Caedmon Cross 
  The Caedmon Cross was erected at the top of the 199 steps in 1898 to commemorate Caedmon, one of the most famous people from the earliest days of Whitby Abbey. 
Its Celtic design shows the figures of Christ, David, Abbess Hilda and Caedmon himself. 
Caedmon was an illiterate cattle herder who worked at the abbey, and legend has it that he would hide in a cow shed when others around him began to sing, embarrassed because he was unable to hold a tune himself.   
One evening he fell asleep whilst he was hiding, and dreamt that an angel came to him and taught him how to sing.  When he awoke he found that he had dreamed a true vision and now had a wonderful gift for singing, and used his new-found talent to tell of the creation of God’s world in song.  When Abbess Hilda heard of his talent she took him into the monastic community and he became a monk.  Hilda encouraged him to use his gift to spread the word of God. 
The Venerable Bede, in his ‘The Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation’ (AD731), tells Caedmon’s story : “There was in the Monastery of this Abbess a certain brother particularly remarkable for the Grace of God, who was wont to make religious verses, so that whatever was interpreted to him out of scripture, he soon after put the same into poetical expressions of much sweetness and humility in English, which was his native language.  By his verse, the minds of many were often excited to despise the world, and to aspire to heaven.’ 
Bede records the song of Creation which Caedmon sang for the angel, and later for Abbess Hilda : 
‘Praise we the Fashioner now of Heaven’s fabric,  
The majesty of his might and his mind’s wisdom, 
Work of the world warden, worker of all wonders, 
How he the Lord of Glory everlasting, 
Wrought first for the race of men Heaven as a rooftree, 
Then made he Middle Earth to be their mansion.’ 
Taken from a lovely little book Did You Know? Whitby A Miscellany produced by the Francis Frith Collection exclusively for Identity Books (ISBN 978-1-84589-516-7) 
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