added by archaeologs A place where monks or nuns live, work, and worship. An abbey usually consisted of group of buildings housing a monastery or a convent and an abbey church or a cathedral. Monasticism originated in the Middle East during the second half of the 4th century and spread to Byzantium, France, Greece, and Italy and developed independently from that in Britain. Excavations have shown considerable variation in the layout of abbeys depending on the different monastic orders. They range from beehive cells and oratories of Early Celtic abbeys to the Cistercian plan with cloisters, domestic ranges, and a large church. Prior to the 10th century, monasteries were the principal artistic, economic, and educational centers of the Christian world. An abbey was the complex of buildings which served the needs of these self-contained religious communities. The first European abbey was Montecassino in Italy, founded in 529.
added by archaeologs A place where monks or nuns live, work and worship. The concept of monasticism originated in the Near East during the second half of the 4th century, spread to Byzantium, Greece, Italy and France, and seems to have developed independently in the sub-Roman Celtic regions of Britain. The Middle Ages saw the growth of many different religious houses, each observing individual customs and rules; the most important of these was the Benedictine order, founded by St Benedict in the 6th century, which provided the basis for European monasticism. Excavations have helped to show that there was considerable variation between different orders in the layout of abbeys, and how these developed throughout the medieval period. They range from the beehive cells and oratories which typify the Early Celtic monasteries to the mature 12th-century Cistercian plan with cloisters, domestic ranges and large abbey church. Many of the major European monastic complexes have now been excavated, and it is clear from sites such as Monkwearmouth and Jarrow in Co. Durham and Farfa and San Vincenzo in Central Italy that before the 10th century monasteries were the principal educational, artistic and economic centres of the Christian world.
The Macmillan dictionary of archaeology, Ruth D. Whitehouse, 1983