Yorkshire is a historical treasure-trove with dozens of ancient ruins, medieval abbeys and mesmerising castles spread across the county. If you want to peek behind the veil of the past and get a sense of how things used to be, there’s no better time to discover Yorkshire’s legacy than on World Heritage Day.
World Heritage Day was founded in 1982 by the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS). The following year, it was approved by the General Assembly of UNESCO. Since then, it’s been celebrated on April 18 and aims to preserve the human heritage and celebrate renowned historical sites and monuments around the world.
In celebration of the occasion, we’ve formed this fantastic list of some of the best historical sites to visit in Yorkshire:
1) Whitby Abbey, North Yorkshire
Whitby Abbey was once a monastery founded in AD657 by King Oswy of Northumbria and quickly became a famous religious site in the Anglo-Saxon period. Back in its glory days, the abbey would have been surrounded by other monastic buildings. However, centuries of conflict and typical English weather have taken their toll on the structure, leaving the monastery in ruins.
You’re free to roam the ruins, whose Gothic architecture is said to have inspired Bram Stoker’s famous novel, Dracula. Don’t forget to stop by the Cholmley family mansion on your visit, which is home to a collection of medieval and Anglo-Saxon items in addition to a quaint little gift shop and café.
2) Middleham Castle, Yorkshire Dales
Wander through the remains of Middleham Castle and trace the childhood steps of Richard III, who grew up in the castle and is a crucial part of its rich past. The castle was built in the 12th century with alterations made in the 15th century. Located in the Yorkshire Dales, the castle is a must-see site with fantastic views of the Wensleydale ravine from the viewing platform.
3) Rievaulx Abbey, North Yorkshire
If you’re a fan of ancient ruins, you won’t want to miss a visit to the Rievaulx Abbey. Founded in 1132, it was the first Cistercian abbey in north England and one of the most influential monasteries of its time. The ruins featured in many paintings throughout the 18th and 19th centuries by romantic artists who appreciated the abbey’s impressive architecture and picturesque surroundings.
4) Scarborough Castle, North Yorkshire
The Scarborough Castle is over 3,000 years old and offers stunning panoramic views of the rugged Yorkshire coastline. Take an audio tour of the castle and its grounds and discover the mighty fortress that witnessed some of the most significant battles in England. You’ll notice a range of historical influences throughout the castle ruins from the Iron Age to the Roman signal station and an impressive medieval chapel.
5) Brodsworth Hall
Experience what life was like in a bygone era with a guided tour of this mid-Victorian country house and gardens. It was built in the 1860s and remained with the same Thellusson family for three generations. It’s now a heritage site that offers a fantastic opportunity for you to explore its luxurious interiors, which have been entirely preserved to showcase the grandeur of its previous tenants. While you’re here, you can wander through the stunning gardens and enjoy a traditional Yorkshire meal in the Tea Terrace.