At least some content in this article is derived from information featured in: Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery & Harry Potter: Puzzles & Spells & Harry Potter: Magic Awakened.
The Sword of Gryffindor was made in the 10th century by goblins, the magical world's most skilled metalworkers, and was therefore enchanted. Fashioned from pure silver, it was inset with rubies, the stone that represented Gryffindor in the hour-glasses that counted the House points at Hogwarts. Godric Gryffindor's name was engraved just beneath the hilt.
The sword was made to Godric Gryffindor's specifications by Ragnuk the First, finest of the goblin silversmiths, and therefore King (in goblin culture, the ruler did not work less than the others, but more skillfully). When it was finished, Ragnuk coveted it so much that he pretended that Gryffindor had stolen it from him, and sent minions to steal it back.
Gryffindor defended himself with his wand, but did not kill his attackers. Instead he sent them back to their king bewitched, to deliver the threat that if he ever tried to steal from Gryffindor again, Gryffindor would unsheathe the sword against them all. The goblin king took the threat seriously and left Gryffindor in possession of his rightful property, but remained resentful until he died.
The story persisted, in some sections of the goblin community, that Gryffindor actually stole the sword from Ragnuk. This was a result of the cultural understanding of ownership that goblin-made items rightfully belonged to goblins, rather than the heirs of those who may have purchased them, a cultural understanding that should have been honoured by the wizards.
Attempts to steal the sword
During Hallowe'en of 1986, Slytherin student Merula Snyde decided to steal the Sword of Gryffindor from Godric's Hollow. After finding the crypt of Ragnuk in St Jerome's graveyard, the ghost of Ragnuk appeared, and when she revealed her intention to take the sword, he cursed her, completely blinding her, in response for her trying to take the sword. Jacob's sibling managed to convince Ragnuk to lift the curse from Merula and anyone else he cursed.
Affray in the Chamber of Secrets
- "A gleaming silver sword had appeared inside the hat, its handle glittering with rubies the size of eggs."
- — Harry Potter holding the Sword of Gryffindor for the first time.[src]
In May of 1993, the sword materialised inside the old school Sorting Hat and appeared to Harry Potter, to whom the hat was given when he arrived in the Chamber of Secrets to save his best friend's sister, Ginny Weasley, from being drained of her life force by Tom Riddle's Diary and eaten by the Serpent of Slytherin. Harry used the sword to kill the Basilisk, which was hiding inside the bowels of the Chamber.
This caused the sword to be imbued with basilisk venom (since goblin-made items only absorb what makes them stronger) and hence gained the ability to destroy Horcruxes, although Harry instead used one of the Basilisk's fangs to destroy the diary, which eliminated the sentient memory of Tom Riddle it contained and restored Ginny's vitality. After the events of that year, the sword resided in the Headmaster’s office and was kept safe within a glass case.
Hunt for Horcruxes
- Rufus Scrimgeour: "Was it because Dumbledore believed that only the sword of Godric Gryffindor could defeat the Heir of Slytherin? Did he wish to give you that sword, Potter, because he believed, as do many, that you are the one destined to destroy He Who Must Not Be Named?"
- Harry Potter: "Interesting theory. Has anyone ever tried sticking a sword in Voldemort?"
- — Scrimgeour and the trio discussing the contents of Albus Dumbledore's will[src]
During the summer of 1996, Albus Dumbledore used the sword on the Gaunt family ring. The sword cracked the stone in the ring, thus destroying it as a Horcrux. It still worked as the Resurrection Stone. Dumbledore tried to use it to talk to his deceased relatives, but failed.
Before he died, Dumbledore entrusted the sword to Harry in his will. However, Rufus Scrimgeour claimed that the sword was not Dumbledore's to give away. The Minister stated that it was a school heirloom, not personal property and refused to give it to Harry. This caused the trio substantial problems. Dumbledore placed an identical copy of the sword in his office, because he knew that the British Ministry of Magic would try to confiscate it and hid the real sword in a hole in the wall behind his portrait. Sure enough, the sword on display in the Headmaster's office was later taken by Rufus Scrimgeour for examination.
When the sword was returned to the Headmaster's office by the Ministry, Dumbledore's Army students Ginny Weasley, Neville Longbottom, and Luna Lovegood attempted to steal it for Harry. The group was caught and punished as a result. Following that incident, Severus Snape passed the counterfeit sword to Bellatrix Lestrange. Bellatrix then stored it in her Gringotts vault alongside Helga Hufflepuff's cup, one of Voldemort's Horcruxes.
Upon discovering where Harry and his friends were camping out, Dumbledore's portrait instructed Snape to give Harry the real sword without Harry knowing that it was Snape, in case Voldemort found out through Legilimency on Harry. It also needed to be recovered "under conditions of need and valour". To fulfil these conditions, Snape deposited the real sword in a frozen lake in the Forest of Dean and used his corporeal Doe Patronus to guide Harry to the sword.
When Harry tried to retrieve the sword, the Locket of Slytherin closed around his neck and attempted to strangle him, sensing that its destruction was near. Ron Weasley came to Harry's rescue, retrieved the sword from the lake and used it to stab the locket, destroying it. Harry believed that Ron should be the one to perform the deed as he had recovered the sword, and Dumbledore had taught Harry about the power of certain acts.
Skirmish at Malfoy Manor
Later, Harry, Ron, and Hermione were captured by the Snatchers and the sword was taken by one of them as a spoil. They were then taken to Malfoy Manor where Bellatrix Lestrange noticed the sword. Though Bellatrix ordered the Snatcher to give her the sword, the man foolishly refused and was stunned along with his comrades.
Harry and Ron were then imprisoned in the cellar along with Luna Lovegood, Dean Thomas, Mr Ollivander and the goblin Griphook while Hermione was being tortured and interrogated by Bellatrix. Bellatrix demanded to know where the trio came into the possession of the sword, thinking that they had broke into her vault for it. She summoned Griphook to verify the sword, and at Harry's request, Griphook lied and said that it was a fake.
Break-in of Gringotts Wizarding Bank
When Harry and the rest were saved by Dobby to Shell Cottage, Harry asked for Griphook's assistance to break into Bellatrix Lestrange's vault at Gringotts, as he suspected the Cup of Hufflepuff - one of Voldemort's Horcruxes - was hidden within it. Griphook, impressed by Harry's respectful treatment of the house elf, agreed to help on the grounds that he would be given the real sword as payment. Harry agreed reluctantly.
When their break-in was discovered, Griphook seized the real sword and ran with it. Afterwards, the goblins were summoned to Malfoy Manor to deliver the news of the break-in to Voldemort; in a fit of blind rage, Voldemort murdered all those present for their failure in protecting the vault and one of his Horcruxes.
Battle of Hogwarts
- "The slash of the silver blade could not be heard over the roar of the oncoming crowd or the sounds of the clashing giants or of the stampeding centaurs, and yet it seemed to draw every eye."
- — Neville weilding the sword during the final battle[src]
In the Battle of Hogwarts, the sword reappeared in the Sorting Hat for Neville Longbottom and, while following Harry Potter's orders, he used it to behead Nagini, Voldemort's snake and his last remaining Horcrux with a single stroke of the blade, rendering Voldemort a mortal man once more.
During the mysterious Calamity which affected the wizarding world in the 2010s, the Sword of Gryffindor was one of the numerous magical items and artefacts that appeared scattered across the world, called Foundables for which volunteer wizards and witches of the Statute of Secrecy Task Force had to deal with in order to uphold the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy.
The Sword of Gryffindor was made of pure silver, and its hilt was set with egg-sized rubies — the gemstone that was used to symbolise the House of Gryffindor at Hogwarts. The full name of Godric Gryffindor was also engraved just beneath the hilt.
Much like a wand, the sword of Gryffindor appeared to be almost sentient, responding to appeals for help by Gryffindor's chosen successors. Whenever a "true Gryffindor" needed it, the sword would let itself be pulled out of another of Godric Gryffindor's artefacts — the Sorting Hat. After Ron Weasley saved him from drowning, Harry believed that since it was Ron who recovered the sword it was Ron who had to use it because "Dumbledore had at least taught Harry something about certain kinds of magic, of the incalculable power of certain acts". In addition, the portrait of Dumbledore told Severus Snape that the sword must be taken under conditions of need and valour, which was why Snape put it into the frozen pond in the first place.
As goblin's silver, it imbibed only substances which strengthened it, which could then be used against enemies. This means that it never required cleaning. Due to Harry Potter killing the Serpent of Slytherin with it, the sword was imbued with Basilisk venom and could destroy Horcruxes.
Behind the scenes
- Gryffindor's sword owes something to the legend of Excalibur, Arthur's sword, as it had to be drawn from a rock by the rightful king as only a rightful Gryffindor can hold Gryffindor's sword.
- The role of the sword in the Chamber of Secrets film is much the same as in the book; however in the PC, PS1 and PS2 versions of the video game based on the film, the sword has a long range attack; a ball of light (PC), lightning/a curving beam of light (PS2/Xbox and Gamecube) or Basilisk venom which can be launched from the sword, though it in the case of the PS2, Xbox and Gamecube versions, the sword flies out of Harry's hands once the Basilisk is properly damaged with it (and the boss music will stop until the sword is picked up again but only for the latter two console versions).
- In the PS1 version, however, the sword instead repels the venom like how shiny metal or a mirror would repel a laser, and the player has to direct the venom laser onto the basilisk's fangs. It is only in the GBC version of Chamber of Secrets that the sword has a physical, non-magical attack used.
- In the video game adaptation of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, Voldemort casts a spell at Neville as soon as he pulls out the sword from the Sorting Hat. Neville then deflects Voldemort's spell using the sword, which then hits Bellatrix's stomach, causing her to scream in pain.
- The sword is featured in the hand of the goblin Griphook on the front cover of the UK version of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. The sword is also featured on the front cover of the German version of the book.
- An illustration of the sword can also be seen being held by Dumbledore before Chapter Eighteen in the American version of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. In this image, the sword has a curved blade, like a scimitar, while in the film it is straight, like a knight's sword. On the American dust jacket of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry has a sword in his belt, and this sword has a cup-hilt which guards the fingers, unlike the cross-hilt sword of the movies and the Chapter Eighteen illustration.
- The sword was used twice in the series (by Harry Potter and Neville Longbottom) to kill snakes: Salazar Slytherin's Basilisk and Nagini, respectively. This may symbolise Godric Gryffindor's enmity with Salazar Slytherin, who was closely associated with serpents. This may also have been an homage to the courtly tales of heroes "slaying dragons with swords," including Saint George and is also a clear reference to Beowulf where the protagonist uses various swords against monsters and demons in the Anglo-Saxon epic saga Beowulf.
- It is interesting to note that the sword is the only one of the main relics of the Hogwarts Founders that is not a Horcrux but one of the few things that can destroy a Horcrux. Slytherin's Locket, Hufflepuff's Cup and Ravenclaw's Diadem are the other relics, but are also Horcruxes.
- In the series and across adaptations, the sword's size changes often. On the cover of the seventh novel it looks more like a large dagger than a sword, as mentioned above it appears like a scimitar in the American version illustrations. In the films the handle appears to have a one-handed handle but when Neville wields it, its handle is relatively long and is more than a hand and a half. In the PS2 version of the game, it is as short as a short sword, while the PS1, Xbox and Gamecube versions have its length and design akin to a normal broadsword. Some fans theorise that it was enchanted to adjust its size appropriately to the worthy wielder's size and style of combat, single or double-handed. This has yet to be confirmed or discredited.
- The sword is Matthew Lewis (actor who portrayed Neville Longbottom)'s favourite prop from the series.
- Twice, the sword presented itself to a Gryffindor who doubted that they belonged. Harry Potter pulled the sword out of the Sorting Hat, when he was worrying that he should have been in Slytherin, and Neville Longbottom had an argument with the Sorting Hat; the hat wanted to put Neville in Gryffindor but Neville was scared and wanted to be put in Hufflepuff. Later, he too pulled the sword out of the hat.
- The sword, along with the Sorting Hat, are the only remaining relics of the Hogwarts Founders, as the others were turned into Horcruxes by Voldemort and subsequently destroyed in an effort to defeat Voldemort. Both belonged to Godric Gryffindor.
- Ironically, though the sword is a Gryffindor relic, it is made of silver which is a Slytherin colour. However, this is likely out of necessity as a solid gold sword would be far too heavy to lift, let alone wield. In addition, gold is also a rather unsuitable metal for a sword: besides its weight being unruly for a weapon, it is also an incredibly soft metal with a very low melting point; a sword of ordinary steel could easily damage or cleave right through it. Gold is so soft that a brick of it the size of a match box can be hammered down to cover an area the size of the average tennis court.
- Its composition of silver is fitting for a sword used to slay dark creatures and destroy dark objects as silver is often used in mythology as a metal that can kill monsters such as Vampires, Werewolves, and more.
- Judging from the era which it was supposedly made, it could be argued that the sword should have taken the appearance of a pattern-welded Anglo-Saxon sword, perhaps not dissimilar to the description of the poison-ivy bladed sword Hrunting in the Anglo-Saxon epic poem Beowulf.
- It is also fitting as a magical weapon as silver is an incredible conductor of electricity which, like magic, is a form of energy, making the comparison all the more fitting.
- In the film adaptation, the design of the Sword of Gryffindor has a blatant resemblance to one of the ceremonial swords of Napoleon Bonaparte. The only few differences would be the silver hilt, a label of Godric Gryffindor on the handle and the rubies on the pommel and the guard.
- Interestingly, the sword's quality of imbibing only that which strengthens it corresponds with muggle philosopher Frederich Nieztche's famous quote, "That which does not kill me only makes me stronger." And this is very much the principle that the Sword of Gryffindor exemplifies.
- Ironically, it also has qualities mentioned by Snape during a lecture on the nature of the Dark Arts, that they are mutating, ever-changing, indestructible. Funny that a sword that was used to destroy the darkest and foulest of magical objects would in and of itself be similar in nature to the forces it was being used to fight against, much like the classic saying, "Fight fire with fire." And this fits the sword due to it being the legacy of Gryffindor, whose house corresponds with the element of fire.
- The sword's rubies and silver blade and possession of a man whose emblem is a lion and possesses red hair and lion-like features is reminiscent of the character Lion-O from the 80's cartoon series, Thundercats and the Sword of Omens. This, and also the fact that only the worthy are able to wield or summon each sword, and that they are used against an enemy with a serpent as their insignia and motif, Voldemort and Mumm-Ra for Gryffindor students Harry Potter and Neville Longbottom, and Lion-O respectively.
- The issue of the sword's ownership is discussed frequently in the series. By wizarding law it is believed to belong to Gryffindor's chosen heirs, however by goblin culture it should have been returned to the artisan or their family, a cultural law that should have been honoured by the purchaser and makes wizarding possession of the sword tantamount to theft regardless of Gryffindor came to own it. Hermione states to Scrimgeour that it belongs to Harry since it appeared to him in the Chamber of Secrets (along with the popular but incorrect fan theory that Harry is a descendant of Godric Gryffindor which technically would make it his) while Scrimgeour himself viewed it as an important historical artefact which is known to present itself to worthy Gryffindors but is not theirs automatically. As Gryffindor has no known descendants, the sword would technically, by wizarding law, be the property of Hogwarts along with the Sorting Hat, though it could be argued that the way it presents itself to a 'true Gryffindor' is Gryffindor choosing an heir each time.
- A functional replica of the sword was made by the Stagmer Brothers of Baltimore Knife and Sword on the popular web series, Man at Arms: Reforged.
- A fan theory states that Voldemort had the Sword when going to the Potter's house intending to use Harry's death to turn the Sword into a Horcrux just as he'd done with the other Hogwarts Founders relics (the Locket, the Cup, and the Diadem). However as Voldemort was defeated when trying to kill Harry, he was not able to turn the Sword into a Horcrux. The theory also states that after Voldemort's defeat, the Sword returned to the sorting hat as it was not found in the Potter's house in the aftermath. However this theory is not confirmed or hinted at during any point in the series.
- "The question of why a wizard would need a sword, though often asked, is easily answered. In the days before the International Statute of Secrecy, when wizards mingled freely with Muggles, they would use swords to defend themselves just as often as wands. Indeed, it was considered unsporting to use a wand against a Muggle sword (which is not to say it was never done). Many gifted wizards were also accomplished duellists in the conventional sense, Gryffindor among them."
- "There have been many enchanted swords in folklore. The Sword of Nuadu, part of the four legendary treasures of Tuatha Dé Danann, was invincible when drawn. Gryffindor's sword owes something to the legend of Excalibur, the sword of King Arthur, which in some legends must be drawn from a stone by the rightful king. The idea of fitness to carry the sword is echoed in the sword of Gryffindor's return to worthy members of its true owner's house. There is a further allusion to Excalibur emerging from the lake when Harry must dive into a frozen forest pool to retrieve the sword in Deathly Hallows (though the location of the sword was really due to a spiteful impulse of Snape's to place it there), for in other versions of the legend, Excalibur was given to Arthur by the Lady of the Lake, and was returned to the lake when he died."
- "Within the magical world, physical possession is not necessarily a guarantee of ownership. This concept applies to the three Deathly Hallows, and also to Gryffindor's sword. I am interested in what happens when cultural beliefs collide. In the Harry Potter books, the most militant of the goblin race consider all goblin-made objects to be theirs by right, although a specific object might be made over to a wizard for his life-span upon a payment of gold. Witches and wizards, like Muggles, believe that once payment has been made, the object belongs to them and their descendants or legatees in perpetuity. This is a clash of values without a solution, because each side has a different concept of what is right. It therefore presents Harry with a difficult moral dilemma when Griphook demands the sword as payment for his services in Deathly Hallows."
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (First appearance)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (film)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (video game) (Appears on a Famous Wizard Card)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (film) (Appears in deleted scene(s))
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (video game) (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (film)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (video game)
- Wizarding World
- Harry Potter: The Character Vault
- Harry Potter: The Creature Vault (Mentioned only)
- The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
- Harry Potter Trading Card Game
- LEGO Harry Potter
- LEGO Harry Potter: Building the Magical World
- LEGO Harry Potter: Characters of the Magical World
- Creator: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7
- Harry Potter for Kinect
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter: Wizards Unite
- Harry Potter: Puzzles & Spells
- Harry Potter: Magic Awakened (In the Book with No Name) (Appears in portrait(s))
Notes and references
- Writing by J. K. Rowling: "The Sword of Gryffindor" at Wizarding World
- Pottermore states that the sword was made "a thousand years ago"; though it may not be an exact date, it can be deduced that it was made in late 10th century, AKA the Founder's time.
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 17 (The Heir of Slytherin)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 3, Side Quest "The Secrets of Godric's Hollow"
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 23 (Malfoy Manor)
- Harry Potter: Wizards Unite
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 18 (Dobby's Reward)
- See this YouTube video
- http://getasword.com/1531-thickbox_default/ceremonial-sword-of-napoleon-gold.jpg dead link