Rievaulx during William’s abbacy (1132-45)
community was fortunate to have important resources at hand. Freshwater
springs provided a ready supply of water for drinking and drainage,
as well as a source of power. The site itself was surrounded by
woodland, creating ‘a second paradise of wooded delight’.
This not only afforded privacy and shelter, but yielded valuable
building materials. These natural resources were supplemented by
foundation grant which permitted the community to take dead wood
and timber from Griff and Tillostan. A later
gift, c. 1145, granted it the right to gather wood in Walter’s
forest of Helmsley, which could be used to construct buildings,
fences, bridges, sheepfolds and roofing.
For example, high quality sandstone that was
used in the twelfth century was taken from Wethercote quarries
on Wethercote Moor, and clay for roof tiles was also obtained from
here. There were also several
quarries nearby, which meant that the monks had at their disposal
various kinds of stone. Durable limestone was quarried at Helmsley
and from Griffe Bank quarries, which lay just over a kilometre
the abbey church.
This oolite limestone was used in the choir of the church, in the
thirteenth-century refectory and for Abbot William’s shrine.
The community also imported Purbeck marble which was essentially
used for the grave cover in the eastern nave and also for decorative