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Gerold, first abbot of Byland

Gerold led the Savigniac group from Furness to Calder in 1134, to establish a new community in Cumberland. These were difficult times. The area was devastated by the Scots, who were led by the king’s nephew, William. The monks were, accordingly, forced to abandon the site and return to Furness. There they met with little support and Gerold had little choice but to lead his community to York, to seek help from Archbishop Thurstan. Fortunately, they received support from a noblewoman, Gundreda d’Aubigny, and her son, Roger de Mowbray, and established a thriving Savigniac community at Hood in 1138. The group soon attracted recruits, including several notable men from Roger de Mowbray’s household, who entered as lay-men. They brought with them resources which contributed significantly to the monks’ economic stability. Ambiguity concerning the community’s independence prompted Gerold to formally break ties with Furness. The abbot thus travelled to the general chapter at Savigny in 1141, to subjugate his abbey directly to Savigny. This was Gerold’s last official act as abbot, for he died at York on his return home in February 1142 and was buried at Hood.(1)