Industrial-Sized Tannery Detected at Medieval Abbey in England

England Fountains AbbeyRIPON, ENGLAND—The foundation of a possible medieval tannery has been discovered at Fountains Abbey in North Yorkshire, according to a report in The Guardian. A survey conducted at the site with ground-penetrating radar has revealed the outlines of previously unknown buildings surrounded by lined pits and tanks near the River Skell. “A tannery of this size, spanning such a large area of the site, reveals an operation on an industrial scale,” explained archaeologist Mark Newman of England’s National Trust. Leather produced at the tannery was likely used to produce waterproof capes for outdoor labor, clothing, belts, bedding, and book bindings. The close proximity of the tannery to the abbey suggests that its smell and noise was part of the daily study, prayer, and worship of the Cistercian monks and their hundreds of hardworking lay brothers. To read about excavations at a ruined abbey in Somerset, go to “Legends of Glastonbury Abbey.”


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