If you are a visitor to the The Tower of London, don't be surprised when you come across some large black birds that look like over sized crows. These are the Ravens of the Tower of London and have a history almost as old the tower itself.
One of the ravens at the Tower of London
There is no authentic record of when these ravens first appeared at the tower, their presence is however surrounded by myths and legends. Legend dictates that at least 6 ravens must always remain at the Tower else the Tower and the Monarchy will fall.
To prevent the ravens from flying away from the Tower, their wings are clipped and have pens to live in.
Pens in which the Ravens live
Currently there are seven ravens at the Tower - this is so in case one of the ravens dies or escapes, six will always remain.
Raven with it's wings clipped
All seven ravens at the tower have names and have their wings clipped. One of the Yeoman warders is the Ravenmaster who cares for the birds.
The Legend of the ravens of the Tower can be traced back to a Medieval chronicler - Geoffrey of Monmouth. In 1136 he wrote a book called Historia Regum Britannia - The History of he Kings of Britain in which he refers to a British King called King Bran Hen. Bran is a Welsh word for Raven. King Bran had requested that on his death in battlefield, his head be buried as a talisman against invasion on the White Mount where the Tower of London now stands. The ravens therefore came to symbolise the king and to this day they are accepted as necessary occupants of the Tower and the legend that should the ravens ever leave the Tower of London, the White Tower will crumble and a great disaster shall befall Britain.
It is believed that King Charles II ( early sixteenth century) was responsible for the declaration that at least 6 ravens should be kept at the Tower at all times to prevent disaster. This has since been followed religiously.Here are some interesting facts about the ravens of the Tower of London
- There are seven ravens currently in residence
- The wings of the ravens are clipped so that they cannot fly away
- The ravens get a healthy diet of meat, bird biscuits and eggs besides other foods
- Ravens can live up to a ripe old age. The oldest raven to live at the Tower was Jim Crow who lived to an age of 44 years.
- Ravens who develop bad habits are dismissed from the Tower and sent to a Zoo.
- Ravens have also occasionally escaped and have been found at distance from the Tower.