- "An eerie sight met their eyes: they were standing on the edge of a great black lake, so vast that Harry could not make out the distant banks, in a cavern so high that the ceiling, too, was out of sight. A misty greenish light shone far away in what looked like the middle of the lake; it was reflected in the completely still water below. The greenish glow and the light from the two wands were the only things that broke the otherwise velvety blackness, though their rays did not penetrate as far as Harry would have expected. The darkness was somehow denser than normal darkness"
- —Description of the Cave[src]
This cave was visited by Tom Riddle as a child. As Lord Voldemort, he later used the cave to hide Salazar Slytherin's Locket, one of his Horcruxes. The cave was visited again when Regulus Black stole the original locket and when Albus Dumbledore and Harry Potter went searching for it.
In his childhood, Tom Riddle was brought to a seaside site near this cave on holiday with his orphanage. He discovered this cave and terrorised two fellow orphans, Amy Benson and Dennis Bishop, there. He most likely magicked their way to the cave scaring the children. The experience was so terrible they refused to divulge exactly what happened. Without magic, entering the cave would require uncommon mountaineering skills, as boats cannot approach the cliffs.
The first incursion upon the cave was by Regulus Black and Kreacher after Voldemort asked Regulus Black for a house elf. Regulus Black offered Kreacher and he was taken here. Kreacher was forced to drink the potion and Voldemort left, leaving him to get killed by the Inferi. Kreacher disapparated back as Voldemort didn't remember or realise that house elves could apparate in and out. Kreacher told Regulus Black what had happened and Regulus started to hate Voldemort. Regulus worked out that Voldemort had made Horcruxes and asked Kreacher to take him back. Regulus got the locket, which was later stolen from the Black family home.
The second skirmish at the Horcrux cave took place on 29 June, 1997 after Albus Dumbledore tracked down what he believed to be one of Lord Voldemort's Horcrux's, located in a seaside cave Tom Riddle had visited as a boy while living in Wool's Orphanage as a boy. He took Harry Potter along with him to find the Horcrux. The "Horcrux" turned out to be a fake. Finding a cryptic note inside from an "R.A.B.", Harry kept the locket, not because it was valuable, but because of what it had cost to obtain it.
Upon learning that Harry was hunting his Horcruxes, having taken Hufflepuff's Cup from the Lestrange Vault, Voldemort immediately went to check the other ones for their safety and redouble their security. After finding Marvolo Gaunt's Ring gone from the Gaunt Shack, he immediately arrived at the cave and found the locket also gone, much to his murderous fury.
Horcrux hiding place
Voldemort later decided to use this cave as a location for one of his Horcruxes (Salazar Slytherin's Locket). It was a very difficult place to find and even Dumbledore had to make a lot of research about Voldemort's past. Upon storing the locket in the cave, Voldemort set up a large number of complex enchantments, designed to keep others out but still allow him access to the Horcrux, should he desire to visit or remove it. As acknowledged by Dumbledore himself, the defences that Voldemort had set up within were well-designed in that one person alone could not enter and leave it without assistance.
A smaller entrance was made: a door which required a blood sacrifice, a weakness payment, to open. According to Dumbledore, this was due to a common misconception by Voldemort that physical pain would weaken a person entering the chamber.
An Inferi-infested lake separated the entrance of the cave from the Horcrux. Any attempt to use a Summoning Charm to get the Horcrux would cause one or more Inferi to leap out of the water to block the spell's effect. If the water is disturbed, the Inferi would emerge and attempt to drag the intruder into the water to drown. The Inferi are frightened off by fire. The darkness within the cave was noted to be denser than normal, and the light created from a Wand-Lighting Charm would illuminate less than expected.
The Horcrux was placed on an island in the middle of the lake. To get there, one had to find an invisible boat anchored to the cavern wall. The boat was enchanted so that only one wizard of age could be transported in it. This once again shows Voldemort's habit of underestimating his opponents, because he did not expect any underage wizard would attempt such feats.
The Horcrux itself was in a basin filled with a potion that could not be touched, vanished, transfigured, or charmed; the only way to dispose of it was to drink it. Once drunk, though, it caused the drinker to see "terrible things", to experience almost unbearable burning in one's insides, and to be dehydrated. If the drinker still had strength left after consuming the potion, conjured water would vanish on them and they would have to drink from the lake; upon disturbing the water an army of Inferi would rise from the lake and attempt to kill the interloper by dragging them under the water and drowning them.
Behind the scenes
- The cave is not named in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, nor is it on the film adaptation. However, some promotional merchandise for the film refers to it as the "Crystal Cave". Indeed, while designing the set, the filmmakers took inspiration from a salt crystal cave in Frankfurt, Germany.
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (First appearance)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (film)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Appears in vision(s))
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (Appears in flashback(s))
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (Appears in flashback(s))
- Wizarding World
- Harry Potter: A Pop-Up Book
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7
- Harry Potter for Kinect
- Harry Potter: The Character Vault (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter: The Creature Vault
- LEGO Dimensions
Notes and references
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 13 (The Secret Riddle)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 26 (The Cave)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 10 (Kreacher's Tale)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 28 (Flight of the Prince)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 28 (The Missing Mirror)
- The Making of Harry Potter (see this image)
- ABC Family Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince DVD preview - "Creating the Cave"