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The Cistercians in Yorkshire title graphic

Library (continued)


Illustration of a monk reading
© Cistercians in Yorkshire Project
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Illustration of a monk reading

There was also a library at Rievaulx. This was one of two rooms that adjoined the south transept of the church: the sacristy was in the eastern room, the library in the western room and could be accessed, via steps, from the cloister. Although there are few surviving books from Rievaulx, the late twelfth/early thirteenth-century library catalogue, which is now in Jesus College, Cambridge, provides us with a clear idea of the library’s holdings at this time and of what was available to - if not read by - the monks.(1) This lists over 200 hundred books. In comparison, the libraries at the great Benedictine houses of Rochester and Christ Church, Canterbury, had almost three hundred and six hundred books, respectively; the library at Clairvaux contained some three hundred and fifty books.(2) The catalogue is divided into sixteen sections, labelled A to Q. Basic legal texts are included under section A, the works of St Augustine under B and C; the writings of Bernard of Clairvaux, Aelred of Rievaulx and Saint Anselm of Canterbury under D and ‘Miscellaneous’ works in Q.

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