Voldemort draws Harry Potter fans to Greyfriars

A Harry Potter fan at the site of Tom Riddle's grave. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
A Harry Potter fan at the site of Tom Riddle's grave. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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THE Capital is well known as a place where fact meets fiction, and nowhere is this more true that at the supposed resting place of the Dark Lord Voldemort.

Harry Potter fans are flocking to creepy Greyfriars Kirkyard and the grave of 19th century gentleman Thomas Riddell, who died in 1806 aged 72, whose name may have inspired that of JK Rowling’s famous villain.

A fan leaves a note at the tomb of Thomas Riddell. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

A fan leaves a note at the tomb of Thomas Riddell. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

The gravestone is now surrounded by a flurry of penned notes – after Potter fans began leaving them at the start of the summer.

The strange offerings at the dank spot have made it reminiscent of Jim Morrison’s final resting place at Pére-Lachaise, Paris, where fans regularly leave tributes to the late The Doors frontman.

Edinburgh University students, Richard Duffy and Will Naameh, both 21, who run The Potter Trail – a trip through city spots connected to the texts – say people may be getting in a muggle between fact and fiction.

Will said: “This recent trend to leave notes and such has been building up over the past month. The fact and the fiction have become a little blurred – on the tour we do state that ‘This is Voldemort’s grave’ but most people understand he is just an inspiration.”

JK Rowling's character Voldemort. Picture: AP

JK Rowling's character Voldemort. Picture: AP

Little is known about the original Thomas Riddell’s life.

‘May be’ inspiration for Voldemort

JK Rowling has previously said that the tombstone of Thomas Riddell Esquire in the famous Kirkyard may have subconsciously been the inspiration for nasally challenged Voldemort’s true name, since she often took strolls through the spot, which is overlooked by the Elephant House cafe, where she wrote several of the books.

The nearby gravestone of poet William McGonagall is also said to have offered inspiration for the name of Professor McGonagall, the head of Gryffindor, while nearby George Heriot’s school is claimed to be a template for Hogwarts.

The notes appear to have been left by people from all over the world. One says, “RIP Tom, thank you for making us all believe in magic. You are an inspiration.”

But not all visitors believe the magic, with one mean-spirited note saying: “Dear idiots, you know there’s a difference between fiction and reality, right?”

Councillor Richard Lewis, city convener for culture and sport, is welcoming of yet another addition to the city’s tourist trail. He said: “If Thomas Riddell’s gravestone draws more visitors to this already popular destination then it is to be welcomed”

The spark behind the fiction

Voldemort is not the only fictional character based on a real person.

The inspiration for Tintin is a Danish Boy Scout named Palle Huld, who won a contest to re-enact Phineas Fogg’s circumnavigation of the globe in the novel Around the World in 80 Days in 1928. There are several candidates for Ian Fleming’s James Bond – but many believe the inspiration for 007 was Forest Yeo-Thomas, a top spy during World War II.

Another Capital literary inspiration is Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. He is thought to be based on Dr Joseph Bell, an Edinburgh University lecturer in the 19th century.