Professor Rowena Ravenclaw was a Scottish witch who lived in the early Middle Ages. Noted for her cleverness and creativity and regarded as one of the greatest witches of the age, Ravenclaw was one of the four Founders of Hogwarts along with GodricGryffindor, HelgaHufflepuff and SalazarSlytherin, and was the namesake of Ravenclaw House. She wished to make Hogwarts the very finest wizarding school in the world, and thus had a preference for students with great intellect. Ravenclaw was "beautiful yet slightly intimidating" and her motto was "Wit beyond measure is man's greatest treasure," something which she engraved on her famous diadem.
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. It is also thought Ravenclaw came up with the ever-changing floor plan.
Ravenclaw died sometime into the eleventh century, after she fell fatally ill. Legend had it that a broken heart —from the loss of her daughter, Helena — contributed to her early demise.
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. 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; Ravenclaws are known to be wise and quick learners.
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