Poetry Month, April 2018: Ravenscar, The Town That Never Was: 2 Poems and More About Ravenscar

Updated on September 15, 2018
annart profile image

Ann loves to write poetry and stories. Current poetry on Nature, Travel & beyond, including varied poetic structures.


Ravenscar sits between Scarborough and Whitby on the east coast of Yorkshire, in the north of England. The name derives from Ravensker, the rock of the raven, from the Viking word 'sker'. Other similar names are Ravenseat in Swaledale, the seat or hill of the raven and Ravenglass in Cumbria, taken from the Celtic ‘Rann Glas’ meaning the part share of land belonging to someone called Glas. Much of the English language derives from Scandinavian and Celtic influence.

These two poems are inspired by the unusual story of this town, described below.

Ravenscar and its place on the Map

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Ravenscar - the southern headland of Robin Hood's Bay, near Scarborough, YorkshireBetween the Sea & the Yorkshire Moors
Ravenscar - the southern headland of Robin Hood's Bay, near Scarborough, Yorkshire
Ravenscar - the southern headland of Robin Hood's Bay, near Scarborough, Yorkshire | Source
Between the Sea & the Yorkshire Moors
Between the Sea & the Yorkshire Moors | Source

Raven & Rose

Raven on rock-scar way above stormy Sea,

surveying foam-decked Air, Fret moving in, stealthy.

Watching Raven, seeped hair clamped on brow,

sits Rose, black-cloaked, claw-fingers clasping rounded

head of cane, ebony eyes searching mist now,

for what? - memories of unreachable sounds.

Voices promising a place to live, play, rest; home at last.

But Voices faded, broken promises like Frets

passing out to sea on the tide. Rose’s death came fast.

Black Raven on rock, Black Rose on Fret, both rose to meet the mist,

drifted out as One above stormy Sea and Surf,

away from earthly Scar.




The Town that Never Was, that’s what they say today.

Great idea, eh? - resort above the cliff-tops, miles away!

Sharp descent, steep steps, slip-slap o’er even sharper rocks,

to reach the beach - at last soft sand? - oh no, what a shock!

Rocks, rock-pools 'twixt the slime of algae left by tide and time.

Whose bright idea was this to build resort sublime?

Great panoramas of sky and mist, a grid of houses paid for,

conveyance proof with bills of sale - the land just sits, no doors

waiting to welcome, roads to guide them, just drains to take the rain

from grass-topped paths, some gateways, all prepared in vain.

Flawed vision, lack of money, no chance of having fun.

Instead a let down clientèle, bosses on the run.

The likes of Rose had no redress, no sun and fun and lollies,

just bare land, views of grass and scrub, a legacy of folly.


  • scar: a high rock
  • fret: a sea mist, coming and going swiftly
  • folly: i) a building constructed for fun, on a whim; ii) silliness
  • 'twixt' - or betwixt, used to mean involving two things (between two); 'twice' has the same derivative; also a general archaic word for 'between'

Why 'The Town that Never Was'?

Ravenscar is a lone village built on spectacular cliffs. Victorian developers devised big plans for the village to rival Scarborough and Whitby, wanting to turn it into a popular resort. It had a costal train line, bracing air and panoramic views.

A North Eastern Railway poster billed it as 'Twixt moors and sea, midway between Scarborough and Whitby' with a 'Magnificent Undercliff and Hanging Gardens', claiming that it was the 'most bracing health resort on the east coast, 600 feet above sea level'.

The fact that it was 600 feet above the sea, atop a steep cliff and that there was no sandy beach, all added to its failure as the new resort. A set of steps was built down the cliff but they were not easy to negotiate. Who would want to buy a plot in such a position? A good view, yes, but that's all!

Plots were sold but apart from a few streets and buildings the resort never came to fruition, due to the development company going bankrupt. It was thus referred to as 'The Town That Never Was'. The railway line closed in the 1960s and all that remains is a dramatic headland with a clifttop hotel, amazing views in all directions, and several walking and cycling routes.

More about Ravenscar

Its history encompasses industrial heritage, a wartime radar site and rich coastal and countryside scenery.

The original settlement, Peak, was a simple farming hamlet. The 17th century brought industry to the coast and alum, used as a fixative for dyes in the textile industry, began to be extracted from the shale. At its height in the 18th century Peak Alum Works was a huge operation; remains of the quarries, shale tips and the factory buildings can still be seen.

Ravenscar was also the site of a World War II radar station, acting as part of a coastal defence system established in 1941.

There is a reinstated rocket post, once used in practice exercises by coastguards, as well as scenic walks taking in wonderful panoramas, clifftop meadows with abundant flora, and woodlands, farmland and ponds.

Fylingdales Moor rises above Ravenscar. It is a conservation area managed by the Hawk and Owl Trust, a haven for wildlife. You might be lucky enough to see a merlin, the UK’s smallest raptor, or a seal colony at the bottom of the cliffs. There are Bronze Age archeological remains on the moor. The local Clevedon Way is a popular walk, encompassing much of the above.

Common Raven

These are the largest of the raven species; the species is the genus ‘Corvus’. The only difference between ravens and crows is that ravens are larger.

There are several collective nouns for ravens, two of which are ‘an unkindness of ravens’ and ’a conspiracy of ravens’. This seems to reflect their apparent ferocity and their verbosity when roosting in great numbers. The terms are slightly less derogatory than the collective for crows - 'a murder'!

Conspiracy of Ravens?

Corvus on a Scar
Corvus on a Scar | Source

Ravens at the Tower of London

There is a saying, a superstition, that the Tower of London and therefore the kingdom will fall if the six resident ravens ever leave. It is said that Charles II first required the ravens of the Tower to be protected.

Today, there are seven ravens at the Tower (maybe one's ageing and they need a spare!) - Hardey, Thor, Odin, Gwyllum, Cedric, Hugine and Munin, who live next to the Wakefield Tower. They consume 6 ounces of raw meat and bird formula biscuits soaked in blood each day.

Let's hope no one ever lets them out; we need all the luck we can get!

Don't Let them Go!

Jubilee & Munin at the Tower of London
Jubilee & Munin at the Tower of London | Source

© 2018 Ann Carr


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    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      2 months ago from SW England

      Yes, Peggy, it's an area popular with hikers and cyclists. The views are far and wide - on a good day without mist!

      They certainly make sure that the ravens are well cared for!

      Thanks for your visit. Keep safe and well.


    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      2 months ago from Houston, Texas

      That town that never came to fruition does sound as though the panoramic views are breathtaking. Since there is a hotel on the site, it might make for a perfect getaway for souls who like to meditate and do some hiking or cycling during the day.

      That is an interesting superstition about the ravens in London. It sounds as though they are well fed.

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      2 years ago from SW England

      Thank you, Gypsy. Good to see you. Yes, I love the ravens too. They have something magical about them.


    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 

      2 years ago from Daytona Beach, Florida

      Thank you for sharing. Really fascinating. I love those large ravens.

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      2 years ago from SW England

      Thank you, Ruby. Glad you enjoyed this. Yes, it has its place in history which is good.


    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      This was an interesting read, and the poems were great. The fact that Ravenscar was used during the war was worth the building. The ravens added a nice touch to the piece.

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      2 years ago from SW England

      Threekeys: You're welcome and thank you for visiting and commenting.


    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      2 years ago from SW England

      Thank you, John. I'm always grateful for kind words from the real poets on this site. I enjoy writing it but it all depends on the muse at the time. I'm enjoying poetry month!


    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      2 years ago from SW England

      Hello Jackie! I do quite like writing poems but this time it was the poem as the main thing but wanting to add connected facts to boost the article somewhat. I always feel that my poems need some supporting material!

      Thanks for your visit and your kind support.


    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      2 years ago from SW England

      Thank you Liz for your lovely comment. Glad you enjoyed this.


    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      2 years ago from SW England

      Thank you, Doris, for your kind comment. Yes, ravens are mysterious and of course black is associated with witchcraft which I tried to mirror a little in the first poem. They do sometimes have a bad press which seems a shame.


    • profile image


      2 years ago

      Loved learning about these places . Lots of interesting details. Thankyou Ann

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      A very interesting article and well-written poems. Nice work, Ann.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 

      2 years ago from the beautiful south

      Great article and you must be like me. I love to throw a poem in whenever I can!

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 

      2 years ago from Oakley, CA

      Very nice poems; moving and poignant.

      Loved the added historical bits, as well! Kudos to you!

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      Doris James MizBejabbers 

      2 years ago from Beautiful South

      Love the poem combined with the history of the place. The name sounds like it would be shrouded in mystery. The place names and the terminology are intriguing. Ravens in our literature send a message of mystery and suspense, sometimes even horror. They are beautiful birds, but I'm not sure I've ever seen one here in the Southern U.S. Crows abound though. You really are a great writer, Ann.

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      2 years ago from SW England

      Thank you for your great comment, Eric! I'm pleased I created a 'nice uneasy' feeling. It's a cool feeling for me!

      I appreciate your loyal support.


    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      2 years ago from SW England

      I'm blushing, bill; such praise from you, one of the most talented on HP, means so much to me. Thank you.

      I must say my muse is active at the moment. I think the break helped recharge the batteries! Anyway, I'm glad you enjoyed this.

      Have a fruitful Friday, bill!


    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      What a great story of the town that never was. I love the Ravens they are so adaptable and multifaceted. We have murders of hundreds here as they head west to the coast for the night.

      I have never enjoyed a poem like this that gave me a "nice" uneasy feeling. Pretty cool.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      You came back from your trip on a roll with your writing, and such wonderful writing it is. I love history like this, wrapped up in poetic form.....you are a seriously talented writer, my friend. More please!

      Wishing you a wistful weekend!


    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      2 years ago from SW England

      Thank you, Flourish. Glad you were entertained. I enjoyed writing this but then birds fascinate me and anything connected is a bonus.

      Good to see you!


    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      2 years ago from SW England

      Verlie: I agree with you about eerie. Maybe it's the black of this species that makes them so. However, blackbirds are upbeat but then not so big!

      Thank you for your lovely comment.


    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      2 years ago from SW England

      Thanks again, Frank.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      2 years ago from USA

      I enjoyed the directions that you took this in. Between the doomed town and those birds eating raw meat and blood soaked biscuits I was both entertained and educated.

    • snakeslane profile image

      Verlie Burroughs 

      2 years ago from Canada

      'Raven and Rose' what a powerful poem Ann, so mysterious and finely tuned. Really lovely page, Ravens are more solitary than crows, although I did see a small group of them today looking hungry and wind blown, in a graveyard no less, it was a bit eerie..

    • manatita44 profile image


      2 years ago from london

      A little sad in some places. Good info and new theme. Grear variety. Are you feeling it a bit. For me it felt like it in the first part. Still, its a great endeavour. Carry on ...carry on.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 

      2 years ago from Shelton

      bless you you're simply amazing.. I'm serious.. a poem is a poem.. but it becomes poetry when it's developed right.. and you do that...

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      2 years ago from SW England

      Frank, your comment has blown me away! I'm delighted by 'thorough publishing'. Thank you so much. Glad you liked the raven; I think they're majestic.


    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 

      2 years ago from Shelton

      these poems have just blown away the doors to April's poetry month statues.. I love the raven.. the links were interesting and the hub altogether is a must read for all hubbers who love thorough publishing.. awesome Ann


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