Friday, July 1, 2011

Rievaulx Abbey, North Yorkshire

Out in the middle of nowhere in the Yorkshire Moors is this old mill stone, standing on end. When you turn the bend in the road, you come upon the following scene:

Yes, it's spectacular. 

I know that I posted photos of Rievaulx Abbey last year, but that was last year. I was only going to post one photo of Rievaulx, but the place is so amazing I couldn't help myself. Of all the interesting sites in North Yorkshire, I think Rievaulx Abbey was my favorite. So, Helmsley, which is just down the road, will have to wait a week or two.

Quoting from my prior Rivaulx Abbey post:

It was in the spring of 2003 that I first set eyes on the haunting remains of Rievaulx Abbey on the North Yorkshire Moors. What an amazing, imposing structure! I tried to imagine what Rievaulx would have looked like in the 12th century when it was built and inhabited by Cistercian monks.

Oh, and there's one now! Oh wait. That's Gus.
Angela and Gus, dwarfed by the ruins of Rievaulx.

Some of the ideas used in planning the structure of the church, the part of the monastic complex you see in my photos, came from the European travels of Aelred, one of Rievaulx's most prominent abbots. Travel in those days was not by air or rail! Contrast Aelred with the people you know today who've never set foot outside the county in which they were born!

The Presbytery - Altar

A dozen or so of the 'white monks,' so named for the color of habit they wore, moved to northern England from France, for the purpose of spreading the Gospel to northern England and Scotland. They built on the thousand acres donated to the order by the lord of Helmsley Castle (subject for a later post), and by the mid 1100s at its peak, there were as many as 650 men living at Rievaulx. 

Their economic business was raising sheep and selling wool, so the monastery was greatly impacted when disease decimated the flock. But the ultimate threat to the monastery was from Henry VIII, when he separated from the Catholic Church, declared himself head of the Church of England, and began the dissolution of the monasteries.

Rievaulx, just before sheets of rain came wafting across the valley.

All of these photos were taken by me, although if you did a Google image search, you would find many similar photos for Rievaulx. I guess we're all impressed by the same things.

Having read Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose, I always wonder if there was a stray monk who's up to no good.

Rievaulx Abbey, built to the glory of God - and without modern equipment! What a testament to the creative ability, i.e. imagination, reason, determination, organization, artistry, perseverance, etc. that God has given to mankind...

...which is almost terrifying when you think that it is just a vague shadow of the power the Creator Himself has - and without Whose creative and sustaining power we wouldn't be able to take another breath.



Unknown said...

Spectacular is definitely a word I would use :)

Terri @ A Creative Princess said...

Absolutely breathtaking!

Empty Nester said...

I love Friday visits here---your pix + my imagination = a fun time!

Andrea the Kitchen Witch said...

That is one of the most magnificent structures I've ever seen. The stone work is amazing. The scale is unbelievable! Even in ruin its painfully beautiful. I love the 8th & 10th shots most of all, the carpet of green grass where flooring must have once been against the grey stones soaring upwards, well its truly spectacular!

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Gorgeous photos! I especially like the one captioned "The Presbytery." Wow!

George The Lad said...

I can see Yorkshire will be high on the list of places to visit :)
Thanks for showing us.
The Book got to you very quick, hope you do get to visit our area again some day.
Have a good week
See Yea George xxx

Karen Harris said...

This is definitely a testament to the determination of man. What beautiful photographs. Lovely post.

J_on_tour said...

This is an amazing post, not just in the wonderful way that you have taken these pictures that give the place life, but in the varied aspects of the text you have written.
I am embarrassed by the photos I have taken here as I was on a group walk and only managed a few .... from the exterior fence !! My friend always takes us to magical places but never leaves enough time to explore and he seems to get a bit upset when I tell him that I need to back to all of these places again. (Sorry, I am a bit behind at the moment as July is full for me & I also had to skip posting this one until a quieter time when ... maybe I may have had another chance to explore the place properly)
Lastly and likewise to yourself, everytime I look at a building of a similar purpose, scale and date, I am always in awe of how it was achieved considering the housing that they had at the time. Then again, we can draw parallels with temples built in Biblical times with the strength, determination and ingenuity that these people were given to create and give something back to the ultimate creator for His glory.


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