The famous ruins of Whitby Abbey are visible in the distance through the Whale Bone Arch which is also indelibly associated with the town in the minds of visitors and locals alike.
The original arch was put up some time after 1853 and is now stored in the Whitby Archives and Heritage Centre. A replica was presented to Whitby in 1963 by a Norwegian shipping company to mark the town’s whaling past.
The most recent bones were put in place back in 2003 following a worldwide appeal for a new set of jawbones. They were donated from one of Whitby’s twin towns, Barrow in Alaska, and the 19ft arch is made of bones taken from a bowhead whale which was killed legally by native Inuit in 1996.
The history of Whitby Abbey is even more distinguished, with the first monastery on the site dating back to the seventh century and being one of the most important religious centres in the Anglo-Saxon world. The headland is now dominated by the shell of the 13th-century church of the Benedictine abbey, which was founded after the Norman Conquest.
According to English Heritage, the shell of the church was largely complete until the 18th century but after being weakened by erosion from wind and rain, different parts of the abbey began to collapse. During the 19th century, Whitby became a popular seaside resort, with the ruins starting to attract tourists willing to traverse the 199 steep steps from the town to reach them. The publication of Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula in 1897, which used the abbey as a central location, further helped to establish the ruins in the public imagination.
Dracula helped inspire the launch of the biannual Whitby Goth Weekend alternative music festival. But even for those less committed to celebrating the supernatural, the timeless draw of Whitby remains in no doubt.
Technical information: Nikon D5 camera with a Nikon N VR 70-200mm lens, shutter speed of 1/250th second, Aperture f/5.6, ISO 80.