Connect with us

News

Archaeologists find ‘missing link’ in history of Fountains Abbey

Fountains Abbey

In reality, archaeologists have revealed, Fountains Abbey near Ripon was as busy, noisy and industrialised as anywhere in 12th- and 13th-century Britain.

It is Britain’s biggest and most famous monastic ruin and one that conjures up bucolic images of peace, reflection and very little noise apart, perhaps, from the occasional waft of Gregorian chanting.

The National Trust has announced the discovery of the foundations of a medieval tannery at the abbey, part of a world heritage site. Experts were astonished.

“This really is a wonderful discovery, it is very important,” said Mark Newman, a trust archaeologist. Fountains is probably the most investigated Cistercian abbey in Britain, “so when you discover a major building on this scale, that was completely unknown … you don’t get many of those in a career.”

Newman said many assumed there was nothing more to be discovered about Fountains but one puzzle had always been what a long, bowling alley-type extension, close to the River Skell, was used for.

Ground-penetrating radar has made discoveries of previously unknown monastic buildings, including one 16 metres wide and 32 metres long. They have lined pits and tanks around them. These and the close proximity to water have led to the firm conclusion that it is the remains of a tannery, a place for producing materials for clothing, belts, bedding and book bindings.

It is the scale of the tannery and how close it is to the monks that has further surprised archaeologists. “A tannery of this size, spanning such a large area of the site, reveals an operation on an industrial scale,” said Newman.

A medieval tannery was a horrible place. Animal skins and hides would first have hooves and horns removed before they were washed to remove dung, dirt and blood. Fat, hair and flesh were then removed, usually by being submerged into a lime or urine solution and being scraped with knives.

Newman said the noise, activity and stench of tanneries had led to an assumption it would be sited much further away from monks and their worship. “We see now that the tannery was much closer and a far cry from the idea of a quiet, tranquil abbey community,” he said.

Newman said people would have been astonished at the number of people who lived and worked so industriously at Fountains, with Cistercian monks being “the first ones to apply themselves to these industrial scales of living and managing the landscape”.

He said the findings also showed the importance of lay brothers at the site. Lay brothers were not literate, like the monks, and were often recruited to do the more physical jobs. That left monks more time to study, pray and worship.

The lay brothers, considered “separate but equal” to monks, were provided with weatherproof animal skin capes for outdoor work and slept under sheepskins. “Fountains recruited hundreds of lay brothers in its early decades, all of whom needed to be equipped this way,” said Newman. “This tannery provided the means for that.”

He said though he was taken aback by the scale of the operations that had been discovered, it all made sense. The monks at Fountains were, by necessity, “pioneering farmers and land managers on an industrial scale”.

The radar research was carried out with partners including the University of Bradford. Chris Gaffney, a professor of archaeological sciences, said the technology provided “stunning, unexpected and intriguing glimpses” into life at the abbey.

The trust said it was the largest tannery discovered at a monastic site in Britain and was being seen as a kind of “missing link” in the history of the abbey, which operated from the early 12th century to 1539 and the dissolution of the monasteries.

“It is so easy with a place like Fountains to think this is exactly as the monks saw it,” said Newman. “What we are finding is that there is a whole unrecognised history.”

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

3 + fifteen =

News

NSCDC To Deploy 30,000 Officers For 2023 Elections

The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) has disclosed that it will deploy 30,000 operatives to ensure peace during the upcoming general elections in Nigeria.

This was disclosed by the Commandant- General of the NSCDC, Dr Ahmed Audi at the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Forum in Abuja on Sunday,

He said the operatives would be deployed nationwide to maintain peace.

He said the NSCDC has perfected plans to deploy all resources needed to provide security during the election.

“The corps is poised fairly, and ready to apply all the arsenals needed to provide security and safety for the elections.

“We have an operations department of over 30,000 personnel but then we will also deploy others when the time comes.

“Normally we have the bulk of our people in operations and those who are in operations partake in election processes,” he said.

Audi said that the corps had also perfected plans to begin seminars and workshops in October to discuss the preparedness of the organization towards the general elections.

“We want to tell our people that if you go and involve yourself by becoming partisan you are on your own.

“There are certain things we have introduced in our Standard Operating Procedure — that once you go partisan and you are caught, you will face sanctions and you are on your own.

“So we are ready to partake in the election like I said because we are apolitical and we are going to provide a level-playing field for all citizens to be involved in the elections and exercise their franchise.”

Audi said that the NSCDC partook in election activities because it’s a member of the Inter-agency, Consultative Committee on Election Security.

Continue Reading

News

NSIA Not Stakeholder In Nigeria Air- F.G

Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, has declared that the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) is not an investor in the Nigeria Air project.

Sirika made the clarification in a statement issued by James Odaudu, his special assistant on public affairs, on Saturday.

The minister had listed NSIA as part of the local investors with stakes in the national carrier.

He said the NSIA is not part of the private equity ownership of the airline, adding that the error was made during his media briefing.

“We wish to clarify that the Authority (NSIA) is not part of the private equity ownership of the airline, being a government establishment,” Sirika said.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the equity ownership structure of Nigeria Air stands as Ethiopian Airlines 49%, Nigerian private investors (SAHCO, MRS and other institutional investors) 46% and the Federal Government 5%.

“The public, especially the business community and the media, should please note”, the statement added.

Continue Reading

News

Nigerians Not Ripe Enough To Bear Arms- NSCDC

Nigerians are not ripe to be allowed to bear arms.

This is according to the Commandant General of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, Dr Ahmed Audi who made the observation when he attended the News Agency of Nigeria Forum in Abuja.

“I strongly disapproved of it. Even now that there is no law in existence, you still have proliferation of small arms and light weapons in the hands of people.

“It has to do with civilisation and education.

“Even in Europe and America where they have that law where virtually everybody once you can drive can have arms, they are trying to control it now because of how some events unfold.

“In the world, especially in Europe and America, somebody will just wake up and just go to a school and open fire on kids. You know that is madness.

“And so for me, I don’t think we are there yet to allow citizens carry arms” , he said.

 

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Trending