In the fourth Harry Potter movie, when they went to the Portkey, how did someone put it there without touching it?
I mean also the triwizard cup, how did the guy put it there without teleporting to the graveyard?


3 Answers 3


How were the Portkeys placed where they were?

The Portkey at the top of Stoatshead Hill was ‘timed’: it was not actually a functioning Portkey until a specific moment in time. How this was done, we don’t know (or at least I don’t); but it was (emphasis mine in all following quotes):

Mr Weasley was shaking hands with a ruddy-faced wizard with a scrubby brown beard, who was holding a mouldy-looking old boot in his other hand. […]

He looked around at Harry and Hermione.‘You just need to touch the Portkey, that’s all, a finger will do –’
    With difficulty, owing to the bulky backpacks, the nine of them crowded around the old boot held out by Amos Diggory.
    They all stood there, in a tight circle, as a chill breeze swept over the hilltop. Nobody spoke. It suddenly occurred to Harry how odd this would look if a Muggle were to walk up here now … nine people, two grown men, clutching this manky old boot in the semi-darkness, waiting …
    ‘Three …’ muttered Mr Weasley, one eye still on his watch, ‘two … one …’
Goblet of Fire, ch. 6 “The Portkey”

So placing it on the hill would be no problem: you could touch it all you wanted until 5:07 a.m., and it had presumably been there for quite a while.

This is not dissimilar to the Portkey that Dumbledore makes in his office in Order of the Phoenix when Harry and the Weasleys go to Grimmauld Palace when Arthur has been attacked. This too has been made to transport its ‘passengers’ at a certain time, though this time the time seems to be ‘when Dumbledore says so’, rather than a specific hour of the day:

‘You have all used a Portkey before?’ asked Dumbledore, and they nodded, each reaching out to touch some part of the blackened kettle. ‘Good. On the count of three, then … one … two …
Order of the Phoenix, ch. 22 “St Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries”

The Triwizard Cup is different, though: it is set up to transport anyone who touches it as soon as they touch it.

This is the only of the Portkeys described so far which you can’t just set up as a Portkey and then place somewhere. Logic would dictate that fake-Moody simply put the Cup in the centre of the maze and then made it into a Portkey, once he could be fairly sure the next person to touch it would be the Triwizard Champion/Harry. There’s no unambiguous mention of this in the books,1 but since it’s logical and simple and basically the exact same thing that Dumbledore did with the Portkey in his office, I see no reason not to assume it’s how fake-Moody did it, too.


Why was the Portkey placed where it was?

The second part of the question (added in the comments) is harder to answer unequivocally. It is indeed a bit risky to place a Portkey at the top of a hill where Muggles may come by at any time. But perhaps not quite as risky as one might think.

Stoatshead Hill is, of course, a fictive hill not far from the equally fictive village of Ottery St Catchpole, where the Weasleys live. The hill is not described in detail in the book, but the Portkey boot does seem to be placed not too far from its crest:

They spread out, searching. They had only been at it for a couple of minutes, however, when a shout rent the still air.
    ‘Over here, Arthur! Over here, son, we’ve got it!’
    Two tall figures were silhouetted against the starry sky on the other side of the hilltop.
Goblet of Fire, ch. 6 “The Portkey”

So the hill is small and big enough that a few minutes of searching from the point where they crest it brings them within silhouette-view of two people standing on the opposite side of the hilltop. It would seem to be a decently big hilltop, then, but not one several miles wide.

The hill is indirectly described as being very steep:

They didn’t have breath to spare for talking as they began to climb Stoatshead Hill, stumbling occasionally in hidden rabbit holes, slipping on thick black tuffets of grass. Each breath Harry took was sharp in his chest, and his legs were starting to seize up when at last his feet found level ground.
Goblet of Fire, ch. 6 “The Portkey”

Remember, this is a 14-year-old boy who plays a fairly tough sport—it’s unlikely his breath would feel so sharp in his chest if it was just a simple, rolling hill.

We can assume, then, that Stoatshead Hill is quite a tall and very steep hill with a flat, fairly wide top, perhaps a hundred or so metres in diameter at the top, at a guess. This kind of topography is quite good for unobtrusiveness, actually: you don’t have to go very far from the crest before people at the bottom can no longer see you. So I’d say there’s little fear of being seen by people just going by down on the ground (at five in the morning—unlikely to be many people to begin with).

There is no mention of anti-Muggle protective spells being placed on all the many, many places where Portkeys are arranged for the World Cup, so while it’s conceivable that any such protection had been added at Stoatshead Hill, we have nothing to prove it. It would seem, then, that the planners of the World Cup had simply counted on security through obscurity, counting on there being no Muggles who felt like climbing to the top of a steep hill in rural Devon at five in the morning—or that any wizards or witches present would be able to Confound any Muggles that might choose to do so and make them go somewhere else.

Overall, I’d say the planners were probably quite justified in that belief.


1 The quote in ibid’s answer might imply it, but it’s not certain. The quote could also be taken to mean that he offered to take the Cup into the maze, then made it into a Portkey, and only then took it into the maze. That would leave us at square one, however, so there’s no reason to interpret it like that.


Book Answer

Portkeys can be set to go at a specific time.

Almost any inanimate object can be turned into a Portkey. Once bewitched, the object will transport anyone who grasps it to a pre-arranged destination. A Portkey may also be enchanted to transport the grasper (or graspers) only at a given time. In this way, the arrivals and departures of great numbers of witches and wizards can be staggered, enabling such events such as the Quidditch World Cup to take place with few security breaches
(Pottermore - Portkeys)

We can see this several times in the books.

“There aren’t any more of us in this area, are there?”
“Not that I know of,” said Mr. Weasley. “Yes, it’s a minute off. . . . We’d better get ready. . . .” (...)
They all stood there, in a tight circle, as a chill breeze swept over the hilltop. Nobody spoke. It suddenly occurred to Harry how odd this would look if a Muggle were to walk up here now . . . nine people, two of them grown men, clutching this manky old boot in the semidarkness, waiting. . . .
“Three . . .” muttered Mr. Weasley, one eye still on his watch, “two . . . one . . .”

It happened immediately: Harry felt as though a hook just behind his navel had been suddenly jerked irresistibly forward. (...)
Harry looked up. Mr. Weasley, Mr. Diggory, and Cedric were still standing, though looking very windswept; everybody else was on the ground. “Seven past five from Stoatshead Hill,” said a voice.
(Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - Chapter 6 - text available on Pottermore)

As for the Triwizard Cup, Crouch made it into a portkey after he put it down.

I offered to carry the Triwizard Cup into the maze before dinner,” whispered Barty Crouch. “Turned it into a Portkey. My master’s plan worked. He is returned to power and I will be honored by him beyond the dreams of wizards.”
(Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - Chapter 35 - text available on Pottermore)

  • Hey, this answer wasn’t there when I started typing! Mar 11, 2016 at 0:36
  • @JanusBahsJacquet - It looks like you won either way.
    – ibid
    Mar 11, 2016 at 0:38
  • Oh, so it does… Well, that was unexpectedly fast! (I still +1’ed your answer, ’cause you got a couple of useful quotes in that I didn’t think to include. And, y’know, ’cause great minds thinking alike warrants reward!) Mar 11, 2016 at 0:40

The portkey on the hill could easily have been maneuvered to where it was using Wingardium Leviosa or a number of other charms, or placed it there before making into a port key. Similarly, Moody/Crouch made the Triwizard Cup a portkey after placing it in the center of the maze, which he did himself. (On a side note, I'm sure Bart Crouch Jr. wouldn't have a problem if he port keyed to the graveyard, being insane and all.)

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