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The Cistercians in Yorkshire title graphic



Woodland clearance
The community both made and received woodland clearings along the R. Aire and its tributaries.
By the end of the twelfth century permission was granted to the abbey to clear woodland near its grange of Bessacar (SE Yorkshire), for tillage, and the community had converted woodland in Riddlesden, eleven metres upstream of the house, between Elam and Micklethwaite grange.
[Donkin, The Cistercians, pp. 113-114.]

Woodland not only afforded shelter and privacy, but provided a number of resources including fuel, pasturage for animals, and building materials such as timber and thatch. The abbey precinct was surrounded by woodland and indeed the community’s original site at Barnoldswick was beside the forest of Blackburnshire. The monks were permitted to remove materials from here by their patron, Henry de Lacy.(22) The Kirkstall community acquired various rights to woodland, for example, at Ailrikeley, in Seacroft; in the late twelfth century they received wood from Seacroft to make and repair hedges, sheep-folds and houses.(23)

The Coucher Book of Kirkstall suggests that the community actively sought to expand its holdings at Eccles, which can probably be identified with ‘Hitchell’s Wood’, between Bessacar grange and the north road.(24) Peter of Bessacar made several quitclaims of his woodland holdings here; he also agreed to exchange all his lands in Eccles for the community’s lands in Dunscroft (‘Dunecroft’), Jordanscroft (‘Jordanecroft’) and Ascelinscroft (Ascelinecroft). (25)