"Almost any inanimate object can be turned into a Portkey. Once bewitched, the object will transport anyone who grasps it to a pre-arranged destination."
—Description[src]

A Portkey was a magical object enchanted to instantly bring anyone touching it to a specific location. In most cases, a Portkey was an everyday object that would not draw the attention of a Muggle. Travelling by Portkey was said to feel like having a hook "somewhere behind the navel" pulling the traveller to their location.[1]

The sensation of travelling by Portkey was universally agreed to be uncomfortable, if not downright unpleasant, and could lead to nausea, giddiness, and worse.[2]

Usage and properties

Harry Potter: "What sort of objects are Portkeys?"
Arthur Weasley: "Well, they can be anything. Unobstrusive things, obviously, so Muggles don't go picking them up and playing with them... stuff they'll just think is litter..."
— Portkeys are often inconspicuous[src]

Wizards who could not Apparate (dematerialise and reappear at will), who wished to travel by daylight (meaning that broomsticks, Thestrals, flying cars and dragons would be inappropriate), or whose destination had no fireplace (rendering Floo powder useless) would have to resort to the use of a Portkey.[2]

Almost any inanimate object could be turned into a Portkey. The incantation used to turn an object into a Portkey was Portus. Once bewitched, the object would transport anyone who grasped it to a pre-arranged destination. A Portkey could also be enchanted to transport the grasper(s) only at a given time. In this way, the arrivals and departures of great numbers of witches and wizards could be staggered, enabling such events such as the Quidditch World Cup to take place with few security breaches.[2]

When secrecy was paramount, and mass movement was planned, the chosen Portkey would be a nondescript object secreted in an out-of-the-way place, so that it would be taken for a piece of unimportant debris by Muggle passers-by. Accidents were still known to occur, however; two Muggle dog-walkers found themselves accidentally transported to a Celestina Warbeck concert in 2003, because their dogs had run off with an old trainer on Clapham Common (leaving an anguished crowd of witches and wizards to look frantically for their Portkey on a stretch of empty grass, hopefully seizing old crisp packets and cigarette ends). One of the Muggle dog-walkers was even invited on stage by Celestina to perform a duet of A Cauldron Full of Hot, Strong Love. While the Memory Charm placed upon him by a harried Ministry official seemed to take at the time, he later wrote a popular Muggle song that bore an uncanny resemblance to Celestina's worldwide hit (Ms Warbeck was not amused).[2]

Before the creation of the Hogwarts Express, Portkeys were used as a means of transportation to not draw the attention of Muggles. Eventually another method was sought, because the majority of students would either not find the item that was their Portkey, or not arrive in time to take the Portkey. Many students were 'Portkey-sick' and the Hospital Wing was filled with students for the first few days of term, while they got over their nausea and distress.

The sensation of travelling by Portkey was universally agreed to be uncomfortable, if not downright unpleasant, and could lead to nausea, giddiness and worse. Healers recommended that the elderly, pregnant and infirm avoided using Portkeys. The suggestion of arranging Portkeys for the transportation of annoying relatives saved many a wizarding family Christmas.[2]

Types of Portkeys

Hermione Granger, Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and others land after being transported from Ottery St Catchpole to Quidditch World Cup

Some Portkeys were preset to travel to their destinations at a specific time. Examples included the Portkeys that transported wizards to the Quidditch World Cup in 1994,[1] and the ones that transported members of the Order of the Phoenix from the different Order safe houses to the Burrow, after the Battle of the Seven Potters in 1997.[3] Other Portkeys were triggered immediately by a person's touch; examples included the Triwizard Cup, which transported Harry Potter and Cedric Diggory to Little Hangleton,[4][5] and the broken statue head that sent Harry Potter back to Hogwarts after the Battle of the Department of Mysteries.[6] It is unknown how one affected the difference between the two types of Portkey.

Both types of Portkey travelled to the destination along with their users. With touch-activated Portkeys, touching it again could transport the users back to their original location, as was the case with the Triwizard Cup. Time-activated ones could be handled before and after their assigned moment of use without effect.

Creating unauthorised Portkeys

According to Remus Lupin, the creation of unauthorised Portkeys would incur some sort of punishment,[7] and Cornelius Fudge was quite angry when Albus Dumbledore created one in front of him without permission.[6]

Known Portkeys

Date Portkey User(s) Starting point Destination Creator
1357 Broom Unidentified Quidditch referee Quidditch pitch Sahara Desert Unidentified Quidditch fan
16th century An old boot produced by the Book of Potions A Hogwarts student Potions Classroom Enchanted garden Zygmunt Budge
Late Summer 1899 Unknown Gellert Grindelwald Godric's Hollow Central Europe Bathilda Bagshot
September, 1927 A bucket

The bucket being activated

Dartmoor Paris Unknown
June, 1989[8] Vault Portrait

The Vault Portrait being activated

Training Grounds Portrait Vault Unknown
June, 1989 Vault Portrait

The Vault Portrait being activated again

  • Jacob's sibling
  • William Weasley
  • Ben Copper
  • Merula Snyde
  • Penny Haywood or Charles Weasley
Portrait Vault Great Hall Unknown
25 August, 1994[1] An old boot

The boot being activated

Stoatshead Hill, Ottery St Catchpole Dartmoor,

Quidditch World Cup Campsite

Unknown, presumably the Ministry of Magic
An old newspaper Unknown Unknown
A punctured football

An empty drink can

An old rubber tire Dartmoor, Quidditch World Cup Campsite Stoatshead Hill, Ottery St Catchpole
24 June, 1995 Triwizard Cup

The cup being activated

Quidditch pitch, Hogwarts Graveyard, Little Hangleton Barty Crouch Jnr
Graveyard, Little Hangleton Quidditch pitch, Hogwarts Possibly Albus Dumbledore
Late December, 1995 A blackened kettle Headmaster's office, Hogwarts 12 Grimmauld Place Albus Dumbledore
18 June, 1996 The head of a golden statue Harry Potter Ministry of Magic, London Headmaster's office, Hogwarts
27 July, 1997 A small, silver-backed hairbrush The Tonks' house The Burrow, Ottery St Catchpole Unknown member of the Order of the Phoenix
A rusty oilcan None (intended for Ronald Weasley and Nymphadora Tonks) Muriel's
An ancient trainer None (intended for Arthur Weasley and Fred Weasley) Unknown house of a member of the Order of the Phoenix
Unknown
A bent coathanger Kingsley's residence (possibly)

Etymology

French porter, meaning "to carry", and English "key", in the sense of a secret of trick.[2]

Behind the scenes

  • According to W.O.M.B.A.T., in order for portkeys to be arranged between countries, the consent of both Nations's Ministries of Magic may be required.
  • Also on W.O.M.B.A.T., it is possible that releasing a Portkey before arriving at one's destination may result in serious injury or death.
  • It is unknown why the Death Eaters used the Vanishing Cabinet when they could have created a portkey to Hogwarts unless there is a specific spell that stops portkeys, however Albus Dumbledore made one from the Ministry so this is also a contradiction. However, it may be possible that only the Headmaster or Headmistress of the time can make a Portkey in and out of Hogwarts. Of course, as the Ministry had finally accepted the fact that Voldemort has finally returned, and increased security at Hogwarts, preventing Portkeys from functioning within the school may had been one of the new defensive measures.
  • On Pottermore, series author J. K. Rowling jokes that she has a real Portkey: the key to the city for La Porte, Indiana, which was given to her by MuggleNet founder Emerson Spartz.
  • In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, when Harry grabbed the cup again in the graveyard, he was transported to the edge or entrance to the maze.[9] As portkeys can usually be used once only, it can be concluded that the cup was a portkey to begin with, even before Bartemius Crouch Jnr meddled with it. It appears that objects can be modified by multiple Portus charms.

Detection

While unauthorised Portkeys are banned, it is not clear to what extent the British Ministry of Magic can detect their creation of usage.

In Game

https://www.ign.com/wikis/harry-potter-wizards-unite/Portkey_Portmanteau_List

Appearances

Notes and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 6 (The Portkey)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Writing by J.K. Rowling: "Portkeys" at Wizarding World
  3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 5 (Fallen Warrior)
  4. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 31 (The Third Task)
  5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 32 (Flesh, Blood and Bone)
  6. 6.0 6.1 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 36 (The Only One He Ever Feared)
  7. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 3 (The Advance Guard)
  8. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 5, Chapter 30 (Into the Vault)
  9. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 35 (Veritaserum)
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