The Harry Potter fandom is swiftly turning into an environmental concern in Wales, where the fictional house elf Dobby’s death scene in 2010's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows—Part 1 was filmed. As more and more people visit Pembrokeshire’s Freshwater West Beach to lay trinkets of their affection, conservationists worry about the preservation of the wider landscape.
Since an initial group of fans erected a memorial for Dobby at the site, even more fans have visited to pay tribute—often, with a sock in hand. Per The New York Times, local conservation group National Trust Wales recently conducted an eight-month review into the effects of the memorial on the beach and surrounding environment.
As part of the review, the National Trust Wales considered tearing down the memorial, fearing continued erosion of the area. Luckily for Dobby’s disciples, however, the gravesite was allowed to say—with a few new parameters.
“The memorial to Dobby will remain at Freshwater West in the immediate term for people to enjoy,” the National Trust Wales, a local conservation group, share in their assessment. “The Trust is asking visitors to only take photos when visiting the memorial to help protect the wider landscape.”
In the books, Dobby escapes a life of indentured servitude to the haughty Lucius Malfoy by tricking Malfoy into gifting him a sock. In receiving a gift from his master, Dobby becomes a free elf and wears the sock until his death.
According to the National Trust Wales, “items like socks, trinkets, and paint chips from painted pebbles could enter the marine environment and food chain and put wildlife at risk.” Beyond socks, some fans have reportedly emblazoned rocks with the phrase “Here lies Dobby, a free elf,” Harry Potter’s tribute to Dobby in the film.
“While we’re delighted that so many want to visit, we have to balance 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,” Jonathan Hughes, an official with National Trust Wales, adds.