Byland Abbey is a ruined abbey and small village located near Coxwold in the North Yorkshire Moors.
The abbey was founded as a Savigniac house in 1134, but was then absorbed by the Cistercian Order in 1147. The monks at Byland had to re-locate five times before they established a thriving monastery. They were forced to move as they had disputes with Furness Abbey and Calder Abbey, regarding their independence, then with their neighbours at Rievaulx Abbey and Newburgh Prioy. They finally settled at New Byland in 1177.
The monks had to overcome many hardships, even competing with its neighbour Rievaulx Abbey. By the late 12th century Byland’s reputation was such that it was described by a Yorkshire Augustinian as one of the ‘three shining lights of the North’. Although never as rich or successful as its neighbour, the monks became renowned for sheep farming and the quality of their wool exports. Their church was amongst the most impressive in Cistercian Europe.
Bylands monks suffered mixed fortunes throughout the Middle Ages, including plague and war. In 1538 the abbey was dissolved by King Henry VIII, valued at £238 9s 4d. The abbey was granted to Sir William Pickering the following year.
The abbey is now in the care of English Heritage.