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We learn on Pottermore that muggle-borns are found by a magical quill in Hogwarts. They then receive their letter, which identifies them as a wizard, and they join the magical community. What did they do before Hogwarts? How would they have found out that they were a wizard?

What did muggle-borns do before Hogwarts was founded?

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    Well as far as I know Hogwarts was founded long before the statute of secrecy, so it was probably not quite so hard to identify yourself and be identified by others, and society was apparently less considerably fractured. that'd, it seems to me, be the general thrust of it, but I'll have to leave it there, because I don't pottermore and I can't recall the date of founding being mentioned in the books – Au101 Jan 27 '16 at 4:06
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    @Au101 I think "over on thousand years ago" is the most precise date given, so before 992 – ibid Jan 27 '16 at 4:12
  • Olivander's Family has been selling wands for a long time, maybe Frog cards can give us a hint about the wizard community back then. Out of the universe, I've found a quote in this article -- en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_witchcraft -- that could apply to muggleborns. – David Banner Jan 27 '16 at 4:16
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    In the world of late antiquity or the early Middle Ages, it is impossible to define someone as a witch (as opposed, for example, to an amateur herbalist, a heretic or a scold), and none of the legislation of the time attempted to do so. Offenders were designated offenders by virtue of their performing various actions or wearing certain objects declared by the legislation to be condemned or forbidden. For all practical purposes, the 'witch' had not yet been invented. There were only practitioners of various kinds of magic, both male and female.- PGM Stewart, The Emergence of the Christian Witch – David Banner Jan 27 '16 at 4:17
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    Well, prior to Hogwarts creation, I could only find one interesting fact on a Chocolate Frog Card: "Queen Maeve - Medieval, dates unknown: Witch who trained young sorcerers in Ireland prior to the establishment of Hogwarts." So if you were a muggleborn and you lived in Ireland in that period, you could have become her apprentice... The Tales Of Beedle The Bard might have some material, but unfortunately I have never read that book :/ Maybe someone will have more success trying to collect small facts here and there. – David Banner Jan 27 '16 at 11:24
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I can't find anything in canon about this, so this will all be guesswork.

Hogwarts was founded in the 10th century, so it's been a while since then. I haven't seen anything about Muggle-borns from back then, so it could be the case that the appearance of magic in Muggles' children is a recent occurrence and back then it was only purebloods and occasionally halfbloods. If, though, there were Muggle-borns at this time, remember three things:

1.Without training, wizards and witches are never able to do any magic except accidents, like vanishing the glass at the zoo, or jumping on to the roof of the kitchen. Possibly, Muggle-borns would just never be seen for what they were and would go through their life untrained, believing that they are a Muggle.

2.This was before the Secrecy Laws. Muggles might have known about magi and magical people at this time; maybe they just sent their kids to train with another wizard.

3.Remember what I said in the first one: without training, wizards and witches are never able to do any magic except accidents. It seems highly unlikely that there was no place for wizards and witches to go--some school that was a predecessor of Hogwarts. If so, Muggle-borns could go there. If not,wizards and witches probably trained in individual apprenticeships.

There was also Queen Maeve, a possibly muggle-born witch before Hogwarts who trained many wizards and witches, including, I assume, muggle-borns, in Ireland.

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Let's not forget that HP takes into account mythology and history, like Merlin who attended Hogwarts back in the late 900s, so we know Hogwarts is suuuper old. And before that there were druids, witches and magical creatures who lived among the Muggles, even helped them or were persecuted by the same.

Looking historically, Islam forbade the use of magic and it came in the 6th/7th century, so we know there were magical folks before. Looking back to the ancients and early civilizations - these and their religions were formed around people with magical abilities to see into the future or communicate with Gods, make wonders and deal with supernatural creatures.

Sooo, to get back to your question (because I could write a book on magic in real history): people with magic, muggleborn and purebloods and all the in-between, even before the foundation of Hogwarts, were able to grow and use their skills.

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