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Bolton Abbey The River Wharfe winds past Bolton Abbey in Wharfedale


We know little about the beliefs of the early inhabitants of the Yorkshire Dales apart from clues from their burial places and objects in caves and watercourses. 

Crosses and other carved stones hint at early Christian sites. In the centuries after the Norman Conquest, most of the Dales came under monastic control. Two nunneries, an abbey and a priory were based here.

Monasteries were given land in return for praying for the landowner. Some monasteries even controlled the parish churches. New religious groups such as the Quakers and Methodists built their own places of worship from the seventeenth century onwards.