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Historic England Research Records

Kirkstall Abbey

Hob Uid: 51263
Location :
Leeds
Leeds
Leeds
Grid Ref : SE2600036100
Summary : The remains of Kirkstall Abbey, a daughter house of Fountains Abbey which was founded in 1152 by a community of Cistercian monks. Monastic life came to an end in 1539 when the abbey was surrendered to Henry VIII. Initially all the buildings were constructed of wood but these were replaced almost immediately by Bramley Fall gritstone structures. The church survives to roof level. A tower which stands to the east end of the church is flanked either side by transepts and it is these which give the abbey its characteristic cruciform plan. To the south of the church lies the cloister. The buildings enclosing the cloister are well preserved, many still standing to roof height and others at least to first floor level. To the south east of the church is the chapter house and to the south east of the chapter house is the infirmary. This building was built in the 13th century and remodelled in the 15th century. Attached to the southern wall of the infimary was the visiting abbots lodging. This group of buildings has suffered from stone robbing and survive only as low walls. The southern range housed the domestic buildings. These included the abbot's lodgings, the reredorter, the warming house, the refectory and the kitchens. To the west of this complex is a lane which provided access to the west range. The upper floor of the west range was used as the lay brothers' dormitory. The vaulted ground floor of the west range served as their refectory and cellarium. The western and southern walls of this building collapsed in about 1750. To the west of the church and cloister lies the guest house, the bake house and the lay brothers infirmary. All of these were cleared to ground level during the Dissolution. Excavation of the guest house, Listed Grade II, revealed that it was constructed between the 13th and 15th centuries. These excavations also uncovered a number of 3rd-4th century pottery sherds and a 4th century coin. Scheduled and Listed Grade I.
More information : (SE 260361) Kirkstall Abbey (NR)(Cistercian)(AD 1152)(NAT)
(SE 25903619) Guest House (NR)(Rems of)(NAT)
(SE 25753646) Vesper Gate (NR)(Rems of)(NAT)
(SE 25953628) Abbey House (NAT)
(Name SE 262361) Abbey Wall (NR)
(SE 25853640) Abbey Mill Pond (NR)(Site of)(NAT)
(Compare with extract from OS 6" 1851 on illustration card) (1)

Kirkstall Abbey for Cistercian Monks, dedicated to the Virgin
Mary was established in 1152 but had previously been founded
at Barnoldswick in 1147 (see SD 84 NE 1). The abbey was surrendered
in 1540. Architectural descriptions (4)(5) and summary of the excavations of 1950-6. See plan (4). (2-5)

There are no artifical earthworks associated with the abbey which
is owned by Leeds Corporation and is open to the public. (6)

Further excavations between 1957-65 were made mainly at the
south-east corner of the abbey, including the kitchen and infirmary
hall areas. (7-13). The Abbey Guest House was excavated between
1980-83 and conserved for display to the public (14-17). Plans
(16-17). (7-17)

SE 260361. Kirkstall Abbey. Scheduled. (18)

1.
5114 LS5 ABBEY ROAD (South Side)
KIRKSTALL LS5

Kirkstall Abbey
SE 2536 19/23
SE 2636 20/23 26.9.63.

I

2.
Cistercian Abbey founded probably in 1152. Built of millstone grit.
The church is almost complete, with stone vaulted transept
chapels and rib-vaulted chancel and nave aisles - nave and
transepts are roofless. Pointed arch arcade, clerestory wall
without shafts. Remains of tall crossing tower heightened in
early C16. Gabled west portal of 5 orders. North doorway with
large crenellation motif round arch. The cloister garth has
its buildings on all sides. Chapter house retaining its vaulting.
South of cloistere are kitchens, brewhouse, warning house and
refectory. To north east remains of infirmary, abbot's lodging
and visiting abbots' lodging. C17 west door and west door of
cloisters. A.M.

Guesthouse at Kirkstall Abbey

SE 2536 19/23A 26.9.63.

II

2.
From C13. Only north west corner remains, the rest is foundations.
Consisting of hall, parlour and solar kitchen cellar and stables.
West of principal building.

Gatehouse at Kirkstall Abbey
(Abbey Museum)

SE 2536 19/23B 26.9.63.

II*

2.
C12 gateway, 3 bays deep, wide rib-vaulted passage. With porter's
rooms above reached by stone newel staircase in south west
crorner. Additions up to the Dissolution, and afterwards used
as a dwellinghouse. C15/16 wing to south west, 2 storeys,
4-canted arch windows with stone mullions tracery and cusped
heads. Late C19/early C20 additions to north west. Stone
with stone slate roofs. Adapted for use as Museum.

Vesper Gate at Kirkstall Abbey
(Vesper Lane)

SW 2536 19/23C 26.9.63.

II

2.
1 fragmentary door jamb remains. Large stone blocks, about
18ft high. (19)

(SE 260361) Abbey (NR) (remains of) (NAT)
(SE 25903619) Guest House (NR) (remains of) (NAT)
(SE 25753646) Vesper Gate (NR) (remains of) (NAT)
(SE 25953628) Museum (NAT)
(Name SE 262361) Abbey Wall (NR) (remains of) (NAT). (20)

SE 260 361. Kirkstall Abbey.

During excavation of the cistercian Guest-House, a number of 3rd-4th century sherds and one 4th century coin were found, but no Roman structures. Roman occupation in the vicinity is suggested. (21)

Additional references to excavations on the Guest-House site. (22)(23)

`Work on the Guest House site was continued during 1986 by West Yorkshire Archaeology Service on behalf of Leeds City Council and in association with MSC. The excavation, supervised by M Lawler, S of the main Guest House complex, was completed. Beneath the monastic horizons reported last year (Medieval Archaeol XXX 1986 178) were earlier features sealed by a pre- or early-monastic plough soil. Two successive underlying ditches were located, the later associated with a wattle-and-daub structure that probably lay S of the excavation. This structure burnt down and its remains were pushed into the ditch, sieve sampling of whose fill produced charcoal, burnt daub, bone and carbonized cereal grains. No dating evidence is available yet for these features but they may belong to the documented occupation of the site by hermits at the time of the abbey's foundation in 1152.

`A survey of the earthworks within the monastic precinct was completed. The survey has located, among other features, what appears to be the precinct's `lost' E boundary and it is hoped that a geophysical survey programme will define this further.' (24)(25)

Excavations at the cistercian abbey of Kirkstall have thrown light on the way the building stone was transported by the discovery of a timber quay S of the refectory and 60 metres N of the present course of the River Aire. It was probably used for unloading building-stone which is known to have come from Bramley Fall Quarry, which lay some distance upstream. Subsequently, the quay went out of use and the area on the riverward side of it was reclaimed by dumping rubbish above and beyond it. (26)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" Prov Ed 1938
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 2
Source : Medieval religious houses in England and Wales
Source details :
Page(s) : 113, 121
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 10
Source : Medieval archaeology : journal of the Society for Medieval Archaeology
Source details :
Page(s) : 140-1
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 4 (1960)
Source Number : 11
Source : Medieval archaeology : journal of the Society for Medieval Archaeology
Source details :
Page(s) : 295, 318
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 6-7 (1962-3)
Source Number : 12
Source : Medieval archaeology : journal of the Society for Medieval Archaeology
Source details :
Page(s) : 246
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 8 (1964)
Source Number : 13
Source : Medieval archaeology : journal of the Society for Medieval Archaeology
Source details :
Page(s) : 182-3
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 9 (1965)
Source Number : 14
Source : Medieval archaeology : journal of the Society for Medieval Archaeology
Source details :
Page(s) : 193
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 25 (1981)
Source Number : 15
Source : Medieval archaeology : journal of the Society for Medieval Archaeology
Source details :
Page(s) : 215-6
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 26 (1982)
Source Number : 16
Source : Medieval archaeology : journal of the Society for Medieval Archaeology
Source details :
Page(s) : 211-4
Figs. : PLAN
Plates :
Vol(s) : 27 (1983)
Source Number : 17
Source : Kirkstall Abbey Guest House
Source details :
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 18
Source : List of ancient monuments in England: Volume 1, Northern England; Volume 2, Southern England; Volume 3, East Anglia and the Midlands
Source details :
Page(s) : 75
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 1
Source Number : 19
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : City of Leeds 05-AUG-1976
Page(s) : 100-2
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 3
Source : The Victoria history of the county of York: volume three
Source details :
Page(s) : 46, 142-3
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 20
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 1:10000 1984
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 21
Source : Britannia : a journal of Romano-British and kindred studies
Source details :
Page(s) : 295
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 14 (1983)
Source Number : 22
Source : Council for British Archaeology Group 4 Yorkshire Archaeological Register
Source details :
Page(s) : 43
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 1984-5
Source Number : 23
Source : Medieval archaeology : journal of the Society for Medieval Archaeology
Source details :
Page(s) : 178
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 30 (1986)
Source Number : 24
Source : Medieval archaeology : journal of the Society for Medieval Archaeology
Source details :
Page(s) : 172
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 31 (1987)
Source Number : 25
Source : Council for British Archaeology Group 4 Yorkshire Archaeological Register
Source details :
Page(s) : 37
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 1986
Source Number : 26
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Clarke H. 1984. Archaeology in Medieval England, 99, 101
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 27
Source : Kirkstall Abbey : a history
Source details :
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 28
Source : Kirkstall Abbey [Yorkshire] excavations, 1960-4
Source details :
Page(s) :
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Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 29
Source : Kirkstall Abbey, 1147-1539: an historical study [Cistercian]
Source details :
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 4
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Dobson A. 1962. Guide to Kirstall Abbey
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 30
Source : Bell moulds from Kirkstall Abbey, West Yorkshire [three 15th century examples]
Source details :
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 31
Source : Kirkstall Abbey. The guest house : a guide to the medieval buildings and to the discoveries made during recent excavations
Source details :
Page(s) :
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Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 32
Source : Kirkstall Abbey, volume 1. The 1950-64 excavations : a reassessment
Source details :
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 1
Source Number : 33
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : 10-Feb-98
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 34
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : Leeds 11-SEP-1996
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 4a
Source : Publications of the Thoresby Society
Source details : Kirstall Abbey Excavations
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 43 and 48
Source Number : 5
Source : Yorkshire : the West Riding
Source details :
Page(s) : 340-7
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 6
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 RWE 17-OCT-63
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 7
Source : Medieval archaeology : journal of the Society for Medieval Archaeology
Source details :
Page(s) : 154
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 1 (1957)
Source Number : 8
Source : Medieval archaeology : journal of the Society for Medieval Archaeology
Source details :
Page(s) : 193
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 2 (1958)
Source Number : 9
Source : Medieval archaeology : journal of the Society for Medieval Archaeology
Source details :
Page(s) : 306
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 3 (1959)

Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Roman
Display Date : C3-4
Monument End Date : 399
Monument Start Date : 200
Monument Type : Findspot
Evidence : Find
Monument Period Name : Roman
Display Date : C4
Monument End Date : 399
Monument Start Date : 300
Monument Type : Findspot
Evidence : Find
Monument Period Name : Roman
Display Date : Roman
Monument End Date : 410
Monument Start Date : 43
Monument Type : Settlement
Evidence : Conjectural Evidence
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Built between 1152 and 1539
Monument End Date : 1539
Monument Start Date : 1152
Monument Type : Abbey, Church, Cloister, Chapter House, Monastic Dwelling, Warming House, Refectory, Kitchen, Dormitory, Storehouse, Infirmary, Bakehouse
Evidence : Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Extant
Monument End Date : 1539
Monument Start Date : 1152
Monument Type : Cistercian Monastery, Abbey
Evidence : Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Built C13
Monument End Date : 1299
Monument Start Date : 1200
Monument Type : Infirmary
Evidence : Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Built C13-C15
Monument End Date : 1499
Monument Start Date : 1200
Monument Type : Guest House
Evidence : Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Remodelled C15
Monument End Date : 1499
Monument Start Date : 1400
Monument Type : Infirmary
Evidence : Ruined Building

Components and Objects:
Period : Roman
Component Monument Type : Findspot
Object Type : COIN
Object Material :
Period : Roman
Component Monument Type : Findspot
Object Type : COIN
Object Material :

Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : WY 9
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 29904
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 464653
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 464678
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SE 23 NE 2
External Cross Reference Notes :

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Related Activities :
Associated Activities : KIRKSTALL ABBEY
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1890-01-01
End Date : 1899-12-31
Associated Activities : KIRKSTALL ABBEY
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1950-01-01
End Date : 1951-12-31
Associated Activities : KIRKSTALL ABBEY
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1952-01-01
End Date : 1954-12-31
Associated Activities : KIRKSTALL ABBEY
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1955-01-01
End Date : 1957-12-31
Associated Activities : KIRKSTALL ABBEY
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1958-01-01
End Date : 1961-12-31
Associated Activities : KIRKSTALL ABBEY
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1962-01-01
End Date : 1964-12-31
Associated Activities : FIELD OBSERVATION ON SE 23 NE 2
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1963-10-17
End Date : 1963-10-17
Associated Activities : KIRKSTALL ABBEY (GUEST HOUSE SITE)
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1980-01-01
End Date : 1987-12-31
Associated Activities : KIRKSTALL ABBEY
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1989-01-01
End Date : 1989-12-31
Associated Activities : KIRKSTALL ABBEY (INNER GATEHOUSE)
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 1994-01-01
End Date : 1994-12-31
Associated Activities : ABBEY HOUSE MUSEUM
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1999-01-01
End Date : 1999-12-31
Associated Activities : KIRKSTALL ABBEY MANAGEMENT PLAN
Activity type : MANAGEMENT SURVEY
Start Date : 1999-01-01
End Date : 1999-12-31
Associated Activities : LAND AT KIRKSTALL ABBEY
Activity type : GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 2004-01-01
End Date : 2004-12-31
Associated Activities : LAND AT KIRKSTALL ABBEY
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 2004-01-01
End Date : 2008-12-31
Associated Activities : MORRIS LANE, KIRKSTALL ABBEY
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2005-01-01
End Date : 2005-12-31
Associated Activities : KIRKSTALL ABBEY SIGNAGE
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2010-01-01
End Date : 2010-12-31