Perched high on a cliff, it’s easy to see why the haunting remains of Whitby Abbey were inspiration for Bram Stoker’s gothic tale of ‘Dracula’. Just a short climb away from the picturesque Yorkshire seaside town of Whitby, Whitby Abbey needs no real introduction to any fan of Horror.
I shot these on a SONY a6000 and edited them in Lightroom. Conditions were fair to middling (rain) but I managed to keep my lens dry.
Whitby Abbey is a ruined Benedictine abbey overlooking the North Sea on the East Cliff above Whitby in North Yorkshire, England. It was disestablished during the Dissolution of the Monasteries under the auspices of Henry VIII. It is a Grade I Listed building in the care of English Heritage and its site museum is housed in Cholmley House.
What got me about it was the Saxon history – 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 grand-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 alternative 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 for chronological reasons: 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 Cædmon. 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.
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