AN exhibition showcasing the story of one of North Yorkshire’s most stunning monuments is being extended to enable more visitors to see it.

Rievaulx Reviewed: The Creation of a National Treasure marks the centenary of its management as an official, state-run ancient monument, bringing together archive documents and photographs.

They include a series of stereoscopic photographs of the abbey ruins taken in Victorian times, and loaned to English Heritage by Brian May, the legendary Queen guitarist.

This display of photographs documents the abbey’s story of change during the time period from the 1870s to the 1930s.

There is also the opportunity to use a stereoscope, courtesy of the London Stereoscope Company, co-owned by Dr May.

Using these two binocular-like lenses, through which two identical photographs appear in 3D, visitors can step back in time to the romantic ruins of the Victorian period, witnessing how much it has changed and yet, how public appreciation of this site spans the generations.

For 300 years after the abbey’s suppression, the walls of Rievaulx slowly became overtaken by nature. Realising that the future of the abbey was in jeopardy, the Office of Works took it into their guardianship in 1917, carefully stabilising the ruins and even installing a small railway to remove the debris and surrounding undergrowth that had taken over the site.

This helped establish a protocol for future historic buildings, which would also come to be maintained with neatly cut grass, preserved ruins clear of ivy, and unobtrusive panels offering historical interpretation.

The guitarist, who is an avid supporter of the stereoscope, said: “My devotion to stereos, rather like my passion for rock music, now spans at least 55 years – 3D was photography that gave you a feeling of reality, rather than just a flat rendition on a piece of paper. So I wondered, why didn’t everybody photograph everything in 3-D all the time? Well, I still haven’t figured that one out. But to me, and to all the kids who discovered over 50 years ago what is now known as ‘Virtual Reality’, the excitement has never left us.”

Rievaulx: Reviewed will now close in February. The display can be seen in the newly-refurbished museum and visitor centre.

The exhibition, open 10am to 4pm weekends only, also celebrates the new exhibition space at the museum. Entry is free to members.

Rievaulx Abbey is open winter weekends until February 10 - open all week for half-term.

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