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Magical Items & Devices

Horcruxes

Of the Horcrux, wickedest of magical inventions, we shall not speak nor give direction -
- from the introduction of Magick Moste Evile, Hogwarts library (HBP18)

On this page: Related Information:

A Horcrux is: 'the receptacle in which a Dark wizard has hidden a fragment of his soul for the purposes of attaining immortality'. (JKR) Diary entry - September 29, 2006
(The word Horcrux is always capitalised in canon.)

Horcruxes are indeed a matter involving very advanced, very Dark magic. Only one book in the Hogwarts library has been found to refer to them even in passing, the subject is banned at Hogwarts, and only two of the most senior professors on the Hogwarts staff are known to have any information on the topic: Albus Dumbledore and Horace Slughorn. Most of our information on Horcruxes comes from them, particularly from Professor Slughorn's memory of a fateful conversation with the young Tom Riddle and Professor Dumbledore's later analysis of that memory (HBP23).

The term "Horcrux" is used to refer to any object in which a person has concealed a part of his or her soul. The object need not be inanimate; according to Dumbledore, a living creature can be used as a Horcrux, although it is risky to do so since the Horcrux in such a case is something that can move and think for itself, independently of the implanted fragment of soul.

The purpose of a Horcrux is to protect the given bit of soul from anything that might happen to the body of the person to whom the soul belongs. While the Horcrux is kept safe, the person will continue to exist even if his or her body is damaged or destroyed.

Creating Horcruxes

To create a Horcrux, by definition the spell-caster must have split his or her soul into fragments, so that one fragment can be implanted within the Horcrux while the other is retained in the spell-caster's own body. The act of splitting the soul is accomplished by committing murder, which rips the soul apart. From Dumbledore's remarks about Voldemort's possible planned use of the murders of the Potters when Harry was a baby and of Frank Bryce's murder in 1994 [Y14], it does not matter whether the victim is a witch, wizard, or Muggle. According to Slughorn, some spell appears to be involved for the implant process, but Slughorn neither knew nor wished to know the details (HBP23).

Tom Marvolo Riddle

Tom Marvolo Riddle, later known as Voldemort, became obsessed with avoiding death at a very young age. At some point during his early years at Hogwarts, despite the fact that the topic of Horcruxes was not part of the curriculum and was in fact banned at the school, Riddle learned of their existence.

Riddle hit upon the idea of creating not just one Horcrux to protect part of his soul, but several at once: a grand total of six Horcruxes, so that he would eventually have a seven-part soul, with six parts concealed in various Horcruxes and the seventh remaining in his body. Under a pretense of academic curiosity, he sought Horace Slughorn's opinion as to whether this would be an effective procedure, and apparently was satisfied with the answer he got (HBP23). It is worth noting that since Riddle was already in possession of his maternal grandfather's ring at the time of his conversation with Slughorn, he had at that point already committed at least three murders (those of his paternal grandparents and his father) and had framed his maternal uncle for the crimes.

Known and Candidate Horcruxes

According to Albus Dumbledore's analysis of Riddle's character, which seems to be borne out by the known facts, Riddle is likely to choose as Horcruxes objects of some significance to him, which he deems worthy of protecting bits of his soul. Artifacts from each of the four Founders of Hogwarts, it is suspected, would particularly appeal to him.

Known Horcruxes

  1. diary of Tom Riddle
    hiding place: left with Lucius Malfoy
    Known to have been a Horcrux; originally an ordinary Muggle diary, but of personal significance to Tom Riddle. Left with Lucius Malfoy but subsequently planted on Ginny Weasley just before her first year at Hogwarts (CS4). Destroyed by Harry Potter by stabbing it with a basilisk fang (CS17); the remains were subsequently turned over to Lucius Malfoy (CS18).

  2. Marvolo Gaunt's ring (HBP4, HBP10, HBP17, HBP23)
    hiding place: the ruins of the Gaunts' house
    A large finger ring, clumsily made out of what appeared to be gold, set with a black stone engraved with the Peverell coat of arms According to Marvolo Gaunt, the ring had been in the Gaunt family for centuries. After Marvolo's death, the ring passed to his son Morfin, but it was stolen by Marvolo's grandson Tom Riddle on the night that Tom Riddle framed Morfin for the murders of the rest of the Riddle family. Tom wore the ring openly for some time afterward at Hogwarts, but apparently after he turned it into a Horcrux he ceased wearing it. Dumbledore found the ring magically concealed in the ruins of the Gaunts' house. Dumbledore managed to "destroy" the Horcrux afterward, in the sense that it no longer functioned as a Horcrux. Dumbledore retained possession of the ring and took to wearing it for a time after its destruction, which left the stone cracked down the middle.

  3. Slytherin's locket (HBP10, HBP20, HBP23, HBP26)
    hiding place: a cave visited by Tom Riddle on a day-trip as a child
    A heavy gold locket carrying Salazar Slytherin's mark (an ornate serpentine S). Inherited by Merope Gaunt Riddle, pawned during her pregnancy to Borgin and Burkes, purchased by Hepzibah Smith, and subsequently stolen by Tom Riddle upon her murder (HBP20).

    At some point, the locket was removed from its hiding place by Regulus Black and Kreacher, who together substituted another locket for the original and left a note for Voldemort. Kreacher subsequently tried and failed repeatedly to destroy the locket as Regulus Black had ordered him to. It was later found at number twelve, Grimmauld Place during the summer before Harry's fifth year (OP6) (see).

  4. Hufflepuff's cup (HBP20, HBP26)
    hiding place: the Lestranges' vault at Gringotts
    A small, magical golden cup with two finely wrought handles, engraved with a badger (Helga Hufflepuff's device); inherited by the Smith family from Hufflepuff. According to Hepzibah Smith, the cup in its own right possesses magical powers, but she also said that she had not thoroughly investigated the matter. Stolen by Tom Riddle after Hepzibah's murder.

Candidate Horcruxes

  1. Rowena Ravenclaw's diadem
    hiding place: Room of Requirement
    Judging from the locket and cup Horcruxes, a Ravenclaw artifact used as a Horcrux might be marked especially to indicate Ravenclaw's ownership, either with an initial R or with Ravenclaw's heraldic device. Ravenclaw's symbol, judging from the Hogwarts crest, is a bronze eagle.

Apart from these two categories, there are other possibilities for the last two unaccounted-for Horcruxes.

  • Nagini, the gigantic snake kept at Voldemort's side.
    One point in favour of this is that Voldemort seems unusually attached to Nagini. A point against is that, in the case of the ring Horcrux, once the object was made into a Horcrux, Riddle no longer wore it but put it safely into hiding; it would not seem consistent if, once Nagini were made into a Horcrux, Riddle/Voldemort continued to keep the snake in such a visible position as an obvious target. Another point against is that Nagini is apparently an ordinary, if large, mortal snake; she can be killed and does not seem especially durable.

  • Harry himself
    One point in favour of this is Dumbledore's theory that Voldemort was one Horcrux short of the total of six on the night that Voldemort murdered Harry's parents, and that the murders of Harry and his family were considered important enough deaths to be worthy of fueling the creation of a Horcrux. A point against this is that Voldemort has tried to kill Harry at least twice since his return, once on the night of the third task and once in the Atrium at the Ministry of Magic.

Apart from the issue of what objects might be Horcruxes, we also come to the question of where the remaining Horcruxes might be hidden, if they are inanimate objects. Judging from what is known of the Horcruxes accounted for so far, the most likely hiding places would be places significant to Riddle thanks to some personal association. The most likely places would appear to be the Muggle orphanage where Riddle was born and grew up, Hogwarts itself (particularly the Chamber of Secrets, if Riddle was able to gain access at some time during the years after Myrtle's death), and the Riddle House.

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