27

When Hagrid initially introduces himself to Harry, he says:

I haven't introduced meself. Rubeus Hagrid, Keeper of Keys and Grounds at Hogwarts.

This is both in the movie and the book. On the next page in the book he again says:

"Call me Hagrid," he said, "everyone else does. An' like I told yeh, I'm Keeper of Keys at Hogwarts -- yeh'll know all about Hogwarts, o'course."

What is the significance of being the Keeper of Keys?

  • 3
    Why is the answer quoting JKR herself not an accepted answer? :) – DVK-on-Ahch-To Sep 30 '15 at 14:37
  • 3
    @DVK Who is to say SHE is the authority? – Jack B Nimble Sep 30 '15 at 15:40
  • -1 because the wrong answer is accepted. Sorry. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Nov 22 '15 at 20:42
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    @DVK-in-exile I disagree. Yes, the second answer mentions JKR's reason for using the title but the accepted answer gives a lot more background about the title and its significance when applied to Hagrid. – maguirenumber6 Feb 1 '16 at 10:51
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    @DVK-on-Ahch-To - I would suggest that JKR's answers in an interview may not be that complete; she's not giving the full history, but answering a simple question with a simple answer. To me the "it’s slightly more interesting than that but it’s not loads more interesting." is indicating that there IS more to the story, but not anything terribly cool, so she's not bothering to explain it in the interview. My surmise is that it was nothing more than a touching gesture from Dumbledore to Hagrid, expressing trust thru an (admittedly) meaningless title that has historical connotations of trust. – K-H-W Oct 25 '17 at 18:18
37

The term is of historical origin; once upon a time, locks weren't quite as standardized as they are now, and there was often only one, or at most very FEW keys to any given lock. In somewhere like a castle, this could be quite significant; no key means breaking down a door if the person behind it won't come out, dies, or just won't open the door. And he who holds the key has free access to the rooms.

Usually one person was the 'Keeper of the Keys'; this was often the chief of the palace guard, or the senechal. In France, the term 'concierge' was used for the keeper of the keys. There remains an association to this day called 'Les Clefs d'Or'; concierges of 37 countries, who may be distinguished by the Gold Keys they display on their lapels, in honor of the traditional early title.

Regardless, the Keeper of the Keys is a position of trust and respect; he's the guy who can get into your room when you aren't there.. or your wife's,.... or (the list goes on..) which is why the position was given to Hagrid; Dumbledore wanted to express his trust of him, and that was a simple, but visible way to do so.

On a related note, the same term is often used for the Warden in a prison; the person who has all the keys, and can open, or seal, all locks. Again, the person who is most trusted.

Now, ignoring the historical origin for a moment, the Harry Potter Wiki says:

The Keeper of Keys and Grounds (also known as the gamekeeper or groundskeeper) is a wizard employed by Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to tend to and look after the grounds of the school, as well as the security of Hogwarts Castle.

  • 1
    Except for Mr. Finch and Mrs. Norris seem to be in charge of security at Hogwarts Castle. – Jack B Nimble Jun 19 '14 at 15:33
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    @JackBNimble Think so? I'd always gotten the impression they were more of "hall monitors" meant to keep the kids from getting into too much mischief. – Patrick M Aug 4 '14 at 1:50
  • is it gamekeeper as you mention there, or gatekeeper, cause i know of the second one... – Sir. Hedgehog Jun 22 '16 at 13:20
18

Only in terms of Hogwarts, JK Rowling says the following about "The Keeper of Keys":

ES: Hagrid’s Keeper of the Keys title: does that mean anything?

JKR: Just simply that he will let you in and out of Hogwarts, so it’s slightly more interesting than that but it’s not loads more interesting. So, again, that is something that people shouldn’t get too excited about.

Mugglenet and The Leaky Cauldron Interview with JK Rowling 16 July 05

A short answer, but I happened to come across it.

2

The previous answers are good. But I'd like to add one thing.

Hagrid did indeed let people into Hogwarts, at least in a symbolic way. When Harry's group of first-year students arrived in Hogwarts for the first time, Hagrid led them from the train to the castle, through the lake and a tunnel. He also seems to have controlled the boat fleet as he did this. This scene is described in over two pages in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone chapters 6 and 7.

The train slowed down and finally stopped. People pushed their way towards the door and out on to a tiny dark platform. Harry shivered in the cold night air. Then a lamp came bobbing over the heads of the students and Harry heard a familiar voice: ‘Firs'-years! Firs'-years over here! All right there, Harry?’

[…]

‘C'mon, follow me – any more firs'-years? Mind yer step, now! Firs'-years follow me!’

[…]

‘Yeh'll get yer firs' sight o' Hogwarts in a sec,’ Hagrid called over his shoulder, ‘jus' round this bend here.’

There was a loud ‘Oooooh!’

The narrow path had opened suddenly on to the edge of a great black lake. Perched atop a high mountain on the other side, its windows sparkling in the starry sky, was a vast castle with many turrets and towers.

‘No more'n four to a boat!’ Hagrid called, pointing to a fleet of little boats sitting in the water by the shore. Harry and Ron were followed into their boat by Neville and Hermione.

‘Everyone in?’ shouted Hagrid, who had a boat to himself. ‘Right then – FORWARD!’

And the fleet of little boats moved off all at once, gliding across the lake, which was as smooth as glass. Everyone was silent, staring up at the great castle overhead. It towered over them as they sailed nearer and nearer to the cliff on which it stood.

[…] They were carried along a dark tunnel, which seemed to be taking them right underneath the castle, until they reached a kind of underground harbour, where they clambered out on to rocks and pebbles.

[…]

They walked up a flight of stone steps and crowded around the huge, oak front door.

‘Everyone here? You there, still got yer toad?’

Hagrid raised a gigantic first and knocked three times on the castle door.

The door swung open at once. A tall, black-haired witch in emerald-green robes stood there. […]

‘The firs'-years, Professor McGonagall,’ said Hagrid.

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