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It's well known among Harry Potter nerds that Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is located in Scotland. But the only sources I've found for this are extratextual, e.g. from interviews with the author or from the Pottermore website. These are commonly considered to be "canon" among the Potter-fan community, but (as someone rather sceptical both about this particular author's extratextual assertions about her universe and about the true authors of writing on Pottermore) I'm interested in evidence from the 7 main books alone.

Is there enough evidence in the books to conclude that Hogwarts is in Scotland? I'm pretty sure it's never explicitly stated, but maybe there's some other evidence pointing to this conclusion.

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"Scotland" is only mentioned once in the series, and that is as a Quidditch team in Chapter Five of Goblet of Fire:

And Wales lost to Uganda, and Scotland was slaughtered by Luxembourg."

In Chapter Sixteen of Deathly Hallows there is a mention of Harry and Hermione camping in a Scottish loch, but not in any relation to Hogwarts's location:

They did not dare remain in any area too long, so rather than staying in the south of England, where a hard ground frost was the worst of their worries, they continued to meander up and down the country, braving a mountainside, where sleet pounded the tent; a wide, flat marsh, where the tent was flooded with chill water; and a tiny island in the middle of a Scottish loch, where snow half buried the tent in the night.

However, it is certainly reasonable that Hogwarts is in Scotland. We know that the Hogwarts Express leaves from London at 11:00, and when they arrive at Hogwarts they have a feast and go to sleep. Indeed, when they arrive it is already described as night. For instance, in Chapter Six of Philosopher's Stone:

Harry shivered in the cold night air.

This means that the train ride is probably something like nine or ten hours long, as night begins quite late on the first day of September.

The direction of the journey is also described in several places as being northward. For instance, in Chapter Five of Chamber of Secrets:

The Hogwarts Express was streaking along below them like a scarlet snake.

"Due north," said Ron, checking the compass on the dashboard.

They made regular checks on the train as they flew farther and farther north, each dip beneath the clouds showing them a different view.

Depending on where in Scotland, the distance could be something like 400-600 miles (in a relatively straight line). This could be consistent with the train journey described above.

Additionally, Hogwarts is consistently described as being among mountains. For instance, in Chapter Nineteen of Order of the Phoenix:

the mountains around Hogwarts became snowcapped,

This would be perfectly consistent with a location in Scotland, which is, according to Wikipedia, the most mountainous part of the United Kingdom:

Scotland is the most mountainous country in the United Kingdom.

However, from the way Hermione describes Durmstrang in Chapter Eleven of Goblet of Fire, we can perhaps infer that Hogwarts is not quite so far north:

"But I think Durmstrang must be somewhere in the far north," said Hermione thoughtfully. "Somewhere very cold, because they've got fur capes as part of their uniforms."

In other words, Durmstrang is probably significantly more north than Hogwarts is. If so, then in order for Hogwarts to be in Scotland, the potential countries where Durmstrang could be would have to be pretty limited.

So in conclusion, while we are never directly told that Hogwarts is in Scotland there doesn't seem to be much information that would contradict such a possibility, and, indeed, judging by the Hogwarts Express's journey Scotland would seem to be the most likely location. As you can see on the map below, when you travel far enough north from London there is nowhere else to go besides Scotland:

Screenshot of Google Maps showing United Kingdom


This is also abundantly clear from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them which was published in 2001 while there were still three books remaining in the series (so I don't know how "extratextual" you consider it). In the first entry in the book (Acromantula) there is the following statement:

Rumours that a colony of Acromantula has been established in Scotland are unconfirmed.

This would seem to be a reference to the Acromantula colony on the Hogwarts grounds. Indeed, in the first edition of the book which contains notes from Harry and friends, the word "unconfirmed" is crossed out and replaced with:

confirmed by Harry Potter and Ron Weasley.

Thus, it is clear from there that Hogwarts is in Scotland.

  • Some parts of this answer make it quite clear that you're not from Britain/Europe :-) 1) Yes, in general Scotland is the most mountainous of the 4 parts of the UK. But the north of England also has mountains, as does Wales. (Check out Snowdonia and the Peak District.) 2) Scotland isn't too "far north" by European standards. Durmstrang is in Scandinavia, almost all of which is north of the entire UK. 3) Your analysis of distance and time would be even more conclusive if you checked how long it takes by train from London to the farthest-flung towns in England. – Rand al'Thor May 1 at 19:42
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    Almost all of Scandinavia is 'north of the entire UK' is a bit of an exaggeration. I work in Inverness, approximately the same latitude as Gothenburgh, Sheltland is level with Oslo. I know there is a huge amount of Scandinavia north of that, but there is a fair chunk south too. Berwick Upon Tweed is level with level with Malmo. Almost all of Scandinavia is north of the entirety of England, sure. I took a trip to Sweden and Norway many years ago with some Londoners who could not accept that in Malmo I was at essentially the same latitude I'd begun my journey at. – Spagirl May 2 at 15:57
  • Just for info, you say 'Depending on where in Scotland, the distance could be something like 400-600 miles (in a relatively straight line). This could be consistent with the train journey described above.'. While the farthest flung parts of Scotland are 600 miles from Euston, those parts are Shetland, the group of islands on the boundary between the North sea and the Atlantic ocean and so would be ruled out, they are also 130 miles further away than the northernmost railway station. – Spagirl Jul 4 at 10:56
  • There's another piece of evidence which I think is even more conclusive - see my answer below :-) – Rand al'Thor Jul 6 at 18:01
  • @Randal'Thor Indeed, it is. – Alex Jul 7 at 1:33
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Yes.

Alex has presented a lot of quantitative evidence in his answer, but perhaps the most conclusive piece of evidence is a throwaway line in the second book:

‘You were seen,’ [Snape] hissed, showing them the headline: FLYING FORD ANGLIA MYSTIFIES MUGGLES. He began to read aloud. ‘“Two Muggles in London, convinced they saw an old car flying over the Post Office tower … at noon in Norfolk, Mrs Hetty Bayliss, while hanging out her washing … Mr Angus Fleet, of Peebles, reported to police” … six or seven Muggles in all. I believe your father works in the Misuse of Muggle Artefacts Office?’ he said, looking up at Ron and smiling still more nastily. ‘Dear, dear … his own son …’

-- HP and the Chamber of Secrets (extract available on Pottermore)

The important word here is Peebles, a town in Scotland. If any route from London to Hogwarts passes near Peebles, then Hogwarts is almost certainly in Scotland.

As Spagirl points out, there is a small logical possibility that Hogwarts is in the far north of England and the car just circled over the far south of Scotland before finding the right area to land in ... but in practice, the authorial choice of mentioning a town in Scotland seems likely to indicate that the final destination is also in Scotland.

  • Was the car following the train, I don’t recall. Both east and West coast lines are about 20 mi north of Peebles at their Waverly terminus, more distant elsewhere. 20 miles is too far to spot a flying car, even a quarter of that would be a stretch. If they were following the rail line they wouldn’t pass over Norfolk either, at its nearest it is also 20 mi from the East Coast main Line. Peebles is only 34 mi over the border (indeed part of England is further north than the town, perhaps Hogwarts is in Keilder somewhere and they just had to circle looking for the branch line. – Spagirl Jul 10 at 14:16
  • @Spagirl Edited to address. (Given JKR's frequent scientific blunders, I wouldn't put too much faith in a detailed real-world analysis of distances and line locations necessarily reflecting the in-book geography, but it's a fair point that Peebles is very far south in Scotland and there's a small possibility they went back into England after passing over it.) – Rand al'Thor Jul 10 at 14:26
  • Teeeeechnically....Peebles isn't in the 'very far south of Scotland', it is close to the border, which is a different thing. :D The border runs at something like 45 degrees to lines of latitude meaning the very far south of Scotland is 1.25 degrees of latitude to the south of the very far north of England, or about 78 miles, and about 100 miles west of it too. (cheesy grin). – Spagirl Jul 10 at 14:46
  • @Spagirl Oh, I know :-) Just simplifying things - y'know, for the Yanks and stuff :-P – Rand al'Thor Jul 10 at 14:56
  • @Spagirl In the book no circling is described. They basically just fly north and periodically come below the clouds to check that they're more-or-less following the train. The last time the come down they can already see Hogwarts and just continue flying towards it. – Alex Jul 11 at 0:18

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