As a follow up to my previous question - it's now very clear that the plan between Dumbledore and Snape was not only regarding keeping Draco from committing an evil, but also (and much more importantly) to keep the Elder Wand in close, trusted control.

So then someone goes and decides to put it in a rather obvious location, and one susceptible to attack.

Does the canon ever discuss why this was allowed? Presumably Snape could not consider stepping forward as the wand's rightful claimant by defeat - that would have obvious repercussions. But Dumbledore could have avoided any doubt by expressly bequeathing it to Snape in his will. Snape could have ensured it was stored somewhere at least as secure as the locket was in the Horcrux Cave or the cup was in Gringott's. Did they not think of this, or were they just counting on the secret never being discovered?

2 Answers 2


It is Wizarding tradition to either bury or burn a witch or wizard's wand after death.

Most witches and wizards prefer a wand that has “chosen” them to any kind of second-hand wand, precisely because the latter is likely to have learned habits from its previous owner that might not be compatible with the new user’s style of magic. The general practice of burying (or burning) the wand with its owner, once he or she has died, also tends to prevent any individual wand learning from too many masters.

Believers in the Elder Wand, however, hold that because of the way in which it has always passed allegiance between owners – the next master overcoming the first, usually by killing him – the Elder Wand has never been destroyed or buried, but has survived to accumulate wisdom, strength and power far beyond the ordinary.

Tales of Beedle the Bard -- Page 170 -- Collector's Edition

I can't give you an example from canon, except for the bit I quoted previously in another post where Dumbledore does admit to Harry that Dumbledore had intended the Elder Wand to go to Snape.

However, it's never stated whether Snape knew that the wand Dumbledore possessed was in fact the Elder Wand and it would be pure conjecture to assume that Dumbledore had told Snape this fact off-page.

Even if Dumbledore had bequeathed the wand to Snape in his will, perhaps Snape would not have known the significance of this. It takes the entirety of Deathly Hallows for Harry, Ron, and Hermione to deduce the significance of the Snitch, the Deluminator, and Tales of Beedle the Bard. I wouldn't imagine Dumbledore would have made it any easier for Snape, even if he had bequeathed Snape the Elder Wand.

Knowing the Ministry would go over his will with a fine-tooth comb, Dumbledore could not have said outright, "Oh, hey, by the way, this is the Elder Wand. Make sure you keep it in Gringotts." ;) Snape may simply have thought it a sentimental memento were that to have happened. Again, this is conjecture because it's not addressed in canon.

What is addressed in canon is the fact that the Elder Wand seems to have passed from hand to hand via killing and disarming, meaning the Elder Wand has always gone to a live wizard through the generations. Based on the canon available, it would seem that Voldemort was the first wizard to actually remove the Elder Wand from its dead master's tomb (although, technically, Dumbledore was not the master anymore, but Voldemort did not know this).

I've always found it surprising that Harry would actually put the Elder Wand back into Dumbledore's tomb after the Battle of Hogwarts for exactly the reasons you cite. It seems imprudent and risky to me. But that's just my opinion :)

ETA: Thinking further on it, I'm going to err on the side of Dumbledore not telling Snape that Dumbledore was in possession of the Elder Wand. I think that if he had told Snape about the Elder Wand, it would have risked Voldemort finding out where the Elder Wand was, much sooner than he did. This of course presumes that Dumbledore knew of Voldemort's quest to possess the Elder Wand.

  • Well, I suppose that all makes sense then - it was the option of last resort. He couldn't come out and say it was the Elder Wand, not even to Snape, for fear of that information coming into Voldemort's knowledge. And bequeathing it to someone, especially without their knowledge of its true nature, would only raise suspicions or otherwise not help.
    – mcw
    Dec 30, 2011 at 15:23
  • @Slytherincess: What do you mean, "Dumbledore did not talk with Snape about Draco Malfoy's assignment to kill him"? Dumbledore did talk with Snape about this at length after fatally injuring his arm (DH, Chapter 33). But he didn't tell Snape all the details of why he insisted that Snape should kill him "in due course". Mar 13, 2012 at 17:45
  • @HendrikVogt -- Yes, my error. You are correct. I think I confused Snape with Draco. In HBP Dumbledore tells Draco he did not talk with Draco about Voldemort's order for Draco to kill Dumbledore in case Voldemort used Legilimency against Draco. I will edit that part out -- thank you for bringing it to my attention. I still think, though, that Dumbledore did not tell Snape that Dumbledore was in possession of the Elder Wand. :) Mar 14, 2012 at 1:28
  • @Slytherincess: Ah, I see, now I understand. BTW, I'm with you on your last sentence - this is what I alluded to in my last sentence above. (Dumbledore didn't want Draco in the possession of the Elder Wand, but he also didn't want to discuss this with Snape.) Mar 14, 2012 at 7:26
  • @Slytherincess, what you could say instead: "Just as Dumbledore didn't talk with Snape about the Horcruxes and about the piece of Voldemorts soul inside Harry." Dumbledore does talk about Harry having to die (although I think he doesn't really mean that) and about a point in time where Voldemort will protect Nagini, but he doesn't tell Snape any details. Mar 14, 2012 at 8:06

The plan was not to "keep the Elder Wand in close, trusted control," as you say. The plan was to break the wand's power entirely by arranging Dumbledore's death ahead of time so that Dumbledore would die undefeated. No one but Dumbledore and Grindelwald knew Dumbledore held the Elder Wand, and Snape never knew the plan went awry (until possibly when Voldemort turned on him). So at the funeral only one living soul knew of the plan (and he was not in a position to influence the funeral arrangements) and even he didn't know it had failed. So, given that tradition was (as Slytherincess says) to bury the wand with the wizard (or burn it, which I suspect would not have gone well), Dumbledore would have to specify anything else in his will merely on the off chance their plan failed, and that would have raised suspicion, precisely what he wanted to avoid.

From Deathly Hallows (p.742, 1 Am. Ed.):

Aren't you listening? Snape never beat Dumbledore! Dumbledore's death was planned between them! Dumbledore intended to die undefeated, the wand's last true master! If all had gone as planned, the wand's power would have died with him, because it had never been won from him!

And this makes a great deal more sense than making the Wand's true master Voldemort's right hand man; if Voldemort ever did find out about the Elder Wand, and Dumbledore knew Voldemort would go after it eventually, having its master right there would make it much too easy for Voldemort to become master himself.

Deathly Hallows, p.721:

"But you expected [Voldemort] to go after the wand?"
"I have been sure that he would try, ever since your wand beat Voldemort's in the graveyard of Little Hangleton..."

  • 1
    Your answer is mostly accurate except for the part about Dumbledore's intended plan. Dumbledore obviously knew he would be defeated, by Snape, and so his intention could not have been to break the wand's power. That was Harry's plan, later on. See the citation from @Slytherincess in my prior question: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/8261
    – mcw
    Dec 30, 2011 at 15:28
  • @mcw0933 I stand by my statement, added a quote to back it up.
    – Kevin
    Dec 31, 2011 at 17:12
  • Hmm. That quote seems in direct contradiction to the quote in the other question. Is the idea that a preplanned defeat "doesn't count?" How would Dumbledore know that? Even assuming that plan had worked, he still intended Snape to retain the wand, so it would have been in Voldemort's grasp the moment he discovered so. Snape would always have been at risk of being perceived as the wand's master because of the circumstances of Dumbledore's death.
    – mcw
    Dec 31, 2011 at 19:34
  • 3
    @mcw0933 The idea is that because Dumbledore intended to die at Snape's hand, his death would be more along the lines of an assisted suicide than a "defeat". The reason Malfoy's disarming was considered a defeat is because Dumbledore used his wand to protect Harry.
    – philosodad
    Oct 17, 2012 at 15:38
  • @mcw0933 On your second point, whether Dumbledore would know the properties of the wand: there is a great deal of mystery about how any magical research and development is done in the HP universe, but no specific case of research is more mysterious than any other. Dumbledore learned about the Elder wand (he owed it, after all) using magical research methods that are never fully described, but are frequently referenced.
    – philosodad
    Oct 17, 2012 at 15:52

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