At one time wolves were very common throughout Great Britain. Just a mere two thousand years ago, they were said to have numbered nearly ten thousand and to live in mainland Britain.
There is a great deal of evidence to back up this claim, including the naming of many children after the wolf, and tribal clans as well.
Additionally there were records of British kings paying tribute to other nobles in wolf hides as well as wolf bones found in burial sites.
Britain holds the distinction of being one of the first countries to completely exterminate the wolf from its shores.
The derogatory term, wolfs head, was applied to anyone who was less than honest and wolves began to be hated in the country.
The campaign to extinguish all wolves in the country was begun by Edward the First in 1281.
He decided personally to order the employment of Peter Corbet and gave him instructions” to take and destroy all the wolves he could find”, especially in the counties of “Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Worchestershire, Shropshire and Staffordshire”.
The campaign against wolves by Edward I was quite successful and allusions to them became fewer in historical documentation. At an abbey in Herefordshire, an iron wolf head is supposedly a memorial to Edward’s campaign.
A report that in 1290 a wolf or wolves had destroyed some deer in a park – location unknown – seems to be the last reference to be found in historical documents.
It is reported that the last wolves in Britain were exterminated in the 16th century. Strangely, British wolves evaporated nearly without a trace.
In Scotland, a wilder less populous country, the wolves survived until the 17th century, albeit persecuted all the way to extinction.
Very little is told of them in historical lore and parish records, and a few stray bones and teeth here and there.
Sadly they were eradicated and are nearly completely forgotten by the country folk.
In the 1980’s and 1990’s the British Government signed conventions which agreed to consider reintroducing wolves and to promote public awareness about them. They have not yet concluded the consideration it seems.