From the Back Cover
The spectacular ruins of Rievaulx and Fountains are admired by hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, but these are just two of 50 Cistercian monasteries in Britain that have significant remains. Just who were the Cistercians, why were they so successful and what impact did they have on medieval Britain? Drawing extensively on the latest archaeological research as well as the documentray evidence, Glyn Coppack answers these questions in a book that is both accessible and authoritative.
First he charts the rapid growth of a truly fundamentalist order that was founded at Cîteau in 1098 by Stephen Harding (a monk from Sherbourne) and Robert of Molesme. Within 30 years monks were sent to Britain – to Waverley in Surrey – and by 1160 there were 67 monasteries and 40 nunneries in England, Wales and Scotland.
Dr Coppack then explores the profound effect of the White Monks on the people and landscape of Britain and shows how deeply the order influenced the country’s agriculture, industry, life and art. Complete with 100 illustrations (many in full colour) and an annotated gazetteer of sites, this wide-ranging study fittingly marks the ninth centenary of the foundation of the Cistercian order.
Dr Glyn Coppack is Head of the Midlands Region Historic Team with English Heritage and a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. He has worked in the field of monastic studies for 20 years and is an international authority on the Cistercians, lecturing regularly in the States and throughout Europe. His research into sites such as Fountains and Rievaulx has significantly altered our understanding of the order’s early years.