What happens when we die?” is one of the existential questions that humans have puzzled over since we first grew aware of our own mortality. Few of us can ever have contemplated that our name might be seized from our gravestone by a bestselling author, assigned to a fictional evil wizard and our final place of rest transformed into a vacuous bucket list novelty for fans of a popular fantasy franchise
That is, however, the fate which has befallen Thomas Riddell, who died in Edinburgh in 1806. His grave, nestled within the city’s Greyfriars Kirkyard, has become a pilgrimage for hundreds of visitors every day, who trek to the site to see an inscription that possibly inspired the naming of a character in a book.
Riddell’s name, you see, is a bit like that of Tom Riddle, otherwise known as the wicked wizard Lord Voldemort, the primary antagonist of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series. On another tombstone nearby, someone has scrawled “Sirius Black, 1953 – 1996”, a reference to another series character [ . . . ]