List of Middle-earth weapons and armour

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Weapons and armour of Middle-earth are found in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth fantasy writings, such as The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion. Wars and battles are featured in much of Tolkien's writings, and weapons and armour are often given special attention.[1][2]

Tolkien modelled his fictional warfare on the Ancient and Early Middle periods of history. His depiction of weapons and armour particularly reflect the Northern European culture of Beowulf, the Norse sagas and similar works. Tolkien established this relationship in The Fall of Gondolin, the first story in his legendarium to be written. In this story, the Elves of Gondolin use mail armour, swords, shields, spears, axes and bows, which is consistent with Northern European warfare. In Tolkien's writings, these kinds of weapons and armour are used by his fictional races, including Elves, Dwarves, Men, Hobbits, and Orcs.[2] Like his sources Tolkien sometimes uses the motif of ceremonial runic inscriptions in his fictional items of warfare to show these items are magical and have their own history.[1]

Terminology[edit]

Tolkien devised several constructed languages with terms for types of weapons.

Tolkien also devised terms for specific makes of weapons, like lango (broad sword), eket, ecet (short sword), and lhang (cutlass, sword).[14] Lhang was used for a large two-handed, curved-bladed sword with a long handle used by Elves in the Lord of the Rings film trilogy.[15]

General items[edit]

Swords symbolized physical prowess in battle for Tolkien, following Northern European culture.[1] Tolkien writes that Elves and Dwarves produced the best swords (and other war gear) and that Elvish swords glowed blue in the presence of Orcs. Elves generally used straight swords while Orcs generally used curved swords. Both races have exceptions: Egalmoth of Gondolin used a curved sword and the Uruk-hai of Isengard used short, broad blades. Tolkien so often mentions the use of shields together with swords that it seems one-handed swords would be the norm.[2] In The Lord of the Rings film trilogy most Elvish swords are curved but some named swords are interpreted as two-handed longswords. The films also embellished upon Tolkien's descriptions of swords (and other weapons) by making up inscriptions for these items.[15]

Knives are mentioned in Tolkien's works, sometimes as backup weapons—such as the nondescript long knife of Legolas the archer.[2] However, some individual knives are given more significance through naming (e.g. Sting, see below).[1] Knives of a certain type without proper formal names are also used to further the plot. The Witch-king of Angmar, leader of the Nazgûl, used a magical dagger called a "Morgul-blade" to wound Frodo Baggins. The dark magic of the knife gravely affects Frodo's well-being, threatening to turn him into a wraith. Recurring ill effects from the wound contribute to Frodo's eventual departure to Valinor.[16] The weapon may owe something to the Old English tradition of the "elf-shot". The term appears in Old English medical texts and charms and refers to illnesses of presumed supernatural origin.[17] A magical dagger forged by the Men of Westernesse to fight the powers of Mordor and recovered from a barrow by Tom Bombadil, informally called a "Barrow-blade", proves instrumental in bringing about the death of the Witch-king.[18] For The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, some characters such as Aragorn and Boromir were assigned hunting or throwing knives as part of their costume design, and Legolas now had two "White Knives".[15]

Axes are used by most races in Tolkien's writings, most notably the Dwarves,[2] who used the battle cry: Axes of the Dwarves! The Dwarves are upon you! (Khuzdul: Baruk Khazâd! Khazâd ai-mênu!)[19] For The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, Gimli the Dwarf was assigned various axes of different makes during the course of the films.[15] The Sindarin Elves of Doriath also favoured axes as weapons during the First Age.

Bows of different sizes and construction are featured in Tolkien's works. Elves of Lothlórien, Men, and Uruk-hai used longbows while Elves of Mirkwood and Orcs of Mordor used smaller ones. These bows are said to be made of wood, horn and even steel.[2] Sometimes individual arrows are given special mention in Tolkien's works. In The Hobbit, the Black Arrow was a royal heirloom used to kill the dragon Smaug.[20] In The Lord of the Rings, the Red Arrow was a token used by Gondor to summon its allies in time of need.[21] In the Lord of the Rings film trilogy, the Red Arrow is omitted and its role is conflated with the Beacons of Gondor.[22] The films also assign a bow to Aragorn and crossbows to the Uruk-hai. In Tolkien's writings Aragorn is armed only with the sword Andúril (below) and crossbows are nowhere mentioned.[15]

Armour in Tolkien's fiction is mainly in the form of mail or scale shirts, in keeping with Ancient and Early Middle periods of history.[2] In contrast, the Lord of the Rings film trilogy features plate armour suits in the style of the High and Late Middle periods.[15] These kinds of plate armour are not found in Tolkien's writings, but plate does appear in the form of individual pieces such as vambraces (forearm guards) or greaves (leg and shin guards). As with other items of war, Elves and Dwarves produced the best armour. A mail shirt forged by Dwarves from the fictional metal mithril appears in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, worn in turn by the protagonists Bilbo and Frodo Baggins.[2][23]

Named items[edit]

Tolkien emulated his Northern European mythological and literary sources in creating weapons and armour with names (real examples of named weapons include Hrunting and Naegling in Beowulf, Tyrfing in the Elder Edda and Gram in the Volsunga saga). The items illustrate the passage of time and the transfer of power or fate to their future bearers.[1]

Aeglos
(Sindarin: Snow Point, i.e. icicle;[24] also spelled Aiglos.) A spear wielded by Gil-galad;[1][25] Aiglos is also the name of a type of plant in Middle-earth which most notably grew on Amon Rûdh. Aeglos is also the name of a Tolkienist semiannual almanac published by the Polish Silesian Science-Fiction Club, parent organisation of the Polish Tolkien Society.[26]
Anglachel
(Sindarin: Iron of the Flaming Star) A sword forged of meteoritic iron by Eöl the Dark Elf, given to Thingol of Doriath as a fee for leave to dwell in Nan Elmoth. It could cleave all earth-delved iron. Later wielded by Beleg Strongbow and ultimately Túrin;[27][28][29] Anglachel was reforged and renamed Gurthang (Sindarin: Iron of Death[30]). Túrin used Gurthang to kill Glaurung, the Father of Dragons, and later used the sword to take his own life in recompense for the accidental slaying of Beleg and the unjust slaying of Brandir. The stories endow the sword with a personality; Melian the Maia perceived malice in it as it was given to Beleg Cúthalion, and the elf Gwindor observed that Anglachel (so named then) seemed to mourn the death of Beleg at the hand of his friend Túrin by Anglachel itself. Túrin asked the sword whether it would slay him swiftly if he cast himself on its point, and it responded at length (the only instance of Gurthang speaking with voice). The depiction of the sword was influenced by that of the sword of the Finnish character Kullervo in the Kalevala.[1][31]
Angrist
(Sindarin: Iron-cleaver[32]) A knife made by the great weaponsmith Telchar of Nogrod, and borne by Curufin. Beren, who had taken it from Curufin, used it to cut a magical Silmaril jewel out of Morgoth's iron crown; as Beren attempted to remove another, the knife snapped.[1][33] In the earliest version of Beren's story in The Book of Lost Tales, he uses an ordinary household knife; the element of Curufin's involvement in Beren's affairs came later.[34]
Anguirel
(Sindarin:Iron Of Eternity ) A sword forged by Eöl the Dark Elf, similar to Anglachel which was given to Thingol of Doriath in The Silmarillion. It was the mate of Anglachel, was made of the same meteoritic iron, and had the same physical properties and capabilities as Anglachel, but there is no evidence of sentience in Anguirel. Anguirel was kept by Eöl until it was stolen by his son, Maeglin.[1][35]
Aranrúth
(Sindarin: King's Ire[36]) A sword wielded by Thingol of Doriath in The Silmarillion.[1][37] Later the sword of the Kings of Númenor.
Belthronding
(Sindarin/Ilkorin: Intractable Bow[38]) A bow wielded by Beleg Cúthalion (Strongbow) in The Silmarillion and The Lays of Beleriand.[1][39]
Dragon-helm of Dor-lómin
A helmet owned and used by men of the Royal House of Hador (such as Húrin and Túrin).[1] Also known as the Helm of Hador.
Dramborleg
(Sindarin: Thudder-Sharp[40]) An axe belonging to Tuor, son of Huor in The Book of Lost Tales and Unfinished Tales.[1]
An example of the sword Glamdring forged after the description in Lord of the Rings
Glamdring
(Sindarin: Foe-hammer[41]) A sword in The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and Unfinished Tales [1][42] belonging first to Turgon. Gandalf appropriated it after it was discovered among the hoard of the three trolls in The Hobbit, and he carries it throughout his journeys with Bilbo Baggins and the Fellowship of the Ring. Glamdring was nicknamed "Beater" by the Goblins of the Misty Mountains. Glamdring would glow blue whenever orcs were nearby. It is the mate of Orcrist.
Grond
(Sindarin: Club) The name of the mace of Morgoth in The Silmarillion;[43] also a battering ram in The Lord of the Rings,[1][44] used to assault the Great Gate of Minas Tirith. In the Rankin-Bass adaptation of The Return of the King, the ram Grond is called "the arm of the devil" also named "the hammer of the underworld".
Gurthang
See Anglachel
Gúthwinë
(Old English: Battle Friend[45]) A sword wielded by Éomer, third marshal of the Riddermark in The Lord of the Rings.[1][46]
Herugrim
(Old English: Fierce Sword[45]) A sword that belonged to Théoden.[1][47]
Narsil
(Quenya: roughly, Red and White Flame[48]) A sword in The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion,[49][50] influenced by the legendary swords Tyrfing and Gram.[1] The sword was forged during the First Age by the Dwarf Telchar[51] of Nogrod, a famous weaponsmith and artificer who also made the knife Angrist, which cut a Silmaril from the crown of Morgoth, and the Helm of Hador later used by Túrin Turambar. Narsil was broken in the overthrow of Sauron at the end of the Second Age and was later reforged as Andúril (Quenya: Flame of the West[52]).
The shards of Narsil in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Note that in the book, it is broken into only two pieces.
In the motion picture series directed by Peter Jackson, Narsil was broken into six parts (rather than two), which were kept in Rivendell, and broke not when Elendil fell but rather when Isildur reached for it and Sauron stomped on it. It is also not reforged into Andúril until the third film, when Arwen persuades Elrond to have elven smiths reforge it from the shards of Narsil and bring it to Aragorn. In the book, he actually wears the broken blade and shows it to the Hobbits when they meet at the Prancing Pony in Bree, and its reforging prior to the departure of the Fellowship is a decisive move toward kingship. According to conceptual artist John Howe, it is designed with a hollow pommel.[citation needed]
The incident involving Aragorn disarming reluctantly is omitted from the second film on the grace that the sword he surrenders there is not Andúril. However, the first film does include an invented scene of Aragorn reverently placing the hilt of Narsil back into the display after Boromir knocks it from its podium onto the floor.
Prop Andúril showing runes on the blade and Tengwar inscription on the pommel.
In The Two Towers, it is written that Aragorn uses Andúril with a shield from Théoden's armoury during the Battle of the Hornburg. In The Fellowship of the Ring it is also stated that his sword was similar to Boromir's, who uses his with a shield consistently. This, coupled with Tolkien's comparisons of Middle-earth's clothing and war gear to that of Dark Age Europe and the Bayeux Tapestry,[53] would suggest that it and other swords would be single-handed rather than the two-handed longsword depicted in the films, which is more akin to the late medieval and Renaissance periods.
The filmmakers opted not to make Andúril glow at all, keeping that property only for Sting. (Gandalf's sword Glamdring also did not glow in the presence of orcs. Peter Jackson notes, in his DVD commentary on The Fellowship of the Ring, that this was an oversight, not a deliberate change from the books.)
Christopher Tolkien suggested that Narsil was introduced during the writing of The Lord of the Rings rather spontaneously: "It is possible that the Sword that was Broken actually emerged from the verse 'All that is gold does not glitter': on this view, in the earliest form of the verse ... the words a king may yet be without crown, A blade that was broken be brandished were no more than a further exemplification of the general moral [that not everything is what it appears to be]."[54] Following this, references to the Sword were introduced during major recastings of "At the Sign of the Prancing Pony" and "The Council of Elrond" chapters.[55]
Originally the sword was only referred to as "the Sword of Elendil" or "the Broken Sword"; later the name Branding (from Old English brand 'sword') was devised for the Sword Reforged.[56] This was replaced by Andúril after the emergence of Narsil.
Orcrist
(Sindarin: Goblin-cleaver[41]) A sword in The Hobbit.[1][57] Originally forged in Gondolin, Orcrist was nicknamed "Biter" by the Goblins of the Misty Mountains. After finding it in a troll hoard, Thorin Oakenshield carried the sword throughout much of The Hobbit, and it was laid on his tomb after he died in the Battle of Five Armies. It is the mate of Glamdring.
Red Arrow
A black-feathered arrow barbed with steel; its tip was painted red.[58] It was a token used by Gondor to summon Rohan in time of dire need, and may have been associated with the Oath of Eorl.[59] In The Return of the King, the Red Arrow was presented to Théoden by Hirgon with the message: "...the Lord Denethor asks for all your strength and all your speed, lest Gondor should fall at last."[58] The Red Arrow has a historical antecedent in the Old English poem Elene in which Constantine the Great summoned an army of mounted Visigoths to his aid against the Huns by sending an arrow as a "token of war".[60] Théoden pledged his assistance, but Hirgon was killed during the ride back to Minas Tirith, leading Denethor to believe that no help was forthcoming from Rohan.
Ringil
(Sindarin: Cold-Star / Cold-Spark) A sword wielded by Fingolfin in The Silmarillion and The Lays of Beleriand. It bit with chilling cold, and glittered like ice with a pale light.[1] This was the sword with which Fingolfin wounded Morgoth seven times, causing the first dark lord to limp forever afterward.[61][62]
In Tolkien's early writings, Ringil was the name of one of the Two Lamps of primeval Middle-earth.
Sting
Main article: Sting
A knife in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Although made by the Elves as a large knife, it functioned well as a sword for the smaller race of Hobbits.[1][63] Bilbo Baggins named the weapon after using it to fend off the giant spiders in Mirkwood forest, then later passed it on to Frodo to use in his quest to destroy the One Ring. Sting would glow blue whenever orcs were nearby.

A sword called Hadhafang was invented for Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings film trilogy, where it was borne by Arwen.[15] The name is derived from Tolkien's etymological word list written in the 1930s; here Tolkien provides the word hadhathang (dissimilated: havathang, hadhafang), which he translates as "throng-cleaver". The author never actually used this name in any of his writings.[64]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u Burdge, Anthony; Burke, Jessica (2006). "Weapons, Named". In Drout, Michael. J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: Scholarship and Critical Assessment. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-96942-0. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Piela, Joseph (2006). "Arms and Armour". In Drout, Michael. J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: Scholarship and Critical Assessment. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-96942-0. 
  3. ^ a b J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lost Road, p. 371.
  4. ^ a b J.R.R. Tolkien, The War of the Jewels, p. 234.
  5. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lost Road, p. 365.
  6. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lost Road, p. 385.
  7. ^ Hooker, Mark T. (2014). The Tolkienaeum. Llyfrawr. p. 235. ISBN 978-1499759105. 
  8. ^ http://folk.uib.no/hnohf/khuzdul.htm
  9. ^ Vinyar Tengwar 49, p. 14.
  10. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lost Road, p. 355.
  11. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lost Road, p. 366.
  12. ^ The Etymologies under the root PÍLIM-.
  13. ^ Hooker, Mark T. (2014). The Tolkienaeum. Llyfrawr. p. 180. ISBN 978-1499759105. 
  14. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lost Road, p. 367.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g Smith, Chris (2003). The Lord of the Rings: Weapons and Warfare. Mariner Books. ISBN 0-618-39100-2. 
  16. ^ The Fellowship of the Ring, p. 208, 210; The Return of the King, p. 333
  17. ^ Drout, Michael, ed. (2006). "Elf-shot". J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: Scholarship and Critical Assessment. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-96942-0. 
  18. ^ The Return of the King, "The Battle of the Pelennor Fields", p. 117: "No other blade, not though mightier hands had wielded it, would have dealt that foe a wound so bitter, cleaving the undead flesh, breaking the spell that knit his unseen sinews to his will."
  19. ^ The Two Towers
  20. ^ The Hobbit
  21. ^ The Return of the King, p. 72; Unfinished Tales, p. 364, 411
  22. ^ Timmons, Dan (2006). "Jackson, Peter". In Drout, Michael. J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: Scholarship and Critical Assessment. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-96942-0. 
  23. ^ Drout, Michael, ed. (2006). "Mithril". J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: Scholarship and Critical Assessment. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-96942-0. 
  24. ^ The Silmarillion, p. 313
  25. ^ The Fellowship of the Ring (Book II, Chapter 2: "The Council of Elrond"), The Silmarillion, p. 294; Unfinished Tales, p. 148, 417
  26. ^ Morawski, Marcin (2006). "Poland: Reception of Tolkien". In Drout, Michael. J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: Scholarship and Critical Assessment. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-96942-0. 
  27. ^ The Silmarillion, p. 201-202, 206-210, 316; Unfinished Tales, p. 148, 419
  28. ^ The Silmarillion, p. 226
  29. ^ The Silmarillion, p. 225.
  30. ^ Unfinished Tales. p. 443
  31. ^ Petty, Anne C. (2006). "Finland: Literary Sources". In Drout, Michael. J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: Scholarship and Critical Assessment. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-96942-0. 
  32. ^ The Silmarillion, p. 316
  33. ^ The Silmarillion, pp. 177, 181
  34. ^ Tolkien, J. R. R. (1984), Christopher Tolkien, ed., The Book of Lost Tales 2, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, "The Tale of Tinúviel, ISBN 0-395-36614-3 
  35. ^ The Silmarillion, p. 202
  36. ^ The Silmarillion. p. 317
  37. ^ The Silmarillion, p. 201, 279; Unfinished Tales, p. 171
  38. ^ The Lost Road. p. 388
  39. ^ The Silmarillion, p. 208, 320; The Lays of Beleriand, p. 26, 117, 127
  40. ^ Unfinished Tales. p. 172; The Book of Lost Tales (vol. 2), "The Fall of Gondolin"
  41. ^ a b The Hobbit. "A Short Rest", p. 62
  42. ^ The Hobbit, p. 53; The Fellowship of the Ring, p. 293, 324; The Two Towers, p. 115; The Return of the King, p. 272; Unfinished Tales, p. 54
  43. ^ The Silmarillion, p. 154, 333
  44. ^ The Return of the King, p. 112
  45. ^ a b Tolkien Dictionary
  46. ^ The Two Towers, p. 139
  47. ^ The Two Towers, p. 123
  48. ^ The Return of the King. p. 438; Further information in The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien
  49. ^ The Silmarillion, p. 294-295, 343; Unfinished Tales, p. 272, 275; The Fellowship of the Ring, p. 256-257; The Return of the King, p. 123
  50. ^ The Fellowship of the Ring, p. 290, 338-339, 391; The Two Towers, p. 36, 104, 115, 139; The Return of the King, p. 123, 158, 245
  51. ^ J. E. A. Tyler (1980), "Narsil", The new Tolkien companion, Avon Books, p. 417, ISBN 9780380469048 
  52. ^ The Return of the King. p. 437
  53. ^ Carpenter, Humphrey, ed. (1981), The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, #211, ISBN 0-395-31555-7 
  54. ^ Tolkien, J. R. R. (1989), Christopher Tolkien, ed., The Treason of Isengard, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, p. 137, ISBN 0-395-51562-9 
  55. ^ The Treason of Isengard, pp. 77-80, 120.
  56. ^ The Treason of Isengard, p. 290
  57. ^ The Hobbit, p. 53, 303
  58. ^ a b Tolkien, J. R. R. (1955), The Return of the King, The Lord of the Rings, Boston: Houghton Mifflin (published 1987), "The Muster of Rohan", ISBN 0-395-08256-0 
  59. ^ Foster, Robert (1971), The Complete Guide to Middle-earth, New York: Del Rey, ISBN 0-345-32436-6 
  60. ^ Scott Howard (21 March 2008), Recreating Beowulf's 'Pregnant Moment of Poise': Pagan Doom and Christian Eucatastrophe Made Incarnate in the Dark Age Setting of The Lord of the Rings, University of Montana 
  61. ^ The Silmarillion, p. 153-154, 347
  62. ^ Tolkien, J. R. R. (1985), Christopher Tolkien, ed., The Lays of Beleriand, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, The Lay of Leithian, Canto XII, ISBN 0-395-39429-5 
  63. ^ The Hobbit, p. 53, 83, 167, etc.;The Fellowship of the Ring, p. 23, 290; The Two Towers, p. 221, The Return of the King, p. 173, 204
  64. ^ Tolkien, J. R. R. (1987), Christopher Tolkien, ed., The Lost Road and Other Writings, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, ISBN 0-395-45519-7