… a place uninhabited for all the
centuries back, thick set with thorns, lying between the slopes
and among rocks jutting out on both sides;
fit, rather, it seemed, to be the lair of wild beasts than the
home of human beings. Its name was Skelldale.
[‘Foundation history of Fountains’ (Narratio)]
of the great Cistercian abbey of Fountains lie in the valley
of the River Skell, several kilometres west of Ripon. Many who
Fountains today are struck by the peace and tranquillity of the
site. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine just how desolate and
unwelcoming a place this was for the twelfth-century Cistercians,
who battled against bleak and unfavourable conditions. The location,
however, had its advantages, notably ready supplies of water
and woodland. Quarries in Skelldale, Craven and Nidderdale provided
stone for building.
Fountains Abbey is of enduring significance.
It is a World Heritage site, owned by the National Trust and
managed by English Heritage.
The abbey and gardens can be visited all year round at the