Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Whitby Abbey & Northumberlandia

Today we drove to Whitby Abbey on the coast, set on a headland high over the popular seaside town, Whitby in Yorkshire. When there it's easy to see how Bram Stoker was inspired by its gothic splendour when writing Dracula. This is one of the most atmospheric ruins on the Yorkshire coast. Whitby Abbey was founded in 657 AD by the Saxon King of Northumbria, Oswy (Oswiu) as Streanshalh (Streonshalh). The name Streoneshalh is thought to signify Fort Bay or Tower Bay in reference to a supposed Roman settlement or Roman Signal Station that previously existed on the site. He appointed Lady Hilda, niece of Edwin, the first christian king of Northumbria, as Abbess of Whitby Abbey. The double monastery of Benedictine monks and nuns was also home to the great Saxon poet Caedmon the cowherd who was miraculously transformed into an inspired poet. In 664, the abbey, built on the east cliff overlooking the Esk and town of Whitby, was the site of the Synod of Whitby, at which the Northumbrian Celtic church was reconciled to Rome and here the relics of Northumbrian kings and saints were enshrined.

In 867, Whitby Abbey fell to Viking attack, and was abandoned until 1078, when it was re-founded by Regenfrith (Reinferd) a soldier monk, under the orders of his protector, the Norman, William de Percy. The second monastery lasted until it was destroyed by Henry VIII in 1540. The abbey buildings fell into ruins, and were mined for stone, but remained a prominent landmark for sailors.
Driving through the moorlands on the way to the Abbey

Whitby Abbey

Labyrinth in the grounds of the Abbey
We walked the labyrinth listening to psalm singing that marked the passing of the hours and days and seasons, by monks as it was once done. The labyrinth was based on the famous pilgrim path set into the floor of Chartres Cathedral in the 12th century, the path takes you inward and encourages you if only for a short while to think about life and the universe and your place in it.

Town of Whitby and River Esk

St Mary's the Virgin Church beside the Abbey
 We then drove to see 'The Lady of the North" at Northumberlandia,  a piece of public art built into the landscape of Cramlington in Northumberland. Planned for seven years and built over two, she is the largest landscape replica of the female body ever seen in the world, her creators say. She stands 112ft (34m) high at her tallest point, her forehead, and is 1,300ft (400m) long made of 1.5 million tonnes of rock, clay and soil. This makes her the World’s largest human landform sculpture.

Northumberlandia has been built by the Banks Group as part of the restoration of the adjacent Shotton surface coal mine that has provided a unique opportunity to create a spectacular art form, which otherwise would not be constructed, whilst recovering much needed coal for UK energy generation.

This project is known as restoration first – taking an extra piece of land donated by the landowner, the Blagdon Estate, adjacent to the mine and providing a new landscape for the community to enjoy while the mine is still operational. The £3 million cost of the project has been privately funded by the Banks Group and the Blagdon Estate.

Standing on the Yoni of the naked lady looking towards the face.

Looking over to the face from the left breast.

The Shotton Open Cut Coal Mine

Looking down the nose through the breasts towards the legs.

The right hand

Looking across the man made lake towards the lady.

The design of the lady as a whole.

Our home for the night the Nent Hall Country House Hotel

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