The UK is no stranger to dark and macabre tales, boasting a variety of well known myths and ghost stories. One of the most intriguing is the spooky prophecy surrounding the birds who reside in the infamous Tower of London. The historic fortress, formally known as ‘Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London’ has held various functions though the years. It most famous for being a prison that held Elizabeth I before she became queen, Sir Walter Raleigh, and Elizabeth Throckmorton among other well known individuals.
At least six ravens are kept at the Tower at all times, in accordance with the belief that if they are absent, the kingdom will fall. The birds are guarded by the Ravenmaster, and are popular with visitors and tourists to the tower. The Ravenmaster aims to actually keep seven in the tower at all times, in case one should die suddenly.
Sadly it looks like the ‘spare’ raven might be stepping up as one of the six headliners as reports have emerged that one of the ravens is missing.
In a statement on Twitter, Tower of London staff said the bird, named Merlina’s continued absence indicated she may have sadly passed away. Merlina is known as the Queen Raven of the Tower of London. The names of all the current birds are Jubilee, Harris, Gripp, Rocky, Erin, Poppy and missing Merlina.
The statement said: “We have some really unhappy news to share. Our much loved raven Merlina has not been seen at the Tower for several weeks, and her continued absence indicates to us that she may have sadly passed away.”
It continued; “Though it isn’t unusual for our ravens to roam outside the walls, free-spirited Merlina has previously always returned to the Tower and to the Ravenmaster and his team, with whom she shared a wonderfully close bond. “Since joining us in 2007, Merlina was our undisputed ruler of the roost, Queen of the Tower Ravens.”
“She will be greatly missed by her fellow ravens, the Ravenmaster, and all of us in the Tower community.”
Charles II is thought to have been the first to insist that the ravens of the Tower be protected after he was warned that the crown and the Tower itself would fall if they left. They have been part of the historic landmark for over three centuaries. Ravens are intellegent, and have been observed to mimic sounds, play games and solve problems.
The Tower staff do not have current plans to replace the missing raven, though there is an ongoing breeding program – a chick born in this program may one day take up the seventh spot.