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"The sword of Gryffindor was made a thousand years ago by goblins, the magical world's most skilled metalworkers, and is therefore enchanted."
—The description of this sword[src]

The Sword of Gryffindor[1] was a thousand-year-old, goblin-made sword owned by the famed wizard Godric Gryffindor, one of the four founders of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

The sword was later used in Albus Dumbledore's and Harry Potter's hunt for Horcruxes, as a tool of destruction against the Horcruxes, as means to make Lord Voldemort mortal again.

History

Early years

Wallofportraits

Godric Gryffindor the original owner of the Sword

The sword of Gryffindor was made a thousand years ago by goblins, the magical world's most skilled metalworkers, and is therefore enchanted.[3] Fashioned from pure silver, it is inset with rubies, the stone that represents Gryffindor in the hour-glasses that count the house points at Hogwarts.[4] Godric Gryffindor's name is engraved just beneath the hilt.[5]

The sword was made to Godric Gryffindor's specifications by Ragnuk the First, finest of the goblin silversmiths, and therefore King (in goblin culture, the ruler does not work less than the others, but more skillfully).[6] When it was finished, Ragnuk coveted it so much that he pretended that Gryffindor had stolen it from him, and sent minions to steal it back.[7] Gryffindor defended himself with his wand, but did not kill his attackers.[8] Instead he sent them back to their king bewitched, to deliver the threat that if he ever tried to steal from Gryffindor again, Gryffindor would unsheathe the sword against them all.[9]

The goblin king took the threat seriously and left Gryffindor in possession of his rightful property, but remained resentful until he died.[10] This was the foundation for the false legend of Gryffindor's theft that persists, in some sections of the goblin community, to this day.[11]

Affray in the Chamber of Secrets

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Harry slays Slytherin's Basilisk with Gryffindor's sword

In May of 1993, the sword materialised 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 and was kept safe within a glass case.

Hunt for Horcruxes

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]

During the summer of 1996, Albus Dumbledore used the sword on the Gaunt family ring, which was one of Lord Voldemort's Horcruxes. The sword cracked the stone in the ring, destroying it as a Horcrux, but it still worked as the Resurrection Stone.

The sword 1997

The Sword in Dumbledore's office in 1997

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 the Headmaster's office was later taken by Rufus Scrimgeour for examination.

HPDH1-3355

Harry reaching for the sword, in a frozen lake, in the Forest of Dean

When the sword was returned to the Headmaster'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. 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.

Skirmish at Malfoy Manor

"Out of the corners of his eyes Harry saw Bellatrix bearing down upon the werewolf, the sword of Gryffindor gripped tightly in her hand, her face waxen."
Bellatrix Lestrange holding the sword while in Malfoy Manor[src]

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.

Break-in of Gringotts Wizarding Bank

Duende

The sword disappearing in Griphooks hands

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, 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.

Battle of Hogwarts

"The slash of the silver blade could not be heard over the roar of the oncoming crowd or the sounds of the clashing giants or of the stampeding centaurs, and yet it seemed to draw every eye."
—Neville weilding the sword during the final battle[src]
Neville sword

Neville slays Nagini during the battle with the sword

In the Battle of Hogwarts, the sword reappeared in the Sorting Hat for Neville Longbottom and following Harry Potter's orders he used it to behead Nagini, Voldemort's snake and his last remaining Horcrux in a single stroke of the blade, rendering Voldemort a mortal man once more. The sword was last mentioned lying beside Neville in the Great Hall following the conclusion of the final battle and the end to the Second Wizarding War.

Physical appearance

"Fashioned from pure silver, it is inset with rubies, the stone that represents Gryffindor in the hour-glasses that count the house points at Hogwarts. Godric Gryffindor's name is engraved just beneath the hilt"
—A physical description of the sword[src]
Godrics Sword.
The Sword of Gryffindor is made of pure silver, and its hilt is set with egg-sized rubies — the gemstone that is used to symbolise the House of Gryffindor at Hogwarts. The full name of Godric Gryffindor is also engraved just beneath the hilt.

Magical properties

Much like a magic wand, the sword of Gryffindor appears to be almost sentient, responding to appeals for help by Gryffindor's chosen successors; and, similar to a wand, part of its magic is that it imbibes that which strengthens it, which can then be used against enemies.[12] Due to Harry Potter killing Salazar Slytherin's Basilisk with it, the sword is imbibed with Basilisk venom and can destroy Horcruxes.

Behind the scenes

Screenshot 1174
  • Gryffindor's sword owes something to the legend of Excalibur, Arthur's sword, as it had to be drawn from a rock by the rightful king as only a rightful Gryffindor can hold Gryffindor's sword.
  • 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/a curving beam of light (PS2/Xbox and Gamecube) or basilisk venom which can be launched from the sword, though it in the case of the PS2, Xbox and Gamecube versions, the sword flies out of Harry's hands once the Basilisk is properly damaged with it (and the boss music will stop until the sword is picked up again but only for the latter two console versions).
    • In the PS1 version, however, the instead sword repels the venom like how shiny metal or a mirror would repel a laser, and the player has to direct the shot onto the basilisk's fangs. It is only in the GBC version of Chamber of Secrets that the sword has a physical, non-magical attack used.
  • The 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 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.
    Screenshot 442

    Harry destroying the diary with the sword, which so far only occurs in the GBC version of Chamber of Secrets

  • 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, its handle is relatively long and is more a hand and a half. In the PS2 version of the game, it is as short as a short sword, while the PS1, Xbox and Gamecube versions have its length and design akin to a normal broadsword. Some fans theorise that it was enchanted to adjust its size appropriately to the worthy wielder's size and style of combat, single or double-handed. This has yet to be confirmed or discredited.
  • The sword is Matthew Lewis's favourite prop from the series.[13]
  • 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.
  • The sword, along with the Sorting Hat, are the only remaining relics of the Hogwarts Founders, as the others were turned into Horcruxes by Voldemort and subsequently destroyed in an effort to defeat Voldemort. Both belonged to Godric Gryffindor.
  • Ironically, though the sword is a Gryffindor relic, it is made of silver which is a Slytherin colour. However, this is likely out of necessity as a solid gold sword would be far too heavy to lift, let alone wield. In addition, gold is also a rather unsuitable metal for a sword: besides its weight being unruly for a weapon, it is also an incredibly soft metal with a very low melting point. Gold is so dense that a brick of it the size of a match box can be hammered down to cover an area the size of the average tennis court.
  • Its composition of silver is fitting for a sword used to slay dark creatures and destroy dark objects as silver is often used in mythology as a metal that can kill monsters such as Vampires, Werewolves, and more.
  • It is also fitting as a magical weapon as silver is an incredible conductor of electricity which, like magic, is a form of energy, making the comparison all the more fitting.
  • In the film adaptation, the design of the Sword of Gryffindor has a blatant resemblance to one of the ceremonial swords of Napoleon Bonaparte. The only few differences would be the silver hilt, a label of Godric Gryffindor on the handle and the rubies on the pommel and the guard.[14][15]
  • Interestingly, the sword's quality of imbibing only that which strengthens it corresponds with muggle philosopher Frederich Nieztche's famous quote, "That which does not kill me only makes me stronger." And this is very much the principle that the Sword of Gryffindor exemplifies.
  • Ironically, it also has qualities mentioned by Snape during a lecture on the nature of the Dark Arts, that they are mutating, ever-changing, indestructible. Funny that a sword that was used to destroy the darkest and foulest of magical objects would in and of itself be similar in nature to the forces it was being used to fight against, much like the classic saying, "Fight fire with fire." And this fits the sword due to it being the legacy of Gryffindor, whose house corresponds with the element of fire.
  • The sword's rubies and silver blade and possession of a man whose emblem is a lion and possesses red hair and lion-like features is reminiscent of the character Lion-O from the 80's cartoon series, Thundercats and the Sword of Omens. This, and also the fact that only the worthy are able to wield or summon each sword, and that they are used against an enemy with a serpent as their insignia and mottif, Voldemort and Mumm-Ra for Gryffinor students Harry Potter and Neville Longbottom, and Lion-O respectively. 

Author's comments

  • "The question of why a wizard would need a sword, though often asked, is easily answered. In the days before the International Statute of Secrecy, when wizards mingled freely with Muggles, they would use swords to defend themselves just as often as wands. Indeed, it was considered unsporting to use a wand against a Muggle sword (which is not to say it was never done). Many gifted wizards were also accomplished duellists in the conventional sense, Gryffindor among them."
  • "There have been many enchanted swords in folklore. The Sword of Nuadu, part of the four legendary treasures of Tuatha Dé Danann, was invincible when drawn. Gryffindor's sword owes something to the legend of Excalibur, the sword of King Arthur, which in some legends must be drawn from a stone by the rightful king. The idea of fitness to carry the sword is echoed in the sword of Gryffindor's return to worthy members of its true owner's house. There is a further allusion to Excalibur emerging from the lake when Harry must dive into a frozen forest pool to retrieve the sword in Deathly Hallows (though the location of the sword was really due to a spiteful impulse of Snape's to place it there), for in other versions of the legend, Excalibur was given to Arthur by the Lady of the Lake, and was returned to the lake when he died."
  • "Within the magical world, physical possession is not necessarily a guarantee of ownership. This concept applies to the three Deathly Hallows, and also to Gryffindor's sword. I am interested in what happens when cultural beliefs collide. In the Harry Potter books, the most militant of the goblin race consider all goblin-made objects to be theirs by right, although a specific object might be made over to a wizard for his life-span upon a payment of gold. Witches and wizards, like Muggles, believe that once payment has been made, the object belongs to them and their descendants or legatees in perpetuity. This is a clash of values without a solution, because each side has a different concept of what is right. It therefore presents Harry with a difficult moral dilemma when Griphook demands the sword as payment for his services in Deathly Hallows."

Appearances

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