Sunday, April 10, 2011

Whitby, North Yorkshire, UK


Whitby 54, originally uploaded by neonbubble.

Whitby is a town and civil parish in the Scarborough borough of North Yorkshire, England. It is situated 47 miles (76 km) from York, at the mouth of the River Esk and spreads up the steep sides of the narrow valley carved out by the river's course. At this point the coast curves round, so the town faces more north than east. According to the 2001 UK census, Whitby parish had a population of 13,594.
Whitby was founded under its Old English name of Streonshal in 656, when Oswy, the Christian king of Northumbria, founded Whitby Abbey, under its first abbess Hilda. The Synod of Whitby was held here in 664. In 867, the monastery was destroyed by Viking raiders, and was only refounded in 1078. It was in this period that the town gained its current name, Whitby, (from "white settlement" in Old Norse). In the 18th century Whitby became a centre for shipbuilding and whaling, as well as trade in alum and jet.
Tourism and fishing now form the mainstay of the town's economy. There are rail and bus links to the rest of North Yorkshire and North East England. Whitby has featured in literary works, television and cinema; most famously in Bram Stoker's novel, Dracula.
Large fossils have been found in the area including entire skeletons of pterodactyls. Whitby is known for its well preserved ammonite fossils, which can be found on the seashore or purchased from stalls or shops in the town. Three green ammonites are featured on the coat of arms of the Whitby Town Council. These ammonites are shown with a head carved on, as "snake stones", which were sold as religious souvenirs in memory of Saint Hilda of Whitby.

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