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Photo of Fontenay Abbey

Water Mill

Water mill powering the forge at Fontenay Abbey, founded by St Bernard of Clairvaux in 1118. The forge was built in 1220 but has been recently reconstructed based on the original. The Cistercians were well-known for their expertise in water engineering, and here at Fontenay it was used to especially impressive ends. The monks extracted iron ore from stone quarried on the hill above the monastery, then used the forge to make iron tools to be sold in the region. This was the first metallurgical factory in Europe and the place of invention of the hydraulic hammer, which became the basis of industrial manufacturing in Europe.

Photo © Holly Hayes.

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