After the Dissolution: The Second Life of Monastic Stones

Author(s): Sarah Breiter

Year: 2016


One of the more dramatic results of the English Reformation was the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Once these institutions were closed and sold off, they often had a secondary purpose for the new landholders, such as working farms, personal residences and colleges. In spite of this, much of the architecture of the original monastery was destroyed, with stone, brick, and metal carted off. This paper focuses on how the stone from monasteries became a resource in the immediate vicinity of the former monasteries. Using Thornton Abbey in North Lincolnshire as a case study, the displaced monastic stones were recorded and analyzed based on: their current use, the type of property where the stones were found on, and, if possible, the original architectural function of the stone.

The study reveals that the stone’s reuse was linked to property type. For example, older, agricultural properties had the largest quantity and variety of reused stone. This study determines that monastic architectural stone did not go to waste, and was an important resource for the local populations in the area.

Cite this Record

After the Dissolution: The Second Life of Monastic Stones. Sarah Breiter. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 404477)

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Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -11.074; min lat: 37.44 ; max long: 50.098; max lat: 70.845 ;