Abbey reality

- Www.nationaltr­

A long ‘bowling alley’ extension of the east side of Yorkshire’s Fountains Abbey had previously stumped National Trust historians. That is, until a major archaeolog­y project revealed that this was likely the site of a huge medieval tannery – the largest yet to be discovered at a monastic site. Used to make leather for clothing, belts, bedding, book bindings and vellum or parchment, the surprising size of the tannery suggests it was producing products on an industrial scale for the entire community – and the smells and noises produced by such activity are a far cry from what we have previously conceived as tranquil places of worship.

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