I was thinking about the possible origins of the Potter family in the Wizarding world, and thought that maybe a genuine potter's son was tagged for Hogwarts, proved to be very powerful and maybe married one of Gryffindor's female descendents or something. But here's the thing. An 11th century potter's son would likely be illiterate. In fact, until maybe the middle of the nineteenth century, many Muggleborn kids would be semi-literate at best, and as you get closer to the time of the Founder's, the numbers would get higher and extend across all social classes. This would be especially marked for young Muggleborn witches, as even noblewomen were often taught only as much as they would need to know to keep household accounts in order - how to sound out words and do basic arithmetic. This last varied by time period, of course.
(I wonder what did happen if a noble or royal child turned out to be a witch or wizard. I suspect that the child would lose his or her title and the family would consider them as dead - blasted off the family tree, as it were. Anything else would be too difficult, and child mortality was high until quite recently.)
I'm also assuming universal Wizarding literacy - children being taught by their parents or older siblings or maybe a local witch or wizard who had an informal school. The wealthy ones could employ teachers. So the average pureblood child would show up at Hogwarts prepared to start doing assignments; the average Muggleborn would need to learn more than his/her name. I have several guesses as to how that was handled :
- Taken as early as their magic manifested and fostered with a wizard family
- Taken as early as their magic manifested and sent to a special prep school, which would teach literacy and culture.
- Stationing a witch or wizard next in the area who happens to teach the child to read.
- Taking the summer before the term started and at least starting to teach them to read
- Beginning Hogwarts at eleven, but getting remedial help
- Beginning Hogwarts at eleven and allowed to sink or swim.
I think all of these are possible. Of them, one and three strike me as the kindest and easiest, but six is all too possible. Eleven is barely young enough that by the end of first year, the Muggleborns would be mostly caught up, but it will follow them the rest of their lives.
And that, I think, might be an origin of the idea that Muggleborns are inferior and Muggle culture worthless. After all, they come to Hogwarts not knowing anything at all. It's not the only origin, but I think it probably played a part.
The other question, and again, I don't have an answer, is how did the kids get to Hogwarts pre-train era? Especially, how did the Muggleborns get there? Were there many Floo gates into Hogsmeade, where they were met by Thestral-drawn carriages? *Has* anyone but Hagrid managed to tame Thestrals, I wonder? I'd appreciate any speculation here because it's driving me nuts.