Where Exactly is Hogwarts?

Karen Brown

Good old Harry Potter, with his flashy scar, his two best friends, his sour-faced Muggle aunt and his snake-loving nemesis Voldemort. A whole generation of Millennials have grown up on the Potterverse, spoon-fed it to their children like warm tomato soup, or in my case, read it to the cat until Book 5. 

Mr. Mouster never quite got over the thing with Sirius Black. But I bought him a Gryffindor food bowl and a Weasley jumper for Christmas to smooth things over. 

J. K. Rowling’s novels are not just stories about a boy wizard, written for children. They are the lifeblood of a multibillion-dollar entertainment industry. The Harry Potter Shop at King’s Cross station is a tiny droplet in an ocean of official movie memorabilia and all manner of Potter-stamped keepsakes. 

But it seems the rest of the Potter-loving world has forgotten that Scotland matters in this tale. There are Harry Potter theme parks in Los Angeles and Orlando; there are Broadway shows in Manhattan and in London’s West End; there are countless Harry Potter themed shops in select locations across the UK. 

So isn’t it about time the Scots got in on the action? 

"...the Potter-loving world has forgotten that Scotland matters in this tale."

One thing that often gets overlooked in this money-making mêlée is Hogwarts itself, the famous magic school which the boy hero attends for six years before his big showdown with the Dark Lord in Year 7. 

Alnwick Castle, near Northumberland, is the closest we can get to a proper Hogwarts-themed tour—in a proper castle and all that. You can even learn how to play Quidditch between March and October. (Indeed, it would be much too cold for Scottish Muggles to be dangling off broomsticks between November and February!) Alnwick Castle is also the site of Downton Abbey and other British period dramas. So, for the perpetually obsessed Harry Potter fanatic out there, it will not fulfil your wishes all year round. But, most importantly, it is just over the English border, and therefore not entirely ours. 

For those of us who love the books and paid far too much attention, we know that Hogwarts is somewhere between Edinburgh and the Highlands. After all, in the films the Hogwarts Express comes up through the West Highlands over the Glenfinnan Viaduct. That’s a lot of landscape in which to hide a magic school—albeit one with a very protective Invisibility Spell. 

It might be a stone’s throw from Edinburgh castle, near a suburb of Inverness or somewhere in the East Neuk of Fife—with nearby magical village Hogsmeade dangling off the coast of St Andrews, perhaps?


Wherever it is, the Scottish tourism and entertainment industries would certainly benefit from something like: 

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