The Sword of Gryffindor was a goblin-made sword that was owned by the famed wizard Godric Gryffindor, one of the four founders of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It was a masterpiece made by the goblins, with a silver blade and a handle with egg-sized rubies gleaming upon it. The name Godric Gryffindor was engraved just below the hilt.
The Sword and the Sorting Hat (both belonged to Gryffindor) are the only known relics of the four founders of Hogwarts not turned into a Horcrux. It is one of the few things that can destroy a Horcrux and Harry and his friends use it later.
Forging of the sword
According to Griphook, the sword was originally forged by a goblin known as Ragnuk the First. Due to a misunderstanding between goblin and human cultures, the Goblins persisted in their belief that the sword had been stolen, while the humans repeated their claim that the sword had been bought proper from the Goblins. The goblins claimed that Gryffindor had stolen the sword from the Goblins, believing that all goblin-made objects belong to the maker and should be returned after the original purchaser died. They therefore consider the sword to have been "stolen."
It is unknown what uses Godric Gryffindor put this sword in during his possession, but the sword was said to appear whenever a true Gryffindor was in need of it. In May of 1993, the sword materialized inside the old school Sorting Hat when Harry was inside the Chamber of Secrets. Harry then used the sword to kill Salazar Slytherin's 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 imbibe what makes them stronger) and hence gained the ability to destroy Horcruxes. After the events of that year, the sword resided in the Headmaster’s office.
- 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]
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, and refused to give it to Harry. Dumbledore placed an identical copy of the sword in his office, because he knew that the 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 Dumbledore's office was later taken by Rufus Scrimgeour for examination.
When the sword was returned to Dumbledore's office, students Ginny Weasley, Neville Longbottom, and Luna Lovegood attempted to steal it for Harry. Following that incident, Severus Snape passed the counterfeit sword to Bellatrix Lestrange, who stored it in her Gringotts vault, thinking it was real. 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. Snape deposited the real sword in a frozen lake in the Forest of Dean and left a Patronus to guide Harry to the sword. When Harry tried to retrieve the sword, Salazar Slytherin's Locket 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 the Horcrux.
Later, Harry, Ron and Hermione were captured by the Death Eaters and sent to Malfoy Manor. Harry and Ron were 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 Lestrange. 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.
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 another Horcrux 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. But even after he took the real sword, after the news of Harry, Ron and Hermione's break-in of Gringotts got to Voldemort, the Dark Lord fired Killing Curses at the Gringotts personnel and even Griphook himself. The sword vanished from Griphook's hand.In the Battle of Hogwarts, the sword reappeared in the Sorting Hat for Neville Longbottom and he used it to behead Nagini, Voldemort's snake and his last remaining Horcrux, rendering Voldemort a mortal man once more. The sword was last mentioned lying beside Neville in the Great Hall following the conclusion of the battle.
Being goblin-made, it has qualities found in only goblin-made artefacts, such as the power to imbibe only that which strengthens it, and repel dirt and other staining substances. As Harry used it to slay a basilisk, the sword was imbued with the basilisk venom, enabling it to destroy Horcruxes as basilisk venom is one of the ways to damage them beyond magical repair.
The sword has a connection with the Sorting Hat, another possession of Gryffindor. It will come to the aid of any Gryffindor who requested help while having the Sorting Hat with them, regardless of the sword's present location. Neville Longbottom managed to pull the sword out of the hat in 1998 even though it was supposed to be under Griphook's possession at that time. According to Albus Dumbledore, only a true Gryffindor could have pulled the sword out of the hat.
Behind the scenes
- 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 (PS2) or basilisk venom which can be launched from the sword. In the PS1 version, however, the sword repels the venom like shiny metal or a mirror would repel a lazer, and the player has to direct the shot onto the basilisk's teeth.
- The Gryffindor 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," (e.g. Saint George).
- It is unknown how the sword would have been destroyed, had Voldemort turned it into a Horcrux.
- 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 the sword's size changes often, on the cover of the seventh novel it looks more like a large dagger than 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 it's handle is relatively long and is more a hand and a half.
- The sword is Matthew Lewis'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 pulled the sword out of the hat.
- 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) (Seen in deleted scene)
- 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)
- LEGO Harry Potter: Characters of the Magical World
- The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
- Harry Potter LEGO Sets
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7
- Harry Potter Trading Card Game