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Entries about history

Rievoulx Abbey and Helmsley Castle

Best class trip ever!

On February 21, I went on a class trip to Rievoulx Abbey and the town of Helmsley. It was for my class called "The Visual Past" where we look at ruins of abbeys and castles in order to see what we can learn from the ruins.

Rievoulx was built in by Walter Espec 1132. It was one of the first Cistercian installations in the North of England and therefore pivitol to spreading the order in England. The Abbey run out of money and slowly the dissolution began. In the end, only a few monks lived there. This is what it looks like today:


This is the chapel. The area behind me is the holiest place in the Abbey. It would have been blocked off for anyone but monks. (Bit of a superiority complex if you ask me)

You can still see the fireplaces!

Behind the wall in the back would have been the toliets. Even Monks had to dispose of waste ;)


This is the basement of what would have been the dining room. I am standing on what would have been the first level. This would have been my favorite building if I were a monk which is probably why I would make a terrible monk :P . This is also the building that ultimately led to the downfall of the abbey because it cost too much to build and left it bankrupt.

This is the drainage system for the abbey

So basically, Rievoulx is absolutely stimulating for the imagination. It is beautiful, but it is also amazing to look at what would have been. Today it may seem like just pleasant scenery, but you can see the remains of a lifestyle from hundreds of years ago.

We had the afternoon in Helmsley and my friend, Makenzie, and I went to the castle. It is also now in ruins but absolutely scenic!


Here you can see the remnants of where a staircase would have been- that lighter stone zig-zag.

The moat! This castle was designed to be defended.

Another defense: the Southern gate with a bridge across the moat.

This is the view of the tower from the house. It is, apparently, symbolic because you can see the defense tower and below and see the town of Helmsely(well you could if I took a better picture) so it affirms the dominance of the castle.

Posted by Kateogan 07:36 Archived in England Tagged bridges history beautiful castle monks scenic abbey sunshine rievoulx helmsley Comments (0)

History of York

A weekend attending lots of Museums for Free


This weekend was the York Residents Festival and, as I am currently residing in York, admission to many of the museums and landmarks was free. I didn't hit everything on my list, but I saw quite a bit and explored many layers and periods of York's fascinating past. Here is a brief recounting of what I learned and saw (I really will try to be brief. You can decide if I succeeded.)

Finally made it up on the walls. It truely is amazing to be able to walk on such a landmark

This picture does well to show the sections of the wall. The red line shows the ending of the Roman wall and everything on top was built in the Medieval period. The stone caskets are Roman. They were moved here after their excavation. The picture on the bottom is an excavation site by the walls where lots of eras are also visible.

This is the remains of St. Mary's Abbey. It was a flourishing abbey for a few hundred years until Henry VIII went on his rampage to ransack Catholic churches and take their wealth to fund the new Church of England. They abbey was left to the elements. Today these few walls are all that remain. The gardens surrounding are full of stone from the Abbey. It is used as part of the landscaping (Picture on Bottom)The walls are used as a backdrop to events like weddings and theatre productions.

This is the King's House and a closer picture of the newly cleaned crest above the door. It was part of the Abbey, but Henry VIII liked it so much he not only saved it, he stayed in it for some time with Catherine Howard, Henry VIII's fifth wife. It was a school for blind children for a bit and now belongs to York College.

York has a Dutch House! It was built in Dutch style by a Dutch Architect. That's all I know about it, but it seemed fitting.

We went in a church built in Georgian Style with individual family blocks that families could rent for a year at a time. The church has no electricity and was probably colder than the outside.

This is the inside of Clifford's Tower. This tower has a long and complicated history. It was built by William the Conquorer, was the site of the Jewish Massacre of 1190 in which 150 Jews burned themselves alive in order to avoid being killed by the mob, and was used as a jail for a bit.

It is a weird circular fortress on top of a clearly man-made mound of dirt, but it offers a brilliant view of the city.

After the tower, we went into the Jorvick Center which included a ride through a rebuilt model town designed based on Archeological findings. It's interesting how I normally consider the Vikings to be unsophisticated and violent but the evidence shows Jorvick was a buzzing center of trade including materials from as far as China. They had musical instruments and hair pins. Well to clarify, they may have had a buzzing culture and lived in a trade center, but they were still violent.

The museum had several skeletons excavated and analyzed. They were able to determine the age, any physical defects, probable death, and diet from the bones; it's truly amazing. You could see the dents in the bone from battle wounds. They speculate they found a battle ground based on the number of skulls found with wounds that have not healed at all, indicating the person died before the bone had time to regenerate.

Morbid, but interesting.

Posted by Kateogan 03:17 Archived in England Tagged castles museums history york abbeys Comments (2)

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