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East & West Barnby, Yorkshire

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West Barnby and its neighbour, East Barnby, lie on the coast some five miles north and west of Whitby.

At East Barnby there is an Outdoor Education Centre situated where the North York Moors National Park meets the dramatic cliffs of the Heritage coast. The facility occupies the site of a former RAF radar station.

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The North Yorkshire Moors around Whitby seem to be the last area of the country to retain any memory of a character called Wade. His origins lie in Nordic myth and saga. Scholars speculate that he was originally a sea-giant known to the coastal tribes around the North Sea and Baltic regions. The earliest knowledge we have of him is a brief mention of his name in the 7th-century Old English poem Widsith.


There is further information on Wade in a 13th century German poem called Kundrun. Here, Wade is a white-haired, faithful retainer who led the fleet that came to rescue Kundrun, the heroine of the tale. He is described as skilled at healing, which he learned from certain 'wild women'.

"Some say Wade's grave is at Goldsborough where there is a standing stone called Wade's Stone: others say it is at East Barnby where there is another Wade's stone.

The Roman road that runs onto Wheeldale is known as Wade's Causeway. This implies that the name of Wade came after the Romans had left our shores and vanished from the folk memory. Many of the sites attributed to Wade are in areas that were settled by the Danish vikings.

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