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Behind the scenes: Little Hangleton Graveyard

As the setting for arguably the most pivotal scene throughout the Harry Potter series, Little Hangleton Graveyard had to be suitably iconic.

An illustration of the Little Hangleton Graveyard at night
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Extracted from Harry Potter: Magical Places From the Films
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At the end of the Triwizard Tournament in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, pretext and trickery transport Hogwarts champions Harry Potter and Cedric Diggory into a trap set up by Voldemort and Peter Pettigrew at the Riddle family gravesite.

‘The scene takes place in a large graveyard,’ Stuart Craig explains, ‘and I knew this was a very important set. It turned out to be one of our biggest sets.’ The scene was meant to be set on a small hilltop dotted with gravestones and statues, a landscape that was challenging to create.

Peter Pettigrew and Harry in the graveyard
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Little Hangleton graveyard was also meant to be very old, so Craig focused on evoking an ancient sensory feeling, crumbling and overgrown. ‘Essentially, it is about decay and dereliction. My inspiration for it was Highgate Cemetery in North London, which has been, in a way, reclaimed by nature.’ Built in 1839, Highgate Cemetery was planted with trees, bushes, and flowers that were allowed to grow without any restrictions.

A sketch of the Little Hangleton Graveyard
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

The set was built indoors so that the eerie lighting and artificial fog that covered the misty graveyard could be controlled. ‘We can trap the fog inside,’ Craig says with a smile. ‘It’s only practical — one good wind and the fog blows away.’

Another practical consideration was that shooting in the studio meant that the night scene could be shot during the day, removing the constraints on shooting child actors at night.

The ground was covered with living grass, and the set was crowded with huge, moss-covered tombstones, some of which bore the names of crew members’ pets. The statue over the Riddle tomb that traps Harry was originally meant to be of a beautiful angel, based on monuments studied in Highgate Cemetery. The filmmakers altered the idea to an ‘angel of death,’ given whose family tomb it was.

Harry Potter: Magical Places book cover

Extracted from
‘Harry Potter: Magical Places from the films'