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Middle-earth objects

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J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth fantasy legendarium includes several noteworthy objects. The following list includes weapons, jewellery, ships, musical instruments, substances, and other items.



A wondrous large white gem, the royal jewel of the Dwarf-kingdom of Erebor (the Lonely Mountain). It was sought by Thorin Oakenshield, the claimant to the kingdom, in The Hobbit.

The Arkenstone had been discovered at the heart of the Mountain by Thorin's ancestor, King Thráin I the Old, and shaped by the Dwarves. Thráin ruled from T.A. 1981 to 2190, and the Arkenstone became the royal heirloom of his successors, Durin's line. However, the great jewel was lost when the dragon Smaug captured the Lonely Mountain from the Dwarves in T.A. 2770.

The Arkenstone shone of its own inner light, but having been cut and fashioned by the Dwarves, it also reflected and multiplied any light glancing upon its surface with marvellous beauty. It was also called the Heart of the Mountain, and as Thorin describes to Bilbo Baggins: "It shone like silver in the firelight, like water in the sun, like snow under the stars, like rain upon the moon ..."

Thorin, the heir of Thráin, arrived at the Lonely Mountain with Bilbo in T.A. 2941. When Bilbo found the Arkenstone on Smaug's golden bed deep inside the Lonely Mountain he pocketed it, having learned how much Thorin valued it. While his Dwarf companions sorted the treasure, Thorin sought only the Arkenstone, unaware that Bilbo was hiding it in his pillow. When the Dwarves refused to share any of the treasure with Bard (who had killed Smaug) and King Thranduil, Bilbo crept out of the Dwarves' fort inside the Mountain, and gave them the Arkenstone. Bard, Thranduil, and Gandalf then tried to trade it for Bilbo's fourteenth share of Smaug's hoard. The dispute was interrupted by goblins and wargs from the Misty Mountains, the Battle of Five Armies ensued, and Thorin was killed. When Thorin was buried deep under Erebor, Bard placed the Arkenstone on Thorin's breast.

Etymology and literary sources[edit]

Tolkien took the name[1] from Old English earcanstān (also spelled eorcanstān, eorcnanstān, etc.) or Old Norse jarknasteinn, meaning "precious stone". The word appears in several Old English poems; for example, "The Ruin" offers a "lament over worldly ambitions and the folly of social aspirations."[2]

Seah on sinc, on sylfor, on searogimmas,   Gazed on treasure, silver, precious gems,
on ead, on æht, on eorcanstan.   wealth, possessions, a precious stone.

The Arkenstone is often compared with the Silmarils, the great jewels at the centre of The Silmarillion. Though the Arkenstone is not a Silmaril, it is certainly an import from Tolkien's writings of the "mythology" into his children's story which were, at the time of The Hobbit's composition, unrelated writings.

In adaptions[edit]

In The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the Arkenstone is portrayed as a round glowing gem, similar to a luminous white opal. The gem was inserted into Thrór's throne, and the king viewed it as a symbol of his rule by divine grace. He attempted to take it with him when Smaug invaded Erebor, but dropped it into a pile of gold where it was lost. In The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, it is revealed that the entire purpose of the dwarves' quest was to retrieve the Arkenstone, since possessing it would have given Thorin the authority required to unite all the dwarven clans and launch an assault to liberate Erebor.

Crown of Gondor[edit]

Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King features a crown (worn by Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn) that differs radically from Tolkien's design; for example, it is a circlet rather than a helm.

The chief token of royalty of Gondor. It is also referred as the Winged Crown, the Silver or White Crown, and the Crown of Elendil.

Tolkien describes the crown in The Lord of the Rings thus:

It was shaped like the helms of the Guards of the Citadel, save that it was loftier, and it was all white, and the wings at either side were wrought of pearl and silver in the likeness of the wings of a sea-bird, for it was the emblem of kings who came over the Sea; and seven gems of adamant were set in the circlet, and upon its summit was set a single jewel the light of which went up like a flame.[3]

In a letter Tolkien describes the crown as "very tall, like that of Egypt, but with wings attached, not set straight back but at an angle".[4] The Hedjet of Upper Egypt was, like Gondor's crown, also known as the White Crown. Tolkien also made a sketch of the crown of Gondor, reproduced in J. R. R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator.[5]

History before the War of the Ring[edit]

The first Crown of Gondor was the helmet that Isildur had worn at the Battle of Dagorlad. His brother Anárion's helmet had been crushed by the stone that killed him during the Siege of Barad-dûr.

During the reign of King Atanatar II Alcarin (T.A. 1149–1226), a new crown was made of silver and jewels. This Crown was worn by all the subsequent Kings of Gondor. Traditionally, a father passed the Crown to his heir before he died. If the heir was not present when the King died, the Crown was set in the King's tomb in the Hallows, where his heir would later go alone to retrieve it.

In 2050, the Lord of the Nazgûl challenged King Eärnur to single-combat. Eärnur left the Crown on the tomb of his father Eärnil II and he went to Minas Morgul and was never seen again. From that time on, the Stewards ruled Gondor in the absence of a King. The Crown remained in the Hallows, and the Stewards bore a white rod as the token of their office.

Aragorn's coronation[edit]

To prepare for the coronation of Aragorn as King Elessar, the Steward Faramir went to the Hallows and retrieved the Crown from Eärnil's tomb. The Crown was placed in a casket of black lebethron wood bound with silver. On the day of the coronation, 1st 'May' T.A. 3019, the casket was carried to the Great Gate of Minas Tirith by four Guards of the Citadel. Aragorn lifted the Crown and, quoting his ancestor Elendil as he arrived in Middle-earth, said:

"Et Eärello Endorenna utúlien. Sinome maruvan ar Hildinyar tenn' Ambar-metta!"
("Out of the Great Sea to Middle-earth I am come. In this place I will abide, and my heirs, unto the ending of the world.")[3]

Then at Aragorn's request, Frodo Baggins brought the Crown forward and gave it to Gandalf, who set it upon Aragorn's head. As King, Aragorn bore both the Crown of Gondor and the Sceptre of Annúminas that was the chief token of royalty of Arnor, and the two Kingdoms were reunited under his reign. Shortly before his death in the year 120 of the Fourth Age, Aragorn passed the Crown and Sceptre to his son and heir Eldarion.


A green jewel that Galadriel gives as a token of hope to Aragorn just before the Fellowship of the Ring leaves the wood of Lothlórien.[6] According to Tolkien, this also served the function of a prospective wedding gift from the family of the bride to the groom.

The Elfstone was set in an eagle-shaped silver brooch. Aragorn wears the jewel openly and, as was foretold, takes his royal name Elessar from the name of the jewel in Quenya.

Earlier in The Lord of the Rings, Aragorn urges Bilbo Baggins to mention a green jewel in his poem about Eärendil. Bilbo complies but is evidently unaware of the Elfstone's story, referring to an emerald.[7]

Histories before the War of the Ring[edit]

Unfinished Tales gives several versions of the origin of the Elfstone.[8] In one tale it was created in Gondolin by Enerdhil, described here as the greatest craftsman among the Noldor after Fëanor. It had the power to show things that were withered or burnt as though healed again, and whoever held it brought healing from hurt. Enerdhil gave it to Idril, and she to her son Eärendil, whence it was known as the Stone of Eärendil. Eärendil took it on his voyage to Valinor, thus removing it from Middle-earth. It was brought back by Gandalf to Galadriel as a token from Yavanna that the Valar had not forsaken Middle-earth.

In another version, the original stone did not return to Middle-earth, but Celebrimbor recreated a version of it in Eregion as a gift to Galadriel when she lamented the withering of Middle-earth. His jewel shone with a clearer light, but was not as powerful as the original.

Yet another version (evidently Tolkien's final choice) does not mention Enerdhil: instead Celebrimbor himself created the jewel in Gondolin. As in the second version, Eärendil took the stone forever to Valinor, and Celebrimbor recreated the stone for Galadriel in Eregion.

When Tolkien started fleshing out The Silmarillion after the publication of The Lord of the Rings, he mentioned in one passage "the Green Stone of Fëanor", which Fëanor gave to his son Maedhros as he died. This is not pursued in later manuscripts. Christopher Tolkien speculates that this was his father's first attempt to provide a background for the Elfstone from The Lord of the Rings.[9]

All versions end with the jewel in Galadriel's possession. She then gives it to her daughter Celebrían, who in turn gives it to Arwen. It is nonetheless in Galadriel's keeping in Lothlórien when she passes it on to Aragorn.

Iron Crown[edit]

The great crown of Morgoth, the primeval Dark Lord.

After stealing the Silmarils from Valinor, Morgoth escaped to Middle-earth, where he re-established his stronghold of Angband. There he "forged for himself a great crown of iron, and he called himself King of the World". He set the Silmarils in the crown, and "never took [it] from his head, though its weight became a deadly weariness".[10]

Nearly five centuries later, Beren and Lúthien dared to confront Morgoth in his throne-room. Lúthien enchanted Morgoth to sleep, and the Iron Crown slipped from his head to the floor. Beren prised one of the Silmarils from the crown with the knife Angrist, and then he and Lúthien escaped.

After nearly another century, at the end of the First Age, the Valar launched the War of Wrath against Morgoth and his forces. This culminated in the defeat and capture of Morgoth himself; the two remaining Silmarils were taken from his crown, and it was beaten into an iron collar for his neck. The Valar then bundled Morgoth through the Doors of Night, and he remains in the Void until the End of Days, with his former symbol of power tight against his throat.


A necklace of the First Age. It features in The Silmarillion and at the end of the Narn i Chîn Húrin. Also called the Necklace of the Dwarves.

The Nauglamír was a gift from the Dwarves to Finrod Felagund of Nargothrond. From the ruins of Nargothrond, Húrin brought the Nauglamír to Doriath and gave it to Thingol as payment for the care Húrin's family had received while Húrin was imprisoned by Morgoth. Thingol had the Nauglamír reforged by the Dwarves of Belegost to hold and enhance a Silmaril which Beren and Lúthien had retrieved from Morgoth's crown (and the maw of the great wolf Carcharoth). The Dwarves had been invited to Menegroth by Thingol to create jewelry out of the immense treasure, and the Nauglamír was their best work.

Thingol prized it above everything else in his treasury, save the Silmaril of Lúthien and Beren. After the Nauglamír had been reforged he asked the Dwarves of Nogrod to set the Silmaril in it, which they did. Together it became jewelry more beautiful than anything ever before seen in Arda. The Dwarves were enthralled by it as well, and greedily demanded it from Thingol, claiming it as just payment for their labours (and that Húrin and Thingol had no right to appropriate the Dwarves' gift to Finrod). Thingol realized they wished to gain the Silmaril, and after insulting the dwarves as uncouth, stunted people, ordered them to depart from Doriath without any payment. In response the dwarves slew him, which eventually led to the withdrawal of the Girdle of Melian from Doriath and to the sack of Doriath by the Dwarves of Nogrod.

Word of the Dwarves' treachery reached Beren, and he, with an army of the Laiquendi, waylaid the dwarves en route to Nogrod as they passed Sarn Athrad. The Dwarves were slain, and those who attempted to escape were destroyed by the Ents. Their treasure was cast into the river Ascar, but Beren kept the Nauglamír and took it with him to Lúthien.

After Beren and Lúthien's final deaths, the Necklace went to their son Dior in Doriath, and became the cause of the Second Kinslaying when the Sons of Fëanor attacked Doriath in an attempt to claim the Silmaril. Dior's daughter Elwing fled with the Nauglamír to the Mouths of Sirion.

In the Third Kinslaying, the Sons of Fëanor attacked the Mouths of Sirion, claiming the Nauglamír because it held the Silmaril; but Elwing cast herself into the sea with it. The Nauglamír was lost, but Elwing and the Silmaril were saved by Ulmo.

Necklace of Girion[edit]

A necklace of "five hundred emeralds, green as grass". It had been owned by Girion, the Lord of Dale, but in T.A. 2770 Dale was sacked by the dragon Smaug, and Girion was killed. In T.A. 2941, as recounted in The Hobbit, the necklace was found among the treasures hoarded by Smaug in the Lonely Mountain; it was given by Bard the Bowman (the heir of Girion) to the Elvenking for his aid. The necklace can be seen in Tolkien's watercolour Conversation with Smaug.


A valuable pearl which appears in The Silmarillion.

It was given by Thingol (the Elf-king of Doriath) to the Dwarves from Belegost as a reward for building Menegroth, his palace complex. Nimphelos had probably been fished from Belegaer by Círdan's folk, who gave it to Thingol as a gift. The pearl was said to be as big as a dove's egg.

Phial of Galadriel[edit]

Phial of Galadriel

A parting gift to Frodo Baggins by Galadriel when the Fellowship of the Ring left Lórien.

It was also known as the Star-glass, because it held a little fragment from the light of the Star of Eärendil, which was one of the Silmarils, contained within the waters of Galadriel's Mirror. It is thus a reflection of a reflection of the light of the Two Trees of Valinor.

While travelling into Mordor via Cirith Ungol, both Frodo and Samwise Gamgee used the light of the Phial to fend off attacks from the monstrous arachnid Shelob in Torech Ungol. Sam also used it to overcome the will of the Two Watchers at the Tower of Cirith Ungol. Once they reached Mount Doom, the light from the glass faded because they were in the heart of Sauron's domain where its power could not reach.

Frodo took the Phial with him when he left Middle-earth for the Undying Lands. Its light faded away as the ship approached the shores of Eldamar.

Ring of Barahir[edit]

A ring given to Barahir by the Elven Lord Finrod Felagund, in reward for saving his life in Dagor Bragollach. It was a sign of eternal friendship between Finrod and the House of Barahir.[11] Barahir's hand and ring were taken by the orcs that killed him, but were retrieved by his son Beren when he avenged his father. Beren laid the hand to rest with the rest of his father's body, but kept and wore the ring.

'Death you can give me earned or unearned, but names I will not take from you of baseborn, nor spy, nor thrall. By the ring of Felagund, that he gave to Barahir my father on the battlefield of the North, my house has not earned such names from any Elf, be he king or no.' Thus spoke Beren Erchamion in the halls of mighty Thingol as he held aloft the ring, and the green jewels gleamed there that the Noldor had devised in Valinor. For this ring was like two twin serpents, whose eyes were emeralds, and their heads met beneath a crown of golden flowers, that the one upheld and the other devoured; that was the badge of Finarfin and his house. (The Silmarillion, Chapter 19: 'Of Beren and Lúthien')

Beren later used it as a token when he sought Finrod's help in the quest for the Silmaril.


The ring was passed from Beren to a line of his descendants through many generations, beginning with Beren's son Dior. It was then transferred to Dior's daughter Elwing and her son Elros. Elros took the ring with him when he left Middle-earth to found Númenor in S.A. 32, becoming its first king. It was an heirloom of the kings of Númenor until Tar-Elendil gave the ring to his eldest daughter Silmariën, who was not eligible to succeed him on the throne. She in turn gave the ring to her son Valandil, the first Lord of Andúnië. It was handed down to succeeding Lords of Andúnië to the last one, Amandil, Amandil gave the ring to his son Elendil, and so was saved from the Númenor catastrophe.[12]

Elendil and the surviving Númenóreans went to Middle-earth, and he became the first king of Arnor in S.A. 3320. In the Third Age the ring was again passed in direct line to Elendil's successors as Kings of Arnor and then Kings of Arthedain. The last King of Arthedain, Arvedui, gave the ring to the Lossoth of Forochel in T.A. 1975, thankful for the help he received from them. It was later ransomed from the Snowmen by the Dúnedain of the North, the heirs of Arvedui, and it was kept safe by Elrond in Rivendell.[13]

Eventually, in T.A. 2951, Elrond presented the ring and the shards of Narsil to Aragorn, revealing to Aragorn that he was the heir of Arvedui. In the year 2980 of the Third Age, Aragorn gave the ring to Arwen Undómiel in Lothlórien, and thus they were betrothed.[14]

Nothing is said of the fate of the ring in the Fourth Age, but it was most likely either again passed to the Kings of Gondor and Arnor, descendants of Aragorn and Arwen, or it went with Arwen to her grave in Cerin Amroth.

It was one of the older artefacts to exist in Middle-earth (it may have been the oldest), for it had been forged by Finrod in Valinor before the Exile of the Noldor.

In adaptions[edit]

The ring is noticeably visible on the hand of Aragorn in Peter Jackson's adaptation The Two Towers when he extends his hand toward Gríma Wormtongue in a gesture of reconciliation (which is not accepted). In the extended version, the ring is described in more detail, and it is the sign by which Saruman identifies Aragorn from Gríma's account. The ring is described as "Two serpents with emerald eyes. One devouring, the other crowned with golden flowers."

Rings of Power[edit]

Sceptre of Annúminas[edit]

The chief emblem of royal authority in the northern kingdom of Arnor.

The sceptre originally was the staff borne by the Lords of Andúnië in Númenor, a silver rod patterned after the sceptre of the Kings of Númenor. The sceptre of the Kings was lost with Ar-Pharazôn in the downfall of Númenor in S.A. 3319. But Elendil, son of the last Lord of Andúnië, took his father's staff with him when he escaped to Middle-earth and founded the Kingdoms of Arnor and Gondor. While the Kings of Gondor wore a crown, the Kings of Arnor bore the sceptre. As the Kings of Arnor ruled for several centuries from the city of Annúminas, the sceptre became known as Sceptre of Annúminas.

When the North-kingdom was divided in T.A. 861, the sceptre passed to the Kings of Arthedain. After Arthedain ceased to exist in T.A. 1974, the sceptre, along with the other heirlooms of the House of Isildur, was kept at Rivendell, in the house of Elrond.

By the end of the Third Age, the Sceptre of Annúminas was over 5,000 years old and was accounted the oldest surviving artefact in Middle-earth made by Men. On Midsummer's Eve of 3019, Elrond brought the Sceptre of Annúminas to Minas Tirith and presented it to Aragorn, King Elessar, symbolising his kingship over Arnor as well as Gondor.


Three brilliant, holy star-like jewels which contained the unmarred light of the Two Trees, which had been created by the Vala Yavanna, the goddess of all trees and herbs.

The Silmarils (Quenya pl. Silmarilli, radiance of pure light[15]) were made out of the crystalline substance silima by Fëanor,[16] a Noldorin Elf, in Valinor during the Years of the Trees. The composition of silima was known only to Fëanor; the secret died with him, not to be rediscovered until Fëanor's resurrection at the Last Battle.[17]

These three jewels are pivotal in Tolkien's fictional history of the Elves; indeed this history is named Quenta Silmarillion. The theft of the Silmarils by Melkor provokes Fëanor and his sons to pursue him into Middle-earth with a large host to reclaim them.

Star of Elendil[edit]

Along with the Sceptre of Annúminas, the Star of Elendil was the chief symbol of the royal line of Arnor. The original jewel was fashioned of "elvish crystal" by the Noldor and affixed to a fillet of mithril, to be worn in the custom of Númenor on the brow in place of a crown. This was worn by Silmariën of Númenor and passed to her descendants, the Lords of Andúnië, and eventually to Elendil. Elendil and then his son Isildur wore it as a token of royalty in the North Kingdom, but it was lost in the Anduin when Isildur was slain by orcs at the Gladden Fields. A replacement was fashioned by elves in Rivendell for Isildur's son Valandil, and this second jewel was borne by the subsequent thirty-nine kings and chieftains of Arnor, up to and including Aragorn.[18]

The Star of Elendil was also called the Elendilmir ("Jewel of Elendil"), the Star of the North, and the Star of the North Kingdom. The original was rediscovered by Saruman's agents searching for the One Ring, and King Elessar later recovered it from Saruman's treasure in Isengard after the War of the Ring. Elessar held both Elendilmirs in reverence; the first because of its ancient origins, the second because of its lineage from thirty-nine forebears. The King wore the replica when he spent time in the restored North Kingdom.[18]

In Robert Foster's The Complete Guide to Middle-earth, the Elendilmir is identified with the Star of the Dúnedain which was given to Samwise Gamgee, but according to Christopher Tolkien, Foster was clearly mistaken.[19][20]

Star of the Dúnedain[edit]

A silver brooch, shaped like a many-rayed star, worn by the Arnor-descended Rangers of the North. It appears in The Lord of the Rings.

The Dúnedain Rangers who came to Aragorn at Dunharrow wore these on their clothing, specifically to fasten to their cloaks on their left shoulder. It served as part of their identity, was the only ornamentation the Rangers ever wore in their journeys and was also considered a badge of honour. After the events of the War of the Ring Aragorn gave a 'Star of the Dúnedain' to Samwise Gamgee, then Mayor of the Shire, but whether it was one of these brooches or some other object is not made clear.[21]

Weapons and armour[edit]

Tolkien's fantasy writings contain several named weapons like Ringil, Grond, Sting, Glamdring, Narsil, Orcrist, and Gurthang and the spear of Gil-Galad. Two prominent examples of armour in Tolkien's writings are the Helm of Hador, also known as the Dragon-helm of Dor-lómin, and the mithril mail-shirt worn by Bilbo and later given by him to Frodo.

Food and drink[edit]

Besides "mundane" food and drink like mushrooms and beer, Tolkien's writings contain special consumable items like lembas and miruvor.


The ruling classes in Middle-earth were highly literate; archives and private libraries existed in Rivendell, Minas Tirith, and in the Shire (Bag End, Bucklebury and Tuckborough).[22] Famous scribes included Rúmil of Tirion, Pengolodh of Gondolin, Tar-Elendil Parmaitë of Númenor, Ori the Dwarf, Barahir of Ithilien, and the Shire-hobbits Bilbo Baggins, Frodo Baggins and Meriadoc Brandybuck. Documents included books, maps and other items.

Book of Mazarbul[edit]

File:Book of Mazarbul.jpg
The Book of Mazarbul from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

A record of Balin's failed expedition of Dwarves to re-colonize the mines of Moria, which ended in his party's destruction by Orcs. Mazarbul means "records" in the Dwarf-language Khuzdul, and the chamber where it was kept was similarly named. It appears in The Fellowship of the Ring.

The Book of Mazarbul covered the five years that the colony lasted: T.A. 2989–2994. It was written in many different hands (the last being Ori's) using the runes of Moria and Dale as well as Elvish letters. The last entry was written shortly before the final Orc attack which finished the Dwarves off: "They are coming."[23] When the Fellowship came to the Chamber of Mazarbul in Moria years later, Gandalf discovered the battered Book of Mazarbul. It was given to Gimli to be passed on to Dáin.

For the publication of The Fellowship of the Ring, Tolkien created a few pages of the book for real (read aloud by Gandalf in the story), but these proved impractical to include. Some later editions do include them.[24] Michael Drout supposes that the physical condition of the manuscript he describes owes something to the Ragyndrudis Codex, supposedly the book used by Saint Boniface to ward off heathen axeblows at his martyrdom.[25]

Gandalf's letter[edit]

A letter in The Lord of the Rings, written by Gandalf in Bree (on Midyear's Day T.A. 3018), and addressed to Frodo Baggins, the bearer of the One Ring in the Shire.

The main intent of the letter was to warn Frodo to leave the Shire as soon as possible (by 'July' at the latest). The letter was entrusted to Barliman Butterbur, who forgot to send it. Nevertheless, Frodo eventually met Barliman (on 29th 'September') and obtained the letter, and it served to reassure Frodo that Strider could be trusted to aid him in his quest.

The letter, written in Gandalf's "strong but graceful script", included the poem All that is gold does not glitter.

Maps of Middle-earth[edit]

Within Tolkien's fiction, the maps published in his works represent cartography in the Red Book. The Red Book's maps of Middle-earth, Wilderland, Beleriand and Gondor were in turn based on maps in the collections of Rivendell and Minas Tirith. The original Thrór's map was made by Dwarves.

Shire maps[edit]

Bilbo Baggins was a cartophile. Amongst his collection of maps at Bag End was a large map of the Country Round, which was displayed in his front hall and which featured his favourite rambles, marked on the chart in red ink.[26] This map was similar in scope to the map A Part of the Shire, published in The Lord of the Rings.

Maps made in the Shire "showed mostly white spaces beyond its borders."[27]

Thrór's map[edit]

For details of Tolkien's illustration of the map see Thror's Map (Illustration)

Thrór's map was an important asset in the Quest of Erebor, as told in The Hobbit: it contained clues to a secret door in the Lonely Mountain.

The map had been made by Thrór, a King of Durin's folk, sometime after the sack of Erebor in T.A. 2770 (it shows the Desolation of Smaug), and by 2790. In that year Thrór gave his heirlooms to his son and heir Thráin II; these included the map, a key that went with it, and one of the Seven Rings. In 2845 Thráin was imprisoned in Dol Guldur, and the ring taken from him; but the map and key were not discovered on him (or their importance was blindly overlooked, due to the ring). Five years later Gandalf the wizard was spying out Dol Guldur when he found Thráin; Thráin was near death and gave the map and key to Gandalf. Gandalf handed them on to Thorin Oakenshield in Bag End in 2941, at the outset of the Quest of Erebor.

File:Карта Одинокой Горы .jpg
Thrór's map

Later that year, Elrond discovered moon-letters on the map. These were a form of secret writing which was normally invisible, but could be read in a moon of the same phase and time of year they were written. Application of the Metonic cycle backwards from 2941 means that the map (or at least its moon-writing) was created in either 2770 or 2789. The earlier possibility seems too close to the chaos ensuing from the sack of Erebor, suggesting that the map was most likely made in 2789, in preparation for its handover to Thráin.

A reproduction of Thrór's map (with English representing supposed Westron, and Anglo-Saxon runes representing Dwarvish Cirth) appears in The Hobbit. The map notes that Thráin had been King under the Mountain in the olden days: i.e. Thráin preceded the map and its maker (Thrór). However the only Thráin mentioned in the main text of the first edition of The Hobbit is the son and successor of Thrór. Tolkien reconciled this inconsistency in a later edition by creating two Thráins: (1) Thráin I, the ancient King under the Mountain, named on the map; and (2) Thráin II, the son of Thrór and father of Thorin, and a possessor of the map.

Red Book of Westmarch[edit]

Scroll of Isildur[edit]

The scroll of Isildur was a manuscript that contained a unique eyewitness account of Sauron, and more importantly the One Ring.

Isildur, newly High King of Arnor and Gondor, wrote this scroll in T.A. 1, when the Ring was still warm from Sauron's heat. His key observation was the Ring's unique inscription, and that this became invisible without heat. Also telling was Isildur's remark that the Ring was his "precious" possession: a feeling later echoed by two later Ring-bearers: Gollum and Bilbo Baggins.

Isildur deposited the scroll in the archives of Minas Anor (later Minas Tirith), and departed north, never to return. The scroll then lay forgotten for nearly three thousand years. By T.A. 2953 the scroll had been secretly discovered by Saruman. In 3017 it was rediscovered by Gandalf, who used its information to unequivocally confirm his suspicion that the ring then in the possession of Frodo Baggins was indeed the One Ring.

Thorin & Co.'s letter[edit]

The Contract of Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

A note written in Bag End by one of the Dwarves of Thorin & Company to Bilbo Baggins. The date was 26 April T.A. 2941, and it was the morning of the first day of their Quest of Erebor in The Hobbit. The letter set out the contractual terms of Bilbo's involvement in the quest. Bilbo kept this letter, and later used it and the Arkenstone to force Thorin to share treasure with Bard the Bowman and the Elvenking.[28]

In the book, Bilbo receives the letter via Gandalf, who briefly waves it under Bilbo's nose as a fait accompli to urge him to join the quest. In Peter Jackson's film adaption The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the document is less impromptu, far more elaborate, and is (eventually) accepted by Bilbo with rather more enthusiasm.

The scribe of the letter was most probably Ori. Ori was known for his ability to write "well and speedily",[29] traits desirable for the letter.

See also[edit]

Landscape objects[edit]


A flet was a type of high tree-house built and used by Elves, especially those in the mallorn trees of Lothlórien. Some flets were quite simple, such as those stayed in by the Fellowship of the Ring when they first entered Lothlórien. Others could be quite grand, such as those in Caras Galadhon (the capital city of Lothlórien). The flet of Cerin Amroth, visited by Frodo Baggins, was at a great height above the ground, and had commanding views.

Thingol, an Elf-king in the First Age, imprisoned his daughter Lúthien in a flet high in the great tree Hírilorn.

The Sindarin word for 'flet' is talan (plural telain).[30] Tolkien revived the word 'flet' from the Middle English flet.

Seat of Seeing[edit]

A stone throne built on top of Amon Hen to watch the borderlands of Gondor. It stood on four carven pillars in the middle of a flat circle paved with flagstones, reached by a stair.

On "February" 25, T.A. 3019, while running away from Boromir, who had attempted to seize the Ring of Power, Frodo Baggins reached the summit of Amon Hen. He clambered onto the Seat of Seeing and suddenly was able to see for hundreds of miles in all directions. When Aragorn occupied the seat an hour or so later, the noise of orcs drew him away before any enhanced vision could take effect.

A counterpart, the Seat of Hearing, was built on top of Amon Lhaw, on the opposite bank of the Anduin.


A smial, or hobbit-hole, is an underground dwelling built by Hobbits. Smials were tunnelled horizontally into earth (as opposed to rock), and had a round door at the entrance. Some smials were simple, others were luxurious and elaborate complexes, such as Bag End, Brandy Hall of the Brandybuck clan, and the Great Smials of the Took clan.

Hobbits are so closely associated with their underground dwellings that this is the origin for the word hobbit: a worn-down version of holbytla ('hole-builder').

Some hobbit-holes were used for civic purposes rather than private residences, for example the Town Hole and Lockholes in Michel Delving.

Hobbit place-names referring to smials include Michel Delving, Needlehole and possibly Tuckborough. Many Hobbit family-names refer to smials or their excavation: Brockhouse, Burrow(e)s, Clayhanger, Diggle, Grubb, Longholes, Maggot, Sandheaver, Smallburrow, Tunnelly and Underhill.

Tolkien derived the word 'smial' as a modernization of Old English smygel ('burrow'), and thus related to Gollum's original name: Sméagol. The 'real' word for smial, in the Hobbits' dialect of Westron, was trân, related to the word trahan in the language of the Rohirrim.[31]

Local meeting-groups of The Tolkien Society are called smials.

Stone of Erech[edit]

Stone of Erech, illustration by Matěj Čadil

Also called the Black Stone, it was brought to Middle-earth from Númenor by Isildur and set at the top of the Hill of Erech. It is described in The Lord of the Rings: "round as a great globe, the height of a man, though its half was buried in the ground. Unearthly it looked, as though it had fallen from the sky". Upon it the local tribes swore allegiance to Isildur, but proved treacherous and became the Dead Men of Dunharrow.[32] For over three thousand years these Dead Men haunted the White Mountains, only venturing out to tryst at the Stone of Erech.

In T.A. 3019 Aragorn, the heir of Isildur, summoned the Dead Men to the Stone of Erech. The meeting at the Stone took place on 9th 'March', and the Dead accepted Aragorn's offer to redeem themselves by fighting in the War of the Ring.

Two Lamps[edit]

Illuin ('sky-blue') and Ormal ('high-gold') were great lamps which stood respectively at the northern and southern ends of Arda during the Years of the Lamps. By extension, the names of the Lamps can also mean the vast pillars on which the Lamps were set.

After the Valar entered the world, there was a misty light veiling the barren ground. The Valar concentrated this light into two large lamps, Illuin and Ormal; meanwhile Aulë forged two great mountain[33]-pillars, one in the north of Middle-earth, the other in the south; these pillars were far taller than any natural mountains. Illuin was set upon the northern pillar and Ormal upon the southern one. In the centre of Middle-earth, where the light of the Lamps mingled, lay the Great Lake with the island Almaren, where the Valar dwelt at that time.

The lamps were destroyed in an assault by Melkor, and the Valar fled Middle-earth for Valinor. At the site where Illuin fell, the inland Sea of Helkar was formed, of which Cuiviénen was a bay. According to the earlier writings of Tolkien, there was also the Sea of Ringil to the south, associated with the roots of Ormal.[34] In later writings, Ringil was the name of the sword of Fingolfin.

See also[edit]

Musical instruments[edit]

, the universe of which Middle-earth is a small part, began as music: the Ainulindalë. The "voices of the Ainur, like unto harps and lutes, and pipes and trumpets, and viols and organs, and like unto countless choirs singing with words, began to fashion the theme of Ilúvatar...".

The musical instruments referred to in the Ainulindalë are similes, but actual instruments occur throughout Tolkien's fiction.


The opening chapter of The Hobbit describes the Dwarves of Thorin and Company setting up to perform an ensemble at the Unexpected Party: "Kili and Fili ... brought back little fiddles, Dori, Nori and Ori brought out flutes... Bombur produced a drum... Bifur and Bofur...came back with clarinets... Dwalin and Balin...came back with viols as big as themselves, and with Thorin's harp wrapped in a green cloth." Tolkien later noted that the instruments were a plot hole in The Hobbit: it was somewhat absurd for the Dwarves to carry large instruments on the beginning of a long and arduous quest, and the fate of the instruments themselves is unresolved.[35] Nevertheless the Dwarves' music awoke repressed desires in Bilbo Baggins, contributing to him joining the quest.

The first chapter of The Lord of the Rings describes another party: "Noises of trumpets and horns, pipes and flutes, and other musical instruments. ... Hundreds of musical crackers had been pulled... They contained instruments, small, but of perfect make and enchanting tone." These instruments had been made in Dale.

Following the downfall of the Dark Lord Sauron, the people of Minas Tirith celebrated with harps, viols, flutes and horns.

Wind instruments[edit]


Pipes, the simplest form of woodwind instrument, appear in idyllic or rustic scenes in Tolkien's fiction.

Elves are often accompanied by pipes when they dance and frolic in areas of natural vegetation. Most notably is when Beren first encounters Lúthien; it also features in 'The Sea-Bell'. In Tolkien's earliest stories there is a whole clan of Elves called the Shoreland Pipers; they are the precursor of the Teleri.

The pipes and other musical instruments played by Hobbits at the Farewell Party of Bilbo Baggins had enchanting tones; they had been imported from Dale.


Flute-playing is recorded among Dwarves (Dori, Nori and Ori at the Unexpected Party in The Hobbit); Elves ('The Last Ship' in The Adventures of Tom Bombadil); and Men (in Minas Tirith among the celebrations for the downfall of Sauron and the coronation of Elessar). The flutes played by Hobbits at the Farewell Party of Bilbo Baggins had enchanting tones; they had been imported from Dale.


True clarinets are a relatively modern woodwind instrument, so the "clarinets" played by the Dwarves Bifur and Bofur during the Unexpected Party in The Hobbit are possibly one of the handful of anachronisms that appear in Tolkien's fiction. Alternatively a pre-modern instrument is intended, such as the medieval double clarinet.


The hornpipe is a dance originally accompanied by the musical instrument of the same name. Tom Bombadil danced a hornpipe in the house of Farmer Maggot, a Hobbit of the Shire.[36]


Horns are found in virtually all cultures in the world of Middle-earth: Valar, Elves, Dwarves, Men, Hobbits and Orcs. These horns are the older (valveless) type of horn, generally fashioned from readily-available natural objects, mainly animal horns, but also conches in maritime areas. Some rare horns were made of silver, or covered in gold. Most of the horns of Middle-earth seem to be types of hunting-horns, of a size and weight convenient for riders and travellers to carry and use readily.

Despite their ubiquity, horns in the world of Middle-earth can have a mythic status, with an otherworldly capacity to move and even haunt or alarm the hearer. In his essay On Fairy-Stories Tolkien generalized these preternatural instruments as the "horns of Elfland".[37]

Actual Elvish horns in Tolkien's fiction include: the horns sounded by Fingolfin's people at the very first rising of the Sun, shortly after they had arrived in Middle-earth (they had carried these horns in their epic crossing of the Helcaraxë); the eerie horns of the huntsmen of Mirkwood; and the horn used by Aragorn to summon the Dead Men of Dunharrow. The Elves of Caras Galadhon, the capital of Lothlórien, blow small horns to signal the arrival of guests.

Other mythic horns in Tolkien's legendarium include the Ulumúri; the great horn of Helm's Deep; and the epic massed horns of the Rohirrim as they entered the Battle of the Pelennor Fields.

The Dwarves of Erebor had golden horns, which can be seen in Tolkien's painting of the hoard of Smaug the dragon. The Dwarves of the Grey Mountains made a famous silver horn; this horn was stolen by Scatha (another dragon), then recovered by the ancestors of the Rohirrim, and eventually gifted to Merry Brandybuck.

Horns were widely used by Men. The Rohirrim were Men who were renown for their horns. The Great Horn of Gondor, another realm of Men, was a well-known individual horn. Forces from the Gondorian provinces blew horns as they approached the capital, Minas Tirith; the people of Minas Tirith played "horns of silver" (and other instruments) in celebrations. Other notable hornists among Men include: the Númenóreans, mentioned as "blowing horns at strange hours"; Aragorn, who blew a silver horn to summon the Dead Men of Dunharrow; the Dead Men themselves; and the Ruffians (evil Men who invaded the Shire).

The Shire was a realm of Hobbits, another society which used horns. Some were played on festive occasions (such as the farewell party of Bilbo Baggins), while others were used to sound the alarm (such as the Horn-call of Buckland) or as a call to arms. Particularly talented hornists gave rise to the Hobbit occupational surname Hornblower.

Horns were also widespread among evil races in Middle-earth. The "mighty horns" of Barad-dûr were so powerful they could be heard some 130 miles away at the Black Gate. Possibly one of these horns was taken to the Black Gate to be blown prior to the Battle of the Morannon; its braying "shook the very stones and stunned men's ears." Orc-horns were notoriously cacophonous; they are heard from Moria to Cirith Ungol.


The great musical conches of Ulmo, the Vala of the ocean. They were made by Salmar, one of the Maiar.[38] The Ulumúri "are wrought of white shell; and to those whom that music comes hear it ever after in their hearts, and longing for the sea never leaves them again."[39] One character thus affected was the hero Tuor, a Man of Beleriand in the First Age; his story of his experience in turn inspired his son Eärendil with a love for the sea.

Tolkien himself was drawn to the music of Ulmo's horns. He wrote a whole poem on the subject, 'The Horns of Ylmir', which formed an early (1917) part of his legendarium. The poem describes the many, varied and wondrous sounds produced by the horns of Ylmir ('Ylmir' being an alternative for 'Ulmo'); the sounds are those of the sea.[40] These themes – a person enchanted by the sounds of the sea through the medium of a sea-shell – feature in another Tolkien poem, 'The Sea-Bell'.


The great horn of Oromë, the huntsman of the Valar. The sound of this horn is described as "like the upgoing of the Sun in scarlet, or the sheer lightning cleaving the clouds. Above all the horns of his host it was heard in the woods that Yavanna brought forth in Valinor".[39] Oromë took Valaróma on his expeditions to Middle-earth in the primeval First Age, and the servants of Melkor fled before its sound; even "Melkor himself would quail in Utumno".

The Kine of Araw were named after Oromë, and their horns were used to make high-quality instruments, such as the Horn of Gondor.

Silver horns[edit]

Some rare horns in Middle-earth were made of silver. These included the Horn of Eorl, and the horns played by the Men of Minas Tirith in special public celebrations.

Another silver horn was blown by Aragorn to summon the Dead Men of Dunharrow to Erech. This scene had featured in the prophecy of Malbeth the Seer: "they shall ... hear there a horn in the hills ringing. Whose shall the horn be?" The horn had been presented to Aragorn by Elrohir, a son of Elrond Half-elven of Rivendell.

Horn of Eorl[edit]

For centuries this horn was an heirloom of the house of Eorl, the royal family of Rohan. It is described as "small but cunningly wrought all of fair silver". By the time of the War of the Ring it was well over a thousand years old, and had been engraved with "swift horsemen riding in a line that wound about it from the tip to the mouth; and there were set runes of great virtue." Bearers of the horn wore it on a green baldric.

The horn had originally been made by the Dwarves of the Grey Mountains. Eventually however it, along with other treasure, was plundered by Scatha the Worm. Scatha kept it in his hoard for many unknown years, until, in about T.A. 2000, he was slain by Fram, lord of the Éothéod (the ancestors of the Rohirrim). The silver horn became the property of Fram and his heirs.

The lordship of the Éothéod and the silver horn were eventually inherited by Eorl the Young. In T.A. 2510 he led his cavalry into the Battle of the Field of Celebrant. As they charged, Eorl blew a horn; this epic scene was later depicted on a tapestry that hung proudly in Edoras. This tapestry depicts a "great" horn; however it is not clear whether this is artistic licence, or whether the horn used by Eorl in the battle was not in fact his "small" silver heirloom. In any case Eorl was victorious in the battle, and as a consequence Eorl and his people founded Rohan. Eorl became the first king of Rohan, where the silver horn passed to his successors.

Eorl's descendant Éomer became the eighteenth king of Rohan during the War of the Ring. Following the war, on 14th 'August' T.A. 3019, he and his sister Éowyn presented the silver horn as a gift to Merry Brandybuck. Merry subsequently returned home to the Shire, and on 2nd 'November' 3019 he blew the horn to raise the people of the Shire against the invading Ruffians. Merry eventually became the hereditary Master of Buckland, and the horn was inherited by his successors. The Horn of the Mark was sounded at sunset every 2nd 'November', the "[a]nniversary of its first blowing in the Shire".[41]

Horn of Gondor[edit]
Boromir (Sean Bean) using the horn in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (top), and Denethor (John Noble) holding the broken horn in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (bottom).

An heirloom of the Stewards of Gondor, also called the Great Horn.

The horn was made by Vorondil the Hunter (Steward to King Eärnil II of Gondor, T.A. 1998–2029). Vorondil hunted oxen all the way to the Sea of Rhûn and fashioned the horn out of one of the oxen's horns. (Tolkien calls the beast one of the "Kine of Araw".) It was passed down through the line of the Stewards of Gondor as an heirloom for its eldest sons.

Boromir inherited the Horn of Gondor in T.A. 2984 as the heir of his father Denethor. In T.A. 3018 he bore the Horn to Rivendell and on his subsequent journey with the Fellowship of the Ring. Boromir claimed that if the horn was heard anywhere within its borders, Gondor would come to the owner's aid.

The horn was cut in two by orcs when Boromir was ambushed at the end of The Fellowship of the Ring. Denethor learned of Boromir's death when Boromir's brother Faramir discovered the pieces washed up on the banks of the Anduin.

Horns of the Rohirrim[edit]

The Rohirrim (and their ancestors the Éothéod) were famous for their horns. They were a people of Men, famous also for their horses and horsemanship. They celebrated horns in their legends and songs; the 'Lament of the Rohirrim' asks, "Where is the horn that was blowing?"

The horns of the Rohirrim were sounded as a call to arms and to welcome home their kings in victory. Their cavalries blew horns at sunrise to prepare for the day's ride, and most famously when they rode into battle. Notable occasions include: the Battle of the Field of Celebrant; the charge led by Éomer against the Uruk-hai near Fangorn forest; the Battle of Helm's Deep; and the Battle of the Pelennor Fields.

As the Rohirrim rode into the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, king Théoden "seized a great horn from Guthláf his banner-bearer, and he blew such a blast on it that it burst asunder. And straightway all the horns in the host were lifted up in music, and the blowing of the horns of Rohan in that hour was like a storm upon the plain and a thunder in the mountains." The people in the besieged city of Minas Tirith heard the horns, to their immense relief: "Horns, horns, horns. In dark Mindolluin's sides they dimly echoed. Great horns of the North wildly blowing. Rohan had come at last." Pippin Took was one of the people in the city, and was greatly moved: "he stood listening to the horns, and it seemed to him that they would break his heart with joy. And never in after years could he hear a horn blown in the distance without tears starting in his eyes." The Rohirrim song commemorating the battle begins, "We heard of the horns in the hills ringing".[42]

Helm Hammerhand, the ninth king of Rohan, had a great horn which became the horn of Helm's Deep. The kings of Rohan had a small silver horn as an heirloom, but this horn had been made by Dwarves and not by the Rohirrim.

Erkenbrand, the lord of Rohan's Westfold, had a "great black horn" which he blew as he rode into the Battle of Helm's Deep.

Helm's horn[edit]

A great horn which originally belonged to Helm Hammerhand, the ninth king of Rohan. In the Long Winter of T.A. 2758–59 he often sounded this horn in the defence of Aglarond (consequently called Helm's Deep), where the sounds of the horn were greatly magnified by the ravine. Afterwards the horn was kept in the castle of Helm's Deep, and was notably sounded again in the Battle of Helm's Deep, as told in The Lord of the Rings.


Trumpets in the world of Middle-earth were made by the more advanced cultures: those able to make brass. They tended to be used in fanfare on official or ceremonial occasions, rather than for musical entertainment.

Thus trumpets were positioned on the main gates or other prominent positions in cities and fortresses, including Ilmarin (the palace of Manwë), Tirion, Gondolin, Khazad-dûm and the Morannon. In Minas Tirith, trumpets were sounded to mark the sunrise, to welcome allied forces, to signal the release (or retreat) of the city's forces, and at the coronation of Elessar.

Lake-town had warning-trumpets, which were used at the approach of Smaug, a dragon. Edoras, the capital of Rohan, had trumpets which sounded when the king rode forth, such as when Théoden and his cavalry set out for the Battle of Helm's Deep. Trumpets also rang in Dunharrow to welcome Théoden back from the battle; possibly they had been brought from Edoras.

Trumpets were also often used to lead significant armed forces on the move. In the First Age, Fingolfin's forces carried silver trumpets in their epic crossing of the Helcaraxë; they sounded these trumpets at the first rising of the Moon, coinciding with their arrival in Middle-earth, and sounded them again when they marched against Angband at the first rising of the Sun. Instances in later Ages include: Ar-Pharazôn's armada as it set sail to invade the Undying Lands; the armies of the Elves of Mirkwood and the Men of Lake-town when they advanced on the Lonely Mountain, prior to the Battle of Five Armies; Saruman's army when it set forth from Isengard and when it arrived at the Battle of Helm's Deep; and Aragorn's Army of the West when it proceeded to the Battle of the Morannon.

String instruments[edit]


The most legendary stringed instrument in Tolkien's fiction is the harp.

Harps are favoured by Elves. The most famous was Finrod Felagund, whose heraldic symbol was the harp, and who employed his harp to found a perpetual alliance with the people of Bëor, the first Men that High Elves ever encountered. Other notable Elvish harpists include Finrod's cousin Fingon (who used his harp to rescue Maedhros), and their relations Galadriel and Elrond. The House of the Harp was one of the 12 subdivisions of the people of Gondolin. In The Fall of Gil-galad, the "harpers sadly sing" of the heroic death of the Elven-king in the Siege of Barad-dûr.

Dwarves are typically a gruff race, but their harpistry shows a softer side. The Dwarves of Erebor, the Lonely Mountain, made "many golden harps strung with silver" and which had "magical" qualities. These harps and those of Khazad-dûm, the greatest of all Dwarf cities, were revered in Dwarvish songs and legends. Thorin Oakenshield had a beautiful golden harp and was a skilled harpist: "when Thorin struck it the music began all at once, so sudden and sweet that Bilbo forgot everything else, and was swept away into dark lands under strange moons".

Harp-players are also found among Men, including those of Lake-town; a song of their distant relations, the 'Lament of the Rohirrim' asks, "Where is the hand on the harp-string ...?" The people of Dol Amroth were renown harpists. The hero Tuor, a Man of the First Age, is mentioned as playing a harp.[43]


The Dwarves Kili and Fili play "little fiddles" during the Unexpected Party at the beginning of The Hobbit. Later in the story, fiddles are played by the Men of Lake-town.

Fiddles are familiar to the folk of the Shire and Bree. This is shown in The Lord of the Rings when Frodo Baggins (a hobbit of the Shire) is in Bree and sings a song featuring fiddles, prompting the Bree-folk to think about using their own fiddles. The song which Frodo sings is 'The Man in the Moon Stayed Up Too Late', Tolkien's take on 'The Cat and the Fiddle'.

Tom Bombadil is said to have "lilted to the fiddle".


In the Unexpected Party at the beginning of The Hobbit, the Dwarves Dwalin and Balin play "viols as big as themselves". The Men of Minas Tirith play viols among the celebrations for the downfall of Sauron and those for the coronation of Aragorn, as mentioned in The Lord of the Rings.

Percussion instruments[edit]


The bells which rang in Middle-earth had various functions and musical quality, and featured in a variety of cultures, including Elves, Men, Hobbits and Orcs.

The most famous bells in Middle-earth were those of Dale, a town of Men. In its glory-days, Dale was "filled with golden bells", and it had people skilled in the making and ringing of bells. The musicality of Dale's bells was praised by visitors from afar, such as Elrond. The bells of Dale were also used to signal alarms.

The versatility and durability of bells suggest that most large settlements in Middle-earth had them. In some cases they were specifically installed in bell-towers, but bell-gables are possible in other instances.

A number of settlements in Gondor, a realm of Men, are recorded as having bells. Minas Tirith, the capital city, had several bell-towers. The chief of these was in the Citadel, the highest part of the city; it rang the hour with "clear sweet" notes. The city's other bell-towers chimed in, especially at sunset. The city's bells were also used to sound the alarm. Dol Amroth had at least one bell, located in its Seaward Tower. This bell tolled at night, either to announce the arrival of boats, or to mark the hour. Gondor's remoter settlements also had bells, such as those which rang in alarm in the Morthond Vale.

Eldamar, the homeland of Elves in the Undying Lands, had a bell which summoned Elves across the Sea from Middle-earth. It was installed in a high tower in Avallónë. The Elvish settlement of Rivendell had many bells, used on festive occasions. A special bell was rung to signal noon, and to summon participants to important meetings, such as the Council of Elrond.

Evil strongholds also had bells, such as the Tower of Cirith Ungol, and the dwellings of the Mewlips.

Smaller bells can also be found in Middle-earth. They adorned Elvish horses, such as Asfaloth, and featured in Hobbit dances, such as the Springle-ring. The door-bell at the entrance of Bag End was sometimes rung by mischievous Hobbit-children, but when it rang one spring afternoon in T.A. 2941 the results were much more momentous, leading Bilbo Baggins on the perilous quest of Erebor, as told in The Hobbit.

Tolkien's poem The Sea-Bell features a sea-shell in which the echoes of a 'sea-bell' can be heard. This sea-bell is a type of seamark buoy which features a bell.


In Tolkien's fiction, drums appear mainly as signalling devices, often ominous. However, in the Unexpected Party, the opening chapter of The Hobbit, Bombur the Dwarf provides an example of a drum played in a musical ensemble.

The Drúedain (Woses) were masters of drums. They were a hunter-gatherer people who lived in scattered groups in forests; these groups communicated with drums. In The Lord of the Rings, the Rohirrim and Merry Brandybuck heard the drums of the Woses before the Woses eventually emerged and offered them assistance.

Evil leaders in Middle-earth deployed drums to drive their minions and to intimidate their enemies. Sauron's vast advancing armies were led by drums, such as when one of his armies attacked Minas Tirith (leading to the Battle of the Pelennor Fields), and when his forces advanced on Aragorn's Army of the West in the Battle of the Morannon.

Evil forces possessed the largest drums in Middle-earth. It is probable that these huge drums were played by Trolls, a race of huge evil beings. The mighty drums which Sauron installed in Barad-dûr, his great stronghold in Mordor, were so powerful they could be heard at the Black Gate of his realm, some 130 miles away.

There were also large drums in Moria: the "drums in the deep". The evil forces in Moria played these drums in long sessions when they anticipated imminent victory over their enemies, notably Balin's colony and the Fellowship of the Ring.


Gongs can be found in some of the great halls in Tolkien's legendarium. The throne-room of the Kings of Gondor in Minas Tirith had a "small silver gong", used to summon servants. The Orcs of Cirith Ungol rang gongs when they triumphantly brought captives into their large fortress. The Orcs of Goblin-town sang of gongs in similar situations.


Tolkien had originally planned to essentially commence his whole legendarium with the ringing of a great gong named Tombo. This gong, which had a loud but "sweet" sound, was a feature in the Cottage of Lost Play. It was used to invite the household and guests to meals and story-telling in the Cottage's great hall. Tombo was the responsibility of Ilverin Littleheart, an Elf. Ilverin and his gong also featured in early versions of the voyage of Eärendil.

Ships and boats[edit]

The ships in Tolkien's fiction are sailing ships; some of them are also galleys. All non-supernatural ships and boats in Tolkien's writings are built of wood.

The best mariners among Elves were the Teleri; their ships were typically made to resemble large swans. The Falathrim, a clan of Teleri who settled the coastal Falas region of Beleriand in the First Age, were "the first mariners in Middle-earth and the first makers of ships".[44] Their lord was Cirdan, a renown Elvish shipwright; in the early Second Age he re-settled in the Grey Havens.

Among Men, famous mariners included: Tuor and his son Eärendil in the First Age; the Númenóreans in the Second Age (notably Aldarion, who became the sixth king, and was a descendant of Eärendil); and the Ship-kings of Gondor in the Third Age.

Tolkien and his characters followed the tradition of using feminine pronouns for ships and boats, particularly when characters are actively using a vessel.[45][46]

Cosmological vessels[edit]

In the myths of Middle-earth, the Moon, the Sun and Venus travelled through the heavens on ships or boats. The vessels of the Moon and Sun were purpose-built by the Valar, whilst the vessel carrying Venus was originally a normal ship, Vingilótë. The steersman of the Moon was Tilion, the Sun's vessel was piloted by Arien, and Vingilótë was commanded by Eärendil.

Early names for the vessel of the Sun included Glorvent ('golden boat') and Kalaventë ('shining boat').[47]

In Tolkien's mythology, the Earth itself was originally 'flat' rather than spherical. In early versions, this flat Earth was viewed as a vessel floating in space: I Vene Kemen, or the World-Ship. Tolkien's sketch of this conception, showing a single-masted vessel, was published in The Book of Lost Tales.[48]

Floating islands[edit]

A floating island was used to convey the three clans of the High Elves from Middle-earth across the ocean to the Undying Lands in the Years of the Trees. The floating island, which was manoeuvred by Ulmo and Ossë, was originally part of a normal island, the Isle of Balar; when the transportation was complete it was anchored in the Bay of Eldamar, and became known as Tol Eressëa.

Fastitocalon was mistakenly viewed by some mariners as an island. But while it could indeed float, it was in fact an enormous sea-turtle.


Original swan-ships[edit]

The clan of Elves most associated with ships were the Teleri. Their most famous ships were made to resemble large white swans, with "beaks of gold and eyes of gold and jet." These ships were light and fast, and were powered by oars as well as sails. They are described as "the fairest vessels that ever sailed the sea".

The Teleri built their first swan-ships in Tol Eressëa during the Years of the Trees, under the instruction of Ossë. Many Teleri then migrated to the mainland of Aman, where they established the harbour-city of Alqualondë, the Haven of the Swans. The Teleri loved to sail their ships around the Bay of Eldamar;[49] Tolkien included this activity in his painting of Taniquetil, which appears on the cover of J. R. R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator.

After Morgoth stole the Silmarils from the Noldor in Aman, he escaped to Middle-earth; many of the Noldor vowed to pursue him. A faction of the Noldor led by Fëanor forcibly seized the swan-ships of Alqualondë, resulting in a fierce battle with the Teleri: the first Kinslaying. Some Noldor were killed, but most of the Teleri mariners were slain. Fëanor and his followers subsequently sailed away, taking all the ships, and leaving the other Noldor factions behind. When Fëanor landed in Middle-earth, at Losgar, he infamously commanded the ships to be burned so they could not be used to transport the other factions. Thus all the original swan-ships were destroyed.

Later swan-ships and boats[edit]

Galadriel, whose mother Eärwen was a princess of Alqualondë, had a boat resembling a white swan, which she used to travel on the Silverlode river in Lothlórien, especially on ceremonial occasions.

The more ornate boats of Lake-town had swan-headed prows.

The emblem of Dol Amroth was a white swan-ship on a blue field.


Eärrámë, also called by the translated name Sea-Wing, was the ship of Tuor in the First Age. He built her in the Havens of Sirion in Beleriand, having already had a life of heroism and adventure, and took to the sea as often as he could. When he started to feel old, he set sail in Eärrámë with his wife Idril, an Elvish princess, and set course for the Undying Lands on the far west side of the ocean. The fate of the ship and those aboard is uncertain.[50]


The ship in which Eärendil and Elwing, in one of the great feats of the First Age, sailed to Aman to seek pardon and assistance from the Valar. Its name is Quenya for "the Foam-flower", and also spelled Vingilot.

Guided by the light of a Silmaril, Eärendil navigated Vingilótë through the Shadowy Seas to the Blessed Realm of Aman, the first Mortal to do so. He was not allowed to return to Middle-earth, except to join the host of the Valar in the War of Wrath against Morgoth.

After the War of Wrath, Eärendil, with the Silmaril upon his brow, sailed Vingilótë into the sky where the jewel shines forever as the morning or evening 'star' (the equivalent to Venus).

Númenórean ships[edit]

The Men of Númenor were the dominant ship-builders and sea-farers of the Second Age. In S.A. 600 their first ship reached Middle-earth, and there the Númenóreans became known as the Sea-kings, and their ships as the Great Ships. Númenórean ships even reached the Eastern Sea on the far side of Middle-earth. In the west of Middle-earth, Númenórean settlements developed into a coastal empire.

Númenor's maritime affairs were initially headed by the Captain of the Ships. These affairs were elevated in power and prestige when, in S.A. 800, Aldarion was appointed Lord of the Ships and Havens. He had already established the Uinendili, a guild of elite mariners.

It was a Númenórean custom to set a branch of oiolairë on the prows of ships setting sail from Númenor.

Númenor's largest port and shipyards were in Rómenna, on the island's east coast.


The mighty flagship of Ar-Pharazôn, the last king of Númenor. The ship is also called Castle of the Sea. "Many-oared it was and many-masted, golden and sable; and upon it the throne of Ar-Pharazôn was set." In S.A. 3319 Ar-Pharazôn sailed her with his great armada in an attempt to invade the Undying Lands; the ship along with the rest of the armada was destroyed in the cataclysmic consequences.[51]


This ship was built by Aldarion, and was his favourite residence when he was home in Númenor from oceanic voyages; her name means 'sea-home'. Aldarion, initially the heir of the Númenórean monarchy and later its sixth king, established the guildhouse of the Uinendili aboard her in S.A. 750. Eambar was usually anchored by Tol Uinen, a small island near the great harbour-city of Rómenna on Númenor's eastern coast. She sometimes sailed to other harbours around Númenor.


In the spring of S.A. 600 the first ship from Númenor reached Middle-earth. This ship was Entulessë (Return), and she was commanded by Vëantur, the Captain of the King's Ships under Tar-Elendil, the fourth king of Númenor. In Middle-earth Entulessë landed in the Grey Havens,[52] where Vëantur initiated Númenor's friendship with Gil-galad, the King of the High Elves. Vëantur subsequently made further expeditions to Middle-earth, eventually using the ship Númerráma.


Hirilondë (Haven-finder) was the largest ocean-going ship built by Aldarion. The vessel was constructed in the shipyards of Rómenna, the great harbour-city on the east coast of Númenor. Hirilondë was so large that she earned the nickname Turuphanto (Wooden Whale) during her construction. Aldarion commenced building Hirilondë early in his marriage to Erendis; he took the ship on her maiden voyage to Middle-earth in the spring of S.A. 877. He paid more and more attention to the ship and his voyaging, causing the marriage to irretrievably break down by S.A. 882, when he returned to Númenor aboard Hirilondë. On that occasion Hirilondë carried an important diplomatic communication from Gil-galad; Aldarion delivered the sealed letter to his father, Tar-Meneldur. The following year, after considering the letter, Tar-Meneldur abdicated, and Aldarion became the sixth King of Númenor.

Nine Ships[edit]

The Nine Ships were the vessels in which Elendil and a remnant of the Númenóreans, namely the Faithful, escaped the cataclysmic Downfall of Númenor (S.A. 3319) and found their way to Middle-earth, where they founded the kingdoms of Arnor and Gondor.

Elendil commanded four of the ships; his sons Isildur and Anárion commanded three and two ships respectively.[53] Those aboard included women and children; among them were Isildur's wife and their eldest son, Elendur (their other sons were born later, in Middle-earth), and Anárion's son Meneldil. Meneldil was a baby at the time, aged one year or so, the "last man to be born on Númenor";[54] he later became a king of Gondor.

The Nine Ships also carried valuable cargo, including the seven Palantíri. With Elendil was a number of famous heirlooms: the sword Narsil (later the Sword that was Broken), the sceptre of the Lords of Andúnië (later Arnor's Sceptre of Annúminas), and the Ring of Barahir. Aboard Isildur's ship was a large black stone sphere (later known as the Stone of Erech) and a scion of Nimloth, the ancestor of the White Trees of Gondor.[55]

In the great storm that accompanied the Downfall of Númenor, the Nine Ships became separated. Elendil's ships landed in the Grey Havens in the north of Middle-earth, whence the crew and passengers proceeded inland to establish Arnor in Eriador. Isildur and Anárion's ships landed further south, near the Mouths of Anduin, where they proceeded to establish Gondor.


Númerráma ('west-wings') was originally the ship of Vëantur, the Captain of the King's Ships under Tar-Elendil, the fourth king of Númenor. Vëantur carried out voyages to Middle-earth, where he developed good relations with Gil-galad, the King of the High Elves, whose main harbour was the Grey Havens. In his early voyages Vëantur had used Entulessë, but he later used Númerráma.

In S.A. 725 Vëantur set sail on Númerráma on his last voyage to Middle-earth. He took Aldarion, his grandson, on Aldarion's first overseas adventure. Shortly after their return to Númenor in S.A. 727, Vëantur gave Númerráma to Aldarion. This was the first ship Aldarion commanded; he subsequently built several more ships for himself, each more ambitious than the last.


Palarran (' Far-wanderer ') was the first ocean-going ship built by Aldarion; he wanted a bigger and better ship than Númerráma, which he had received as a gift. He took Palarran on her maiden voyage to Middle-earth from S.A. 816 to 820. The ship's maiden voyage saw an improvement in the erratic courtship between Aldarion and Erendis: when the ship set out, Erendis set the customary bough of oiolairë on the ship's prow, and when Aldarion returned he brought a diamond as a gift for Erendis. Aldarion later built an even greater ship for his Middle-earth expeditions: Hirilondë.

Third Age ships and boats[edit]

Queen Berúthiel's ship[edit]

King Tarannon Falastur was the first of the Ship-kings of Gondor, reigning from T.A. 830 to 913. But despite his passion for ships, he sacrificed one of them to exile his wife, the queen-consort Berúthiel. The marriage had become estranged, and Berúthiel and her trained cats were suspected of espionage. The ship sailed southwards, and "was last seen flying past Umbar under a sickle moon, with a cat at the masthead another as a figure-head on the prow."[56]

Black Fleet[edit]

The Black Ships, named for their black sails, were also known as the black fleet; they featured in the War of the Ring. Originally they were the navy sent by Sauron to attack Gondor. However Aragorn captured the fleet, and used its ships to bring forces to the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, with decisive results.

The armada, launched by the Corsairs of Umbar and described as their "main fleet", consisted of "fifty great ships and smaller vessels beyond count". The main ships are described as "dromunds, and ships of great draught with many oars, and with black sails bellying in the breeze". The oarsmen used by the Corsairs were slaves.

Frodo Baggins saw a premonition of the Black Ships in his visions in the Mirror of Galadriel on 14th 'February' T.A. 3019. On 26th 'February' he was using another magical device, the Seat of Seeing, and saw the ships setting sail from Umbar, among many other sights.

Aragorn first learned of the ships on 6th 'March' via a palantír (a third magical artefact), and urgently changed his plans in the hope of intercepting the ships, which he realized were an imminent threat to Gondor. Accordingly Aragorn, who was accompanied by Legolas, Gimli and the Grey Company, proceeded immediately to the Paths of the Dead. This was not only a 'short-cut' to the coasts of Gondor, but also enabled Aragorn to obtain additional forces: the Dead Men of Dunharrow.

In the meantime, Gondor's coastal people saw the black fleet approaching, dramatically reducing the reinforcements they could send inland to the defence of the capital, Minas Tirith. Tidings of the Black Ships reached Minas Tirith on the evening of 7th 'March'; this appears to have prompted the lighting of the warning beacons of Gondor.[57]

On 11th 'March' Aragorn and his forces reached Linhir, a small town near Gondor's coast. There they defeated a small contingent of the Black Ships, which had come up the Gilrain river. Two days later Aragorn and his forces arrived in Pelargir, Gondor's harbour-city near the Mouths of Anduin. They engaged with the forces of the main contingent of the Black Ships, which had established a beachhead in Pelargir, and a fierce day-long battle ensued. By the end of the battle the forces of the Black Ships were defeated; many of the smaller ships were ablaze, and Aragorn captured the rest of the fleet with the invaluable assistance of the ghostly Dead Men of Dunharrow, who were able to pass over the water.

The next morning Aragorn set sail with the black fleet up the great river Anduin towards Minas Tirith; he led the fleet aboard its largest ship. He no longer had the Dead Men, but he now had large additional forces from the coasts of Gondor. They were also joined by many of the slave oarsmen, whom Aragorn had set free.

The Black Ships reached Minas Tirith on the morning of the following day, 15th 'March', aided by a fortuitous wind-change. There the Battle of the Pelennor Fields was already raging outside the city walls. Denethor, the Ruling Steward of the city, mistakenly assumed the Black Ships were still commanded by the enemy, and, with his city beleaguered and ablaze, committed suicide. Many other citizens were also alarmed by the approach of the Black Ships, but just before the ships docked Aragorn unfurled the standard of the ancient Kings of Gondor. Alarm then switched to Sauron's army, who then had to face the fresh forces which the Black Ships brought to the battle. This was the final change in the fortunes of the Battle of the Pelennor, and by the end of the day resulted in the comprehensive defeat of the huge army that Sauron had deployed to the battle.

Bombadil's boat[edit]

Late in the Third Age, Tom Bombadil had a small boat, which he used on at least one occasion to row down the Withywindle river to visit Farmer Maggot. The boat features in 'Bombadil Goes Boating', the second poem in The Adventures of Tom Bombadil.

Bucklebury Ferry[edit]

The Bucklebury Ferry was a flat boat reserved for crossing the Brandywine river in the Shire. It was not permanently manned, but users had to operate the ferry themselves, using long poles. At least four Hobbits and a pony could easily fit on the ferry. The ferry was a 'one-way' service: it could only be used from the side of the river where it happened to be moored. Frodo Baggins and his companions used the ferry on 25th 'September' T.A. 3018.


The Elves of Lothlórien made boats out of lightweight timber for river-travel. This timber was grey in colour, suggesting it came from the wondrous mallorn trees, which were in plentiful supply in Lothlórien. The boats certainly seemed to have magical qualities of camouflage and durability. They were essentially canoes: manœuvred with paddles.

Celeborn, the Lord of Lothlórien, gave three of these boats to the Fellowship of the Ring on 16th 'February' T.A. 3019, and they then journeyed in them for nine days down the Great River Anduin. They left two of the boats at Nen Hithoel. The third was used as a funeral-boat for Boromir; it miraculously bore his body over the great waterfall of Rauros, down the rest of Anduin and out to Sea.

Galadriel, the Lady of Lothlórien, had a special boat which resembled a large white swan.

Lake-town boats[edit]

Lake-town was a settlement of Men where the chief mode of transport was boats. Their many boats were propelled with oars around the Long Lake, and into the town itself, which was built on stilts in the lake. Sometimes their boats fared further afield to trade on the river Celduin, which flowed into the north of the lake and out of its southern end. The Master of Lake-town had a "great gilded boat".

The boats of Lake-town feature in The Hobbit. In 'October' T.A. 2941 the people of Lake-town used three large boats to carry Thorin and Company, including Bilbo Baggins, up the lake towards the Lonely Mountain, the goal of the Dwarves' quest. The boat-journey took two days. When Thorin and Company subsequently reached the Mountain, they disturbed the dragon Smaug, who flew to Lake-town and set about destroying it. However, the majority of the population escaped, using their boats.

Tolkien's ink-drawing 'Lake Town' [sic] shows two of the town's boats. These have swan-shaped prows, in Elvish fashion. Each has four rearward-facing rowers with two oars each, and in the stern there is a forward-facing coxswain, who controls direction with a steering oar.

Ringbearers' ship[edit]

This ship carried the Three Rings, their bearers (Galadriel, Elrond and Gandalf), and two former bearers of the One Ring (Bilbo and Frodo Baggins) out of Middle-earth, along the Straight Road and over the Great Sea to the Undying Lands. They were accompanied by "Gildor and many fair Elven folk", and Shadowfax. The ship had been built and prepared by Círdan in the Grey Havens.

The ship set sail from the Havens on an autumn evening, 29th 'September' T.A. 3021, marking the 'true' end of the Third Age of Middle-earth (although Gondor had officially commenced its Fourth Age calendar six months previously).

In addition to its main narrative appearance, at the end of The Lord of the Rings, aspects of the ship's voyage are also described in Frodo's second dream in the house of Tom Bombadil (which occurred three years before the voyage) and in 'Bilbo's Last Song'.

Aboard the ship and leaving Middle-earth for ever were some notable artefacts: the Three Rings as mentioned, Glamdring (Gandalf's sword, made in Gondolin), the Seeing-stone of Elostirion[58] (one of the seven palantíri), and the Phial of Galadriel and Arwen's Evenstar (both borne by Frodo). Arwen herself had given her place on the ship for Frodo.

Círdan did not join this ship, but remained in the Grey Havens to prepare the Last Ship.

Fourth Age ships[edit]

Legolas's ship[edit]

Following the death of King Elessar in F.A. 120, Legolas "built a grey ship in Ithilien, and sailed down Anduin and so over Sea; and with him, it is said, went Gimli the Dwarf."[59]

Last Ship[edit]

This is the ship that took the last High Elves from Middle-earth (in the mortal world) to the Undying Lands. Círdan prepared this ship in the Grey Havens, and set sail in it himself.[60]

At the beginning of the Fourth Age, there was only a small number of potential passengers. These included Celeborn, Círdan himself, and Elrond's children.

In F.A. 120 Arwen, the daughter of Elrond, farewelled her dying husband, King Elessar. On this occasion she stated, "There is now no ship that would now bear me hence...". Hammond and Scull note this statement is ambiguous: Arwen possibly meant that she was ineligible to sail to the Undying Lands; alternatively she meant there were no suitable ships at all.[61] If the latter is the case, then the Last Ship had already sailed by this time. This could point to the ship which Sam Gamgee is said to have boarded in F.A. 61.

"The Last Ship" is also the name of a poem by Tolkien about an idealized last Elvish ship; within his fiction the poem is by Hobbits based on Gondorian sources. It is published in The Adventures of Tom Bombadil.

Substances and materials[edit]

J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium of Middle-earth – or rather, Arda – was replete with substances and materials with mythical resonances. Some of these are real: iron, silver and gold; crystal and gems; wood and stone. Manufactured materials included: bricks and glass; bronze, brass and steel; leather, cloth, scarlet and silk; dyes and paint; ointment and soap.

Yet Arda also contained mystical substances and materials unique to the fiction, and these are presented in the following list. Some of these occurred 'naturally', whilst others were invented by the denizens of Arda.


A jet black metal (probably an alloy) devised by the Dark Elf Eöl after he became greatly skilled in metalwork after learning the craft from the Dwarves of Nogrod and Belegost. The unique metal was as strong as the steel of the Dwarves, extremely malleable, and resistant to injury by metal weapons. Its only known use is in Eöl's armour, which he wore whenever he left his forest residence.

Eöl taught all his secrets to his son Maeglin, who later fled to Gondolin. So it is possible that the Elf-smiths of Gondolin also learned how to make galvorn armour. In the story 'Of Tuor and his coming to Gondolin' in Unfinished Tales Tuor sees the Guards of the City wearing armour of a strange black metal. This may be galvorn.


Hithlain was the material used by the Elves of Lothlórien to make their marvellous rope, which was very strong but was light and soft. This rope also gleamed faintly in the dark, and appeared to respond to its owner's call.

Some of the qualities of hithlain suggest it was a product of mallorn-bark, which was uniquely available in Lothlórien, and that this material was also used to make elven-cloaks.[62]


A substance devised by the Noldor Elves for special outdoor inscriptions. It was derived from the rare metal mithril. Ithildin means moon-star, for it gleamed in response to starlight and moonlight, but only when touched by those speaking the right incantation.

The inscriptions on the Doors of Durin were wrought of ithildin.


A silvery metal, stronger than steel but much lighter in weight. Tolkien first wrote of it in The Lord of the Rings, and it was retrospectively mentioned[63] in the second, revised edition of The Hobbit in 1966. In the first edition (1937), the mail shirt given to Bilbo was described as being made of "silvered steel".[63] In The Lord of the Rings this mail-shirt is worn by Frodo Baggins and saves his life.

In The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien writes that mithril was found only in Khazad-dûm (Moria) in Middle-earth, where it was mined by the Dwarves. There are indications that it was also found in Númenor[64] and in Aman.[65]

The name mithril comes from two words in Sindarinmith, meaning "grey", and ril meaning "glitter". The metal's Quenya name is mistarille. Mithril was also called "true-silver" or "Moria-silver"; the Dwarves had their own secret name for it.


See: Silmarils


See: Angainor

Miscellaneous objects[edit]


Angainor was the titanic chain made by the Vala Aulë in a primeval epoch. It was used to contain the Dark Lord Melkor on two occasions in the First Age; both occasions followed Melkor's defeat in epic battles with the Valar.

The first occasion was in the War of the Powers; upon Melkor's capture in his power-base of Utumno, the Valar bound him in Angainor and took him to the Halls of Mandos. There he remained confined for three ages during the Years of the Trees before being released; this period was known as the Chaining of Melkor.

Centuries later, Melkor (now usually known as Morgoth) was again cornered by the Valar at the conclusion of the War of Wrath (which ended the First Age). Morgoth was once again bound with Angainor, his iron crown made into a collar, and bundled through the Doors of Night into the Void. There Angainor remains with Morgoth in exile – until the Last Battle at the end of the First Age.

Little else is said of the chain in The Silmarillion. Tolkien describes it more fully in its first appearance in The Book of Lost Tales (which may or may not be applicable to later conceptions). Here its name is Angaino:

"Behold, Aulë now gathered six metals, copper, silver, tin, lead, iron and gold, and taking a portion of each made with his magic a seventh which he named therefore tilkal, and this had all the properties of the six and many of its own. Its colour was bright green or red in varying lights and it could not be broken, and Aulë alone could forge it. Thereafter he forged a mighty chain, making it of all seven metals welded with spells to a substance of uttermost hardness and brightness and smoothness..."[66]

In a footnote, Tolkien says that the name "tilkal" is an acronym of the Elvish names of its six component metals. Christopher Tolkien notes that this derivation is quite uncharacteristic of Tolkien's usual nomenclature.

It is also said later in the same book that after Tulkas and Aulë had grappled with Melko (as Melkor was then spelt), "straight was he wrapped thirty times in the fathoms of Angaino".


Cloaks made by the Elves of Lothlórien, in particular those given to the Fellowship of the Ring by Galadriel and Celeborn. They appeared to be grey or green, changing with the light. They served to camouflage their wearers, at times functioning like a cloak of invisibility. Tolkien stated the craft of weaving such cloaks had originated in Beleriand, where they were made by the Elves of Mithrim.[67]

It has been suggested that the Elven-cloaks were made of hithlain, a product of mallorn trees also used to make elven-rope.[62]

Fëanorian lamps[edit]

Magical lamps that gave blue radiance from a flame trapped within a white crystal. Their light could not be quenched by wind or water.

These lamps were made in Valinor and used by Noldor, named after their inventor Fëanor. Even though Noldor in Middle-earth were famous for these lamps, their secret was later lost to them. Gelmir of Finarfin's people had one of these lamps in his possession when he met Tuor.[68] A similar appearance of these lamps can be found in the same story[69] when Tuor and Voronwë encounter Elemmakil and his guards at Gondolin.

Another instance when this lamp makes an appearance is in Tolkien's earlier writings, in the story of Narn i Chîn Húrin where Gwindor of Nargothrond, an elf who escaped Angband, had possession of one such lamp. This lamp helped Beleg to identify Gwindor in the forest of Taur-nu-Fuin. This is illustrated in a painting by Tolkien himself.[70] When Beleg Cúthalion was slain, it was the light from this lamp that revealed to Túrin, he had slain his friend.[71] But in the published version of The Silmarillion[72] there is no occurrence of Fëanorian lamps.

Other objects which have a similar property of emitting light without fire include the Arkenstone, the Silmarils and the Phial of Galadriel.


Keys in Middle-earth range from the ordinary, such as the front-door keys of Bag End, to the highly significant, such as the key to the secret door into the Lonely Mountain. Other keys of note include: the Key of Orthanc, the Keys of Barad-dûr, and the key used by the Trolls in The Hobbit to lock the door to their cave. The Warden of the Keys was a senior official in Minas Tirith; the keys to Fen Hollen were highly restricted.


A mathom is recyclable gift in the culture of Hobbits, especially in the Shire. The Hobbits had the unusual custom of giving presents to others on their own birthdays, and often they gave many gifts on such occasions (especially those involving parties). Some of these gifts – the mathoms – were "of forgotten use" or otherwise impractical; nevertheless they were still in good-enough condition to be socially acceptable as a gift. Mathoms were often circulated through the population. Some mathoms were donated to the Mathom-house, a sort of museum in Michel Delving (the chief town of the Shire).

Some mathoms were quite valuable, such as the mithril mail-shirt lent by Bilbo Baggins to the Mathom-house, and the gold pen given by Bilbo to Milo Burrows (Milo had little use for it, as he "never answered letters").

Tolkien revived the word 'mathom' from Old English máthm. The 'real' word for mathom, in the Hobbits' dialect of Westron, was kast, related to the word kastu in the language of the Rohirrim.[31]

Mirror of Galadriel[edit]

Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) pours water into the basin (top), and Frodo (Elijah Wood) prepares to look into the mirror (bottom) from Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.

A basin filled with water in which one may see visions of the past, present and future, appearing in The Lord of the Rings. Galadriel, an Elf ruler of Lothlórien, invites the story's hero, Frodo Baggins, to look into it. Galadriel cannot predict what the mirror will show and does not guarantee that its visions will come to pass.

Samwise Gamgee was also allowed a vision, which forced a choice between returning to the Shire to prevent its destruction by technology or to continue on the quest with his master to prevent Sauron from destroying all of Middle-earth.

This recalls the ancient practice of water scrying or hydromancy: gazing into a shallow pool or bowl for purposes of divination. The Norns of Norse mythology used the Well of Urd as a scrying bowl.


Stone globes which function somewhat like crystal balls or communication devices. The singular form of their name, palantír, means "Farsighted" or "One that Sees from Afar". They were made in Aman by Fëanor.[73] Elendil brought seven of them with him out of the wreck of Númenor. An eighth "Master-stone" remained in the tower of Avallónë in Eressëa.[74] In The Lord of the Rings, Sauron, Saruman, Denethor and Aragorn all used various palantíri.

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  12. Unfinished Tales, "A Description of the Island of Númenor", Note 2
  13. The Return of the King, Appendix A, I iii "Eriador, Arnor, and the Heirs of Isildur".
  14. The Return of the King, Appendix A, I v "The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen".
  15. Tolkien, Christopher (1981). The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien. Allen & Unwin. ISBN 0-04-826005-3. Search this book on
  16. The Silmarillion, p. 364.
  17. The Silmarillion, p. 67.
  18. 18.0 18.1 Unfinished Tales, "The Disaster of the Gladden Fields", pp. 277, 278, 284.
  19. Tolkien, J. R. R. (1980), Christopher Tolkien, ed., Unfinished Tales, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, Footnote 33 in "The Disaster of the Gladden Fields", p. 284, ISBN 0-395-29917-9
  20. Tolkien, J. R. R. (1990), Christopher Tolkien, ed., The War of the Ring, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, Footnote 8 in "Many Roads Lead Eastward (1)", p. 309, ISBN 0-395-56008-X
  21. Tolkien, J. R. R. (1955), The Return of the King, The Lord of the Rings, Boston: Houghton Mifflin (published 1987), ISBN 0-395-08256-0
  22. J. R. R. Tolkien (1954), The Fellowship of the Ring, George Allen & Unwin, 2nd edition (1966), Prologue 'Note on the Shire Records', p. 24, ISBN 0 04 823045 6 04 823045 6 Search this book on link= 04 823045 6..
  23. Tolkien, J. R. R. (1954), The Fellowship of the Ring, The Lord of the Rings, Boston: Houghton Mifflin (published 1987), The Bridge of Khazad-dûm, ISBN 0-395-08254-4
  24. Carpenter, Humphrey (1977), Tolkien: A Biography, New York: Ballantine Books, ISBN 0-04-928037-6 See Pictures by J. R. R. Tolkien, The Treason of Isengard and J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator.
  25. Drout, Michael D. C. (2007). Michael D. C. Drout, ed. J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: Scholarship and Critical Assessment. Taylor & Francis. pp. 404–405. ISBN 9780415969420. Search this book on
  26. J. R. R. Tolkien (1937), The Hobbit, George Allen & Unwin, 4th edition (1978), ch.1 p. 26; ISBN 0-04-823147-9 Search this book on ..
  27. J. R. R. Tolkien (1954), The Fellowship of the Ring, George Allen & Unwin, 2nd edition (1966), book 1 ch.2 p. 52; ISBN 0 04 823045 6 04 823045 6 Search this book on link= 04 823045 6..
  28. J. R. R. Tolkien (1937), The Hobbit, George Allen & Unwin, 4th edition (1978), ch. XVI pp. 228–229, ISBN 0-04-823147-9 Search this book on ..
  29. J. R. R. Tolkien (1954), The Fellowship of the Ring, George Allen & Unwin, 2nd edition (1966), book 2 ch. 5 p. 336, ISBN 0 04 823045 6 04 823045 6 Search this book on link= 04 823045 6..
  30. J. R. R. Tolkien (1980), Unfinished Tales, George Allen & Unwin, part 2 ch. IV, ' Amroth and Nimrodel', pp. 245–246; ISBN 0-04-823179-7 Search this book on .
  31. 31.0 31.1 J. R. R. Tolkien (1955), The Return of the King, 2nd edition (1966), George Allen & Unwin, appendix F part 2 p. 414-415; ISBN 0 04 823047 2 04 823047 2 Search this book on link= 04 823047 2.
  32. Tolkien, J. R. R. (1955), The Return of the King, The Lord of the Rings, Boston: Houghton Mifflin (published 1987), "The Passing of the Grey Company", ISBN 0-395-08256-0
  33. J. R. R. Tolkien (1977), The Silmarillion, George Allen & Unwin, ch. I p. 35 & ch. III p. 49, ISBN 0 04 823139 8 04 823139 8 Search this book on link= 04 823139 8..
  34. Christopher Tolkien (1986, editor), The Shaping of Middle-earth (volume 4 of The History of Middle-earth), George Allen & Unwin, part 5 'The Ambarkanta', pp. 249(map) & 256, ISBN 0-04-823279-3 Search this book on ..
  35. John D. Rateliff (2007), The History of The Hobbit part 1 'Mr. Baggins', Harper Collins, 'The Bladorthin Typescript' p. 63 note 25; ISBN 0-00-723555-0 Search this book on .
  36. J. R. R. Tolkien (1962), The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, Unwin Paperbacks edition (1975), poem 2; ISBN 0-04-823125-8 Search this book on .
  37. Tolkien possibly derived the phrase "horns of Elfland" from the poetry of Alfred Lord Tennyson: see Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings#3. Nocturne.
  38. J. R. R. Tolkien (1977), The Silmarillion, George Allen & Unwin, ch. 1 p. 40; ISBN 0 04 823139 8 04 823139 8 Search this book on link= 04 823139 8.
  39. 39.0 39.1 J. R. R. Tolkien (1977), The Silmarillion, George Allen & Unwin, 'Valaquenta' p. 27; ISBN 0 04 823139 8 04 823139 8 Search this book on link= 04 823139 8.
  40. J. R. R. Tolkien (1986), The Shaping of Middle-earth, George Allen & Unwin, part 3 appendix 2 'The Horns of Ylmir' pp. 215–218; ISBN 0-04-823279-3 Search this book on .
  41. J. R. R. Tolkien (1955), The Return of the King, 2nd edition (1966), George Allen & Unwin, appendix D p. 390 & footnote; ISBN 0 04 823047 2 04 823047 2 Search this book on link= 04 823047 2.
  42. J. R. R. Tolkien (1955), The Return of the King, 2nd edition (1966), George Allen & Unwin, book 5: ch. V p.112, ch. IV p. 103, ch. VII p. 126, ch. VI p. 124; ISBN 0 04 823047 2 04 823047 2 Search this book on link= 04 823047 2.
  43. J. R. R. Tolkien (1986), The Shaping of Middle-earth, George Allen & Unwin, part 3 appendix 2 'The Horns of Ylmir' pp. 215–216; ISBN 0-04-823279-3 Search this book on .
  44. J. R. R. Tolkien (1977), The Silmarillion, George Allen & Unwin, ch. 5 p. 58; ISBN 0 04 823139 8 04 823139 8 Search this book on link= 04 823139 8.
  45. J. R. R. Tolkien (1954), The Fellowship of the Ring, 2nd edition (1966), George Allen & Unwin, book 2 ch. 1 p. 246 ("her sails he wove of silver fair"), ch. VIII p. 395 ("She is too low in the water"); ISBN 0 04 823045 6 04 823045 6 Search this book on link= 04 823045 6.
  46. J. R. R. Tolkien (1955), The Return of the King, 2nd edition (1966), George Allen & Unwin, book 5 ch. VI p. 123 ("the foremost ship ... as she turned towards the Harlond."); ISBN 0 04 823047 2 04 823047 2 Search this book on link= 04 823047 2.
  47. J. R. R. Tolkien (1983), The Book of Lost Tales part 1, George Allen & Unwin; ISBN 0-04-823238-6 Search this book on .
  48. J. R. R. Tolkien (1983), The Book of Lost Tales part 1, George Allen & Unwin, page 84; ISBN 0-04-823238-6 Search this book on .
  49. J. R. R. Tolkien (1977), The Silmarillion, George Allen & Unwin, ch. 5 p. 61; ISBN 0 04 823139 8 04 823139 8 Search this book on link= 04 823139 8.
  50. J. R. R. Tolkien (1977), The Silmarillion, George Allen & Unwin, ch. 23 pp. 244–245; ISBN 0 04 823139 8 04 823139 8 Search this book on link= 04 823139 8.
  51. J. R. R. Tolkien (1977), The Silmarillion, George Allen & Unwin, 'Akallabêth' pp. 278–279; ISBN 0 04 823139 8 04 823139 8 Search this book on link= 04 823139 8.
  52. J. R. R. Tolkien (1980), Unfinished Tales, George Allen & Unwin, part 2 ch. 1 p. 171; ISBN 0-04-823179-7 Search this book on .
  53. J. R. R. Tolkien (1977), The Silmarillion, George Allen & Unwin, 'Akallabêth' p. 280; ISBN 0 04 823139 8 04 823139 8 Search this book on link= 04 823139 8.
  54. J. R. R. Tolkien (1996), The Peoples of Middle-earth, Houghton Mifflin, part 1 ch. VII p. 191; ISBN 0-395-82760-4 Search this book on .
  55. J. R. R. Tolkien (1977), The Silmarillion, George Allen & Unwin, 'Akallabêth' p. 276; ISBN 0 04 823139 8 04 823139 8 Search this book on link= 04 823139 8.
  56. J. R. R. Tolkien (1980, ed. Christopher Tolkien), Unfinished Tales, George Allen & Unwin, part 4 ch. 2 pp. 401–402 note 7; ISBN 0-04-823179-7 Search this book on .
  57. J. R. R. Tolkien (1955), The Return of the King, 2nd edition (1966), George Allen & Unwin, book 5 ch. 1 pp. 38 & 42; ISBN 0 04 823047 2 04 823047 2 Search this book on link= 04 823047 2.
  58. J. R. R. Tolkien (1955), The Return of the King, 2nd edition (1966), George Allen & Unwin, appendix A:I(iii) p. 322 footnote 2; ISBN 0 04 823047 2 04 823047 2 Search this book on link= 04 823047 2.
  59. J. R. R. Tolkien (1955), The Return of the King, 2nd edition (1966), George Allen & Unwin, appendix B 'Later Events' S.R. 1541 (p. 378); see also appendix A part III final note (p. 362); ISBN 0 04 823047 2 04 823047 2 Search this book on link= 04 823047 2.
  60. J. R. R. Tolkien (1955), The Return of the King, 2nd edition (1966), George Allen & Unwin, appendix A part I(iii) p. 319 & appendix B 'Third Age' p. 366; ISBN 0 04 823047 2 04 823047 2 Search this book on link= 04 823047 2.
  61. Wayne G. Hammond & Christina Scull (2005), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, Harper Collins, p. 702; ISBN 0 00 720308 X 00 720308 X Search this book on link= 00 720308 X.
  62. 62.0 62.1 Beth Russell (2005), 'Botanical Notes on the Mallorn', in Mallorn (the journal of the Tolkien Society), no.43 p.21 note 27, ISSN 0308-6674.
  63. 63.0 63.1 Tolkien, J. R. R. (1937), Douglas A. Anderson, ed., The Annotated Hobbit, Boston: Houghton Mifflin (published 2002), ISBN 0-618-13470-0
  64. Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 1, The Disaster of the Gladden Fields: Notes, Note 31
  65. Tolkien, J. R. R. (1954), The Fellowship of the Ring, The Lord of the Rings, Boston: Houghton Mifflin (published 1987), "Many Meetings", ISBN 0-395-08254-4
  66. Tolkien, J. R. R. (1984), Christopher Tolkien, ed., The Book of Lost Tales, 1, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, "The Chaining of Melko", ISBN 0-395-35439-0
  67. Tolkien, J. R. R. (1994), Christopher Tolkien, ed., The War of the Jewels, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, QUENDI AND ELDAR p. 411, ISBN 0-395-71041-3, "... the Mithrim had an art of weaving a grey cloth that made its wearers almost invisible..."
  68. J.R.R. Tolkien, Unfinished Tales (1980), Of Tuor and his Coming to Gondolin, Paragraph 27
  69. J.R.R. Tolkien, Unfinished Tales (1980), Of Tuor and his Coming to Gondolin, Paragraph 136
  70. Pictures by J. R. R. Tolkien, 1979, no. 37
  71. J.R.R. Tolkien, Unfinished Tales (1980), Narn I Hîn Húrin, Appendix
  72. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Silmarillion (1977), Chapter 21
  73. Unfinished Tales, p. 460 (index listing)
  74. The Silmarillion, "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age", p. 301

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