Constructions of Robert de Torigni

When one leaves the nave by a small gate on the north side of the church, and descends several steps, he/she can view what remains of the primitive abbey buildings which extended to the north side of the church at end of the 13th century.

The edifice of Roger II on the north of the nave is a rare example in Romanesque architecture.
Edifice of Roger II on the north of the nave

The visitor will see in succession the old Cloister or place to walk in for the monks, built by Roger II, in the early part of the XIIth century, and at the west end, one of the floors of the constructions of Robert de Torigni; afterward by going down and stopping halfway he will observe the old charnel-house or cemetery of the monks; also Saint-Stephen’s chapel now communicating by an opening with the old chapel of the Thirty wax-tapers — under the Saut-Gaultier — where is placed the great wheel used to draw up the stores.

This is a picture of the Aquilon, 12th century. Mont Saint Michel
Gallery of the Aquilon, XIIth century

After a visit to the Aquilon, descend into lower grounds: prisons and dungeons. In front of the Romanesque constructions on the west, see the ruins of Robert de Torigni’s Hostelry. This part of the Abbey is very curious.

Constructions of Robert de Torigni - Plan of the basements
Constructions of Robert de Torigni – Plan of the basements

You see here plans of the basements — the black tints indicate the romanesque parts and the grey marks the Edifices of Robert de Torigni. — A is the cellar of the Hostelry, where you see on the east, A, the toothing of the declivity of the rock reaching to the warehouses of the Abbey; B’ and B’ the dungeons named the Twins; G a the passage leading from the Hostelry to the cell B and to the staircase C; C the staircase leading to the above prison; D the passages communicating with the dungeons, with the prisons above, and on nearly the same level, with the gallery of the Aquilon E; E the buttress built in 1618 and G that which was built-in 1873. 

Constructions of Robert de Torigni. Ground plan of the ambulatory.
Constructions of Robert de Torigni. Ground plan of the ambulatory.

The plan gives the details of the same constructions above and at a level with the old Cloister or ambulatory. A is the infirmary; B, its dependencies; G, the passage joining the offices; D, the communication between the infirmary and the regular buildings of the Abbey; E, the Cloister; F, Saint-Stephen’s chapel (XlII century); G, the charnel-house or cemetery of the monks; H, the staircase leading to the higher church; I, the cistern; J, the buttress of 1618 and K that of 1873. 

Here you see the transverse section of the romanesque constructions; parts obliquely stippled indicate the constructions added by Robert de Torigni; in A stands the grave of this celebrated Abbot, and in B that of his successor Don Martin; they were both found in 1873 under the large west platform, at the basis of the towers built from 1180 to 1185 in front of the Romanesque portal. 

Constructions of Robert de Torigni. Transverse section)
Constructions of Robert de Torigni. Transverse section)

At last by again ascending the staircases by which we went down, we shall be again in the romanesque church which was, as we have already stated, begun in 1020 and finished in 1135 by Bernard du Bee, XIIlth Abbot of the Mount from 1131 to 1149. 

This immense building, erected in honor of Saint-Michel and of his ancient worship, on the artificial plateau built or commenced byHildebert, had the form of a Latin cross, represented by the Nave composed of seven arcades, by the two transepts, and lastly by the chancel. Of the Romanesque church, there still exist four arcades of the nave; the pillars and the triumphal arches which sustained the romanesque steeple, or at least that which Bernard du Bec erected in the first half of the XIIth century; the two transepts and the two semi-circular chapels built in the fronts of the transepts.

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