The Real Deathly Hallows in Welsh Mythology

The Hallows of Britain in Welsh Myth

The Tuatha de Danaan were said to have brought four treasures to Ireland from the Otherworld.

The Earliest Hallows Powers Later Hallows Tarot Symbols Rowling’s Objects
Shining spear of Lugh Provides victory in any fight The Pole of Combat Spear or Wand Elder Wand
Sword of Nuadu Always destroys its target The Sword of Light Sword Godric’s Sword
Cauldron of Dagda Provides endless food The Cauldron of Cure Cup Hermione’s Beaded Bag
Stone of Fal Confers kingship The Stone of Destiny Pentacle Resurrection Stone

Analysis: While the master weapon descends through Rowling intact, these others have been massively changed.  What is the reason?  Though Harry is on a type of grail quest, he is not a king.  Thus he doesn’t need to feed subjects. Still, as Hermione’s bag provides endless information, clothing, healing potions, and supplies, it must be deemed equivalent. Harry needs a sword of unavoidable destruction, but to murder Voldemort’s Horcruxes, not people.  His test is to descend into death, not to sit on a throne, and so that is the power the stone grants him.  Obviously, one item is missing from this collection: the third hallow of Harry’s cloak. Perhaps it is not surprising that the humblest of these, the one he’s had and used all along, comes from a more modern list. 


The Hallows of Britain aka Thirteen Treasures of Britain in Arthurian Legend.

The treasures could only be used by the King or his representative in battle. Most of the thirteen simply provide food (something our trio would’ve welcomed).  Here are a few:

The Arthurian Hallows ‘The Mantle of Arthur’ ‘The Whetstone of Tudwal Tudglyd’ ‘The Chariot of Morgan the Wealthy’ ‘Dyrnwyn, Sword of Rhydderch ‘The Coat of Padarn Red-Coat’ ‘Chessboard of Gwenddolau’
Ability Makes the wearer invisible Ensures death follows wounding. Travels at great speed to any location. Bursts into flame. Identifies those of noble birth. Plays by itself.
Rowling Invisibility cloak Godric’s Sword Apparition Fiendfyre Sorting Hat Wizard Chess

Analysis:   These items represent many others we’ve seen in the books: between the Hallows, the Horcruxes, the spare wands, the new spells, and other items (Sorting Hat, Sword of Godric Gryffindor, beaded bag, basilisk fangs) Harry has at least thirteen treasures aiding him on his sacred quest to destroy Voldemort.  Only one who is truly worthy, a symbolic king or those who he’s appointed to aid him (As he confides his task to Ron, Hermione, and Neville) can wield these items.  Dumbledore withholds knowledge of the Hallows because Harry has to prove himself worthy. Likewise, the sword can only appear to Neville and Harry as a test.  Dumbledore must realize that being appointed is not enough: only those imbued with kingship can succeed.

Further Notes:

In Chrétien de Troyes’ Arthur, the grail quest climaxes with the symbols of a broken sword, silver serving dish, the Grail, and bleeding Lance.

Meanwhile, many see the sword and lance as the Blade (or male principle) and dish and  grail as the female principle (chalice).

© Valerie Estelle Frankel July 2007

Online Resources:

The Mabinogion by Lady Charlotte Guest

Arthurian A-Z

The Fisher King

The 13 Hallows of Britain

The 13 Treasures of Britain

Camelot, Ltd

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