The Ravens of the Tower of London

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The beautiful and irreplaceable Merlina…

Reblogged from sparkypus.com A Medieval Potpourri

It has recently been reported, 13 January 2021, that one of the famous Tower of London ravens has gone missing and it is now sadly presumed she has passed away. Merlina or Merlin as she was first known arrived at the Tower in 2007 after being found by the side of a Welsh road aged about a year old and later went on to become the favourite raven of Chris Skaife, present Ravenmaster of the Yeoman Warders – well one of them. She had originally been taken care of by the Swan Rescue Centre in Barry where she became well known for ‘throwing tantrums and mimicking the other birds‘. A strong character she refused to sleep with the rest of the ravens at night in their purpose built enclosure (thought to be built on the site of the Grand Hall where Anne Boleyn was imprisoned prior to her execution 1536) and instead had her own ‘private night box behind an old window on the ground floor of the Queens House on Tower Green where she graciously allows the Constable of the Tower and his family to live‘ where she would return to most nights. Along with the other ravens she was free to leave the Tower and tootle around the peremeter, their flight feathers not being so harshly cut as in previous times thanks to Chris Skaife who prefers a more gentler approach, the idea being that with good plentiful food and accommodation the ravens would choose to live at the Tower of their own free will. This unfortunately entails some risk and give some ravens an inch they will take a mile as the old saying goes – ‘However, some ravens have gone absent without leave in the past and others have even been sacked. Raven Munin flew off to Greenwich and was eventually returned by a vigilant member of the public after seven days. Raven George was dismissed for eating television aerials and Raven Grog was last seen outside an East End pub‘. (1)

The full, and amusing, story of the retaking of Raven Munin is in Chris Skaife’s book The Ravenmaster: My life with the Ravens at the Tower of London which is full of funny anecdotes and recommended if anyone wants to go more fully into the story of the Ravenmaster and  the Tower Ravens. 

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