Lore is, by far, my favorite aspect of any fandom. I love peeking behind the curtain to see what legends, myths, and real-life people and places inspired my favorite stories. In addition to all the canon material, my HP shelves are also crowded with several other independent books on the locations, magical creatures, spells, potions, and mythological references in the series. But I also like to do my own digging sometimes, too, because that’s just how deep down the fandom rabbit hole I am at this point.
A few months ago, I was doing some Googling on Romania to fuel my
obsession with affection for Charlie Weasley.
…Okay, FINE, it was for a fanfic. Shut up.
Anyway, in researching the region, I stumbled across a very mysterious location that I am now 100% convinced is exactly where Charlie and his dragonologist colleagues are headquartered. It’s called the Hoia-Baciu Forest, and hold onto your butts, because it’s about to get spooky in here.
Lights in the Sky
Since the 1960s, the Hoia-Baciu Forest has been a hotspot for UFO sightings. Multiple people have come forward with photographic evidence that shows strange shapes in the sky above the woods, often accompanied by bursts of red or orange light. Of course, these kinds of stories are never believed or substantiated, because Muggle scientists are reluctant to believe in extraterrestrials in the first place. But I’m not convinced it’s a job for Mulder and Scully, anyway. I can think of another explanation for large, dark shapes flying through the air and producing bright flashes of warm light.
It starts with “D” and ends with “ragons.”
Parts of the forest—those without protective charms, obviously—are open to the Muggle public for recreational activities like biking, walking, and archery. (People get to just shoot arrows in public parks in Transylvania, I guess?) But sometimes, innocent hikers just kind of… disappear. Reports of folks vanishing into thin air are frequent here. In fact, the forest is reportedly named for a shepherd who disappeared into the forest with some 200 sheep, never to be seen again. Many refer to the forest as “Romania’s Bermuda Triangle.”
Is the forest a portal to another dimension, like some Muggles believe? Or do these people just somehow stumble into a magically protected area and find themselves a tasty snack for a hungry wayward dragon?
When people who vanish in the Hoia-Baciu Forest do return, they reportedly suffer from things like headaches, amnesia, anxiety, and strange rashes or burns on their skin. You know… exactly like what would happen if you accidentally happened across a large dragon being restrained for research and then you accidentally got hurt and a group of witches and wizards had to patch you up and modify your memory.
I’m just saying.
The trees in the Hoia-Baciu forest are… weird. Their trunks twist and turn into zig-zags and spirals, and Muggle scientists are quite baffled by the phenomenon, unable to give a reasonable explanation for why this would occur. Locals also report that the trees are unusually strong and resistant to cutting by mundane means.
I mean, the obvious answer here is that the trees themselves are imbued with some kind of magic. Maybe they’re grown intentionally here and are magically modified so that they are more resistant to damage from a Stupefied dragon stumbling around, or maybe they’ve absorbed energy from constant exposure to magic. Either way, they’re clearly not your ordinary trees.
(I should also note that the majority of the trees in the forest are beech, hornbeam, ash, and elm, all of which make great wand wood. Could be a coincidence. COULD ALSO BE MAGIC.)
One of the weirdest things about the Hoia-Baciu Forest is the Poiana Rotunda, or “Round Clearing,” which is situated in the southwest corner of the forest. For reasons as yet unexplained by Muggle scientists, this 2,000 square meter area is completely devoid of trees. Grasses and flowers grow just fine, but there seems to be no explanation for why this little island of meadow lies deep within such a dense forest. Soil samples have been taken, but no conclusions have been reached.
Hey, you know what would be great in a dragon research facility? An area free of flammable trees where a dragon could be restrained as necessary for study purposes.
We rest our case.
So… that’s all pretty weird, right? Strange flying objects, mysterious disappearances, burns and rashes out of nowhere, trees that grow in strange ways, and a giant clearing that baffles scientists.
I mean, maybe there is a perfectly reasonable, mundane explanation as to why all this is happening. But so far, after 40+ years of explorations into the forest, no Muggle has come up with one, so we’re left to draw our own conclusions.
We’re not saying it’s dragons, but…