Whitby Abbey is among 10 places Mary Beard has chosen for Historic England’s campaign ‘A History of England in 100 Places’, sponsored by insurer, Ecclesiastical.
The campaign aims to find the 100 places which best represent the history of England.
Mary Beard has judged the ‘Loss and Destruction’ category from a long list of public nominations.
Some of the places she has chosen have witnessed devastating events in our collective history, and each has an important story to tell about our past, present and even our future society.
Mary is one of a panel of expert judges, including Professor Lord Robert Winston, George Clarke, Tanni Grey-Thompson and David Olusoga, who have been asked to choose their top 10 places in a range of different categories from a long list of public nominations.
Mary said: “It has been a pleasure, but also very hard and sometimes distressing to select ten places out of the nominations in this category.
“It has reminded me how important it is to remember and to memorialise tragedy.”
The Benedictine abbey was first destroyed in the dissolution of the monasteries and further when it was hit by German warships in December 1914 when they attacked a local coastguard station.
Its story spans hundreds of years and has the capacity to teach us about various chapters in the history of human conflict and destruction.
But it’s also a place for inspiration: the first English poet Caedmon wrote about Whitby and the ruins also inspired Bram Stoker’s gothic novel Dracula.
There has long been something imaginative, special and soulful about this cliff top.
For Mary, Whitby Abbey is “one of the most striking instances in the country of the haunting beauty of ruins”.
The 10 places Mary has chosen will be explored in new episodes of the recently-launched podcast series – free on iTunes and Soundcloud.
The Podcast series explores the 10 selected places and their importance to England’s identity.