View of Rievaulx Abbey

Rievaulx Abbey: History and Stories

Since its foundation in the 12th century, Rievaulx Abbey has witnessed the heights of monastic renown and the lows of decline and Reformation, only to be reborn as a subject for Romantic art.

Find out more about the story of Rievaulx Abbey through the years and explore new discoveries being brought to light by the latest historical research.

The Abbey through the centuries

  • Reconstruction drawing of Rievaulx Abbey Chapterhouse

    History of Rievaulx Abbey

    Discover the history of Rievaulx Abbey, from its foundation in 1132 to its 20th-century preservation.

  • Detail of carved stone frieze

    Rievaulx Abbey Collection

    Explore a selection of objects that give a unique insight into the workings of the medieval abbey.

  • View of Rievaulx Abbey with shaded arches in foreground

    A NEW LIGHT ON THE SACKING OF RIEVAULX ABBEY

    English Heritage historian Dr Michael Carter explains the significance of a discovery that illuminates one of the darkest chapters in the abbey’s history.

  • Reconstruction drawing showing the cloister of Lanercost Priory, Cumbria

    Religion: 1066-1348

    Learn how Rievaulx Abbey fits into the story of early medieval religion, when the church was a pervasive force in the lives of ordinary people, and new monastic orders were established.

  • Ruins of Gisborough Priory

    Religion: The Tudors

    Discover how the power of monasteries such as Rievaulx had drastically declined by the Tudor period and how the Reformation changed the religious landscape of England forever.

  • Buy the guidebook

    Learn more about the history of Rievaulx Abbey with the official guidebook which includes a tour and history of the site, illustrated with full-colour maps, reconstruction drawings and historical images.

Conservation at Rievaulx Abbey

Take a look behind the scenes as Collections Conservator Caroline Rawson explains the conservation work carried out on the historic collections displayed at Rievaulx Abbey’s new museum. Discover the tools of the conservator’s trade and the methods used to reveal the detail of these delicate objects.

This project was supported by donations from members and visitors. Discover how you could get involved to help preserve historic places across the country.

Support conservation

Features

Resources for researchers

  • Black and white image of Rievaulx Abbey

    Research on Rievaulx Abbey

    Rievaulx Abbey has a long history of antiquarian and archaeological research because of the quality of its surviving remains.

  • The abbey cloister, with the reconstructed section of arcade in its north-west corner

    Description of Rievaulx

    Discover what the architecture of Rievaulx can tell us about the abbey's many phases of buillding and development.

  • View of Rievaulx Abbey

    Sources for Rievaulx

    Use this summary of primary and secondary sources to learn more about Rievaulx Abbey's history.

  • Aerial view of the remains of the Rievaulx Abbey chapter house

    Why does Rievaulx matter?

    Discover why Rievaulx has been considered both architecturally and historically significant since the 12th century.

The arches of Rievaulx Abbey

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