The Cistercian Environment:
The Cistercians did much to transform the landscape of
Northern England. To prepare the land for farming and free more
space for buildings, they embarked upon a programme of land clearance
they drained marshland, cleared woodland and converted stagnant
pools into running water.
At the heart of the Cistercians’ agricultural
and economic policy was the grange-system of farming. This established
a series of agricultural
centres worked by the lay-brothers, from which the land was cultivated,
crops harvested and livestock reared.
The Yorkshire Cistercians
were particularly noted for their sheep-farming, which was suited
to the uplands and moorlands
in the North. It was largely under the Yorkshire Cistercians
that wool became the most lucrative cash-crop in Britain.
[Read more about Cistercian farming and granges]
pasture for the abbey’s livestock, in particular
pigs; it also provided a source of timber and roofing materials,
fuel and minerals.
[Read more about the importance of woodland]
Every monastic community
required a reliable water supply for washing, drinking, cooking
and brewing, for liturgical purposes, to power
the mills and, not least of all, to remove waste from the site.
This could be a highly
complex process that involved skilful engineering.
[Read more about water management at Fountains
Cistercians in Yorkshire stood at the forefront of several technological
innovations. They were amongst the first to have
tanning and fulling-mills, and one of the earliest water-driven
hammer forges was built
at Kirkstall Abbey.
[Read more about Cistercian industry]