go to home page go to byland abbey pages go to fountains abbey pages go to kirkstall abbey pages go to rievaulx abbey pages go to roche abbey pages
The Cistercians in Yorkshire title graphic

Text only version

About the Project






Contact Us

Woodland Management at Rievaulx

The modern woodland near Rievaulx
© Cistercians in Yorkshire
<click to enlarge>
The modern landscape near Rievaulx

High hills surround the valley, encircling it like a crown.
These are clothed by trees of various sorts and maintain in
pleasant retreats the privacy of the vale, providing for the
monks a kind of second paradise of wooded delight.(1)

Monasteries that had a lot of woodland might appoint a forester to oversee the work. Some foresters were monks, some lay-brothers. A lay-brother who was a forester of Rievaulx was beaten up in 1285 when the abbot's house was broken into at Harlsey.
[Williams, The Cistercians in the Early Middle Ages, p. 318; Burton, 'Estates and economy', p. 61.]

Walter Daniel's lyrical description of Rievaulx in the twelfth century suggests that the abbey precinct was at this time surrounded by woodland. Woodland afforded shelter and privacy, but also provided valuable resources including charcoal for burning in the forges, as well as building materials such as timber and thatch. It could also be used as pasturage for animals, particularly pigs, which could graze on acorns and beech nuts here. In the late twelfth century, Bernard de Balliol gave the monks pasture rights in his forests at Teesdale and Westerdale. His grant included the right to keep sixty brood mares in the forest of Teesdale and also to make lodges and folds in both places. The abbey had also at this time grazing rights in the forest of Helmsley; thirteenth-century acquisitions included grazing rights in Swaledale.