It is assumed that the Sword absorbed basilisk venom when Harry killed the basilisk using the sword in the Chamber of Secrets, but is there any proof that this was the point when the sword got imbued with the venom? The sword is presumably hundreds of years old, and has probably been absorbing things that make it stronger. Isn't it possible that the sword might have absorbed basilisk venom at some other point? I understand that basilisks themselves are probably very rare, but the Sword is also at least a thousand years old. Also, when Harry stabbed the basilisk with the sword, it is described in the book (corroborated by the movie scene) that the sword was stabbed through the roof of the basilisk's mouth, while a fang entered Harry's arm and broke off. I always presumed that the basilisk had it's venom mostly in the fangs and not the blood. It doesn't seem likely that the Sword came in contact with enough amount of venom (following the description of the stabbing of the basilisk).

How can it be definitely proved (using canon descriptions) that the event in the Chamber of Secrets (stabbing of the basilisk) was the point at which the Sword absorbed the basilisk venom, and it did not already have some venom to begin with?

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    We know from Pottermore that the sword was forged c.990 AD, but it's less clear how much action it's seen – once it was sealed in the Sorting Hat, it would only have faced off against creatures within Hogwarts, and it seems unlikely there were multiple Basilisks in the castle.
    – alexwlchan
    Dec 8, 2014 at 11:51
  • @alexwlchan - that's about as good a basis for an asnwer as I'm aware of. Make it so! Dec 8, 2014 at 14:03

2 Answers 2


I think your question may be based on a faulty premise. Assuming the basilisk has similar physiology to other poisonous snakes, the sword would almost certainly have intersected the main poison duct when thrust through the roof of the basilisk's mouth.

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  • The venom glands of a mundane venomous snake are located in the "cheeks" of the snake's mouth, as shown here (lower left): robinsonlibrary.com/science/zoology/reptiles/squamata/serpentes/… This is why venomous snakes typically have a "diamond"-shaped head.
    – Joe L.
    Dec 8, 2014 at 16:57
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    ...When Harry stabbed the Basilisk, the sword would have gone between the venom glands without necessarily piercing them.
    – Joe L.
    Dec 8, 2014 at 17:03
  • @JoeL. - If you look at the basilisks fangs, they're central and extremely close together. Assuming the glands are directly behind the fangs (as they are in snakes) means that going between them would require surgical precision. cdn3.nerdapproved.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/…
    – Valorum
    Dec 8, 2014 at 20:02
  • It's surprisingly hard to find a good top-view of the position of a venomous snake's poison glands/ducts. But from what I can see, even in the neurotoxic-venom snakes (which seem to have smaller heads similar to the Basilisk) no matter where the fangs are the ducts and glands are well out to the sides. On a snake the size of the Basilisk there would still be a good foot or two clearance between them at the point Harry stabbed it. I think it would require "surgical precision" to actually hit one of them.
    – Joe L.
    Dec 8, 2014 at 20:58
  • Except that in most snakes the fangs are spaced considerably farther apart.
    – Valorum
    Dec 8, 2014 at 21:08

I know very little about snakes, so I can’t comment on Richard’s theory that it penetrated the poison duct. Instead, let’s look at whether canon confirms that it was imbued with basilisk venom.

The Pottermore entry for the sword of Gryffindor establishes its age:

The sword of Gryffindor was made a thousand years ago by goblins, the magical world's most skilled metalworkers, and is therefore enchanted.

and this seems in line with Professor Binns’s comment in Chamber of Secrets that Hogwarts was founded about a thousand years ago.

At some point, the sword was concealed within the Sorting Hat (which originally belonged to Godric Gryfifndor), at which point it would only have been used by true Gryffindor students. It’s not clear exactly when this occurred, but sometime within Gryffindor’s lifetime seems reasonable.

After that, since the Sotting Hat would only have been used by students within the walls of Hogwarts. There aren’t many Basilisks roaming the corridors of Hogwarts [citation needed], so if the sword is impregnated with Basilisk venom, then it seems likely that it came from Harry stabbing the Basilisk in the Chamber. If.

I can’t actually find any canon evidence that the sword is definitely impregnated with basilisk venom. The closest we get is this guess from Hermione, after Dumbledore bequeaths Harry the sword:

“The sword can destroy Horcruxes! Goblin-made blades imbibe only that which strengthen them — Harry, that sword’s impregnated with basilisk venom!

Deathly Hallows, chapter 15 (The Goblin’s Revenge)

I can’t find any interviews or other sources which confirm that Hermione’s guess is correct. Of course, Hermione’s guesses are usually pretty accurate, and it would explain how Dumbledore used it to destroy the ring. But it doesn’t completely rule out the idea that the sword was never actually impregnated with basilisk venom, and instead gained its horcrux-destorying abilities from some hocus-pocus from Dumbledore.

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    I always thought that it inherited the basilisk poison due to the poison being what made a basilisk strong(not the basilisk's only strength, but a big one) and therefore the sword inherited that [feature?]. Of course it couldn't inherit the stone gaze since the sword has no eyes :D Dec 8, 2014 at 18:55

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