Westow is a country village and civil parish in the Ryedale District of the county of North Yorkshire, England. The village has a population of around 300, measured at the 2011 UK census as 339. Until 1974 the village lay within the historic county boundaries of the East Riding of Yorkshire.
Westow is situated in the lee of Spy Hill, bordering the Howardian Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, 3 miles (4.8 km) from the A64 road linking Leeds to the North Sea coast, 5 miles (8 km) west of the market town Malton, and 15 miles (24 km) east from the city of York.
The village has deep associations with agriculture and is surrounded by a traditional, diverse farming landscape, much of it estate owned and managed.
Westow was originally an ancient parish in Buckrose Wapentake in the East Riding of Yorkshire. In 1866 the status of civil parish was introduced and this was taken on by most ancient parishes and also by their subsidiary townships if they were of any size at all. In 1866 both Westow and its four townships of Eddlethorpe, Firby (Westow), Kirkham and Menethorpe all became civil parishes. In 1894 they each became part of the Rural District of the East Riding.
In 1974 rural districts were abolished and the border between the East Riding of Yorkshire and the North Riding of Yorkshire was realigned. The North Riding changed its name to North Yorkshire. Since 1974 Westow has been in North Yorkshire, specifically within the Ryedale District.
Parish records of graves dating back to 1500s build a view of a small community established around agriculture. It is highly likely the village origins are older than this as the Ryedale area has significant evidence of Medieval and Roman settlement and activity. In all probability the location of Westow was originally chosen and occupied at a time when farming techniques were undeveloped and people were highly dependent on the natural environment and what it can provide. Westow is surrounded by fertile soils with good irrigation, and in the lee of the hill it is partly sheltered from north and easterly winds. These characteristics are likely to have led to the location of Westow being chosen for settlement. Today as throughout the centuries, for some residents village life continues to revolve around farming and agriculture, or providing services those living in the area. With improved mobility and recently telecommuting, others have chosen Westow for the country living, commute to towns and cities for work or work from home, whilst others have retired into the area. Westows strong sense of community remains.