Archaeologists discover medieval monks’ brewery in England

Son of Groucho CC

Monastic life in Catholic England apparently involved enjoying a pint.

Archaeologists have stumbled across what appears to be the remains of a medieval brewery in Lincolnshire, England.

Church records led the team of researchers to conclude that a complex of buildings they discovered were once part of Kirkstead Abbey, a 12th-century Cistercian monastery, according to an article at Lincolnshire Live.

What puzzled the team at first was a pair of rectangular limestone structures with sloping sides. A smoke-blackened floor and flue indicated that the buildings were malt kilns, used to turn barley into malt. Mystery solved: these monks were making beer.

Little remains of the ruins of the monastery, which was seized by the Crown for treason after the Lincolnshire Rising of 1536. Beginning on October 2, 1536, 20,000 Catholics, led by a monk and a shoemaker, marched in protest against the suppression of Catholic houses of worship under Henry VIII. The rising was suppressed, the leaders were executed (many were hanged, drawn and quartered) and the property was seized by the state.


Kirkstead Abbey ruin

The discovery shed light on sunnier days for the Catholics in England. As Lincolnshire Live notes, “It’s a happy thought for the archaeologists hard at work on the bypass that, seven or eight hundred years ago, the monks would have been there, enjoying their flagons of ale after a long hard day tending their flocks of sheep, interrupted at regular intervals by prayer and worship.”


Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.