CONSERVATION work has begun at one of Yorkshire’s greatest Cistercian monasteries to protect historic stonework.

The English Heritage team will be carrying out work at Byland Abbey in Coxwold – one of the country’s most impressive ruined sites.

The conservation work is on the west front of the church, set against a backdrop of wooded hills. It includes the remains of a circular rose window which inspired the design of the one set in York Minster.

A team of expert stonemasons will remove harmful vegetation and repoint the stone walls.

During this time the west front will be covered by 25-metre high scaffolding and will be inaccessible due to safety barriers.

The rest of the site will remain open as usual.

Emma Gledson, project maintenance manager, English Heritage North, said: “The scaffold structure is in itself a feat of engineering and for the first time in 30 years, it’s a privilege to get up close and admire the workmanship in detail.

“This project at Byland Abbey is an investment of more than £100,000 and a key project within the charity’s major conservation programme - a programme which is the largest in the history of the sites in our care.

“Byland Abbey is a unique building with a historical legacy to match and much loved in the area. We are just delighted to help to conserve it for future generations.”

Work on the west front of the abbey will be completed in December.