1132.

The site was managed by the abbey until its dissolution by Henry VIII in 1539.

Despite this established history, the recently completed dig turned up some surprising archaeological finds, according to the North York Moors National Park Authority.

Miles Johnson, head of historic environment at the authority, said: "While it's not surprising we found evidence of medieval farming, the prestige and range of the uncovered artefacts points to this being a place of high economic importance that reflected the status of the abbey.

"For the archaeologists to find a cellar and what we think are glazed roof tiles from a medieval farm of this period is almost unheard of."

The community dig was led by archaeologist John Buglass, founder of North Yorkshire-based JB Archaeology, with close involvement from Keith Emerick, inspector of ancient monuments at Historic England.

A total of 16 volunteers took part in the dig, contributing the equivalent of 129 days across six weeks.

Mr Buglass said: "This is one of those unexpected digs that shows just how much we can still learn from sites we thought we understood.

"Through the hard work of volunteer archaeologists from inside and outside the National Park, we have managed to add some significant understanding to our knowledge of the monastic granges of Rievaulx."

Mr Emerick added: "This is a truly remarkable discovery. Although we know where many monastic farm sites are located, relatively little is known about them.

"The excavation of such impressive remains and their associated finds adds a huge amount to our understanding of the medieval world."

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