Dramatically sited near steep cliffs on the headland overlooking the beautiful historic harbour town of Whitby, stand the gaunt and atmospheric ruins of Whitby Abbey.
The Anglo-Saxon monastery was founded in about AD 657 by the Northumbrian King Oswy, and dedicated to St Peter. At this time Whitby was named Streonshalh (Streanaeshalch) possibly meaning Fort Bay or Tower Bay, thought to indicate a previous Roman settlement, although this is disputed.
King Oswy appointed Lady Hild as founding Abbess of the new double monastery of Benedictine Monks and Nuns run in the Celtic or Ionan tradition.
Under the Abbess, the monastery became one of the most important and influential religious centres in the Anglo-Saxon world, hosting the Synod of Whitby in 664 when a vote was held to determine whether to adopt the Roman or Celtic date for Easter. As the vote went the way of Rome, this heralded the decline of the Celtic Church, and its influence.
The monastery was abandoned in the 9th century, probably as a result of incessant Danish raids, and remained desolate for over 200 years.
In 1078 the Benedictine monastery was re-founded under the Normans, and the building whose ruins you now see, was begun in about 1220.
The site was attacked again in 1914 when the west front was hit by shells from a German warship.
The Abbey is just one of the many interesting historical remains in and around Whitby.
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