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The Cistercians in Yorkshire title graphic

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Taps and sockets from Fountains abbey
© Cistercians in Yorkshire Project
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Swanley grange

The Cistercians' drive for self-sufficiency meant that industry was as important as agriculture in the daily running of their estates. Stones for building and roofing had to be quarried, minerals mined and implements produced; pots were required for the kitchen and refectory, lead piping to carry water and tools for farming and forging. The 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. Fountains' iron forge at Bradley grange, near Huddersfield, is thought to be the earliest known medieval water-driven industrial complex. The Cistercians may also have helped increase the use of horse-power in the twelfth century; Jervaulx in particular was known for its horse-breeding.

The White Monks also pioneered the walled lavatorium, to replace free-standing structures. This was probably intended to prevent the water freezing over. The walled lavatorium had taps rather than spouts and it was the Cistercians in England who led the development of taps; twelfth-century taps survive at both Fountains and Kirkstall.

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