Every Harry Potter fan knows a thing or two about the Hogwarts houses, including which one they would want to be sorted into if they had the chance. With the announcement of the North American wizarding school, Ilvermony, fans were excited to find out which house they would be sorted into on this side of the pond as well, but there’s something particularly special about the four houses of the original Hogwarts.
We’ve all heard the Sorting Hat’s songs, and learned about the bravery of Gryffindor, the wit of Ravenclaw, the cunning of Slytherin, and the trustworthiness of Hufflepuff. But the houses are so much more than just their simplest traits. From the founders to the ghosts, the symbols to the rivalries, the history of each house is rich and complex, with J.K. Rowling’s usual attention to detail given to every aspect. For fans of wisdom and wit, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite facts about the cleverest house at Hogwarts.
Here are 15 Things You Didn’t Know About House Ravenclaw.
15 Their Symbolic Bird Isn’t A Raven
As most people know, every house at Hogwarts has an animal mascot. Slytherin has the serpent, Hufflepuff has the badger, and Gryffindor has the lion. Most people assume that Ravenclaw has a raven, but that’s not the case. It’s an easy mistake to make, of course, given that the word ‘raven’ is right there in the name (although Gryffindor isn’t represented by the mythical Griffin!). In any case, the animal connected with Ravenclaw is actually an eagle.
The Eagle represents the ability to soar to heights to which others can't even dream to climb, making it a symbol of broad vision. Although many tend to associate the raven with Ravenclaw, we should remember that none of the house names are taken from the symbols. Instead, they are the surnames of Hogwart’s founders. Ravenclaw was founded by Rowena Ravenclaw, and though the name has nothing to do with the eagle, some fans have speculated that it is connected to the color of the eagle’s talon (a dark brown/black, which could be described as raven colored).
14 Don't Let The Films Fool You - The House Colors Aren’t Blue And Silver
Another common misconception about Ravenclaw concerns the house colors. Usually thought to be blue and silver, the original Ravenclaw colors are actually blue and bronze. These colors are taken from the sky (blue) and the feathers of the eagle that is the house symbol (bronze).
However, Warner Brothers decided to change the colors for the films to blue and silver, baffling many fans. It’s even more confusing given that the other three houses were given their original house hues. As a result, most of the merchandise available is also in blue and silver, frustrating those die-hard book lovers who would rather see a Ravenclaw crest in the original blue and bronze. The movies also further complicated the debate about the house bird by using a raven in the first few films, although an eagle does finally appear by the end of the series, to the relief of the hardcore Ravenclaws watching in the audience.
13 Ravenclaw Is Associated With The Element Of Air
As well as their colors, animals, and common personality traits, J.K. Rowling has revealed that each of the houses is connected to one of the four elements of nature. Ravenclaw is associated with air, Gryffindor is associated with fire, Slytherin with water, and Hufflepuff with earth. Rowling intended this to be a reference to the balance between the houses, and the need for balance between the traits that the houses represent.
Ravenclaw’s association with air is also connected to its other symbols. Like the eagle and the sky blue house colors, air is related to the Ravenclaws' lofty heights of learning. Air is also associated with clear sight (as is the eagle itself, hence the phrase ‘eagle eyed’), elevation (namely, the elevation of the mind through learning) and a longstanding connection to the spirit and the mind. The swiftness and lightness of wind and air have often drawn comparisons with the elusive nature of thought, and those who spend their days lost in thought are said to have "their head in the clouds".
12 The Ravenclaw Common Room Is The Highest In Hogwarts
Each of the houses has a common room, an area for the students to relax, socialize, and study, one which is directly attached to the dorms. We see a lot of the Gryffindor common room throughout the series (books and films) because the golden trio belongs to the fan-favorite house, but the other common rooms are just as fascinating as the one Harry, Ron, and Hermione call home.
Each room is associated with the element of the house – Hufflepuff is underground, in the basement, Slytherin dungeons are under the lake, and Ravenclaw Tower stretches into the sky. The Ravenclaw common room is known for having the best views of the Hogwarts grounds, and it's found at the top of a high spiral staircase. The main common room features several high, arched windows to take advantage of the views, and the dorms are in turrets, with four poster beds hung with sky blue silk. As well as being a house for the wisest of the students, Ravenclaw is definitely not one for students who are afraid of heights!
11 Ravenclaws Have A Riddle, Not A Password
The door to the Ravenclaw common room, unlike that of the other houses, isn’t disguised at all. It is a plain door with a bronze knocker in the shape of an eagle. Things are never that simple at Hogwarts, however, as this particular eagle is enchanted. In order to enter the room, students must answer a riddle posed by the eagle, who will only open the door to correct answers. This can often be time-consuming, and Ravenclaws quickly learn to triple check that they have everything before leaving the tower – as getting back in can take a while!
Some of the riddles are quite difficult, and there can even be a crowd of students in front of the eagle all attempting to work it out together (which helps the Ravenclaws socialize, at least). This can definitely be daunting for younger students, however, who would not be able to get in without a correct answer. This is also a less than perfect system, as a student from any house can enter as long as they can figure out the answer to the riddle – which allowed Professor McGonagall to enter with ease. Speaking of whom...
10 Professor McGonagall Was Almost A Ravenclaw…
Perhaps the reason that Minerva was so capable of answering the eagle’s riddle was that she was very nearly a Ravenclaw herself! Professor McGonagall is what’s known as a ‘hatstall’, a student that the Sorting Hat has difficulty placing. (So the sorting takes longer than usual, hence the term.) Minerva was a hatstall between Ravenclaw and Gryffindor, and the hat ended up taking a full five and a half minutes to finally place her in the latter house.
She certainly has the intelligence to suit Ravenclaw, and as a student, she received Outstandings in all of her exams (OWLs and NEWTs). She was a prefect, Head Girl, and she even won the Transfiguration Today ‘Most Promising Newcomer’ award during her time as a student at the school.
Of course, it’s also easy to see why Minerva became a Gryffindor. She is remarkably brave, standing up to Dolores Umbridge however she is able, plotting to help Dumbledore’s army, helping Harry search for the Ravenclaw diadem, and gathering the other heads of house to banish Snape from the school grounds ahead of the final Battle of Hogwarts.
9 …And So Was Hermione
Many fans have wondered why Hermione Granger wasn’t sorted into Ravenclaw. An avid reader and devoted student, she goes above and beyond when it comes to her learning. She even took so many classes in her third year that Professor McGonagall got her a time turner to be able to keep up with the workload. With this kind of almost obsessive love of books and studying, even the other students have wondered why she wasn’t a Ravenclaw.
When asked about it outright by Terry Boot, Hermione revealed that the Sorting Hat considered it for quite some time, before eventually settling on Gryffindor. Her Sorting took nearly four minutes – not long enough to be an official hatstall, but almost. However, like Minerva McGonagall, Hermione values courage above learning, and she is certainly an incredibly brave person. She also expressed a preference for Gryffindor on the Hogwarts Express at the start of her first year, and as we know, the Hat takes preference into account.
8 At Least Two Defense Against The Dark Arts Teachers Were Ravenclaws
The post of Defense Against The Dark Arts teacher at Hogwarts is often associated with Slytherins, especially since Professor Snape (the house's longtime head) wanted it for so long. However, of the seven teachers who held the post during the books, one was a Gryffindor (Professor Lupin), and two were Ravenclaws. Both Professor Quirrell and Gilderoy Lockhart were Ravenclaws, although that’s not something that the house is likely to boast about, seeing as one was corrupted by Voldemort, and the other was corrupted by his own ego!
It’s also possible that a third Dark Arts teacher, Mad Eye Moody, was a Ravenclaw. But since he refuses to reveal his house to anyone, so we can’t know for sure. Other notable teachers in Ravenclaw include the Divination teacher, Professor Trelawney, and the Charms Master and choir conductor, Filius Flitwick. Flitwick was also head of Ravenclaw during the time that Harry was a student at Hogwarts (and presumably still is).
7 A Ravenclaw Invented Floo Powder
There have been several notable Ravenclaws throughout history – an unsurprising fact, given that Hogwarts has stood since the 10th century, and in the hundreds of years since then, there have been notable witches and wizards from every house! Some of the most interesting Ravenclaws have included two Ministers For Magic (Lorcan McLaird and Millicent Bagnold), the inventor of the Lunascope (Perpetua Fancourt), a device for telling the moon phase without charts, and pioneer of love potions, Laverne de Montmorency.
In addition, the famous wandmaker Garrick Ollivander is a Ravenclaw, as is Ignatia Wildsmith, who invented floo powder. The invention of floo powder is particularly notable, as this transportation powder is much faster than traveling by broom, and doesn’t require a license, as apparating does. The formula for Floo powder is also a closely guarded secret, and although many others have attempted to make their own, Ignatia Wildsmith’s secret remains just that. In fact, several witches and wizards have ended up in the hospital trying to replicate it over the years.
6 One Famous ‘Ravenclaw’ Is Actually From Hufflepuff
Ravenclaws are particularly proud of their famous and successful alumni, so much so that they may have occasionally taken credit for a witch or wizard who wasn’t technically a Ravenclaw… but certainly had the brains to be.
The most famous of these is Bridget Wenlock, a fabulously brainy witch who is known for her work in mathematics. Wenlock, born in the year 1202, was a genius at Arithmancy, the study of the magical properties of numbers and divination using them. It was Wenlock who first discovered the magical properties of the number seven, although she nearly lost the theorem due to a habit of writing all her work down in invisible ink to protect it! Wenlock appears on her own Chocolate Frog card, and is one of the magical community’s best-known arithmancers.
Because of her intelligence, she is often assumed to be a Ravenclaw, although she is actually a Hufflepuff alum. In the late eighties, a student named Gabriel Truman got into a duel with a Ravenclaw prefect over the mistake, with both insisting that Wenlock belonged to their house.
5 Moaning Myrtle Is Also A Ravenclaw
Ravenclaw even has its fair share of famous ghosts. Of course, there is the official House Ghost, Helena Ravenclaw (more on her in a bit), but another well-known ghost is also a member of this house: Moaning Myrtle. Myrtle Elizabeth Warren was a student of Hogwarts when Tom Riddle attended, and she was killed when the Chamber of Secrets was first opened to let the Basilisk out. She became a friend to Harry and his friends when they started to use the bathroom she haunted to meet and make plans – as no one else would enter, thanks to Myrtle’s constant moaning. She helped them discover the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets to save Ginny, and also helped Harry learn the secret of the Golden Egg in the Triwizard Tournament.
Myrtle is one of the few famous Ravenclaws who is not famous for her connection to Rowena or her intelligence, but only because of the circumstances of her tragic death.
4 Ravenclaw Is A Haven For Eccentricity
As well as being a welcoming home for academic types, Ravenclaw is also a very open-minded house, known for students who are slightly (or highly) eccentric. The welcome message on the original Pottermore site probably describes Ravenclaw (through the words of prefect Robert Hilliard) best: “geniuses are often out of step with ordinary folk, and unlike some other houses we could mention, we think you’ve got the right to wear what you like, believe what you want, and say what you feel. We aren’t put off by people who march to a different tune; on the contrary, we value them!”
Ravenclaw prizes curiosity, and encourages students to explore arcane and unusual forms of magic. As a result, many of the famous Ravenclaws are quite odd. Ex-Minister Lorcan McLaird communicated with puffs of smoke, and Uric the Oddball (the punchline of many magical jokes) was known for wearing a jellyfish as a hat! The most famous unique Ravenclaw of the series, however, has to be Luna Lovegood, with her devotion to the Quibbler and her one of a kind fashion sense.
3 House Founder Rowena Ravenclaw Supposedly Died Of A Broken Heart
The Hogwarts founder who created Ravenclaw house was the famed Rowena Ravenclaw, a Scottish witch known for her intelligence and creativity. She is described as "beautiful but intimidating", and was a close friend of Helga Hufflepuff’s back in the day. According to Hogwarts legend, it was Rowena who decided on the name and the location of Hogwarts, thanks to a dream she had about a wart-covered hog leading her to a cliff by the lake. She is also responsible for the design of the Hogwarts floorplan, and the constantly changing staircases and hallways that confuse so many new students. Rowena taught at Hogwarts, prizing those students who were quick-witted and studious, and even taught her own daughter during her time at the school.
Sadly, Rowena died a sad death, not long after her daughter, Helena, ran away. Some say that Rowena died of a broken heart, missing her daughter and destroyed by her treachery.
2 Helena Ravenclaw Was Killed By The Slytherin House Ghost
Rowena’s daughter, Helena, was jealous of her mother, and wanted to be more clever, more important than the woman who raised her. To do this, Helena stole her mother’s diadem, the lost diadem of Ravenclaw. This beautiful piece of jewelry was said to be enchanted to enhance the wisdom of the wearer, and after Helena stole it, she fled to Albania to hide.
Rowena was heartbroken, but she refused to betray her daughter, choosing not to even tell her fellow founders what she had done. She did, however, send the Baron after her, to bring her home to her ailing mother. The Baron, who was in love with Helena, found her in an Albanian forest, but Helena refused to come home to Scotland with him. Furious at her refusal, the Baron murdered her on the spot, and then, overcome with remorse, turned his weapon on himself.
Later, the ghosts of the Baron and of Helena Ravenclaw returned to Hogwarts to become the ghosts of their respective houses.
1 Ravenclaw Isn’t Always Called Ravenclaw
Like many of the other terms and phrases in the Harry Potter series, the Ravenclaw house name has been changed in various other language versions of the books. In Romanian, the house name is “Ochi-de-soim”, which translates literally to “hawk’s eye”. (Interestingly, there is a blue gemstone also called the hawk’s eye, which -- in crystal lore -- is related to clear-sightedness and air travelers, although this may be pure coincidence.) In the Brazilian version, Ravenclaw became "Corvinal", from the Portuguese word for raven, "corvo". In French, Ravenclaw was translated to "serres d’aigle", which is "Eagle’s claw".
The most unusual translation, however, has to be the original Italian interpretation, which changed the house name to Pecoranera, which means black sheep! Later translations were changed again, to become Corvonero, a more accurate word that means black raven, or black crow. Of course, this really shouldn’t have been altered at all, because it is a surname!
What else should Potter fans know about House Ravenclaw? Let us know in the comments.