Rievaulx Abbey

Things to see and do

Rievaulx Abbey ruins

Explore the abbey ruins

Hidden in the deep River Rye valley, the beautiful and tranquil abbey ruins reflect nearly one thousand years of spiritual, commercial and Romantic history.

Rievaulx was one of the first Cistercian abbeys to be founded in England in around 1130, and after the dissolution, became the centre of commercial activity for many years. The abbey forge was used to set up an ironworks on the site.

The abbey then entered its Romantic period when its picturesque ruins became a beacon for poets, painters, and scholars. It was one of the first major ruins to be conserved by the Office of Works (ancestor of English Heritage) in 1917.

Items on display in the museum at Rievaulx Abbey

Stop by the museum

Discover the rich past of this powerful medieval monastery in our elegant museum displaying previously unseen artefacts from the abbey including elaborate medieval stone carvings, chess pieces and gold coins which tell the story of the rise and dramatic fall of the first Cistercian abbey in the North of England.

Afternoon tea at Rievaulx Abbey

Rievaulx Abbey Cafe

Take in stunning views of Rievaulx Abbey as you tuck into a treat in the café, which serves hot and cold drinks and a selection of high-quality food made with locally sourced ingredients. There's a choice of hot and cold meals, sandwiches, soup, cakes, tray bakes and scones. Our homemade soup is always vegetarian, gluten-free and dairy-free, and we offer more options for those with a vegetarian, gluten-free or dairy-free diet. Children's lunchboxes are available, and we can offer smaller portions of some of the main dishes especially for younger visitors.

We also have an outdoor terrace where you can soak up the atmosphere of the abbey while enjoying your meal or afternoon tea. The cafe is accessible without admission to the Rievaulx Abbey site and is open whenever the abbey is open, but note that we close 30 minutes before the site.

You can find allergen and nutritional information here.

Visitor using audio tour device

Take the audio tour

Pick up an audio tour when you visit and discover 900 years of fascinating history. Learn about the monks in medieval times. Hear how they devoted their lives to spiritual matters yet at the same time established a thriving business to become one of the wealthiest monasteries in Britain.

Find out about the abbey's role in the development of the Cistercian order across Europe, and its important place in England's medieval economy.

Explore some of the highlights from the collection at Rievaulx Abbey.
Plan your visit to Rievaulx Abbey today.