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"This room was larger than the last, dimly lit and rectangular, and the centre of it was sunken, forming a great stone pit some twenty feet below them. They were standing on the topmost tier of what seemed to be stone benches running all around the room and descending in steep steps like an amphitheatre, or the courtroom in which Harry had been tried by the Wizengamot. Instead of a chained chair, however, there was a raised stone dais in the centre of the lowered floor, and upon this dais stood a stone archway that looked so ancient, cracked, and crumbling that Harry was amazed the thing was still standing. Unsupported by any surrounding wall, the archway was hung with a tattered black curtain or veil which, despite the complete stillness of the cold surrounding air, was fluttering very slightly as though it had just been touched."
— Description[src]

The Death Chamber[2] was a room in the Department of Mysteries devoted to the study of death. It was on the ninth level of the Ministry of Magic in London, England.[1]


Harry Potter: "Can’t anyone else hear it?"
Luna Lovegood: "I can hear them too. There are people in there!"
Hermione Granger: "What do you mean, ‘in there’? There isn’t any ‘in there,’ it’s just an archway, there’s no room for anybody to be there — Harry, stop it, come away —"
— Harry Potter and Luna Lovegood hearing voices in the Veil[src]

The Veil in the middle of the room

The Death Chamber was a large, rectangular, dimly lit room that resembled Courtroom Ten of the Wizengamot. In the centre was a sunken stone pit some twenty feet deep. Stone benches ran all around the room and descended in steep steps toward a raised stone dais in the centre of the pit. An ancient crumbling stone archway, unsupported by any surrounding wall, stood on this dais. This archway was hung with a tattered black curtain which fluttered very slightly as though it had just been touched or blown by a faint wind, although the air in the room was still and cold.[1]

The Veil was believed to separate the worlds of the living and the dead, somewhat of a portal, linking the two worlds. It was believed that someone who stepped through the Veil would be forever trapped in the world of death. Some people, like Harry Potter and Luna Lovegood, could hear voices from behind the Veil; the ability to hear these voices, and the degree to which they could be heard, was related to the individual's belief in an afterlife. These voices were said to be the whisperings of the dead, talking to their loved ones from the other side.[1]


"It seemed to take Sirius an age to fall. His body curved in a graceful arc as he sank backward through the ragged veil hanging from the arch.... And Harry saw the look of mingled fear and surprise on his godfather’s wasted, once-handsome face as he fell through the ancient doorway and disappeared behind the veil, which fluttered for a moment as though in a high wind and then fell back into place."
— Sirius Black's death in the Death Chamber, during the Battle of the Department of Mysteries[src]

Death Eaters fighting in the Death Chamber

In 1996, part of a battle of the Second Wizarding War was fought in the Death Chamber after Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, Ron and Ginny Weasley, Neville Longbottom, and Luna Lovegood arrived in the Department of Mysteries in search of Sirius Black. The six Dumbledore's Army members passed through the chamber upon their arrival; Harry and Luna felt drawn to the Veil, but the others urged them away. The students were ambushed by Death Eaters in the Hall of Prophecy, and ended up fleeing through chambers in the Department.[3]

They were eventually cornered in the Death Chamber, but several Order of the Phoenix members came to their rescue, having been tipped off by Severus Snape, who received Harry's cryptic warning, and began fighting the Death Eaters. One of the pairs duelling there was Bellatrix Lestrange and Sirius Black; Bellatrix knocked Sirius (her own cousin) through the Veil with a spell at one point, killing him.[3]

Behind the scenes

  • In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the Veil is described as an old stone archway with a black tattered curtain hanging from it; in the film adaptation, the arch contains a semi-transparent veil of what appears to be some kind of mist.
  • The sixth book states that Dumbledore's funeral is the first Harry Potter ever attended. It is explained that no funeral was ever held for Sirius Black because his body was never recovered. This presumably indicates that the body left the material plane when it fell through the veil.
  • In the film adaptation, the Battle of the Department of Mysteries takes place entirely within the Death Chamber and the Hall of Prophecies, whereas in the novel, the D.A. members were pursued into at least two other chambers as well.
  • Rowling stated that the Veil has been in the Ministry as long as the Ministry itself has been there. This could mean that the Ministry was either built around the archway, originally constructed to study it, or that it was somehow relocated or constructed during the formation of the Ministry.
  • In the film, Bellatrix hit Sirius with the Killing Curse, Avada Kedavra, which would have killed him before he passes through the Veil. In the book, the curse that hits Sirius is not identified, although presumably it was a simple stunning spell. In the video game, a cutscene shows Bellatrix casting a spell similar to how Stupefy is depicted in the video game - a red bolt of spikes - to knock Sirius into the Veil.


Notes and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 34 (The Department of Mysteries)
  2. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 36 (The Only One He Ever Feared)
  3. 3.0 3.1 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 35 (Beyond the Veil)
Department of Mysteries
Level 9, Ministry of Magic
Room of Doors · Hall of Prophecy · Death Chamber · Brain Room · Time Room · Space Chamber · Love Room