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    The mystery of the Abbey of Fountains finally elucidated?

    While no one hoped to find anything in the English county of North Yorkshire, an abbey about eight centuries old reveals an unexpected mystery. Archaeologists from the University of Bradford and the National Trust found near her the foundations of a medieval industrial tannery. This discovery, made possible by a ground penetrating radar, constitutes according to these experts “The missing puzzle” from the history of Fountains Abbey.

    Fountains Abbey

    Hidden under a vast land in the form of a bowling alley, the remains of the tannery have revealed a huge leather manufacturing site on an industrial scale. It’s about larger site manufacture of leather that has been discovered to this day near a monastery. Part of the history of this religious high place can thus be completed.

    Knowing that the leather-making techniques at the time were still quite rudimentary – because they generated a huge uproar and strong pestilential odors – one can wonder how it was possible that a monastery could coexist with such a factory.

    The tannery was at the heart of the monks’ occupations

    This question reflects the paradox of discovery. Asking the story, it turns out that the tannery was far from being a nuisance for the monks. On the contrary, this activity was at the heart of their various occupations. The manufacture of leather was used to clothe the “Lay Brothers” to whom was entrusted the task of design their clothes as well as the leather accessories used at the abbey. They had been recruited by the abbey for this purpose.

    They could thus produce sheepskin blankets to protect yourself from the cold at night and wear resistant clothes to work during the day. The monks, they dressed in woolen clothes and slept protected by fabric blankets.

    For Saint Bernard, founder of the Fraternity, this difference represented a complementarity. The fact is that it allowed the monks, literate unlike the lay Brothers, to take care of religious studies and affairs.

    An industry of remarkable scope

    The measurements of the remains found testify to the immensity of the tannery. Two buildings measuring approximately 16 meters wide were discovered there. One of them stretched in length to 32 meters away with more than one storey in height. A third building, slightly away from the other two, is also part of the lot. The structure of the whole, clad with pits and reservoirs, suggested that it must necessarily be a tannery oh how large!

    It would have remained in operation between the end of the 1150s and that of the 1530s. The reign of Henry VIII, who wanted to put an end to the hegemony of the Catholic Church, would have marked its end.

    The entire site is now recognized as Unesco World Heritage.



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