So modest a town. So magnificent a history!

First the Celts lived here.

Then the Anglo-Saxons made it their home and settled on the name Streanæshealh. This morphed to Streanæshalc, then Streneshalc, then Streoneshalch, then Streoneshalh, and even Streunes-Alae in Lindissi.

Ah! Those Anglo Saxons.

Not content with any of these for a name and with the passing of the eons, it came to be called Prestebi, meaning the habitation of priests. An abbey was built on the hill there and it became the leading royal nunnery of Deira, an Anglo Saxon kingdom, and was the burial-place of its royal family.

Whitby Abbey

Those raider Viking Danes named it Hwitebi and later Witebi, meaning the white settlement. This evolved to Whitebi, then Qwiteby and now Whitby.

It’s a gorgeous little river port, constructed with a double breakwater guarded by a imposing fluted stone column of a lighthouse like a latter day Lighthouse of Alexandria.

Whitby Harbour Lighthouse

It’s been a maritime economy of whaling, fishing and shipbuilding. It produced Captain James Cook who mapped the world from his sturdy HMS Endeavour built there. Claim to fame enough, right? The town is flinty Yorkshire seafarer no-nonsense, perfect for future world explorers.

Endeavour at Whitby

In the bosom of the town are a network of narrow cobblestone alleys with two to three storey high buildings in brick and stone towering above. You feel as if in a secluded, protected valley. Twisting hillside paths take you high and down to the North Sea beach at the harbour entrance. Crab nets line the harbour side. Quaint houses donned with terracotta-hued roofs perched on the hillside vying for a view of the River Esk below.

Picturesque vistas everywhere you turn.

Quintessential blend of Celtic, Anglo Saxon, Viking and Norman which makes English towns like Whitby, well … English.

  • Echoes of Whitby are now found throughout the Anglo Celtic diaspora:
  • Anstruther. Fife. Scotland;
  • North Rustico. Prince Edward Island. Canada;
  • Portmouth, New Hampshire. United States;
  • Cobh, County Cork, Ireland;
  • Porthgain, Pembrokeshire, Wales;
  • Salamanca Place, Tasmania, Australia;
  • Rockport, Massachusetts, United States;
  • Cushendun, County Antrim, Northern Ireland;
  • Padstow, Cornwall, England;
  • Picton, Malborough, New Zealand; and
  • Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada.

North Yorkshire.

Relish the towns of your heritage! They belong to you.

2 thoughts on “Whitby

  1. Way over here in central Alberta, Canada, in the middle of nowhere, basically, there is a Whitby Hall – a little building used for weddings, family reunions, community meetings, etc. 🙂
    Thanks for this history of the “original” Whitby. It looks gorgeous!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing. Fascinating, isn’t it, that we in the Anglosphere are tied together by names. I suspect Alberta is rather at the centre of a great debate going on in Canada currently. Lots of cultural pride. And fair enough too. We’re cousins of the Anglosphere.


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