White Monks May Have Pursued Alchemy

An alembic found at a remote North Yorkshire monastery may be evidence that Cistercian monks were involved in the arcane quest to make gold from base metal.

The eight-inch ceramic cone was placed on top another vessel in which a liquid was boiling. While some alchemists used this step in their efforts to make gold, no traces of chemicals have been found on the alembic. It may also have been used for preparing medicines or distilling spirits.