This gorgeous Benedictine Abbey is situated upon a cliff overlooking the North Sea, and has been the site of a religious monastery since657 BCE, when Oswy, king of Northumbria, designated the land as an abbey under the care of Abbess Hilda. It was also home to the famous monk-poet Caedmon. The first abbey was attacked by the Danish invaders in the 9th-century.
A soldier under William the Conqueror was tasked with rebuilding the monastery in the 11th-century, and it is the ruins of the 11th-century buildings which one can visit today.
The abbey was dissolved under the orders of King Henry VIII (of whom I am not particularly fond—see King who Broke Abbeys) and sat unused for centuries. During this time the ruins were a source of stones for many building projects in the nearby area.
The ruins experienced additional trauma during WWI, when Whitby was shelled by German battleships.
if you are traveling in the area, Whitby is a must-see. Definitely. It is grand as Rievaulx, and as gorgeous as Fountains, but for some reason, less popular.