Lanercost Priory is a well-preserved medieval monastic site in northern England. Founded in 1169, it housed a community of Augustinian canons and later became home to a branch of the Dacre family.

There were never more than 12–15 canons living at Lanercost, who combined monastic life with pastoral care of local people and nearby churches. Following the Rule of St Augustine and wearing black habits (cloaks), the canons would have prayed to God in the church seven times each day, on behalf of the founder, his family and their descendants. The priory was dedicated to St Mary Magdalene, whose statue adorns the west front of the church.

When the priory was founded, its site would have seemed ideal. It was close to Hadrian’s Wall – an excellent source of building stone – lay on the river Irthing, and was surrounded by plentiful woodland. However, the priory was located in the turbulent and violent border region between England and Scotland, and this was to dictate its fortunes over the next 400 years.

it was a target of Scots attacks in retaliation for English raids. This became acute after the outbreak of the Wars of Scottish Independence.

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