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Rowena 2
Rowena Ravenclaw
Biographical information

10th century


11th century[2]

Physical information




Hair colour


Eye colour


Skin colour


Family information
Family members

Helena Ravenclaw (daughter) †[6]


Magic teacher[4]



"Wit beyond measure is man's greatest treasure."
—A quote attributed to Ravenclaw and etched in her diadem.[src]


"Fair Ravenclaw, from glen […]'"
—The Sorting Hat on Ravenclaw's birthplace.[src]
File:Ravenclaw with wand.png

Rowena Ravenclaw was born sometime in the tenth century. She was from the glens of Scotland,[1] and was either born or married into the Ravenclaw family. She was a good friend of Helga Hufflepuff, from the Welsh valleys.[4]

At an unknown time and by unknown means, Ravenclaw acquired a wand.[7] It is possible she purchased it from the Ollivander family, who had been in the wand-making business since 382 B.C.,[8] or made it herself.

Founding of HogwartsEdit

"You all know, of course, that Hogwarts was founded over a thousand years ago — the precise date is uncertain — by the four greatest witches and wizards of the age. The four school Houses are named after them: Godric Gryffindor, Helga Hufflepuff, Rowena Ravenclaw, and Salazar Slytherin. They built this castle together, far from prying Muggle eyes, for it was an age, when magic was feared by common people, and witches and wizards suffered much persecution."
Cuthbert Binns.[src]
File:Ravenclaw Hogwarts.jpg

United by the common goal of creating the world's best magic school,[4] Rowena Ravenclaw and her good friends Helga Hufflepuff, Godric Gryffindor and Salazar Slytherin built Hogwarts Castle together and established Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry[3] sometime around 993.[9]

It is a popular historical theory that the location and name of Hogwarts were both chosen by Ravenclaw, who dreamt that a warty hog was leading her to a cliff by the lake.[10] Ravenclaw came up with the ever-changing floor plan.[11]

Ravenclaw selected her students according to intelligence and wisdom.[4] Ravenclaw House therefore values a sharp mind, wisdom, creativity, and cleverness in its members.[12]

At some point, Ravenclaw bore a daughter, Helena[6], who was taught by Rowena herself at Hogwarts.[13]

Later life and deathEdit

File:Helena alive.jpg
"I stole the diadem. I sought to make myself cleverer, more important than my mother. I ran away with it. My mother, they say, never admitted that the diadem was gone, but pretended that she had it still. She concealed her loss, my dreadful betrayal, even from the other founders of Hogwarts. Then my mother fell ill — fatally ill. In spite of my perfidy, she was desperate to see me one more time. She sent a man who had long loved me, though I spurned his advances, to find me. She knew that he would not rest until he had done so."
Helena Ravenclaw's ghost to Harry Potter in 1998.[src]

At some point after her graduation from Hogwarts School, Helena stole her mother's diadem, which was said to enhance the wisdom of the wearer. Helena was jealous of her mother's famous intellect and took the diadem with her to Albania, far away from her mother's reach, in hopes of surpassing her. Ashamed of her daughter's betrayal, Rowena Ravenclaw opted to keep her daughter's treachery a secret from others, and denied it even from her fellow founders.[6]

Then, Rowena fell fatally ill. Disregarding her treason, she asked the Baron, who was in love with Helena, to go and find her daughter, merely wishing to see her one last time. He eventually tracked her to a forest in Albania but when she refused to return with him, the Baron flew into a fit of rage, furious at her refusal and envious of her freedom, and stabbed her. Immediately overcome with guilt, he then took his own life. The two would later become, respectively, Ravenclaw and Slytherin house ghosts.[6] Thus, Rowena did not get the chance to reconcile with her daughter before their untimely deaths (unless her daughter's ghost returned to the castle before Rowena's death).

Legend had it that a "broken heart" added to her early demise.[5] This story may have had origin in her estrangement with her daughter.

Physical appearanceEdit

Rowena 1

Portrait of Rowena

From her statue in Ravenclaw Tower and Xenophilius Lovegood's bust of her, Rowena Ravenclaw was a beautiful yet austere-looking and slightly intimidating woman.[14][15] She was tall,[6] had long black hair and dark eyes,[5] and spoke in a pronounced Scottish accent. [16]

Personality and traitsEdit

Ravenclaw's most notable trait is her intelligence and creativity, and the fact that she valued the same in her students.[12][4] She also seemed strict and intimidating,[15] but despite this she seemed to be forgiving and loving, as shown by the fact that she was willing to disregard her daughter's betrayal just to see her one last time on her deathbed.[6] She was also very proud, not admitting that her daughter had run away with her diadem not even to her close friends, the other founders.[15]

Magical abilities and skillsEdit


Ravenclaw was described as the most brilliant witch of her time.

  • Charms: Rowena Ravenclaw's diadem was a magical artefact that was bewitched, presumably by Ravenclaw herself, to enhance the wearer's wisdom.
  • Magical arts: The founders taught no particular subjects to their students; they taught them a bit of everything. Thus, it is more than likely that Ravenclaw mastered all the basic branches of magic such as Transfiguration, Charms, Herbology, Potions and so on.
  • Magical architecture: It is thought that Rowena Ravenclaw herself devised the ever-changing floor plan of Hogwarts Castle.


  • Rowena is a Latinised form of an old Germanic name: "Fame" (cf. the Anglo-Saxon hrōd, or hrōð), and "Joy", (cf. the Anglo-Saxon wyn(n)), or "Friend", (cf. the Anglo-Saxon wine). Rowena, Queen of Britain, is a figure in Britain's traditional history; she was supposedly the daughter of Hengest and the wife of Vortigern.
  • In Welsh poetry, Rowena is named "mother of the nation", which could link in to her being a founder of Hogwarts. She also is another character whose name surfaces in the great epic Ivanhoe.
  • Ravenclaw is simply 'raven' + 'claw'. A raven is a large black bird that belongs to the crow family; however Ravenclaw's symbol is an eagle. In legend, ravens are known to be smart birds and quick learners; Ravenclaws are known to be also wise and quick learners.

Behind the scenesEdit

  • Ravenclaw was featured as Rowling's "Wizard of the Month" for August, 2007: "One of the four famous Founders of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Rowena Ravenclaw was the most brilliant witch of her time, though legend has it that a broken heart — cause unknown — contributed to her early demise".
  • It is possible that Ravenclaw is not Rowena's birth name, but her married name. This theory is supported by the fact that Ravenclaw is also her daughter's surname. This has never been confirmed by Rowling. Also even though the word "Raven" is in Ravenclaw's name, the crest of her house depicts an eagle. It is interesting to note that Albania is sometimes considered the "Land of Eagles" in the 16th century and that Rowena's daughter fled to Albania. It is therefore possible that Rowena's family or her husband's (father of Helena) came from Albania before settling into Scotland.
  • Rowena Ravenclaw's Chocolate Frog Card, as featured in the PC video games of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Rowena is somewhat anachronistically depicted wearing sixteenth/seventeenth-century garments, while Ravenclaw lived in the tenth century.
  • In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, Harry has a vision of Hogwarts Castle, a woman, and a banner of Ravenclaw. Harry incorrectly identifies the woman as Rowena Ravenclaw, when it is in fact her daughter Helena.

See alsoEdit


The Harry Potter Compendium has 4 images related to Rowena Ravenclaw.

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - Chapter 12 (The Triwizard Tournament), the Sorting Hat refers to Rowena as "fair Ravenclaw, from glen", which is likely a reference to Scotland. Furthermore, in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Ravenclaw's portrait speaks with a strong Scottish accent.
  2. Rowena fell fatally ill and sent the Bloody Baron to fetch her daughter in Albania after Helena's seven years at Hogwarts. Given the earliest she could have started at the school was around 993, the approximate year of the school's founding, the earliest year this could have taken place was 1000. It is likely Rowena died around this time.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - Chapter 9 (The Writing on the Wall)
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - Chapter 11 (The Sorting Hat's New Song)
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Wizard of the Month
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Chapter 31 (The Battle of Hogwarts)
  7. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (video game) (Appears on a Famous Wizard Card)
  8. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - Chapter 5 (Diagon Alley)
  9. Official timeline in the films' DVDs
  10. Fifth question of the Third W.O.M.B.A.T. at J. K. Rowling's Official Site
  11. "Rowena Ravenclaw" on Harry Potter Magical Trading Cards
  12. 12.0 12.1 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - Chapter 7 (The Sorting Hat)
  13. "If a teacher is head of a house, can we assume that they were sorted into those houses when they were students at Hogwarts? Is that also true for the house ghosts? So was Snape a Slytherin?" on J.K.Rowling Official Site
  14. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Chapter 20 (Xenophilius Lovegood)
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Chapter 29 (The Lost Diadem)
  16. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
  17. Ravenclaw is available in the Nintendo DS version of LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7. For other devices, she is available in the "Downloadable Character Pack" DLC for the game.

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
Hogwarts Houses:
Gryffindorcrest Hufflepuffcrest Ravenclawcrest Slytherincrest
Namesake Founders:
Godric Gryffindor · Helga Hufflepuff · Rowena Ravenclaw · Salazar Slytherin
Heads of House:
Minerva McGonagall · Pomona Sprout · Filius Flitwick · Horace Slughorn
House Ghosts:
Nearly Headless Nick · Fat Friar · Grey Lady · Bloody Baron

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