A Long Relationship: The Reuse of Monastic Stones after the English Reformation

Author(s): Sarah Breiter

Year: 2018


The English Reformation had a swift impact on the people of the rural landscape. The movement away from the Catholic church altered the relationship that people had to the physical manifestation of church authority. During the Dissolution of the Monasteries, Church landholdings were sold off to private owners, and the architectural core was repurposed for secular use. Most of the research on the Dissolution focuses on how the new landowners reused the land, or converted churches into manor houses. However, people who lacked the means and resources to make large-scale changes to the former monasteries still found a way to express their new relationship through removing and reusing the stone in the farms and villages near the monastery. At Thornton Abbey, multiple agricultural and village properties were surveyed for monastic stone. The stone was reused as building material, garden decorations, and, more recently, as gifts. How the stone is used appears dependent on the variety and the age of the property, indicating that the stone was interpreted in different ways based on the individuals and their social context. People continue to reuse the stone, marking the enduring presence of the Church on the landscape.

Cite this Record

A Long Relationship: The Reuse of Monastic Stones after the English Reformation. Sarah Breiter. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 444244)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -13.711; min lat: 35.747 ; max long: 8.965; max lat: 59.086 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 20369