Tag Archives: whale bones in Britain

The presence of whales in Britain

Photo by TallGuy

The famous whalebone arch on Whitby’s West Cliff is a symbol of the whaling industry that thrived there and in other English ports like Hull and Yarmouth in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The 15 ft bones are from a Bowhead whale, killed under license by Alaskan Inuits, and unveiled by Miss Alaska in 2003.¬† An even larger arch stood on the same spot, made from the 20 ft jaw bones of a Fin whale, presented to the town by Norway in 1963.

During England’s years as a whaling nation, captains returning from Greenland would bring home these huge bones as souvenirs. Ship crews would tie a pair of whale jaw bones to the mast to let anxious families on land know there’d been no casualties. ¬†Some of the bones were used in construction as house ends. Some were set in fields for cattle to rub against. Continue reading The presence of whales in Britain