Munkeby Abbey Ruins

Levanger, Norway

Munkeby Abbey was founded sometime between 1150 and 1180, and was the most northerly Cistercian foundation in the world. Possibly, like Hovedøya Abbey and Lyse Abbey, Munkeby's foundation was carried out by English monks. In 1207, Tautra Abbey was founded, and, either then or at some later point in the 13th century the community and assets of Munkeby were transferred to the new foundation, of which Munkeby then became a grange.

An attempt to re-establish it as an independent house in the 1470s failed. The church however continued in use as a parish church until 1587.

Local tradition had always maintained that Okkenhaug Chapel had once belonged to a monastery; for centuries historians dismissed this, until in 1906 a letter dated 1475 from Pope Sixtus IV to Abbot Stephen of Trugge was discovered in the Vatican archives referring to the request for the restoration of the site as a functioning monastery.

Norway accepted the Protestant Reformation and officially became a Luteran kingdom in 1537. All Catholic religious houses were then seized and declared to be Crown property. This was true of Munkeby.

There are substantial remains of the simple church, built of stone, although it was used as a quarry, but the monastic buildings, built of wood, apparently succumbed to fire in 1567. The site was acquired by the Society for the Preservation of Ancient Norwegian Monuments in 1967. No full archaeological investigation of the site has been carried out, but many partial excavations have taken place, including test excavations in 2000, none of which able to discover significant remains of the monastic buildings, although there is no doubt that they were located on the south side of the church.

In 2007, the now-Trappist Abbey of Cîteaux in France decided to establish a new Cistercian monastery at Munkeby, the first new foundation directly from the very first house of the Order in 500 years. A monastery was built and four monks took residence there in 2009. The new monastery is situated about 1.5 kilometres from the medieval ruins. They now form a companion community to the Trappistine nuns who have re-settled the site of the former Tautra Abbey. The name of the modern house is simply Munkeby Mariakloster.

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Founded: 1150-1180
Category: Miscellaneous historic sites in Norway

Rating

4.2/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Dani M. (10 months ago)
Lovely little area around the old ruins, there are free toilets, seats and a trash bin available. Also two short hikes (1,5km each) along the river start from here
Qilan Voss (2 years ago)
Some tabs with information in Norwegian, not far away from Levanger, but nothing interesting, a bunch of old walls, it's an open museum
Alex Martin (2 years ago)
I like it when history is respected and cared for...
Marine Ferrante (2 years ago)
Nice stones, quick visit, nice parking (could be use for a night in a van). No goats.
Ivo (2 years ago)
Not much to see, after the cloister signs show other things to see, but either the distance is wrong, or there's nothing to see.
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