Set in the deep valley of the River Rye in North Yorkshire Rievaulx Abbey near Helmsley started life as a timber structure and evolved through four stages of design, before eventually declining into one of the pre-eminent medieval ruins in Europe.
Rievaulx was one of the first Cistercian abbeys to be founded in England. Surrounded by a massive agricultural and industrial estate, staffed by lay brothers, it was intended as the focus of a substantial family of other houses throughout northern Britain. Suppressed in 1538, the existing monastic ironworks was developed by new owners, the earls of Rutland. Incorporated into the parkland of Duncombe Park, the shattered abbey ruins became a popular subject for Romantic artists in the 18th and 19th centuries.
The Abbey retains some of the earliest surviving buildings of the Cistercian order in Europe. Later it became the site of iron-making experiments that pre-figured the Industrial Revolution. A beacon for Romantic poets and painters, and latterly for scholars, the abbey was one of the first major ruins to be conserved by the Office of Works, beginning in 1919.
I shot this series of pictures primarily as silhouettes as the grey skies, rain and dramatic shapes within the ruins lend themselves to this approach and can hopefully make for some dramatic images.
All pictures shot with Leica M9 and a Summicron 35mm f2 lens. Edited in Lightroom