To those following along with our journeys,
Today marked an important day, because today we had our first out of city tours (out of York). We had the opportunity to stop at Mount-Grace Priory, Ripon Cathedral, Fountains Abbey, and Skipton Castle. In this blog I would like to focus on the latter two of our four stops.
Our third stop of the day was to Fountains Abbey, which was located a couple miles out of the town of Ripon, England. As we arrived to the Abbey there was a large welcome center with a restaurant, gift center, and bathroom area. After checking in we look the long and steep walk down to the ruins of Fountains Abbey. As soon as we began to descend down the hill we could see the secluded structure of the old church along with Hubbby’s tower. After reaching the bottom of the hill Greg, our wonderful tour guide and classmate, gave us a tour of the abbey. From first appearance we could already get to see what type of style of architecture was used along with know the general time at which the church of the abbey was built. The abbey was founded in 1132 and the structures which they created followed the Early English Gothic style of architecture. The ruins covered an immense amount of land and within the ruins contained areas that were once a church, refractory (place to eat), dormitory for the monks and laymen, and many other typical structures found in abbeys at the time. The abbey’s size is still breathtaking and it was very interesting to see all of the structures and being able to imagine what they would have looked like if the abbey would have been kept up.
Our fourth stop was to Skipton Castle in Skipton, England. This was by far my favorite stop of the day not only because it was a castle but because of our stellar professional tour guide Peter. I was able to learn so many little facts about such an amazing castle. One of the most important things I learned was that even though the castle was build and housed during the medieval period, the people where still rather clever. I was able to learn about why some sayings and actions are done today. At the base of the castle were “skirts” which looked like a jutting out ledge at the base of the towers. Next to the skirts were ditches. When enemy would get close enough they would drop boulders from the top of the towers and the boulder would hit the skirt and bounce off and strike the enemy either in the ditch or on the other side of the ditch. It is from this that we get the term outskirts which refers to any place outside of the castle. I also learned why staircases are built counterclockwise and why in England people drive on the left side of the road. Both of these reasons are because of the dominance in right-handedness. The castle was very interesting and structurally sound. I would have definitely felt safe in there.
I learned so much more from both sites but here were just some of the general ideas that I took away. I would love to explain more and there will be more to come from the trip!
(Skipton Castle, Fountains Abbey)