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"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]

The 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[3] and when Albus Dumbledore and Harry Potter went searching for it.[2]



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. The experience was so terrible they refused to divulge exactly what happened.[1] According to Albus Dumbledore, without magic, entering the cave would require exceptional mountaineering skills, as no boat could approach the cliffs due to the very rough waves.[2]

Regulus's incursion[]

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. However, Kreacher Disapparated back as Voldemort did not 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.[3]

Dumbledore and Harry[]

Harry and Dumbledore in the cave

Harry Potter and Albus Dumbledore inside the cave in 1997

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 Voldemort's Horcruxes. He took Harry Potter along with him to find the Horcrux, Salazar Slytherin's Locket.[2] 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.[4]

The Cave, B6C26M1

Inferi in the cave

Upon learning that Harry was hunting his Horcruxes, having taken Helga 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 being gone, much to his murderous fury.[5]

Horcrux hiding place[]

"Harry turned his head to look at the greenish glow toward which the boat was still inexorably sailing. He could not pretend now that he was not scared. The great black lake, teeming with the dead..."
Harry Potter in the cave with Albus Dumbledore searching for one of Voldemort's Horcruxes[src]
The Cave

The inside of the cave

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 lots 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 such so that one person alone could not enter and exit it without assistance.[2]

He placed an Anti-Apparition Charm and Anti-Disapparition Jinx on the cave so that it was impossible to Apparate inside or outside it[2] (though ineffective against house-elf magic, as Voldemort underestimated them).[3]

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.[2]

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 was disturbed, the Inferi would emerge and attempt to drag the intruder into the water to drown. The Inferi are chased away by fire as they feared light and heat. 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.[2]


The island in the cave being swarmed by Inferi

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 that any underage wizard would attempt such feats.[2]

The Horcrux itself was in a basin filled with a glowing green potion that could not be touched, vanished, transfigured, or charmed in any way possible; the only way to dispose of it was to drink it. Once drunk, though, it caused the drinker to experience unbearable burning pain in their insides, to see "terrible things" and re-experience their worst moments and fears of their past, and to be immensely dehydrated. If the drinker still had some strength left after consuming the potion, any conjured water would vanish on them, forcing them to go 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.[2] This further suggests that the drinker would have no other choice but to either be drowned by the Inferi or to die of extreme thirst.

Behind the scenes[]

  • The cave is not named in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, nor is it in the film adaptation. However, The Making of Harry Potter refers to it as the "Crystal Cave".[6] Indeed, while designing the set, the filmmakers took inspiration from a salt crystal cave in Frankfurt, Germany.[7]
  • Given that the sky after Harry and Dumbledore completed their skirmish here was described as "starry",[8] it is likely that this cave was located somewhere on the south coast; that's more than far south enough to get astronomical twilight around the summer solstice, and the sky gets darker there than it does further north. If one goes far north enough, it does not get dark enough for the sky to be 'starry' in the Northern Hemisphere around the summer solstice.


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Notes and references[]

Death Eaters
Dark Mark Pottermore
Leader: Lord Voldemort
Death Eaters

Avery II · Alecto Carrow · Amycus Carrow · Crabbe · Bartemius Crouch Junior † · Antonin Dolohov · Gibbon † · Goyle · Gareth Greengrass's brother · Jugson · Barnaby Lee's father · Barnaby Lee's mother · Bellatrix Lestrange † · Rabastan Lestrange · Rodolphus Lestrange · Walden Macnair · Mulciber I · Mulciber II · Nott · Pyrites (possibly) · Augustus Rookwood · Rosier · Evan Rosier † · Thorfinn Rowle · Selwyn · Merula Snyde's father · Merula Snyde's mother · Travers · Mason Tremblay (possibly) · Wilkes † · Corban Yaxley · Unidentified Death Eaters

Death Eater defectors

Regulus Black † · Igor Karkaroff † · Draco Malfoy · Lucius Malfoy · Peter Pettigrew † · Severus Snape

Death Eater allies

Borgin · Vincent Crabbe · John Dawlish · Delphini · Golgomath · Gregory Goyle · Fenrir Greyback · Mafalda Hopkirk · Narcissa Malfoy (defected) · Ismelda Murk (unofficially, supposedly) · Nagini · Mr Padgett · Mrs Padgett · Pansy Parkinson · Quirinus Quirrell · Albert Runcorn · Stanley Shunpike (Imperiused) · Scabior · Serpent of Slytherin · Pius Thicknesse (Imperiused) · Yubert Thorne · Dolores Umbridge

Other affiliations

British Ministry of Magic (under Voldemort's control) · Daily Prophet (under Voldemort's control) · Dementors · Draco Malfoy's gang · Kreacher (formerly) · Tom Riddle's gang · Gang of Slytherins · Giants (Golgomath's control) · Inferi · Charmed skeletons · Muggle-Born Registration Commission · Theodore Nott (possibly) · Snatchers · Werewolf army · The Unforgivable

Death Eater establishments

Abandoned nuclear power plant · Borgin and Burkes · British Ministry of Magic Headquarters (under Voldemort's control) · The Cave · Chamber of Secrets · Forbidden Forest · Gaunt Shack · Lee family house · Lestrange Vault · Little Hangleton graveyard · Malfoy Manor · Misty Dell · Riddle House · Snatcher Camp · Spinner's End (Severus Snape's house) · The Abandoned Substation · The Ruins · The Quarry

Locations in London
Diagon Alley (18a · 59 · 92 · 93 · 94 · 129b · 275) · Knockturn Alley (13B) · London · Elephant and Castle · Finsbury Park · Green Lanes · Islington · Grimmauld Place (11 · 12 · 13) · King's Cross Station · Millennium Bridge · Museum of Quidditch · Paddington Station (Hamburger restaurant) · Post Office tower · Private Hospital · Pudding Lane (Bakery) · Shaftesbury Avenue · Tottenham Court Road · Luchino Caffe · Vauxhall Road · Winstanley's Bookstore & Stationers · Wool's Orphanage · Westminster · 10 Downing Street · Charing Cross Road · Angus Steak House · Leicester Square Station · Leaky Cauldron · Sytner
West Country
West Country · Bristol · Cornwall · Bodmin Moor · Falmouth · Tinworth · Shell Cottage · Devon · Chudley · Exmoor · Ilfracombe · Ottery St Catchpole (The Burrow · Lovegood House · Stoatshead Hill) · Topsham · Dorset · Millburn · Lanes End (17) · Wimbourne · Cotswolds · Forest of Dean (Forest of Dean ruins · Misty Dell) · Woodcroft · Painswick · Stinchcombe · Godric's Hollow (Bathilda Bagshot's · Church Lane · Graveyard · St Jerome's Church · Potter cottage) · Somerset · Bath · Modesty Rabnott Snidget Reservation
Yorkshire · Barnsley · Doncaster · Great Hangleton · Ilkley · Ilkley Moor · Little Hangleton (Gaunt Shack · Graveyard · Riddle House · Frank Bryce's cottage · The Hanged Man) · Upper Flagley · Mould-on-the-Wold
Other locations
Appleby · Avalon · Barnton · Dunstable · Eton · Maidenhead · Birmingham · Brockdale Bridge · Brookshire · Crowford · North Street (32a) · Budleigh Babberton · Chipping Clodbury · Clapham · Laburnum Gardens · 2 Laburnum Gardens · Cokeworth (Spinner's End · Railview Hotel) · Hampshire · Little Dropping · New Forest · Portsmouth · Herefordshire · Hertfordshire · Cuffley · The Cave · Hut-on-the-Rock · The Sea · Ilkley · Isle of Wight · Kent · Dover · Lancashire · Blackpool · Blackpool pier · Liverpool · River Mersey · Manchester · Didsbury · Norfolk · Cromer · Norfolk · Kettering · Nottinghamshire · Nottingham · Oxfordshire · Cotswolds · Nettlebed · Surrey (Bakery in Surrey) · Chertsey (Grunnings) · Little Whinging (Fair · Magnolia Crescent (2 · Road) · Privet Drive (4 · 7) · Wisteria Walk (6)) · Wolverhampton · Staines · Zoo · Tutshill · Upper Barnton · Wiltshire (Malfoy Manor) · Worcestershire · Herbe Garden · River Wye · Bedfordshire (Potton (Potton wood))