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In Harry Potter, what is Gringotts?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 23, 2024
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In the Harry Potter books, Gringotts is the wizarding bank run by goblins, although it hires humans as well. Gringotts appears to be the only bank in the wizarding world, and only one branch, located in Diagon Alley, is discussed in the books. Gringotts works in the way that deposit boxes do at muggle banks: depositors can bring material to the bank for storage, where they will be guarded using various measures. When someone wishes the remove articles from the bank, he or she provides the bank with a key, and is taken to the vault in question. Gringotts also provides currency exchange between muggle (non-magical) and wizard currency.

Gringotts is described as a multiple story white building with underground vaults that stretch to an unknown depth below the earth. The amount of treasure held in Gringotts is unknown, and exact information on security measures used at the bank is also rare, although there are rumors of trolls and dragons being used to guard the high security vaults. Two different methods of accessing a vault are seen in the books: the use of either a key or the fingernail of a Gringotts goblin, which apparently can be used to unlock certain vaults.

According to Rowling, goblins are very greedy creatures who guard their treasure well. Gringotts is viewed as a highly reliable and safe place to store important material: the only safer place, according to Rubeus Hagrid, one of the adult characters, is Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, which has numerous magical protections of its own. The Gringotts goblins are described as being unappealing to look at, as they are short and wizened with hooked noses, but very clever. Being bankers, they have excellent heads for numbers.

Harry stores money in vault 687. During the first book, Harry and Hagrid enter Diagon Alley to get school supplies for Harry, and Hagrid removes something from vault 713, which later turns out to be the Philosopher's Stone. The decision to move the Philosopher's Stone turns out to be a sound one: shortly afterwards, vault 713 is broken into, the first recorded break-in in Gringotts history.

Several human characters in the book work for Gringotts. Bill Weasley, older brother of Harry's close friend Ron Weasley, is employed by the bank as a curse breaker in Egypt, presumably recovering artifacts from Egyptian tombs. Fleur Delacour, a French witch introduced in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire gets a job with Gringotts in England to improve her English skills. Clearly, Gringotts operates on an international basis, and probably handles finances for Dark wizards as well as the law abiding ones. This may turn out to be important in the final book.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a Language & Humanities researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By bbpuff — On Sep 03, 2010

Gringotts bank played an intricate detail in the first Harry Potter movie when Harry was getting all of is supplies. It was in the first movie "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's (or Philosopher's) Stone" that Harry found out he had plenty of money to survive in the wizarding world.

By Kamchatka — On Sep 03, 2010

@anon50183 - I'm not sure if it's any different in the book, but the Philosopher's Stone(or Sorcerer's Stone in America) was referred to by its name. When the three main children characters were walking out in the scene with Hagrid to his home on the school grounds they were talking about it and referred to it by name.

By anon50183 — On Oct 26, 2009

the "philosophers stone" was never referred to as that -- it was referred to as the elixir of life.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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