Yorkshire saw the foundation of many Norman monasteries, mostly in the 12th century. The prayer-full lives of the monks and nuns were intended to be governed by rules of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Some ate no meat and others maintained Lent, many holy days, and days of the week when rules of fasting applied. Fish bulked large in their diets. Most had fish ponds but they also needed sea fish. York St Mary's abbey drew on fish from Hornsea and St Leonard's Hospital on Hedon. Rosedale and Yedingham Priories went to Whitby. Watton Priory probably drew on Flamborough.
Many Yorkshire monasteries regularly sent agents to buy fish at Scarborough. Others acquired houses here which paid rents in half lasts of herrings, including Malton Priory, and St Giles hospital at Beverley. Malton Priory had its own herring house, bringing wood from Goathland for packing fish. There was a "Prior of Malton Lane" near the harbour. Other monasteries acquired houses, most of them on the Scarborough sands including Byland Abbey, Fountains Abbey, Rievaulx Abbey, Kirkham Priory and St John's Pontefract. (John Rushton)