Sawley Abbey, Sawley, Lancashire: a Cistercian Monastic Precinct and Post-Medieval Landscape. Survey Report

Author(s): Abby Hunt, Mitchell Pollington, Christopher Dunn, T Pearson

In the summer of 2004, English Heritage undertook an archaeological investigation and analytical field survey of the area surrounding the Cistercian abbey of St Mary at Sawley in Lancashire. Sawley Abbey was founded in the twelfth century and was operational until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1537, following which the church and claustral buildings were largely destroyed. One of the principal findings of the survey is that a substantial part of the outer precinct boundary of the monastery can still be traced, and a section of the original precinct wall may still survive near the river, albeit with repairs and episodes of rebuilding. The survey has also enabled the surviving abbey buildings to be considered in their landscape context, both from the standpoint of their immediate situation within the associated precinct and also in the broader landscape. In addition the appearance and manipulation of the post-monastic landscape has been elucidated through both the field survey and the examination of the cartographic evidence. The principal elements of this later period include the creation of two farmsteads within the monastic precinct following the Dissolution and, subsequently, the creation of ‘Sawley Park’. (This was report 17/2005 in a previous series).

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