Flamborough Head is a seven mile long promontory on the Yorkshire coast, between the Filey and Bridlington bays of the North Sea. It is a chalk headland, and the resistance it offers to coastal erosion may be contrasted with the low coast of Holderness to the south.
There are larger numbers and a wider range of cave habitats at Flamborough than at any other chalk site in Britain, the largest of which are known to extend for more than 50 m from their entrance on the coast. Seabirds such as gannets and puffins breed abundantly on the cliffs. Because it projects into the sea, Flamborough attracts many bird migrants in autumn, and also has a key point for observing passing seabirds.
During the evening of 23 August 2006, a lightning bolt hit a buttress on the cliffs, sending 100 tonnes of rock into the sea.
The lighthouse was built in 1806 by John Matson of Bridlington without the use of scaffolding, is 85 feet tall and stands atop a chalk cliff 170 feet high. Further back from the coast is the old Beacon light tower, dating from circa 1674, and the only known example in England. Recent restoration work has cast doubt on whether a fire was ever actually lighted atop the structure.
A Franco-American squadron fought the Battle of Flamborough Head with a pair of Royal Navy frigates in the American Revolutionary War on 23 September 1779. In the engagement, USS Bonhomme Richard and Pallas, with USS Alliance, captured HMS Serapis and Countess of Scarborough, the best-known incident of Capt. John Paul Jones' naval career. The toposcope at the lighthouse commemorates the 180th anniversary of the battle.
Danes Dyke is a 2 mile / 3 km long ditch that runs north and south isolating the seaward 5 square miles / 13 square kilometres of the headland. The dyke and the steep cliffs make the enclosed territory and its two boat launching beaches, North and South Landings, easily defended. Despite its name, Bronze Age arrowheads found on the site suggest an earlier history.