To create a Horcrux is to commit a horrific sin in the wizarding world. A Dark wizard of yesteryear called Herpo the Foul was known as the first to dabble with Horcruxes and would be one of the rare ones to do so. For this magic involves carrying out a terrible atrocity, which then begins to tear apart your soul.
For Lord Voldemort, he callously murdered several people in order to invest a piece of his soul into (what he considered to be) a valuable object. Committing such a horror meant that Lord Voldemort could prolong his life, unless the Horcrux was destroyed.
While researching the topic, Hermione could barely uncover any information about this profoundly Dark magic (and you know that Hermione is usually good at this sort of thing!) apart from a sinister slice of text from one book aptly named Magick Moste Evile...
This is how taboo the topic of Horcruxes was, not that this stopped Voldemort from endeavouring to have seven pieces of his soul, as seven is usually considered to be the most magical number. Here is the story behind each object he chose.
And as you’ve probably guessed from even being here, you can expect to stumble upon many a spoiler.
Who was murdered to create it? Myrtle Warren
Destroyed by who? Harry Potter
Lord Voldemort’s first Horcrux was created when he was still at Hogwarts, known then as Tom Riddle. After murdering a schoolgirl called Myrtle, with the help of the ancient monster that dwelled within the castle, the Basilisk, his soul was split for the first time. The object that enveloped a piece of his soul was a simple diary, one that he attained from a Muggle bookshop. Years later, when others came across the diary, such as a young, impressionable Ginny Weasley, she would meet an echo of a young Lord Voldemort at the time he created the Horcrux, that was able to communicate through the object. In fact, the diary had the ability to take hold of Ginny’s strength, even nearly killing her.
The diary was the first of Lord Voldemort’s Horcruxes to be destroyed, by Harry Potter in the Chamber of Secrets, who stabbed it with the fang of the very Basilisk that was used to commit murder in the first place. Basilisk venom is extremely rare and powerful, one of the few things powerful enough to destroy a Horcrux.
As for Myrtle, she did not go quietly, and would go on to haunt the girls’ bathroom of Hogwarts mournfully for many decades to come, eventually helping Harry to avenge her murder.
Who was murdered to create it? Tom Riddle Sr.
Destroyed by who? Albus Dumbledore
Okay, this will be a long one! Albus Dumbledore, the man who discovered Voldemort’s Horcrux plan and deigned to destroy them, long suspected that many of said Horcruxes would hold some sort of historical or personal value to the Dark wizard, and that was extremely true of this Horcrux, a family heirloom, and transformed by murdering his own father.
Lord Voldemort’s family stretched back centuries and were known as one of the last ‘pure-blood’ wizarding clans, the Gaunts. The Gaunts’ ancestry stemmed all the way back to Hogwarts house founder Salazar Slytherin, with a lot of his values imprinted on the generations to come.
Lord Voldemort’s immediate family were a despicable lot, obsessed with their heritage, cruel and violent to each other and instilled with a burning hatred of anyone who wasn’t pure blood. The awful Marvolo, the head of the household, along with his son Morfin, tormented the timid Merope, the youngest of the family, while committing foul acts of violence against Muggles. These tensions rose to a climax when Merope fell in love with a local, rich Muggle called (you guessed it…) Tom Riddle. Albus Dumbledore theorised that Merope used love potions in order to attract him, and eventually, she fell pregnant with the future Lord Voldemort. The magical enhancements didn’t last forever, though, and once they were gone, so was Tom Riddle, leaving a pregnant Merope to give birth, then die of a broken heart.
Years later, Tom Riddle Jr. returned to his old family home, only to find a lone Morfin, with his grandfather Morvolo long since dead after a spell in Azkaban for his crimes against Muggles. There, he took the only object in the house worth any value, an ancient ring, encrusted with a mysterious stone. That stone would later turn out to be the Resurrection Stone, one of the Deathly Hallows, with the power to bring back people from the dead, showing just how old the heirloom was. After a time of wearing the ring himself, Voldemort eventually transformed the ring into a Horcrux, and buried it deep within the ruins of his old family home, protecting it with enchantments. However, all of this was no match for Albus Dumbledore who was able to retrieve the Horcrux and destroy it with the Sword of Gryffindor. For his troubles, he discovered the ring to be cursed, which blackened his hand and left him with a death sentence placed upon him. However, he was able to retrieve the Resurrection Stone, and was able to coach a young Harry Potter to finish what he started.
Who was murdered to create it? A homeless Muggle
Destroyed by who? Ron Weasley
Beyond the ring, another heirloom was transformed into a Horcrux, and was one of the hardest to find and destroy. This immaculate piece of jewellery, encrusted with emeralds in the shape of a serpentine S, was once the possession of Salazar Slytherin. Again, this heirloom passed down to the Gaunt family, but was taken by Merope when she eventually escaped her cruel household. Not knowing the true value of such a trinket, Merope sold it for ‘a pittance’ to Knockturn Alley’s local wheeler and dealer Caractacus Burke, one half of Borgin and Burke, who owned a shop of Dark and mysterious artefacts.
There, the locket was acquired by a boastful collector by the name of Hepzibah Smith, but it didn’t remain with her for long when she met a young Lord Voldemort, then a handsome and charming Tom Riddle. After befriending Hepzibah, he soon killed her, pinning the death on her house-elf, Hokey.
Once again, Voldemort chose a personal place to hide the Horcrux. In his youth, Riddle had tortured two children from his orphanage in a nearby cave. It was here, he chose to return to, and thus hid the locket once he had turned it into a Horcrux. For this kill, he simply chose a local Muggle to be his victim. It would be one of his former followers, Regulus Black, who would be the one to eventually find the locket, after he defected from being a Death Eater. After making a copy of the locket and leaving a note, he took it away to destroy it, but was killed before getting the chance.
While the locket remained at Regulus’s family home for some time undisturbed, (at one point, we frustratingly come across it in an old cupboard while Mrs Weasley is tidying the house!) one of the less trustworthy members of the Order of the Phoenix, Mundungus Fletcher, eventually stole it. However, this was in turn stolen from him, by Dolores Umbridge – leading to a dramatic break-in at the Ministry of Magic to find it.
However, it would not be easy to destroy the locket. After such hardship finding the copy, finally seeking the original, Harry, Ron and Hermione found that the Horcrux instilled terrible thoughts in the one who possessed it, nearly driving a particularly vulnerable Ron to madness. Eventually, he would be the one to destroy it, after Severus Snape sent his Patronus to guide Ron into finding a weapon that would help him: the Sword of Gryffindor.
Who was murdered to create it? Hepzibah Smith
Destroyed by who? Hermione Granger
You may have been wondering why Tom Riddle did not use Hepzibah Smith’s murder to create a Horcrux out of the locket. This is because he acquired one other item from her. A fervent collector of priceless items, Hepzibah loved to show things off, and piqued Tom’s interest with another curio, again once owned by a Hogwarts house founder. This time, it was a cheerful golden cup, embossed with Hufflepuff’s animal, the badger, which was an heirloom from Hepzibah’s own family, once owned by Helga Hufflepuff herself.
Eventually, Harry, Ron and Hermione would find this Horcrux’s whereabouts within Bellatrix Lestrange’s Gringotts vault, and it would come down to Hermione to take care of that one. But why Hufflepuff in the first place? For Lord Voldemort was a staunch Slytherin through and through.
In his research, Dumbledore deduced that Voldemort ‘could not resist an object so steeped in Hogwarts history’, leading on to our next Horcrux...
Who was murdered to create it? An Albanian peasant
Destroyed by who? Vincent Crabbe
Not content with having so much Hogwarts paraphernalia already, Lord Voldemort was able to secure the tiara of the Ravenclaw house founder, Rowena, whose daughter Helena was murdered at the hands of Slytherin’s house ghost, the Bloody Baron.
The sad story goes that Helena was jealous of her mother’s great wisdom that comes with the diadem and stole it, then going into hiding. Distraught, Rowena sent The Bloody Baron to go and find her. However, the Baron was intensely in love with Helena, and ended up finding her in the forests of Albania and murdering her instead, when she did not return his feelings. He then killed himself shortly thereafter. As for the diadem? Helena had already hidden it in a hollowed tree. Both Helena’s ghost (otherwise known as the Grey Lady) and the Bloody Baron’s haunted Hogwarts for centuries after.
Lord Voldemort managed to find this ancient diadem, that supposedly brings wisdom to the wearer, by persuading Helena to tell him. Out in the forests of Albania is where Lord Voldemort eventually uncovered it, bringing it back to Hogwarts.
Again, somewhat infuriatingly, Harry had passed by this very tiara before knowing what Horcruxes were, as it was living amongst all manner of junk in the Room of Requirement at Hogwarts!
Upon recovering it, a showdown between Harry’s enemies Draco Malfoy, Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle ensued, with Crabbe using the cursed flames of Fiendfyre to destroy the room. However, he ended up both dying in the ensuing struggle – and destroying the diadem, as Fiendfyre was another Dark magic that could take on a Horcrux.
Who was murdered to create it? Bertha Jorkins
Destroyed by who? Neville Longbottom
It wasn’t just inanimate objects that could become Horcruxes. Lord Voldemort’s beloved snake companion, Nagini, was also transformed into one, and Dumbledore seemed to know it, ominously predicting that a day would come where Voldemort would ‘fear for his snake’.
It was the Ministry of Magic employee Bertha Jorkins that fell to Voldemort on this occasion, after Voldemort found out valuable information from her regarding the Triwizard Tournament at Hogwarts.
At this stage, Voldemort did not have a body, and was working with Nagini and defector Peter Pettigrew in order to devise a plan to return to one. It would be during the Triwizard Tournament that Voldemort was able to execute his idea, and it all started with the murder of poor Bertha.
It would come down to Harry’s class mate Neville Longbottom, to destroy Nagini, heroically using the Sword of Gryffindor at the Battle of Hogwarts.
Who was murdered to create it? Lily Potter
Destroyed by who? Lord Voldemort
And then, as it transpired, came the knowledge that not all Horcruxes are forcibly made. And in fact, Lord Voldemort’s downfall happened right at the beginning of Harry’s story.
During Voldemort’s attack on Godric’s Hollow, where the Potter family had lived, his killing of Harry’s parents inadvertently created another Horcrux, one that would dwell on inside Harry.
This explained everything – why Harry’s lightning bolt scar pained him every time Lord Voldemort was up to something, why Voldemort had a psychic link to him, why Harry could speak Parseltongue, a skill usually known throughout Slytherin’s lineage. When Harry was told his mother ‘died to save him’, he had no idea just how poignant this was. In killing Lily, Lord Voldemort created a Horcrux within Harry, creating a connection between them that one day be severed.
When Lord Voldemort eventually found himself face to face with Harry to finally kill him in the Forbidden Forest, he instead ended up destroying his last Horcrux, the final shield between himself and his inability to die.
In the end, Lord Voldemort’s Horcruxes ended up being his undoing, leaving him a husk of the Dark wizard he once was.