18

We don't know the exact dates for when Hogwarts was founded, but can you at least give bounds or make an educated guess? Alternately, what are the bounds for the date of building the Hogwarts castle, or the dates of birth and death of the Founders.

Here are a few starting points I could think of.

  • Professor Binns, who teaches History of Magic, states in CS chapter 9 (this has happened in 1992)

    ‘You all know, of course, that Hogwarts was founded over a thousand years ago – the precise date is uncertain – by the four greatest witches and wizards of the age. The four school houses are named after them: Godric Gryffindor, Helga Hufflepuff, Rowena Ravenclaw and Salazar Slytherin. They built this castle together, far from prying Muggle eyes, for it was an age when magic was feared by common people, and witches and wizards suffered much persecution.’

  • In GF chapter 12, the sorting hat's song starts like this.

    ‘A thousand years or more ago,
    When I was newly sewn,
    There lived four wizards of renown,
    Whose names are still well known:

  • The Wizard of the Month Archive page of the old J. K. Rowling site: the founders are listed as “Medieval (precise dates unknown)” even though dates are given for many other wizards on that page.

  • The castle must have been built at least within a lifetime after founding the school, because Salazar Slytherin has built the Chamber of Secrets in it. Of course, wizards can have a very long lifespan.
  • It would be nice if the Hogwarts coat of arms, which is displayed at the beginning of Harry Potter books, gave the year of founding. Alas, no such luck. It only shows a motto, and the motto or the coat of arms could be adapted much later than the school was founded.
  • The names of the school and of its founders gives some information. It sounds unlikely to me that noblemen living in Scotland would have had names like Godric Gryffindor over a thousand years ago. Of course, this could be a later form of his name.
  • Similarly, castles similar to the one Hogwarts is described were started to be used only about a thousand years ago.
  • In DH chapter 31, The ghost of the Grey Lady talks about where she's hidden the diadem. She says she has hidden it in “A forest in Albania.” Would she really has used the name place “Albania” like that had she lived as early as the 12th century? Seems curious.
  • Like Slytherincess notes, the Pottermore website says Merlin (yes, that Merlin) was a student of Hogwarts.
  • We know how Rowling has claimed she was “bad with numbers” and has made that mistake about the Playstation. However, she's a teacher and an educated person in general, so she surely knows more about the medieval history of Britain than I do.

(Were it not for Binns's statement, I'd happily think Hogwarts must have been founded between the 15th and 17th centuries. However, Binns is an authority in this and he's made that statement right in book canon.) Update: with the Sorting Hat's evidence, I retract this last paragraph.

Update: added the entry about the Sorting Hat's song in Harry's fourth year.

  • 2
    Ghosts aren't completely oblivious to what's going on in the world around them. Even if Albania had been known by a different name when the Grey Lady was there, it's not unlikely that she'd have learnt the new name, and used it when speaking about the country. Also, I think "as early as the 12th century" is a little off; she was the daughter of one of the founders, and 1000 years prior to 1992 would have been the end of the 10th century. She likely wasn't that old when she died, so we're looking at the latest at the beginning of the 11th century. – Anthony Grist Jun 17 '12 at 17:18
  • The Harry Potter Wikia agrees with @AnthonyGrist, saying "around 990 AD", but doesn't give any source. – Izkata Jun 17 '12 at 17:27
  • @Izkata - Wiki is based off of Binns' statement. 1991-1001 => before 990AD – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jun 17 '12 at 17:34
  • 1
    Well, one thing was never considered, that the Slytherin who built the Chamber actually could have been a very clever portrait or even a ghost... guiding others first to build it then (for example) to their death... although I don't think so. :) (I hope he wasn't a killer or a Horcrux user... except the basilisk, and, well... middle ages...) – n611x007 Jun 20 '12 at 8:32
  • 1
    Almost four years late to the party, but some version of the name Albania was applied to that general area even about a thousand years ago, though the entire thing was at that time a part of the Bulgarian Empire. I think we have to take the accuracy with a grain of salt, though: given how maps of that time were, and how often borders have moved in that region, there’s little chance Ms Ravenclaw could be certain that the area of the Bulgarian Empire she was in back then is actually part of the current country of Albania (with or without Kosovo). – Janus Bahs Jacquet Feb 26 '16 at 3:12
7
  • Wikia gives 990AD, likely based on the main source (Binns quote you gave), making 1991-1000 ~ 990 AD as the upper limit.

  • Your concern about the name is somewhat applicable:

    • "Godric" existed until at least 1066 (Battle of Hastings):

      Godric:
      USAGE: Anglo-Saxon
      Means "power of god", derived from Old English god combined with ric "power, rule".
      This name died out a few centuries after the Norman conquest.

      Gryffin (as a surname) is seemingly from Middle English, 1200/1300AD. I blame JKR math.

    • On the other hand, Merlin definitely lived before 1136 (which is the first definitive modern literature description of him by Geoffrey of Monmouth). As far as I recall, the most accepted timeframe for Myrddin is ~ 540-584AD. So the school clearly predated 12th century, but the rest of time references are jumbled.

  • 2
    Well, I always took his surname was French, breaking as Gryffin d'or. It's possible that he just went by the name Godric, and his house was named Gryffindor only a few centuries later. – b_jonas Jun 17 '12 at 19:48
  • 2
    Gryffin as a muggle surname. – n611x007 Jun 20 '12 at 8:37
  • @b_jonas: Especially when you consider that the french translation is Griffondor, which is literrally GoldenGriffyn – DrakaSAN Oct 19 '16 at 12:21
11

This is going to be a really short answer.

If Professor Binns said Hogwarts is over 1000 years old then I would estimate Hogwarts was built, at the latest, in the year 991, which is 1001 years prior to 1992.

The following is my (educated?) guess: Hogwarts is older than 1000 years old, but Binns does not say, "As you know, Hogwarts is not over 1100 years old ... " He says 1000. So I'm going to posit Hogwarts was built between the years 893 and 991. This is over 1000 years prior to 1992, but not 1100+ years prior. The existence of Hogwarts during this time frame would also have allowed for Merlin to have been a student at Hogwarts, if you consider Merlin to be of the Medieval era (there are different dates for Merlin's existence).

  • 2
    If Hogwarts were built just almost a thousand years ago, then it'd be just natural if the millenium celebrations were remembered and commented on by older students like the twins or the other Weasleys. – n611x007 Jun 20 '12 at 8:34
  • 7
    @naxa: according to Professor Binns, the exact year of founding is unknown, so it's possible there was no real millenium celebrations. – b_jonas Jun 20 '12 at 19:44
0

According to The origins of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the tenth century:

At some point in the tenth century, four of the greatest witches and wizards that ever lived founded Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

  • The article you are quoting from wasn't written by JK Rowling. It's a secondary source put together by the Pottermore team based on the information in the books (or at least based on what the Pottermore team thinks is in the books, they often make mistakes in those articles). – ibid Aug 3 '18 at 6:39
-1

990 A.D.

Hogwarts was founded around 990 A.D. by two wizards and two witches: Godric Gryffindor, Helga Hufflepuff, Rowena Ravenclaw, and Salazar Slytherin. They each represented an aspect of personality that they wanted to bring out in new students. This is according to Wikia:

http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Hogwarts_School_of_Witchcraft_and_Wizardry

  • 3
    This information is already contained in DVK's answer – Jason Baker Dec 23 '16 at 17:15
  • 3
    Wikia isn't canon, and it doesn't provide a source for the date. – Gallifreyan Dec 23 '16 at 17:34
  • Although I sometimes use Harry Potter Wiki as a source, canon always overrules it. Pottermore states it was during the tenth century. So the wiki is at least 10 years off, probably more. – Smartie Aug 2 '18 at 16:22
  • @Smartie AD 990 is in the tenth century. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Aug 2 '18 at 17:19

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.