Towering monument to early Christianity

AN unusual view of Whitby Abbey, whose ruins tower over the East Cliff and rooftops of the popular and atmospheric East Coast town.

This perspective adds a certain massiveness to the structure, which has stood on this site since 657 AD when it was founded by Oswy (or Oswiu), the King of Northumbria.

He appointed Lady Hilda, Abbess of Hartlepool Abbey and niece of Edwin, the first Christian king of Northumbria, as founding abbess.

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The double monastery of Benedictine monks and nuns was one-time home to the poet, Caedmon, and, in 664, the Abbey was the venue of the Synod of Whitby, at which King Oswy ruled that the Northumbrian Church would adopt the Roman calculation of Easter and monastic tonsure.

In 867, the Abbey fell to Viking attack and was abandoned. In 1078, William de Percy ordered that it be refounded and dedicated to St Peter and St Hilda. This second monastery lasted until it was destroyed by Henry VIII in 1540 during the Dissolution of the Monasteries. The buildings fell into ruin but the remains are still a prominent landmark.

Bram Stoker's Dracula was inspired, in part, by the Irish writer's time in Whitby.

The Abbey site is now owned and maintained by English Heritage.

Technical details: Nikon D2H camera, 300mm lens, 1/500th @ f5.6. ISO 200.