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"I mistranslated ehwaz... It means partnership, not defence; I mixed it up with eihwaz."
— Hermione Granger after her Ancient Runes O.W.L.[src]

The Study of Ancient Runes (commonly shortened to Ancient Runes) was an elective course at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and presumably Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, that could be taken by students third year and above.[2][6]

It was taught by Professor Bathsheda Babbling during the 1990s at least[1] and it was the study of runic scriptures, or Runology. Ancient Runes was a mostly theoretical subject that studied the ancient runic scripts of magic.

Class information

Ancient runes were a form of writing which witches and wizards used hundreds of years ago.

Classwork and homework involved plenty of practice translating runes, and the O.W.L. involved translating something written in runes into English. Hermione Granger used Spellman's Syllabary to translate her homework.

Class materials

The Words learned in this class

Only two words and their English translations were known. Hermione mixed these two words up on her Study of Ancient Runes O.W.L. exam: Ehwaz meant "Partnership" and Eihwaz meant "Defence".[7]


Animal Notes
The creature's invisibility abilities represented "0".[1]
Unicorn runes.jpg
The creature's single horn represented "1".[1]
The creature's dual horns represented "2".[1]
The triple-headed creature represented "3".[1]
The creature comprised of four different colours in feathers represented "4".[1]
The five legs of the creature represented "5".[1]
The maximum hours of the creature's ability to survive out of fire and the amount of legs most said creatures had represented "6".[1]
Due to the magically powerful number still being shrouded in mysteries, the unknown symbol represented "7".[1]
The eight-eyed creature represented "8".[1]
The nine-headed creature represented "9".[1]

Required textbooks


Passing grades

Fail grades

Known O.W.L.s

Behind the scenes

  • Throughout all of the Harry Potter books and film adaptations, not a single Ancient Runes class was seen taking place.
  • In reality, the words mentioned by Hermione in the Order of the Phoenix are Proto-Germanic runes. Ehwaz literally means "horse", while eihwaz literally means "yew-tree."
  • A variety of Elder Futhark runes are depicted on Lucius's Azkaban placard in the film. The easily identified ones are: Othila, which means "estate, heritage, possession" and corresponds to the Latin letter "o"; Ansuz (albeit rotated slightly), meaning "Odhinn (leader of the Æesir)"  and corresponds to the Latin letter "a"; Uruz, meaning "wild ox" or "drizzle" and corresponds to the Latin letter "u"; and Mannaz, meaning "man" and corresponds to the Latin letter "m".[10] This (along with the presence of the aforementioned two other Elder Futhark runes in the novel) suggests that the Elder Futhark runic alphabet at least (if not others too) is very much in use in the wizarding world and most likely learnt in Study of Ancient Runes, albeit with some additions from wizardkind, such as the numbers.
  • In LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 and LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7, one of the items is a rune dictionary, for which certain characters: Hermione Granger, Albus Dumbledore, Minerva McGonagall, Irma Pince and Gellert Grindelwald, are capable of using to translate and unlock rune bookshelves.[11][12]
  • Luna and Xenophilius Lovegood may have both taken this subject as the latter published some runic texts in an issue of his magazine (the Quibbler) whilst the former explained the information contained in those runic texts.[13]
  • In film adaptation Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Hermione compares Ancient Runes to Divination, thinking the first a fascinating subject and the second very woolly, however in the novel she did the same but with Arithmancy and Divination.

See also


Notes and references

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 J. K. Rowling's official site
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 14 (Cornelius Fudge)
  3. 3.0 3.1 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 12 (The Patronus)
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 26 (Seen and Unforeseen)
  5. 5.0 5.1 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 7 (The Slug Club)
  6. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 4 (The Leaky Cauldron)
  7. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 31 (O.W.L.s)
  8. 8.0 8.1 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 4 (At Flourish and Blotts) - It is said that both Percy and Bill Weasley earned twelve Ordinary Wizarding Levels, meaning they must have earned an O.W.L. in this subject.
  9. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 5 (An Excess of Phlegm)
  10. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elder_futhark#Rune_names
  11. LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4
  12. LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7
  13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 10 (Luna Lovegood)
Hogwarts subjects
Core classes Astronomy · Charms · Defence Against the Dark Arts · Herbology · History of Magic · Potions · Transfiguration
Elective classes Alchemy · Arithmancy · Care of Magical Creatures · Divination · Muggle Studies · Study of Ancient Runes
Extracurricular classes Apparition · Advanced Arithmancy Studies · Ancient Studies · Art · Flying · Ghoul Studies · Magical Theory · Muggle Art · Muggle Music · Music · Xylomancy
First year exams · Second year exams · Third year exams · Fourth year exams ·
Ordinary Wizarding Level · Nastily Exhausting Wizarding Test
Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
Ilvermorny Houses
Horned Serpent ClearBG 2.png
Wampus ClearBG 2.png
Thundebird ClearBG 2.png
Pukwudgie ClearBG 2.png
Namesake Founders
Isolt Sayre · Chadwick Boot · Webster Boot · James Steward
Subjects offered
Arithmancy · Charms · Creature Care · Defence Against the Dark Arts · Potions · Study of Ancient Runes · Transfiguration · Xylomancy
Ilvermorny staff
William · Rionach Steward · Eulalie Hicks · Agilbert Fontaine
Study of Ancient Runes
Ancient Runes Made Easy.jpg
Professor: Bathsheda Babbling
Textbooks: Advanced Rune Translation · Ancient Runes Made Easy · Magical Hieroglyphs and Logograms · Rune Dictionary · Spellman's Syllabary
Known Runes: Acromantula · Demiguise · Ehwaz · Eihwaz · Fwooper · Graphorn · Hydra · Quintaped · Runespoor · Salamander · Unicorn · Unknown · Mark of Merlin