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HASKINS CONFERENCE: Furness Abbey and Daughter Houses: Irish Sea Relations in the Twelfth Century

HASKINS CONFERENCE: Furness Abbey and Daughter Houses: Irish Sea Relations in the Twelfth Century


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SESSION VI: The Cistercians of Furness and Cross-Border Contacts

Furness Abbey and Daughter Houses: Irish Sea Relations in the Twelfth Century

Fiona Edmunds (Clare College – Cambridge University)

Furness, in the late 12th century founded daughter houses in Ireland. 13th century saw Furness acquire more daughter houses in Ireland. This paper focuses on Furness’s Irish links before the Conquest of 1169. Most extensive account of the founding of the daughter houses was found in a book, and a few other documents. Furness and Savigny had links and ongoing contact as the first abbot of Furness became the third abbot of Savigny. Furness unsuccessfully tried to separate itself from Savigny and the houses clashed. The monks of Furness became dependent on patrons who held land nearby. By the late 12th century, local patrons were more enthusiastic and granted land to the monastery. The abbot recruited locally. Norse and Gaelic were still spoken in Furness until the twelfth century. Furness was unique in that no where else in England were Scandinavian runes used for inscription. Influences from the Anglo-French world connected with the Gaelic-Scandinavian culture at Furness.

In 1127 a daughter house of Savigny was founded and it became a daughter house of Furness later on – Carrig Abbey. Furness had a connection with Carrig before the Anglo-Norman invasions. The foundation is attested to by a charter of Olaf. The charter explains the choice of Furness due to the proximity of the place and the excellent life lived by its occupants. In the 1130’s – three daughter houses were founded. Furness was experiencing financial difficulty during this time which may have enabled it to found these three houses close together. Furness continued to keep its links to the Gaelic-Scandinavian world.


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