North Ferriby is on the north bank of the Humber Estuary, approximately 8 miles (13 km) west of Hull city centre. To the north, atop a hill, lies Swanland. South Ferriby is directly opposite the village, on the south bank of the Humber (North Ferriby is generally referred to as “Ferriby” by locals on the north bank, except where confusion might arise). Melton is close by to the west.
North Ferriby lies in the Parliamentary constituency of Haltemprice and Howden. Ferriby parish had a population of 3,893 according to the 2011 UK census.
The village was once significant for Ferriby Priory, c. 1160, of the order of Knights Templar, founded by Lord Eustace Broomfleet de Vesci, in the reign of King John, circa 1200, as appears from an ancient manuscript formerly in the possession of the late Luke Lillingston, Esq. of North Ferriby, the Owner of the priory. It was dissolved along with the lesser monasteries, in 1536. The site of this priory is said to have been in the possession of 100 different persons.
The village has, in succession, been the patrimonial possession of the Mortimers, the Poles and the Bacons. It retains the elements of several elegant mansions from c. 1750 as Hull merchants started to build large houses (such as Ferriby House) with cottages for workers.
The foreshore of North Ferriby, within the Humber, is the site of the earliest sewn plank boats known outside Egypt. In 1931, wooden planks belonging to an ancient boat were discovered by local man Ted Wright on the shore of the Humber. Two further boats have since been discovered. Estimates using radiocarbon dating have placed the origin of the boats to the Bronze Age, between 2030 and 1680 BC. The Ferriby Boats are the earliest known boats found in Europe. Also, Bronze Age round barrows were found near North Ferriby by archaeologists excavating the land on which the A63 junction was built. There was also evidence of Iron Age and early Romano-British activity in that area.
The first wave of Danes arrived in the area around 900 AD with each ship setting up a local village. Amongst these was what is now North Ferriby from the Danish Ferja bi (place by a ferry), which would have been the chief Danish settlement of the area and linked by ferry to South Ferriby. A wooden church was built at that time, replaced by its first stone church c.a. 1150