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Harry: "But Hagrid. How am I going to pay for all of this? I haven't any money."
Hagrid: "Well there's your money, Harry! Gringotts, the wizard bank! Ain't no safer place. Not one. Except perhaps Hogwarts."
Rubeus Hagrid to Harry Potter.[src]

Gringotts Wizarding Bank is the only bank of the wizarding world, and is owned and operated by goblins. It was created by a goblin called Gringott, in 1474. Its main offices are located in the North Side of Diagon Alley in London, England. In addition to storing money and valuables for wizards and witches, one can go there to exchange Muggle money for wizarding money. The currency exchanged by Muggles is later returned to circulation in the Muggle world by goblins.[1] According to Rubeus Hagrid, other than Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Gringotts is the safest place in the wizarding world.

The motto of Gringotts Wizarding Bank is Fortius Quo Fidelius, a Latin phrase that means "Strength through loyalty".[2]

History

Gringott

Gringott: Gringotts Wizarding Bank's Founder.

The bank was created by Gringott[3] in 1474.[4] The bank was then put in the hands of the Ministry of Magic at an unspecified time, although by the 1500s it already had some degree of wizarding management — Tertius applied for the job of Curse-Breaker to two wizards who were discussing job vacancies at the door to Gringotts.[5] In 1865, the Ministry decided to put full control of Gringotts back in goblin hands.[6]

During Voldemort's control of the Ministry (1997 to 1998), the bank was put yet again under the Ministry.[7] With the defeat of Voldemort and the end of the Second Wizarding War, Gringotts was presumably put back into Goblin management.

Break-Ins

"…yeh'd be mad ter try an' rob it."
Rubeus Hagrid on Gringotts.[src]

So far, there have only been two known break-ins and theft (or attempted theft) of Gringotts Wizarding Bank, with one taking placing in 1991 and another in 1998.

1991 Break-In

DailyProphetGringottsCover

Daily Prophet article about the break-in.

The break-in of 1991 was committed by Quirinus Quirrell, who was attempting to steal an object from Vault 713. The vault, one of the higher-security ones, held a small grubby bag, inside of which was the Philosopher's Stone. Albus Dumbledore sent Rubeus Hagrid to retrieve it while the latter was escorting Harry Potter to Diagon Alley. Later that very same day, someone, apparently a very powerful wizard, broke into the vault. Although he was unsuccessful in obtaining the Philosopher's Stone, the break-in shocked the Wizarding world because it was practically unheard of for Gringotts to be robbed. The culprit was not caught, though it is later learned Quirrell broke into the vault acting under orders from Lord Voldemort.

1998 Break-In

Hpdh2-08970

Griphook (left), Bogrod (centre), and Hermione Granger during the break-in.

The break-in of 1998 was committed by Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, and Ron Weasley. Harry, Ron, and Hermione, aided by a reluctant Griphook in exchange for Godric Gryffindor's sword, broke into the vault of Bellatrix Lestrange where one of Lord Voldemort's Horcruxes, Helga Hufflepuff's cup, was hidden. However, when they went into Bellatrix's vault, which was stocked with all manners of treasure, they found out that the treasure had the Gemino and Flagrante charms placed on it. Though burned and nearly buried in false treasures, the Trio managed to escape with the Horcrux by fleeing on a half-blind dragon that was part of the security for the vault, leaving parts of the bank in ruins.

Description

Gringotts bank

The façade of Gringotts as seen from Diagon Alley.

Gringotts is an imposing snow-white multistoried marble building located partway down Diagon Alley, near its intersection with Knockturn Alley, that towers over the neighbouring shops. It is the place where British witches and wizards store their money and other valuables, in heavily-guarded vaults miles below ground.

When Harry Potter first visits Gringotts, he is told by Hagrid that one would have to be mad to try to rob Gringotts and that, apart from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, it's the safest place for anything valuable to be kept. Goblins are extremely greedy and would protect their money and valuables at any cost, which makes them ideal guardians for the valuables of the wizarding world. The goblins have a code that forbids them to speak of the bank's secrets, and would consider it "base treachery" to break any part of that code.

The centuries-old bank is run by goblins, and they alone know the secrets of the twisting underground passages and the enchantments and creatures in place to defend against intruders. There was a rumour that Cornelius Fudge was trying to take over Gringotts when he was Minister for Magic; however, as it was published in The Quibbler, it was likely unsubstantiated.

Entrance and Main Hall

From Diagon Alley, a set of white stairs leads up to a set of burnished bronze doors. The doors are flanked by a goblin in a uniform of scarlet and gold, though during the Second Wizarding War the goblin was replaced instead by two wizard guards with Probity Probes. This is the entrance to Gringotts, and it leads into a small entrance hall and another set of doors. Engraved on these silver doors are the words:

Enter, stranger, but take heed
Of what awaits the sin of greed
For those who take, but do not earn,
Must pay most dearly in their turn.
So if you seek beneath our floors
A treasure that was never yours,
Thief, you have been warned, beware
Of finding more than treasure there.

Background

Inside Gringotts Bank.

Through these doors, also flanked with goblins, is a vast marble hall long counters stretching along its length with doors leading off to the vault passageways with around a hundred goblins sitting at them. The vaults extend for miles under the city and are accessible through rough stone, complex and interconnected passageways by means of magic carts that are operated by goblins. Dragons and other mysterious beasts lurk in the depths as additional security devices.

The Gringotts Vaults

Gringotts cart 02

A goblin cart travelling past vault seven-hundred and thirteen, containing the Philosopher's Stone, as Harry, Hagrid and Griphook walk towards it.

In contrast to the grand marble of the entryway and the main hall, the passageways to the vaults are stone and dimly lit with flaming torches. They slope down to a track, upon which run little carts controlled by the goblins. These carts take visitors deep beneath the surface of the earth, through a "maze of twisting passages," to the vaults. The carts go very quickly, which makes Hagrid a little queasy and prevents its occupants from getting a good look at their surroundings, and seem to run on a vast, complex, interconnected series of tracks that allow them to move to and between any vaults.

The vaults themselves vary in size and security. The largest, most well protected vaults belong to the oldest wizarding families and lie deepest beneath the surface. Those vaults closer to the surface seem to be smaller and have fewer security precautions surrounding them - they use keys, for example, rather than requiring the touch of a goblin to gain access. The rules around who is allowed to access vaults seem to change; sometimes wizards are asked for identification or a key to be allowed access, yet both Molly Weasley and Bill Weasley are able to get gold from Harry's vault for him.

It is possible there is a charm forcing the wizard to give the gold to its rightful owner. However, even this wouldn't explain how Sirius was able to order a Firebolt in Harry's name, but take the gold from his own vault - despite being an escaped convict at the time. It also seems that only blood relations can inherit a Gringotts vault; Albus Dumbledore implies strongly that when Sirius died as the last of the Black family line, his vault was cleaned out and its contents added to Harry's, rather than Harry inheriting the vault as well. There are several vaults that are known specifically:

Vault 1

Main article: Vault 1

This vault is known to contain lots and lots of Knuts inside it and people have to use the Mine Cart to come around in every corner of it. This vault also contain lots of Rubies, Emeralds, Sapphires, yellow gems and Diamonds.

Vault 2

Main article: Vault 2

This vault is known to contain lots and lots of Sickles inside it and people have to use the Mine Cart to come around in every corner of it. This vault also contain lots of Rubies, Emeralds, Sapphires, yellow gems and Diamonds.

Vault 3

Main article: Vault 3

This vault is known to contain lots and lots of Galleons inside it and people have to use the Mine Cart to come around in every corner of it. This vault also contain lots of Rubies, Emeralds, Sapphires, yellow gems and Diamonds.

Weasley Vault

Main article: Weasley Vault

The Weasley family has a vault that is closer to the surface than Harry Potter's vault, and had fewer security measures. When the Weasleys entered it in the summer of 1992, the vault contained only a small pile of Sickles and a single Galleon, all of which Molly Weasley took out.[8]

Vault 687

Main article: Vault 687
Vault 687

Harry Potter being escorted to his vault in 1991.

Harry Potter first ventured to Gringotts in 1991, when he learned that his late parents had left him a great deal of money in a vault. This was fortunate for Harry, since his Aunt Petunia and his Uncle Vernon would have surely taken most, if not all, as "proper compensation" for "opening their home" to him. While they would have had to exchange it for Muggle money, this appears to not be very difficult, as shown when Hermione Granger's parents did so while paying for her school supplies.

Harry's vault required a key for entry, and was at a moderate depth — further down than the Weasley Vault, but not as far as Vault 713. It also had fewer security measures than deeper vaults.[9]

Vault 711

Main article: Vault 711

Vault 711 belonged to Sirius Black, and perhaps to the Black family in general. Sirius used gold from his vault to pay for Harry Potter's Firebolt in 1993.[10] In 1996, it contained a "reasonable amount of gold".[11] Given its depth, it is likely a high-security vault. Upon Sirius' death, he left all the money in the vault to Harry in his will.

Vault 712

Main article: Vault 712

Instead of being used as a regular vault, Vault 712 is used by the goblins as a (presumably unsanctioned) lounge, suggesting it is unused.

Vault 713

Main article: Vault 713
Vault 713

The door to Vault 713.

Vault 713, a higher-security vault, held a small grubby bag, inside of which was the Philosopher's Stone. Rubeus Hagrid was charged with moving it from Gringotts to Hogwarts in 1991 while he took Harry Potter to Diagon Alley, which he succeeded in doing. Later that very same day, someone, apparently a very powerful wizard, broke into the vault. Although he was unsuccessful in obtaining the Philosopher's Stone (it having been emptied earlier by Hagrid), the break-in shocked the Wizarding world because it was practically unheard of for Gringotts to be robbed, and the robbery was reported in the Daily Prophet.[9] The culprit was not caught, though we later learn that it was Professor Quirrell acting under orders of Lord Voldemort.

Lestrange Family Vault

Main article: Lestrange Vault
Harry Potter Bella Vault HP7 Pt2

The trio together with the other two goblins in Lestrange's Vault.

The Lestranges, a very old pure-blood family, had a vault in Gringotts guarded by a dragon and full of treasure protected by the Geminio and Flagrante curses. It, at one point, was used to store the sword of Godric Gryffindor, unknown to the Lestrange's that it was actually a fake. It also served as the hiding place for Helga Hufflepuff's Cup, one of Lord Voldemort's Horcruxes. It was this item that Harry, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger sought to steal when they broke into Gringotts in 1998. They managed to steal the cup, severely damaged the cavernous interior and freed a dragon while escaping.

The security of this vault was even higher than that of Vault 713, as a goblin had to place his entire palm on the door to open it, rather than just a finger, and it was guarded by a dragon. Each item in the vault was also enchanted with the Flagrante and Gemino Curses, which meant that thieves would be burned by the objects, which also duplicated until the thief was crushed under the burning weight of the fake treasure.[12]

Travers' Vault

When Ron, Harry and Hermione broke into Gringotts, they ran into the Death Eater named Travers who was also heading toward the bank. He had a vault that required a key, because he was holding it when he ran into Hermione (disguised as Bellatrix Lestrange).

Security

Dragon attack Gringotts

The Gringotts Dragon breathing fire as it escapes.

Gringotts uses a variety of security systems. Most lower security vaults, such as Harry Potter's, require a key; higher security vaults require the touch of a certified Gringotts goblin. Higher security vaults may have various enchantments upon the doors. For example, the door to Vault 713 needs to be stroked by a certified Gringotts goblin, which causes it to melt away. If anyone but a Gringotts goblin touches the door, the person will be sucked into the vault, which is checked for trapped thieves about once per decade.

Dragons or sphinxes guard the highest security vaults such as the vault of the Lestrange Family. Though affiliated with Gringotts, the Dragons kept there are not actually "tamed" in the traditional way in that they are merely used to discourage intruders and unauthorised persons from approaching the vaults to which these beasts are stationed at; they are "domesticated" in inhumane ways that compels them to retreat whenever they perceive certain sounds, and They can only be produced by Clankers, which only the goblins possess. Another security measure is the Thief's Downfall: a charmed waterfall that the goblin carts must pass through, it cancels all enchantments and magical concealments, and throws the carts off their tracks. Some vaults use the Gemino and Flagrante charms; when any item is touched by a thief, it multiplies rapidly and burns them, eventually crushing and scorching them to death. Objects within Gringotts cannot be summoned. At times, Probity Probes are used on customers to detect enchantments, magical concealments and hidden magical objects

On his first visit to Gringotts, Harry was told by Hagrid to be cautious. Goblins are extremely greedy and would protect their money and valuables at any cost, which makes them ideal guardians for the valuables of the wizarding world. Ironically, Harry later did rob Gringotts with Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley,[12] the only known successful theft in the history of the bank, by taking advantage of a former employee's knowledge of the inner workings of the bank. It is unknown if Harry was able to resume normal business with the bank following Voldemort's defeat.

Employment

Gringotts Goblins

Goblins working.

"Are you seeking a challenging career involving travel, adventure, and substantial, danger-related treasure bonuses? Then consider a position with Gringotts Wizarding Bank, who are currently recruiting Curse-Breakers for thrilling opportunities abroad"
—Pamphlet on Gringotts jobs given to Hogwarts students.[src]

While Gringotts is largely staffed by goblins, including Griphook, Bogrod, and Ragnok, it is known that the bank does employ humans. Bill Weasley works as a Curse Breaker for Gringotts in Egypt, retrieving artefacts from ancient Egyptian tombs and pyramids after his graduation from Hogwarts. When he wanted to do work for the Order of the Phoenix, Bill transferred to a desk job in England to be near home. That same year, Fleur Delacour took a job at Gringotts as well after participating in the Triwizard Tournament, to improve her English, though she only works part-time.

At least during Harry Potter's break in of the bank, there seems to be a full-time security force that is comprised of wizard guards, and that rushes to the scene when the Lestrange vault was broken into. Despite this, Griphook mentions at that time that the goblins resent "wand-bearer" interference in their internal affairs.

Goblins

Goblin

A goblin working at Gringotts.

Guards

Humans

Competition

GringottsLogo

The Gringotts seal.

Gringotts has no known competition in the wizarding banking industry, and is most surely a monopoly in Britain. Given that the bank is, according to Rubeus Hagrid, the only wizarding bank in Great Britain, it stands to reason that the goblins would have a tremendous amount of power over the wizarding economy, as goblins are also the force behind minting the wizarding currency, Galleons, Sickles, and Knuts.[13] It is likely therefore, as goblins tend to be at odds with wizards on political and social levels, that the Ministry of Magic has laws set in place to stop Gringotts intentionally regulating the wizarding economy, likely through the Goblin Liaison Office.

Etymology

Gringotts may be derived from the word "ingots," which means a mass of metal cast in a convenient form for shaping, remelting, or refining.

Behind the scenes

DeathlyHallowsChapter26Colour

Gringotts entrance.

  • In the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, the interior of the Australia House in London was used for the Gringotts grand entrance hall. For the second half of the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, a set was built at Leavesden as the scenes involving the dragon would have been impossible to film on location. The set was based on, but not an exact replica, of the Australia House interior (differences include the pattern of the marble floor, the design of the chandeliers, and the studio set has windows).
  • The marble tile on the floor was created using a centuries-old process employed in making covers and for hand-printed books. Different-coloured oil paints are poured onto the surface of a large tray filled with water. The paint floats and is swirled around with a stick. When paper sheets are places on the surface, they pick up the swirls of oil paint. Lifted and turned over, they look exactly like veined marble. The illusion is made complete with brushwork that adds further layer of textural detail to produce a convincing replica of a marble floor. This process was also used to create the marble floor of the courtroom at the headquarters of the Ministry of Magic.
  • In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, the escape on a dragon clearly shows Whitehall across the Thames, placing Gringotts and therefore Diagon Alley itself around Southwark.
  • According to the film adaptations of the series, Harry Potter's vault is number 687.
  • Death Eater Travers must have a vault in Gringotts, as he was holding a key while entering the bank when he encountered Hermione Granger disguised as Bellatrix Lestrange before she, Harry, and Ron robbed the bank.[12]
  • Gringotts appears to serve the wizarding world in the same way the US Federal Reserve stabilises the economy in the United States (as similar institutions exist in other economically stable countries). It independently maintains the balance of the British wizarding economy, disallowing individual wizards, witches or groups to manipulate national financial matters for personal gain. This would also explain part of the goblins' resistance toward wizarding domination over the operation of Gringotts during the Second Wizarding War, that such interference by the Death Eater-controlled Ministry of Magic threatened the very economic stability of the wizarding community they were charged with protecting. Evidence that this may be the case appears in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, where Bogrod is seen examining leprechaun gold in disgust. Not only is such gold worthless, to allow it to continue to circulate would generate inflation, which in uncontrolled amounts, can be dangerous. Fortunately, leprechaun gold disappears fairly quickly, minimizing the problem.
  • According to W.O.M.B.A.T tests, Gringotts may be the oldest building in Diagon Alley and the other shops grew up around it.
  • If you look closely on the 422nd Quidditch World Cup Programme, you will see that Gringotts sponsors the 422nd Quidditch World Cup.
  • The poem that reads at the entrance of Gringotts may have been inspired by the poem at the entrance of Hell in Dante's The Divine Comedy.

Appearances

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