Runes were symbols representing various sound values, belonging to a runic alphabet. Runes were studied at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry under the subject "Study of Ancient Runes".

Known runes

Below is a list of all the known runes, along with their meanings


  • Eihwaz - means "Defence"
  • Ehwaz - means "Partnership" and corresponds to the Latin "e"


Ancient Runes Made Easy

Ancient Runes Made Easy, showing the Ancient Rune numbers

  • Demiguise Demiguise: the creature's invisibility abilities represents "0".
  • Unicorn runes Unicorn: the creature's single horn represents "1".
  • Graphorn Graphorn: the creature's dual horns represent "2".
  • Runespoor Runespoor: the triple-headed creature represents "3".
  • Fwooper Fwooper: the creature comprised of four different colours in feathers represents "4".
  • Quintaped Quintaped: the five legs of the creature represents "5".
  • Salamander Salamander: the maximum hours of the creature's ability to survive out of fire represents "6".
  • Unknown Unknown: due to the magically powerful number still being shrouded in mysteries, the unknown symbol represents "7".
  • Acromantula Acromantula: the eight-eyed creature represents "8".
  • Hydra Hydra: the nine-headed creature represents "9".

Other runes


Dumbledore depicted on the revised back cover art of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, with runic inscriptions around the cloak


Sirius Black's Azkaban placard, showing runic inscriptions

  • Although only a small number of runes are revealed in the books, other corners of the franchise reveal more; the purple cloak that the depiction of Dumbledore is seen wearing on the children's back cover art of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone is inscribed with a wealth of runes, as are the placards that prisoners of Azkaban hold up in the film adaptations. Below is a list of the runes that appears on them:
    • Fehu (Lucius Malfoy's Azkaban placard, cover art)
    • Uruz (Lucius Malfoy's Azkaban placard, cover art)
    • Ansuz (cover art)
    • Raido (cover art)
    • Kaunan (Sirius Black's Azkaban placard)
    • Gebo (Sirius Black's Azkaban placard, cover art)
    • Isa (cover art)
    • Teiwaz (Lucius Malfoy's Azkaban placard)
    • Berkana (cover art)
    • Perth (Sirius Black's Azkaban placard)
    • Algiz (Sirius Black's Azkaban placard)
    • Sowilo (cover art)
    • Ehwaz (Order of the Phoenix, cover art)
    • Mannaz (Lucius Malfoy's Azkaban placard, cover art)
    • Laguz (cover art)
    • Othila (Lucius Malfoy's Azkaban placard, cover art)
    • Dagaz (cover art)


Whilst still shrouded in mystery, runic appears to be used frequently in the modern wizarding world. The runes themselves appear to be used principally as a stand-ins for letters of the Latin alphabet, as well as whole words (as logograms). For example, Dumbledore's copy of The Tales of Beedle the Bard, the name Albus Dumbledore was written entirely in runic, requiring translation before mass-production for the general public.

The esoteric Quibbler magazine has been known to publish runic texts (including instructions for a spell to turn another's ears into kumquats).

Notable runologists

Behind the scenes

  • The 7 Elder Futhark runes thus far not represented in the franchise are: Thurisaz (þ a.k.a. "th"), Jera (j), Wunjo (W), Hagalaz (h), Naudiz (n) and Ingwaz (ŋ a.k.a. "ng").
  • All the runes represented in the franchise belong to the Elder Futhark runic alphabet in real life (with the exception of the numbers, which are entirely fictitious).
  • It is not truly known to what extent the Elder Futhark runes retain their meanings in the Harry Potter universe; One runic word on the HP&PS cover art (on Dumbledore's cloak) spells out DUMBLEDARE in Latin. However, the "A" was probably a mistake ( meant to have been an "O", Othila in runic) and so they most likely relate to the letters in the Latin alphabet the same way in the franchise as they do in real life.
  • It is possible that more than just one runic alphabet is in use in the wizarding world, albeit with some wizarding additions - such as the aforementioned numbers (given the length of study that may be allotted to their study in the Hogwarts Curriculum and the number of books on the subject). However, Elder Futhark is probably the most popular given how frequently it is seen throughout the series.
  • One of the possible questions in the Sorting quiz at Pottermore mentions that Merlin marked his possessions with a mysterious rune. Since this is just a possible answer to a hypothetical question, it is unclear if Merlin actually used this symbol as his mark in historical canon.
  • As the teachers at Hogwarts had to enter their magic rune on the evaluation form given to it by the Dolores Umbridge, as well as that it was a magical rune of Alastor Moody's file on Umbridge's office in 1998, it is possible that these features are of particular importance, and serves as a form of identification or a similar social security number.


External links

See also

Notes and references

  1. According to his father, Bartemius Crouch Snr, B.C. Jr obtained twelve O.W.L.s, the maximum number attainable (which would, naturally, include Study of Ancient Runes.
  2. According to possible questions posed on the sorting quiz on Pottermore, Merlin may have owned a book handwritten in runes and used a rune as his personal mark.