History

Byland Abbey Collection Highlights

When Byland Abbey was taken into state care in 1921, the Office of Works cleared the site to allow consolidation of the monument and enable public access. Objects found during this clearance work now form the majority of the collection held by English Heritage. The collection offers excellent evidence for the development of 12th-century Cistercian architecture. Several objects are nationally significant, either being exceptional survivals or unique to Britain. 

Other objects found in early 19th-century excavations by the abbey’s then owner, Martin Stapylton, who was searching for the grave of Byland’s founder, are held in private ownership.

The English Heritage collection consists largely of architectural stonework, most of which can be closely dated within the five main phases of Byland’s construction between 1155 and 1195. Other objects provide evidence for industrial activities, including tile production and distilling. There are also some unique and nationally significant items, including the only known ink stand likely to have been used to sign a deed of surrender during the Suppression of the Monasteries.  

Explore a selection of highlight objects below.

Find out more

  • Visit Byland Abbey

    Once one of the greatest monasteries in England, Byland Abbey inspired the design of church buildings throughout North.

  • History of Byland Abbey

    Find out more about the history of the abbey, described in the 12th century as one of the shining lights of northern monasticism.

  • What Became of the Monks and Nuns at the Dissolution?

    Discover what happened to the many thousands of monks and nuns whose lives were changed forever when, on the orders of Henry VIII, every abbey and priory in England was closed.

  • MORE HISTORIES

    Delve into our history pages to discover more about our sites, how they have changed over time, and who made them what they are today.

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