The Easter chicks are all grown up at Rievaulx Abbey

Falconry of Kings, Friday 29 March – Easter Monday 1 April 

Rievaulx Abbey near Helmsley will play host to a range of feathered visitors over the Easter weekend, but visitors expecting fluffy yellow chicks might be a bit of a surprise as these birds are some of the finest hunters in the country, as Raphael Falconry demonstrates the ‘sport of kings’!

The three days, a rare collection of falcons, hawks and even owls will take to the sky above the Cistercian ruins, with master falconers Mike and Emma Raphael demonstrating how early medieval kings built up falconry from being a simple leisure pursuit into a demonstration of skill and status for royals and nobles alike! 

“During the Plantagenet period, you start to see a real rise in the popularity of hunting with birds – indeed, the period is known as the ‘flowering of falconry’ – culminating in the reign of Edward I, who was nicknamed the ‘Falconer King’,” explains English Heritage’s regional events manager, Jonathan Hogan.  “This is the period when falconry became far more visually flamboyant, with the introduction of dress hoods for the birds, and ‘showing’ the birds became far more popular.”

For kings and wealthy nobles, flying a rare bird was the ultimate in prestige.  One of the birds that visitors should see over the Easter weekend is the Jer Falcon, a bird so rare that only kings would have been able to afford one.  Native to the Arctic Circle, the Jer Falcon is the large falcon in the world. 

Amongst the other birds taking part in the aerial acrobatics will be a Peregrine Falcon, Shaker Falcon – a bird that was particularly popular during the 12thand 13thcenturies as it was often brought back as a living souvenir of the Crusades – hunting hawks and kestrels.

‘Falconry of Kings’ runs from 12 noon until 5.00pm on Good Friday, Easter Saturday, Sunday and Monday (29 March – 1 April), with the site additionally opening from 10.00am to 6.00pm each day.  Admission prices are £6.50 for adults, £6.00 for concessions and £4.50 for children.  English Heritage members get in free.

For more information, please visit or call 01439 798228.


Notes to editors:  The 2013 English Heritage events press pack is now available.  Please follow the link at the bottom of this email to download a PDF version, or if you would like a hard copy or a copy on CD (including the image bank) please email

For further media information, please contact:

Jay Commins – PRO English Heritage (Yorkshire)

Tel: 01904 500698

Mob: 07810 546567





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