The Creepy Reason Ravens Live in the Tower of London
The Tower of London, one of the most historic sites the city has to offer, gets thousands of visitors annually. Many come to see the crown jewels. But another mainstay exists at the Tower of London: ravens. The birds live in the tower and have for centuries. Read on to find out why.
King Charles II wanted ravens protected
During his reign, King Charles II insisted the ravens in the tower receive protection, according to Historic Royal Palaces. His astronomer, John Flamsteed, was not happy with the king’s decision because the ravens caused problems for him in the tower’s observatory. Nevertheless, King Charles II got protection for the ravens.
Next: One person is charged with caring for the ravens.
The person who protects and takes care of the ravens is known as the “ravenmaster.” The current ravenmaster is Christopher Skaife, according to Mental Floss. Working at the tower for more than a decade, he makes sure the ravens are safe and healthy. Two of his duties include feeding the ravens and waking them up. “It’s absolutely my favourite time of the day,” Skaife said of the early mornings at the tower on Twitter.
Next: Not just anyone can be the ravenmaster.
Decades of military service is a requirement
Becoming a ravenmaster calls for certain qualifications. First, the ravenmaster must have been a member of the military for 22 years. The same goes for all guardians of the tower, known as the Yeoman Warders. Skaife has 24 years of military service as a machine-gun specialist. He’s also an expert in survival and interrogation resistance, according to Mental Floss. Additionally, Skaife had to undergo a five-year apprenticeship with the previous ravenmaster.
Next: A simple reason explains why there are seven ravens at the tower.
Legend of the ravens
A legend surrounds the birds guarding the Tower of London. The legend says, “Kingdom and the Tower will fall if the six resident ravens ever leave the fortress,” according to Historic Royal Palaces. Today, the tower houses six ravens and one spare. It’s just one of the many superstitions surrounding the British royal family.
Next: Ravens can get fired or quit.
Some ravens aren’t cut out for the job
Some ravens “fly the coop,” so to speak, and never come back to the tower. Even though ravens have one wing clipped — the process is painless — some leave. One such raven was Raven Grog. He was last seen outside a pub in London’s East End, according to Historic Royal Palaces.
Next: The ravens eat the same meat supplied to an upscale department store.
The ravens eat blood-soaked cookies
Skaife feeds the ravens a special diet of raw meat and blood-soaked cookies, according to Historic Royal Palaces. They also eat “mice and treats snatched from visitors,” Skaife told BuzzFeed. Visitors aren’t encouraged to feed the ravens because they might bite.
Next: The ravens guard four territories at the Tower of London.
The job of the ravens is to protect the tower from other ravens and continue to uphold the legend to ensure the Tower of London and the kingdom don’t fall. Their territories include the Tower Green — where they would’ve seen Anne Boleyn’s execution — the remains of the Coldharbour Gate, the Wall of the Inmost Ward, and the Roman City Wall (South Lawn).
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