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I recently visited the Warner Bros. Studios Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter and took notice of a particular piece of artwork from the prop designs of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. It depicted the runes that are inscribed around the rim of the Goblet. I took a photo of the artwork although it is slightly low quality.

Photo of artwork from the Studio Tour

It got me wondering if the designers behind the Goblet actually spelled anything meaningful with the runes, and if these runes are from a real historical alphabet or just similar in design to actual runes/a mixture of different runic alphabets. I also wondered if the Goblet as described in the books has any runes on it, and if they spelled anything.

Do the runes around the Goblet of Fire prop have any meaning, and is this a feature carried over from its description in the book?

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    It appears to be gibberish based on Elder Futhark runes; FHVNNGDEKGHRMZBIng / OHLngIPLDYIchKthMO – Valorum Mar 25 at 23:11
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    Discussed in considerable detail here by someone who seems to know what they're talking about. Again, they think it's gibberish; twitter.com/nealpolitan/status/992413598197706753 – Valorum Mar 25 at 23:28
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    @Valorum I understand the prop was used in only one film, and didn't have oodles of screen time, but the artwork I saw was so detailed it seems like they would've put more effort into those runes than to have them be gibberish. I feared they were just for show rather than meaningful... Hopefully someone else might be able to shed light on it, but the Twitter link was an interesting read thanks. – Ongo Mar 25 at 23:59
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    the fact that they even used real runes is something that's worthy of interest. On a lot of cases, it's complete nonsense – Valorum Mar 26 at 0:01
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    I concur, Ongo. They could have at least spelled out some curious garden path notion to lead the idle astray, or maybe some ancient prophecy or a spoiler of some kind. Gibberish on this kind of prop, in this day and age when people expect some kind of ancient or invented language is disappointing. – elemtilas Mar 26 at 14:10
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Picture's worth a thousand words. The runes are Elder Futhark and don't appear to make any particular sense except, undoubtedly, some esoteric wossname in the Wizarding World.

The runes are an embellishment on the part of the movie production team. The Goblet itself receives almost no attention in the book and its description is quite easy to miss:

Dumbledore reached inside [the casket] and pulled out a large, roughly hewn wooden cup. It would have been entirely unremarkable had it not been full to the brim with dancing blue-white flames.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - Chapter 16: The Goblet of Fire

Mary Grandpré did the illustrations for (at least) the Scholastic HB edition, and got it right:

Goblet sitting upon its casket.

NB: (Younger Furthark and Cirth for comparative purposes. Note that "/" in the Cirth "transliteration" indicates a non-existent form.)

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    They are Elder Futhark because a number of runes used (gebo, pertho, wunjo) don't carry through to Younger Futhark. – elemtilas Mar 26 at 14:25
  • Have you compared them to the Cirth? – Spencer Mar 26 at 15:47
  • @Spencer -- Thanks for reminding me of Cirth. Not that either. As with the Y.F., there are missing runes. But at least it's equally senseless. – elemtilas Mar 26 at 20:02
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    For what (little) it's worth, it's gibberish in old Hungarian script, too. C (T?) R A I Cs U V (?) B R (?) (U?) Zs M Sz K (Ö?) R J K R Sz (?) J U K Sz B (?) A (U?) (Ö?) – Martha Mar 26 at 22:27
  • @elemtilas If you could include something about a comparison between the prop and the Goblet as described in GoF I'd definitely accept this as answering the question, +1 already for your rune analysis though. – Ongo Mar 27 at 15:27

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