The website of Greyfriar’s Kirkyard which includes a number of interesting people buried there including:

  • Tom Riddle
  • William McGonagall, known as “the worst poet of Scotland”

Other notable names to be found are:

  • Moodie
  • Scrymgeour
  • Cruikshanks
  • Potter

The Kirkyard’s own website states:

Other headstones are said to have played into the names for characters – there is a Moodie (Alastor Moody), Scrymgeour (Rufus Scrimgeour), Cruikshanks (not quite spelled the same as the famous cat!), Potters and the already mentioned McGonagall (Head of Gryffindor, no less). In addition, the entire Kirkyard is rumoured to have been the inspiration behind the resting place of Harry’s parents – the eery and beautiful graveyard in Godric’s Hollow…

Has Rowling ever confirmed which of her characters were inspired by those real people resting in the Kirkyard?

  • 3
    All of those are uncommon but not unheard-of Scottish names that can be found in most cemeteries in Scotland
    – Valorum
    Commented Dec 24, 2021 at 17:28
  • Right, part of my wondering is if Rowling has in fact confirmed this Scottish cemetery having this collection of uncommon but not unheard-of names is any basis for her characters, and whether there are any unheard-of names there as well which also served as similar inspiration. Commented Dec 24, 2021 at 17:51
  • 2
    Oh sure, and the fact that they themselves make the claim gives it excellent notability and makes it worthy of a question.
    – Valorum
    Commented Dec 24, 2021 at 17:52
  • I'm not too familiar with the stories, but did she include the dog? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greyfriars_Bobby
    – FlaStorm32
    Commented Dec 25, 2021 at 22:44

1 Answer 1


Rowling has debunked this persistent myth. She claims to have never visited the graveyard before writing the Potter books, hasn't visited it since and only learned of the rumour that they were somehow connected via her children going on a 'Harry Potter walking tour of Edinburgh' with a friend.

JK Rowling has denied that locations in Edinburgh inspired places and characters in her Harry Potter books. Fans of the novels flock to the city's Victoria Street as it is thought to have been the inspiration for the wizarding world's Diagon Alley.

However, the author has insisted she had never visited the street at the time she created the cobblestoned street where Harry and his Hogwarts friends stock up on their supplies. Victoria Street is featured on many Harry Potter walking tours of Edinburgh as well as Greyfriars Kirkyard where Rowling was said to have used names on gravestones for characters in the books.

However, the writer said that story is also bogus and she only discovered it after one of her children went on one of the walking tours with a friend. Although real-life locations such as London's King's Cross feature in the books, Rowling said the only "wizarding world" place which has a real-life inspiration is Harry's home at 4 Privet Drive.

JK Rowling says Edinburgh locations didn't inspire places or characters in Harry Potter books


Q. Any truth to the story that a lot of the character names come from a particular graveyard? I’m certain the guide on our walking tour of Edinburgh made that claim.

JKR. Afraid not, but I know the graveyard you’re talking about because unbeknownst to me, one of my children was at a loose end one afternoon and went on one of those Potter walking tours with their best mate for a laugh. They came home with a ton of information that was news to me 😂

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