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News release - Issued by The National Trust

Archaeologists will be excavating the remains of Rustic Cottage at Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal

On weekends between Saturday 10 and Sunday 18 September archaeologists will be excavating the remains of Rustic Cottage at National Trust property, Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal.

Rustic Cottage is one of several lost garden buildings at this World Heritage Site near Ripon, North Yorkshire. These buildings, known as follies, were often used in eighteenth century gardens as eye-catchers to surprise visitors and enhance views.

Currently little is known about the folly; Rustic Cottage is thought to have been built by William Aislabie as he set out to join up the estates of Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal, having purchased Fountains Abbey from the Messenger family of Fountains Hall in 1767.

Above ground only a small fraction of the cottage building still stands and very few images remain of the folly. The Picturesque style was fashionable in the late eighteenth century and images show that Rustic Cottage was built in this style, constructed using rubble from the ruins of the abbey and cobbles assumed to be from nearby fields.

During the excavation archaeologists hope to discover more about the design of the building, how it looked inside and what Rustic Cottage might have been used for. That’s if there is anything left underground at all… What is known about the cottage is that, unusually, it was home to several estate workers from the 1860s onwards.

Visitors can stand by to see the dig on a viewing platform at weekends Saturday 10 – Sunday 18 September, 10am – 5pm and hear more from National Trust archaeologist Mark Newman at talks throughout the day.

Throughout autumn head along to Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal to learn more about how staff are working hard all year round to care for the estate and see several conservation projects under way. Staff will be busy carrying out essential conservation works and restoring historic views which have been co-ordinated to take place over the coming season in order to reduce the impact of the work across the year.

Entry to the estate is free of charge on Saturday 10 September in honour of Heritage Open Days, a national heritage festival which celebrates England’s history and architecture.

Please visit



Revealing Rustic Cottage
Saturday 10, Sunday 11, Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 September
10am – 5pm
Talks with Mark Newman at 11.30am, 2.30pm and 4pm

Heritage Open Day
Saturday 10 September
10am – 5pm
Free admission


Alice Ostapjuk, Marketing Assistant, Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal, Estate Office, Ripon, North Yorkshire, HG4 3DY.
Tel 01765 643199 / Email