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"Wit beyond measure is man's greatest treasure."
— Ravenclaw's philosophy[src]

Rowena Ravenclaw (fl. c. 993) was a Scottish witch and one of the four founders of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. She was noted for her intelligence and creativity. Ravenclaw died sometime in the eleventh century, after she fell fatally ill. Legend had it that a broken heart was the cause — because her daughter Helena ran away with her diadem. Rowena's portrait remained at Hogwarts.


Early life

"Fair Ravenclaw, from glen…."
— The Sorting Hat on Ravenclaw's birthplace[src]

Rowena Ravenclaw was born sometime in the tenth century. She was from the glens of Scotland,[2] and was either born or married into the Ravenclaw family. Rowena was also a close personal friend of Helga Hufflepuff, who was from the Welsh valleys.[9]

At an unknown time and by unknown means, Rowena acquired a wand.[10] It is possible she purchased it from the Ollivander family, who had been in the wand-making business since 382 B.C.,[11] or made it herself.

Hogwarts founder

"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."
Cuthbert Binns teaching Hogwarts' history[src]

Rowena Ravenclaw wearing her diadem

United by the common goal of creating the world's best magic school,[9] 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[5] sometime around 993.[12] It is a popular historical theory that the location and name of Hogwarts were both chosen by Rowena, who dreamt that a warty hog was leading her to a cliff by the lake.[13] She also came up with the ever-changing floor plan.[14]

Rowena selected her students according to intelligence and wisdom.[9] Ravenclaw House therefore values a sharp mind, wisdom, creativity, and cleverness in its members.[15] At some point, Rowena bore a daughter, Helena,[7] who was taught by Rowena herself at Hogwarts.[16]

After a time in which the school enjoyed great prosperity, Rowena's fellow founder Salazar Slytherin proposed a controversial action in which Muggle-born students should not be admitted to Hogwarts based on their heritage. Ironically, a large percentage of Ravenclaw's own house were of Muggle descent. She and the rest of the founders refused Slytherin's plan and the problem escalated to such degrees that Salazar ultimately left the school permanently.

Later life and death

"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 reminiscing on her past[src]

At some point after her graduation from Hogwarts School, her daughter Helena stole Ravenclaw's diadem, which was said to enhance the wearer's wisdom. 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 opted to keep her daughter's treachery a secret from others and denied it even from her fellow founders.[7]

Shortly afterwards, 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.[7]

Thus, Rowena apparently didn't get the chance to reconcile with her daughter before their untimely deaths, unless her daughter's ghost returned to the castle before Rowena's own death. Legend had it that a "broken heart" added to her early demise.[17] This story may have had origin in her estrangement with her daughter. Rowena was the first of the founders to die[18]


Rowena's stolen diadem would remain hidden in its lonely locale for centuries until the mid 1900s, where her daughter's ghost was charmed by Sytherin student Tom Riddle, who, unbeknownst to her, was a distant relative of Salazar Slytherin himself, into revealing its location. Acting on this information, Riddle took the diadem from its hiding place and defiled both it and the memory of Ravenclaw by turning it into a Horcrux. The defiled artefact was then hidden within the castle Rowena had helped build for years more until it was destroyed by Vincent Crabbe's out-of-control Fiendfyre, during a failed attempt to kill by Harry Potter during the Battle of Hogwarts in 1998.[7]

Rowan Khanna using Rowena's portrait in History of Magic

During the 1988–1989 school year and also the 1989–1990 school year, Rowan Khanna, who aspired to be a professor, would sometimes teach the History of Magic class during Professor Binns's frequent naps and inattention. One of Rowen's techniques was to bring in a portrait of Ravenclaw, allowing classmates to hear about the founding of Hogwarts directly from the memories of one of the founders.[19][20][21]

According to the questionable publication The Quibbler, Rowena also developed a strategy for traversing the tricky stairs of the Grand Staircase.[22]

Physical appearance

From her statue in Ravenclaw Tower and Xenophilius Lovegood's bust of her, Rowena was a beautiful yet austere-looking and slightly intimidating woman.[23][24] She was tall,[7] had pale skin, dark eyes, and long black hair.[17] Rowena spoke in a pronounced Scottish accent.[25]

Personality and traits

Ravenclaw drawing up Hogwarts's ever-changing floor plan

Ravenclaw's most notable traits were her intelligence and creativity. She valued the same characteristics in her students.[15][9] Rowena seemed strict and intimidating,[24] but despite this she seemed to be forgiving and loving. This shown by the fact that she was willing to disregard her daughter's betrayal just to see her one last time on her deathbed.[7]

Ravenclaw was very proud, not admitting that her daughter had run away with her diadem not even to her close friends, the other founders.[24] However, she wasn't prejudiced towards those of Muggle parentage or inheritance, as she disagreed with Slytherin's views on admittance to Hogwarts and a large percentage of her house were of Muggle descent.

Magical abilities and skills

Ravenclaw was described as the most brilliant witch of her time. Her capacity to cast a Patronus further showed her superior magical abilities.

  • Charms: Rowena had a considerable level of skill and proficiency in charms. Along with the other founders, she bewitched the Sorting Hat into a sentient magical artefact with personality to sort students well after their lifetime. She presumably enchanted her diadem to enhance the wearer's wisdom. Furthermore, Rowena was capable of conjuring a non-corporeal Patronus,[8] despite its immense difficulty.
  • Magical architecture: It is thought that Rowena herself devised the ever-changing floor plan of Hogwarts Castle.
  • Divination: According to legend, Rowena dreamt about a warty hog leading her to a cliff by the lake where she and her companions would build Hogwarts.[13]
  • Invention: Rowena presumably crafted and enchanted her diadem personally. No other witch or wizard was ever able to replicate its effects.
  • History of Magic: Rowena's portrait was knowledgeable about wizarding history and could help teach this to students in History of Magic lessons, which Rowan Khanna's assistance.[19][20][21]


Ravenclaw's Diadem

  • Wand: Ravenclaw owned a wand made of an unknown wood, length, core and flexibility.
  • Diadem: Rowena owned a diadem enchanted, presumably by Ravenclaw herself, to enhance the wearer's wisdom. The diadem was stolen by her daughter Helena Ravenclaw and hidden in an Albanian forest. It was later found and turned into a Horcrux by Tom Riddle.

See also


  • 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. 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.
  • Other character of the same is Lady Rowena Trevanion from the short story "Ligeia" by Edgar Allan Poe (who also wrote "The Raven") whom the narrator marries after the death of his first wife with raven-colored hair. When Lady Rowena dies, he watches as she comes back to life in the form of his first wife.
  • 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. Ravens and other birds of the corvid family are known to be smart birds and quick learners.

Behind the scenes

A portrait of Rowena Ravenclaw as seen in Harry Potter: Wizards Unite

Rowena Ravenclaw as a LEGO mini-figure

  • Rowena Ravenclaw is played by actress Lynne Pearson in Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.[26]
  • 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.
  • Both Rowena and her friend Helga were referred to as males in the Sorting Hat's song in early German editions and in the German audiobook of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire read by Rufus Beck. This was corrected in later editions of the book.
  • 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, although this has never been confirmed by J.K Rowling. This theory is supported by the fact that Ravenclaw is also her daughter's surname. Also even though the word "Raven" is in Ravenclaw's name, the crest of her house depicts an eagle. However, given that she was a proud woman, she could simply have declined to take the surname of her possible husband (father of Helena) upon marriage and kept her maiden name. It is also possible that she was never married.
    • 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, so it is therefore possible that Rowena's family or her possible husband's 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.


The Harry Potter Wiki has 44 images related to Rowena Ravenclaw.

Rowena Ravenclaw in LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7

Notes and references

  1. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 9 (The Writing on the Wall) - "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." Binns says this late in the year 1992. Given that Ravenclaw would be of age by the school's founding, the latest she could be born is 976
  2. 2.0 2.1 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.
  3. 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.
  4. It is unlikely, given his hatred of Muggle-borns, that Slytherin would work with one.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 9 (The Writing on the Wall)
  6. 6.0 6.1 J. K. Rowling's official site
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 7.7 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 31 (The Battle of Hogwarts)
  8. 8.0 8.1 LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 11 (The Sorting Hat's New Song)
  10. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (video game) (Appears on a Famous Wizard Card)
  11. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 5 (Diagon Alley)
  12. Official timeline in the films' DVDs
  13. 13.0 13.1 Fifth question of the Third W.O.M.B.A.T. at J. K. Rowling's official site
  14. "Rowena Ravenclaw" on Harry Potter Magical Trading Cards
  15. 15.0 15.1 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 7 (The Sorting Hat)
  16. "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's official site
  17. 17.0 17.1 Wizard of the Month
  18. Helena Ravenclaw's words - " 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. - imply that Rowena kept the missing Diadem a secret from the other founders and then fell fatally ill before any of them died.
  19. 19.0 19.1 Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 5, Chapter 11 (Mundungus Fletcher) - History of Magic Lesson "Goblin Rebellion of 1612"
  20. 20.0 20.1 Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 6, Chapter 5 (Wherefore Art Thou, Weasleys?) - History of Magic Lesson "Uprising of Elfric the Eager"
  21. 21.0 21.1 Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 6, Chapter 18 (Into the Forest) - History of Magic Lesson "Gargoyle Strike of 1911"
  22. Harry Potter: Puzzles & Spells (see this image)
  23. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 20 (Xenophilius Lovegood)
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 29 (The Lost Diadem)
  25. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
  26. Lynne Pearson's profile on IMDb
  27. 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
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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
Hogwarts faculty
Founders Godric Gryffindor | Helga Hufflepuff | Rowena Ravenclaw | Salazar Slytherin
Headteachers Eupraxia Mole | Vulpus | Phyllida Spore | Dexter Fortescue | Edessa Sakndenberg | Amrose Swott | Everard | Vindictus Veridian | Dilys Derwent | Quintin Trimble | Limebert | Phineas Nigellus Black | Walter Aragon | Basil Fronsac | Armando Dippet | Albus Dumbledore | Dolores Umbridge | Severus Snape | Minerva McGonagall | Brian Gagwilde | Elizabeth Burke
Deputy Heads Minerva McGonagall | Amycus Carrow | Alecto Carrow
Heads of House Filius Flitwick | Neville Longbottom | Minerva McGonagall | Horace Slughorn | Severus Snape | Pomona Sprout
Teaching staff Bartholomew | Bathsheda Babbling | Herbert Beery | Cuthbert Binns | Brindlemore | Charity Burbage | Camelia | Alecto Carrow | Amycus Carrow | Bartemius Crouch Junior (disguised as Alastor Moody) | Albus Dumbledore | Eleazar Fig | Firenze | Filius Flitwick | Fortinbras | Jakub Gorski | Olivia Green | Rubeus Hagrid | Rolanda Hooch | Arsenius Jigger | Silvanus Kettleburn | Gilderoy Lockhart | Neville Longbottom | Remus Lupin | Mazoni | Minerva McGonagall | Galatea Merrythought | Prendergast | Quirinus Quirrell | Patricia Rakepick | Concordia Rowle | Arif Sikander | Aurora Sinistra | Horace Slughorn | Severus Snape | Pomona Sprout | Swoopstikes | Sybill Trelawney | Dolores Umbridge | Septima Vector | Unidentified Potions professor (16th century) | Unidentified Charms professor (19th century) | Unidentified Herbology professor (19th century) | Unidentified Potions professor (19th century) | 19th-century DADA professor | Unidentified DADA professor (1984–1985) | Unidentified DADA professor (1985–1986) | Unidentified DADA professor (1986–1987) | Unidentified DADA professor (1987–1988) | Unidentified DADA professor (1989–1990) | Unidentified DADA professor (1990–1991) | Unidentified Muggle Studies professor (1990s) | Unidentified DADA professor (1998–?) | Unidentified Potions professor (21st century) | Unidentified Charms professor (?th century)
Hogwarts house-elves Bilm | Boil-ridden house-elf | Deek | Dobby | Filk | Gimkey | Krafty | Kreacher | Pitts | Retch | Vekey | Wigby | Winky
Support staff Rancorous Carpe | Argus Filch | Wilhelmina Grubbly-Plank | Rubeus Hagrid | Rolanda Hooch | Hankerton Humble | Ogg | Irma Pince | Poppy Pomfrey | Apollyon Pringle | Lucinda Thomsonicle-Pocus | Wainscott | Unidentified Healers | Unidentified Flying Instructor (19th century)
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