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Set on a headland high over the popular seaside town, Whitby Abbey is the perfect choice for a great value day trip in Yorkshire.
It’s easy to see how Bram Stoker was inspired by its gothic splendour when writing Dracula. This is one of the most atmospheric visitor attractions on the Yorkshire coast.
Discover the long history of the Abbey and the daily life of the monks who once lived here in the unique interactive visitor centre with its dramatic digital reconstructions.
Or listen to the audio tour as you wander around the ancient ruins and enjoy the stunning views.
For mystery and imagination, Whitby Abbey is one of the best family days out in Yorkshire.
The first monastery was founded in 657 AD by the Anglo-Saxon era King of Northumbria, Oswy (Oswiu) as Streoneshalh (the older name for Whitby).
He appointed Lady Hilda, abbess of Hartlepool Abbey and niece of Edwin the first Christian king of Northumbria, as founding abbess.
The name Streoneshalh is thought to signify Fort Bay or Tower Bay in reference to a supposed Roman settlement that previously existed on the site.
This contention has never been proven though and alternate theories have been proposed, such as the name meaning Streona’s settlement.
Some believe that the name referred to Eadric Streona, but this is highly unlikely due to chronological considerations: Streona died in 1017 so the naming of Streoneshalh would have preceded his birth by several hundred years.
The double monastery of Celtic monks and nuns was home to the great Northumbrian poet Caedmon. In 664 the Synod of Whitby, at which King Oswiu ruled that the Northumbrian church would adopt the Roman calculation of Easter and monastic tonsure took place at the abbey.
Streoneshalch was laid waste by Danes in successive raids between 867 and 870 under Ingwar and Ubba and remained desolate for more than 200 years.
The existence of ‘Prestebi’, meaning the habitation of priests in Old Norse, at the Domesday Survey may point to the revival of religious life since Danish times.
The old monastery given to Reinfrid comprised about 40 ruined monasteria vel oratoria similar to Irish monastic ruins with numerous chapels and cells
Whitby Abbey Timeline
Further Reading On Whitby Abbey
Whitby Abbey Gallery – Click Thumbnails To View Full Size Images.