Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Cloudy 41° Cloudy
News >  Nation/World

Wales asks Harry Potter fans to quit leaving socks on Dobby’s grave

Nov. 3, 2022 Updated Thu., Nov. 3, 2022 at 7:34 p.m.

By María Luisa Paúl Washington Post

Dobby is a free elf – so he technically doesn’t need the tons of socks “Potterheads” have left at his grave on a beach in western Wales.

For more than a decade, the most serious of Harry Potter fans have flocked to Freshwater West to pay their respects to the pint-size house-elf and loyal friend of Harry Potter. The beach was the backdrop for Dobby’s final moments in 2010’s “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1.”

But 12 years of fan tributes have essentially caused an environmental hazard at the film location, Welsh officials said. The growing collection of mementos and painted pebbles is a nuisance, according to a group that assessed the area as part of an eight-month review of the site. That includes the pile of socks, an item of clothing that helps Dobby earn his freedom from a life of servitude in the series.

Fearing the beach’s ecosystem would be harmed, environmental officials considered tearing down the memorial. But after some deliberation, a decision was made last week to keep the gravesite – with a caveat for no more gifts be left for the slain elf.

Dobby’s final resting place will remain “for people to enjoy.”

“The Trust is asking visitors to only take photos when visiting the memorial to help protect the wider landscape,” officials said in a news release.

In “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1,” Freshwater West is the beach to which Harry, Ron, Hermione and Dobby escape at the end of the movie. And – if you somehow managed to eschew the book series for 25 years – it’s also the scene where the loyal elf dies after saving the wizard crew. On the beach, Dobby described with his final breaths as “such a beautiful place to be with friends,” a wooden cross set atop a mound of painted rocks now marks his grave, along with a stone like the one Harry left to memorialize his friend that reads: “HERE LIES DOBBY A FREE ELF.”

The beach in Pembrokeshire, Wales, is a long strip of winding dunes and exposed rocky reefs. The legally protected conservation area is home to a host of wildlife, including lizards, gray seals, porpoises and rare ground-nesting birds. Though films like “Deathly Hallows” and Ridley Scott’s version of “Robin Hood” have featured the beach, it’s also the site of a World War II-era maritime tragedy and one of the best Welsh surfing spots.

Having it now known as Dobby’s resting place has become problematic, according to the National Trust, a conservation charity that cares for historic properties and landmarks – especially when some 75,000 people flock to the beach each year, often exceeding capacity and sometimes leaving behind tributes to the fictional character.

“Items like socks, trinkets, and paint chips from painted pebbles could enter the marine environment and food chain and put wildlife at risk,” the charity said in a statement.

Dobby’s grave has for years been a source of irritation for a contingent of Pembrokeshire locals, who have vented about it on Facebook. While some in the community have celebrated the “bit of magic” the place has to offer, others have deemed the memorial a “bloody mess on our beautiful beach.”

Nearly 5,000 people responded to an online survey about the gravesite to address the heaps of tourists, socks and decorated pebbles. The solution wound up being a balancing act between “the popularity of the site with impacts on the sensitive nature of the beach and wider environment, and pressure on the facilities and surrounding roads,” the National Trust’s Jonathan Hughes said in a statement.

On Wednesday, Wizarding World, the official Harry Potter fan hub, begged Muggles – those nonmagic folks – to leave no trace when commemorating a house-elf so beloved that even author J.K. Rowling apologized for killing him.

Referencing the moment Dobby’s former cruel master mistakenly presented him with an article of clothing, which frees enslaved house-elves, the Wizarding World requested that fans comply with Welsh officials’ pleas to leave the beachside gravesite a sock-free zone.

“Lucius Malfoy might’ve left Dobby a sock, but let’s not leave anything on our coastlines!” Wizarding World wrote in an Instagram post.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox

Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.