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Trail follows parliament of owls
Owls in Leeds
A parliament of municipal owls sitting in Calverley Street

The owl is a civic symbol of Leeds and is part of the city's coat-of-arms.

Representations of the bird are featured on many of the city's buildings, some owls are more obvious than others.

Now 10 locations have been brought together in the Leeds Owl Trail.

By following the trail it is hoped that much of history and heritage of Leeds will be revealed.

A 'parliament' is apparently the collective noun for owls and the birds to be spotted are representations in stone, glass and metal.

The organisers of the trail hope that people will also want to create new owls for future generations of Loiners to enjoy.

Antonia Stowe is one of the artists responsible for the trail:

"The owls are part of the city's heritage and following the trail helps you enjoy them. I think it anchors people in their city.

"Nobody can argue about the importance of the owls - they are there. The materials used vary from wonderfully carved stone to beautifully painted metal but it's all about connecting to our city

Coat-of-arms, Leeds
One owl as represented on the building housing Mal Maison

"The trail is a very simple idea but it's so obvious that now the owls will jump out at you."

So why owls? Well, the Leeds coat-of-arms includes a fleece supported by owls on a blue background. The birds' presence on the heraldic device is the reason why interpretations of the bird can be found all over Leeds.

There appears to be no distinct reason why owls were chosen to represent the city. The design on the coat-of-arms developed over a period of time and most of the owls seem to be based on the 1626 design belonging to Sir John Savile, the first Alderman of Leeds. Maybe it's as simple as Sir Savile just liked the look of owls. It makes a change from lions and dragons.

Owls appear in the folk culture of many countries and the bird often has characteristics attributed to it such as wisdom.

Take a look for yourself there are 10 locations as featured on the Owl Trail

  • Civic Owls, Millennium Square
  • Leeds Museum Owls, Millennium Square
  • St Anne's Cathedral, Cookridge Street
  • Municipal Owls, Calverley Street
  • Quebec Owl, Quebec Street
  • Kirkgate Market Owls, Vicar Lane
  • Corn Exchange Owls, Corn Exchange
  • Malmaison Owls, Swinegate
  • Leeds Bridge Owls, Bridge Street
  • Monkbridge Owls, Whitehall Road

This is one city trail that can be enjoyed by children and adults alike. You can download the map from the Leeds Owl Trail website. Go on it'll be a hoot!

Detective

If you know the city well, you may know where there is an owl statue or plaque that hasn't been featured in this list. You can turn owl detective and send in the details to info@leedsowltrail.com




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