One of the darkest magical objects in the Harry Potter series, horcruxes play an important part in the series. Author J.K. Rowling says that the books are about accepting death, so the fact that these Horcruxes are made with the purposes of escaping death make the books more complicated.
In the Harry Potter universe, Horcruxes were first created by Herpo the Foul, a wizard who lived in the Ancient Greek civilization. While the Dark Art of Horcruxes were kept in books and known to a few, no other witch or wizard was recorded to attempt making their own Horcrux because the steps to creating one were so terrible that no one wanted to try. That was, until Lord Voldemort (then known as Tom Riddle) arrived.
And he didn’t just create one Horcrux. He created seven.
Background of Horcruxes in Harry Potter
Horcruxes are objects that hold a fragment of a Dark witch or wizard’s soul. Considered the most terrible of all dark magic, part of the requirements of creating a Horcrux is that it can only be made right after committing murder. This follows an unknown horrific act that only a few people know.
The purpose of Horcruxes is that when the physical body of a witch or wizard is destroyed, the fragment of their soul inside the Horcrux prevents them from truly dying. As their soul remains, they can find ways to return to life. And since Horcruxes have defensive spells that make it difficult to destroy, a wizard or witch’s soul is protected until their enemies find a way to destroy it. So, a wizard interested in obtaining immortality may consider Horcruxes, but at the cost of their soul becoming unstable.
Around the 1940’s, teaching Horcruxes in Hogwarts was already banned, according to Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. However, one book called Secrets of the Darkest Art – the only known book with written instructions on how to create and destroy Horcruxes – remained in the Restricted Section of the Hogwarts Library. Somehow, student Tom Marvolo Riddle must have found it and read about it, but because the book said nothing about creating multiple Horcruxes, he asked Professor Slughorn for advice. Slughorn would later regret telling Riddle about the possibility of creating multiple Horcruxes and was too ashamed to admit the truth to anyone.
It’s unknown when, but Dumbledore as Headmaster would later pull the book from the library and keep it in his office. In 1997, the book went into Hermione Granger’s possession when she used a summoning charm to find books on Horcruxes, which she, Harry, and Ron Weasley used to study Horcruxes while hunting Voldemort’s multiple Horcruxes.
Tom Riddle’s Diary
Created in 1943
Destroyed by Harry Potter in 1992 (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets)
Tom Riddle bought the diary in Winstanley’s Bookstore & Stationers before or on 1943. It was a Muggle-run shop near the orphanage he grew up in London. By 1943, he had discovered the truth about his parentage: his mother was a descendant of Salazar Slytherin, and he was the heir who could speak Parseltongue and open the Chamber of Secrets.
By this time, he had also learned the secrets of creating a Horcrux. When Myrtle Warren, a Muggle-born Ravenclaw, was killed by looking into the Basilisk’s eyes directly, Riddle used her death to transform his diary into his first Horcrux. However, because Dumbledore had begun to suspect him of Myrtle’s death, Riddle closed the Chamber, framed Rubeus Hagrid, and enchanted the diary so that it could open the Chamber on a future date.
Prior to 1992, Lucius Malfoy got the diary from Lord Voldemort (Tom Riddle’s new name) under the guise that the diary was charmed to have the user open the Chamber of Secrets. Lucius slipped it Ginny Weasley’s belongings hoping to sabotage her father, purge Hogwarts of Muggle-borns, and remove Dark artefacts from his home because the Ministry of Magic was investigating him.
Ginny was eventually possessed by the soul of Tom Riddle and re-opened the Chamber. Tom Riddle would have nearly regained his power, strength, and physical form by feeding off Ginny’s soul. However, Harry used a basilisk fang to stab the diary, destroying that part of Riddle’s soul.
Created in 1943
Destroyed by Albus Dumbledore in 1996 (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince)
Not to be confused with the ring from Lord of the Rings, The Gaunt ring from Harry Potter was an heirloom of the Gaunt family, a pureblood line that can trace its roots back to Cadmus Peverell, one of the three brothers in the Deathly Hallows legend. The black stone set on the ring was actually Peverell’s Resurrection Stone, but over the years and after generations of passing down the ring, that knowledge was forgotten, and it was assumed that the Deathly Hallows symbol was actually the Gaunt family’s coat of arms.
The last two Gaunts to own the ring were Marvolo Gaunt and his son Morfin. Marvolo loved the ring more than his own daughter, Merope (Voldemort’s mother), because despite their life in poverty, that ring reminded him that their family used to be a wealthy and powerful line of wizards. After he died, the ring was passed on to Morfin after he was released from Azkaban.
In 1943, Tom Riddle went to Little Hangleton to see his maternal and paternal families. He visited the Gaunt cottage to find his grandfather but only found his senile uncle, Morfin, who mistook him for Riddle’s father, whom he resembled. After learning that his father abandoned his mother, Riddle stunned Morfin, used Morfin’s wand to kill his father and paternal grandparents, modified Morfin’s memory to make him think he killed the Riddle family, and then left with the Gaunt ring.
Upon his return to Hogwarts, Riddle openly wore the ring. After learning from Slughorn that he could create multiple Horcruxes, he would later use his father’s murder to turn the ring into his second Horcrux. Either out of fear of someone discovering his ring or simply losing interest in keeping it, Riddle hid the ring in a golden box underneath the floorboards of the Gaunt shack. To protect the ring, he placed a curse that anyone who wore the ring would die quickly.
In 1996, Dumbledore discovered the ring despite the enchantments protecting the shack. However, when he recognized the Deathly Hallows symbol and recognized the Resurrection Stone, he forgot about its status as a Horcrux and put on the ring hoping to see the souls of his dead family members, which started the ring’s curse. Dumbledore managed to destroy the Horcrux with the Sword of Gryffindor (which was coated with basilisk venom from Harry’s fight with the basilisk in 1992) and Severus Snape managed to stop the curse from spreading quickly, but it only gave Dumbledore around a year to live.
Salazar Slytherin’s Locket
Created circa 1946
Destroyed by Ronald Weasley in 1997 (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows)
Aside from Cadmus Peverell, the Gaunt family is descended from Salazar Slytherin. When Slytherin created the locket, it was enchanted so that only Parselmouths (descendants of the Slytherin family had the unique ability to talk to snakes) could open the locket.
Eventually, this (along with the Gaunt ring) was owned by Marvolo Gaunt. Unlike the ring, however, he allowed his daughter, Merope, to wear the locket. After he and Morfin were arrested, Merope fled to London with Tom Riddle Sr. (who was enchanted with her Love Potion) where she became pregnant with his child. After he fled from her after she stopped giving him Love Potions, she sold her locket out of desperation to Caractacus Burke, co-owner of the antique shop Borgin and Burke. She sold the locket for 10 galleons, which was an extremely low offer given the history of the locket. However, she accepted the offer out of desperation.
Burke would later sell the locket to a collector named Hepzibah Smith, a descendant of Helga Huflepuff, for a high price. Some time on or after 1946, Tom Riddle would later work for Borgin and Burke and meet Hepzibah, who would show him the locket. Two days later, Riddle returned to her home, killed her, and planted a false memory on her house-elf Hokey to make her believe that she accidentally poisoned her mistress. Her family tried to find the locket in one of Hepzibah’s many hiding places, but by then Riddle had already quit his job and went into hiding for about a decade. While hiding, he killed an unnamed Muggle tramp to turn the locket into his third Horcrux. This is the one of two unnamed Muggles Voldemort killed for his Horcrux, compared to the others who played a significant role in his life.
To hide the locket, he went to a seaside cave he visited as a child and enchanted it so that it would be difficult to enter and retrieve the locket. To enter, one would have to offer blood onto the cave walls. They would then have to take an invisible rowboat across a lake full of Inferi. They would then have to drink a potion that would cause the drinker unbearable pain and force them to relive fears, memories, and their worst nightmares. They could not produce water from magic in the cave, which would tempt them to drink water from the lake. This would awaken the Inferi and attack them. If they somehow survive and drink all the potion, the locket would reveal itself.
Voldemort did this around the 1970s. To test the strength of his protection, he used Kreacher, one of his Death Eaters’ house-elves to test the effectiveness. When he was pleased with the result, he left creature to die in the cave. However, because Kreacher’s master, Regulus Black, ordered him to return home after Voldemort was done using him, Kreacher used his special elf magic to return home. Voldemort’s treatment of Kreacher infuriated Regulus, and it was one of the reasons he decided to turn against Voldemort.
Having deduced that Voldemort was using Horcruxes to stay alive, he used Kreacher to find the cave. Instead of using Kreacher, Regulus drank the potion himself and ordered Kreacher to replace the locket with a fake one, leave the cave with the real locket and leave Regulus behind, and destroy the locket. However, because he didn’t know how to destroy a Horcrux, Kreacher would spend the next few decades punishing himself for failing his late master.
Around 1996 or later, after the death of Regulus’ brother Sirius, Mundungus Fletcher stole valuables from the Black House, including the locket, to sell in Diagon Alley. He was apprehended by Dolores Umbridge, who agreed to let him go if she could keep the locket. She then used the locket to claim familial ties with the pure-blood Selwyn family.
In early 1997, Harry and Dumbledore headed to the cave to retrieve the locket, but Harry discovered it is a fake. Harry, Ron, and Hermione later discovered the whereabouts of the Horcrux and infiltrated the ministry to get close enough to Umbridge to steal the locket. After months of hiding in the wilderness to find a way to destroy the locket, Severus Snape led Harry to find the real sword of Gryffindor. Harry used his Parselmouth to open the locket, while Ron used the sword to destroy it despite the locket’s attempts to unhinge him.
Helga Hufflepuff’s Cup
Created circa 1946
Destroyed by Hermione Granger in 1998 (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows)
The cup was created by Hogwarts co-founder Helga Hufflepuff. Though said to have magical properties, it is unknown what the cup really does. Hufflepuff kept the cup until her death. Afterwards, it was passed down to her descendants until it reached the hands of her descendant, Hepzibah Smith.
Aside from stealing Slytherin’s locket, Riddle also took off with Hufflepuff’s cup even before her family members started looking for it. He used Hepzibah’s murder to create his fourth Horcrux. It’s unknown what Voldemort did with the cup in between the time he stole the cup up to 1981. Though prior to 1981, he had already given the cup to one of his most trusted Death Eaters, Bellatrix Lestrange. Bellatrix was unaware that the cup was a Horcrux, but because she was tasked with protecting it, she treated it with the highest priority and had it stored in the Lestrange family vault in Gringotts Wizarding Bank.
In 1998, Harry, Hermione, and Ron had no idea where to look for Hufflepuff’s Cup. When they were brought to Malfoy Manor and Bellatrix panicked at the sight of Gryffindor’s Sword and demanded to know if they took anything else from her vault, he deduced that the Cup might be inside her vault at Gringotts.
Using Polyjuice Potion with Bellatrix’s hair and the Goblin Griphook’s assistance, the trio entered the vault and found the Cup. During the Battle of Hogwarts, Ron and Hermione returned to the Chamber of Secrets to retrieve a basilisk fang, which Hermione used to destroy the cup.
Rowena Ravenclaw’s Diadem
Created circa 1946
Destroyed (unintentionally) by Vincent Crabbe in 1998 (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows)
Also known as the Lost Diadem of Ravenclaw, it was said to make a person wiser. It was most likely created by Rowena Ravenclaw herself, an extremely powerful and intelligent witch. Her daughter Helena, however, envied the fact that her mother was more intelligent and received more attention than her. Helena decided to steal her mother’s diadem and flee Hogwarts.
Rowena fell ill and lay on her deathbed, but she kept the truth about her missing diadem a secret from the other Hogwarts founders. Despite her daughter’s betrayal, she still wanted to see her daughter one last time. She sent one of her daughter’s suitors to find Helena, who was hiding in a forest in Albania. Helena hid the diadem inside a hollow tree before the man could find her and refused to return with him. In anger, the man killed her before killing himself out of remorse. The ghost of Helena returned to Hogwarts and became the House Ravenclaw ghost more commonly known as The Grey Lady, while her suitor became the Slytherin ghost known as the Bloody Baron.
During his educational years in Hogwarts, Riddle charmed Helena’s ghost enough for her to reveal where she hid the diadem. After leaving Hogwarts, he went to Albania to find the diadem, killing an Albanian peasant to turn it into his fifth Horcrux.
Prior to the start of the First Wizarding War, Voldemort returned to Hogwarts to try and apply for the post of Defense Against the Dark Arts professor. When Dumbledore rejected, on his way out, Voldemort decided to leave the diadem in Hogwarts’ Room of Requirement. Because he falsely believed he was the only one who knows about the room, he did not bother to leave any protective enchantments.
In 1998, Harry returned to Hogwarts after seeing visions that hinted a Horcrux related to Ravenclaw was within the castle. With the help of Luna Lovegood pointing him in the direction of the Grey Lady, who told him where Voldemort had hidden it. After he found it in the Room of Requirement, a Battle ensued between Harry, Ron, and Hermione against Draco Malfoy, Gregory Goyle, and Vincent Crabbe. Crabbe used Fiendfyre but was not capable of controlling it and burned to death. The rest managed to escape.
In the books, the Fiendfyre was strong enough to incinerate the Horcrux, but in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, Harry had to stab the diadem first before Ron kicked it into the Room of Requirement burning with Goyle’s (not Crabbe’s) Fiendfyre.
Created In 1981
Destroyed (unintentionally) by Lord Voldemort in 1998 (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows)
After creating five Horcruxes, Voldemort’s soul was in such an unstable state. Add in the fact that the other unspeakable acts of evil he committed during his rise to power and the First Wizarding War also made his soul even more unstable. Because his soul was so mutilated, it began to manifest physically through the way he looked.
Regardless of this, Voldemort believed himself to be unstoppable with five Horcruxes. When he learned of a prophecy of a child born in 1980 destined to stop him, he believed the baby of Lily and James Potter was the child in the prophecy and decided to kill the baby as soon as possible.
He arrived in Godric’s Hollow, killed James Potter, and entered Harry’s room where Lily Potter was guarding him. Severus Snape begged him to spare Lily, so Voldemort gave Lily a chance to leave. When she refused, he killed her. Unknown to Voldemort, Lily’s sacrifice had invoked a powerful and ancient magic rooted on love that allowed her sacrifice to protect Harry until he turned 17. So, when he fired a Killing Curse at Harry, the curse rebounded and hit him, destroying his physical body but not completely killing him due to the existence of five Horcruxes.
However, because Voldemort’s soul was so unstable, the Killing Curse split his soul once more, with the other half latching onto the nearest living thing it could find – Harry himself. Unknown to Voldemort, the scar Harry sustained on his forehead that night and continued to show throughout his life was actually his sixth (and only accidental) Horcrux.
No one was aware of Harry’s status as a Horcrux until 1995, when Dumbledore suspected that the reason why Harry could see into Voldemort’s mind was that they were connected. He eventually deduced this and realized a part of Voldemort’s soul was inside Harry. It’s also why Harry had the ability to speak Parseltongue, a gift only seen in descendants of Slytherin.
In 1996, Dumbledore confided the truth to Snape. He also revealed that, when the time is right and Voldemort is at his weakest, Harry must die at Voldemort’s hand. Snape did not understand this plan and was angry that Dumbledore had planned to have Lily’s son die, but he trusted Dumbledore and relayed these plans to Harry via his memory in the pensieve before he died as well.
Knowing the truth about Voldemort’s soul inside him, Harry went to Voldemort to die. Voldemort used a Killing Curse on him, and Harry woke up to find himself in limbo. There, he sees that Voldemort only killed the part of him inside Harry, but Harry still had the option to return to the world of the living. Because Harry was no longer a Horcrux, he lost his mental connection with Voldemort as well as his ability to talk to snakes.
Created in 1994
Destroyed by Neville Longbottom in 1998 (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows)
If you choose to take the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them film series as canon, then Nagini was originally a female human Maledictus. She could turn to a snake at will but was cursed to eventually permanently become a snake. By 1927, she was part of a wizarding circus traveling around Europe until she and Credence Barebone decided to escape in Paris.
Eventually, she and Credence were separated when Credence decided to join forces with Gellert Grindelwald recruiting wizards and witches to his cause to dominate Muggles. She, however, stayed with Newt Scamander and his friends and travelled with them to meet Albus Dumbledore.
As of writing this article, the third part of the film series hasn’t been released yet, so we’re not sure when Nagini’s permanent transformation into a snake occurred or when she was acquired as a pet by Lord Voldemort. However, by 1994, she was already his pet when he killed the Ministry employee Bertha Jorkins in Albania and used her death to make Nagini his seventh Horcrux, though he wrongly believed she was only his sixth Horcrux.
Though Harry and Hermione had come across Nagini in Godric’s Hollow, they did not know that Nagini was a Horcrux until close to the Battle of Hogwarts. In the film, Voldemort kept Nagini close to him for protection after he realized Harry had stolen Hufflepuff’s Cup. In the books, Voldemort kept Nagini in a protective enchanted cage despite her reluctance to be caged and Harry had a vision of Voldemort telling Nagini it was for her own good.
In both the books and films, it was Neville Longbottom who killed Nagini. Using the Sword of Gryffindor taken from the Sorting Hat, Neville swung the fatal blow that decapitated Nagini, killing Voldemort’s final Horcrux.