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Old 01-08-2002, 07:42 AM   #1
The Squatter of Amon Rûdh
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Sting Bombadil's brooch

On the Barrow Downs, when he rescues the hobbits from the barrow-wight, Tom Bombadil takes one brooch from the hoard of treasure for himself and Goldberry as a memento mori of its past owner. I've always assumed that this was an oblique reference to Luthien, but since I haven't read the Silmarillion for some time there may be a better candidate that I've forgotten. Do any suggest themselves?
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Old 01-08-2002, 07:56 AM   #2
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Welcome to the Downs, Squatter!

Most assume that Bombadil's brooch belonged to some princess or queen of Arnor. It is somewhat unlikely that a piece of jewelry belonging to Luthien would pass through all those generations to someone living in the North Kingdom.

Related question, one of the heirlooms which Aragorn possessed was the Ring of Barahir. This would likely be something which would be in the possession of the highest member of the Lords of Andunie. By the time of the Last Alliance, this would be Elendil. How would this end up in possession of someone in the North kingdom after the deaths of Elendil and Isildur considering that Isildur's body was never recovered?
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Old 01-08-2002, 10:09 AM   #3
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Let me extend my welcome as well, Squatter!

As to Barahir's ring, one can only assume that Isildur passed it to his esquire Ohtar (along with the shards of Narsil), who then fled with a companion and survived to tell the tale, per UT.

[ January 08, 2002: Message edited by: Mister Underhill ]
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Old 01-08-2002, 12:02 PM   #4
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Or perhaps Elendil simply left the ring of Barahir behind in Rivendell or some other place in the north, since it wouldn't be much use to him in the war. It could then have passed onto Valandil without too much difficulty. If Isildur had given the ring to Ohtar along with Narsil, it would likely have been mentioned.

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Old 01-09-2002, 06:51 AM   #5
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Sting

My thanks to you both.
It did seem a little unlikely to me as well, but so eager was I to find out a bit more of this enigmatic character that I suppose I just grabbed a name that fitted.

It's an interesting point about the ring; perhaps, like Thror's, it was passed on before the owner set out (the jealousy of the One, perhaps). Rings do seem to find their way to the right (or wrong) people with Tolkien.
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Old 12-09-2002, 05:56 PM   #6
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I beleive that somewhere in Unfished Tales it says that Saruman's tower was cleared and treasures of Old times pours out, namely the Elendilmir and was it the Ring of Brahir?

i can't remember but I think that this maybe right.
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Old 12-09-2002, 09:45 PM   #7
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I have no idea as to how the ring didn't perish with Isildur. Perhaps he had given it to his heir. But it seems the ring was kept by the Kings of the Northern Kingdom.
The Appendix says it was given by Arvedui Last King to the Snowmen as thanks for food and shelter. Later the ring was ransomed by Dunedain and kept in Rivendell.
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Old 12-10-2002, 09:45 AM   #8
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Well all i know is that when Aragorn "came of age" when he was 20 years old, Elrond told him his real name and linage and gave to him the shards of Narsil and the Rring of Barahir, he later gave him the scepter of Annuminas when he became king. How Elrond got them I don't know.
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Old 12-10-2002, 10:59 AM   #9
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The heirlooms of th Northern Kingdom, including the Sword, the Ring and the Sceptre, were given to Elrond for safe-keeping after the colapse of that Realm in 1974 TA.
Elrond kept them for almost a thousand years before giving them to Aragorn. He didn't give them to any other Chieftain of the North so he must have been very sure that Aragorn was to be the man to re-establish the Kingdom.
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Old 01-22-2003, 09:43 AM   #10
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Interesting discussion about the Ring of Barahir. But to go back to the beginning: Is there anything known about the fair lady who once wore the blue brooch? Or about the battle at the Barrow-Downs at all?
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Old 01-26-2003, 04:35 PM   #11
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Regarding the Barrow and the Brooch contained therein, see "The Barrowdowns" under "Previous Themes" on the BD homepage.

The Barrowdowns were used as burial places by the Men of the First Age, and in the 3rd Age by the people of Cardolan. The Brandywine River and the East Road formed the boundary between Arthedain and Cardolan.

The Barrowdowns theme page says that "it is believed" that the barrow in which the hobbits were imprisoned was the burial place of the last prince of Cardolan. (Does anybody know on exactly what grounds that statement is made?)

If we assume that to be true, then the brooch probably belonged to some female relative (e.g. his wife, mother, sister, daughter) to whom the Prince had given it, and who returned it as a burial offering.

That's my guess...I don't think we're going to come up with the owner's name.
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Old 01-27-2003, 12:28 PM   #12
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Or, if it was a family barrow, his wife would have been buried with him.
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Old 02-07-2003, 07:53 AM   #13
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Here's something I found on a discussion site, I'm pasting the quote rather than giving a link as the site is down and I had to go into the cache...
Quote:
The passge implies a personal knowledge and a sense of regret and loss. I almost get the feeling he knew the very woman who wore that brooch and was not merely speaking figuratively. I think Tom watched out for the remnant of the Dunedain of Cardolan and protected them in his little realm for over 200 years until disease finished them off.
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Old 02-07-2003, 09:20 AM   #14
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Lalaith, I agree completely with that quote. It seems clear to me that Tom did actually know the owner personally, he just didn't mention her name to the Hobbits because they wouldn't have heard of her and it just would be a name as far as they were concerned.

Tom seems to be quite knowledgable about the outside world for such a homebody. I'm still trying to figure out how he knew (of) Farmer Maggot. It's a little difficult to picture the Farmer tramping through the Old Forest or Tom through the Shire.

If anyone is looking for a Fan-Fic idea, it strikes me that the Fair Lady of Cardolan would be a worthy recipient. She seems to have made quite a favorable impression on Tom B. even 1500 years later, but unfortunately we don't know her name or hardly anything about her. [img]smilies/frown.gif[/img]
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Old 09-22-2003, 01:05 PM   #15
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Sting

So nowhere in Tolkien's works is there a further mention to the 'Fair lady of Cardolan'. Can we call her the Dark Lady of Tolkien's epics? Or even better, the Dark lady of Tom Bombadil?

Here be speculation:
It was said a few posts back that the barrow belonged to the last prince of Cardolan and that the woman was probably a relative of his. What follows is the logical reasoning:
After Arnor was divided, and Cardolan and Rhudaur's rulers were destroyed by Angmar whoever ruled Arthedain also ruled Cardolan and Rhudaur. The last king of Arthedain was Arvedui, who married Firiel, the daughter of King Ondoher of Gondor, in the hope that he might gain rulership over his realm as well. He didn't. However his own lands were attacked by the evil king of Angmar. He ran away and died in the bay of Forochel. Of course, his son, could have brought his body back and buried it in the barrow, and his mother's as well. Firiel could be the lady Tom is reminded of.

This is based on bits of information, though. Maybe more information is found in HoME (which sadly, I don't have) or in BoLT. What says everybody?

[ September 23, 2003: Message edited by: Evisse the Blue ]
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Old 09-22-2003, 06:26 PM   #16
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I always thought that Arvedui died when his ships sunk, he would have been lost with the ships, so I don't think the barrow would have belonged to the last king of Arnor. It is possible that Tom Bombadil did know the lady however as I don't think he always confined himself to his lands. He must have ventured further at one time for the elves to know him. Perhaps he was also known by the inhabitants of Arnor.

[ September 22, 2003: Message edited by: Voralphion ]
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Old 09-26-2003, 01:26 AM   #17
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Sting

Quote:
Tom seems to be quite knowledgable about the outside world for such a homebody. I'm still trying to figure out how he knew (of) Farmer Maggot. It's a little difficult to picture the Farmer tramping through the Old Forest or Tom through the Shire.
But I thought it said somewhere in LotR that Farmer Maggot did go through the old Forest. Didn't old Bombadil say so?
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Old 09-26-2003, 11:52 AM   #18
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Quote:
The Barrowdowns theme page says that "it is believed" that the barrow in which the hobbits were imprisoned was the burial place of the last prince of Cardolan. (Does anybody know on exactly what grounds that statement is made?)
Angry Troll, this is said in the Appendices [img]smilies/wink.gif[/img]:

Quote:
Some say that the mound in which the Ring-bearer was imprisoned had been the grave of the last prince of Cardolan, who fell in the war of 1409
Appendix A; LotR
Elentári, you are rigth, even though it is Merry who actually says that [img]smilies/wink.gif[/img]:

Quote:
'Old Maggot is a shrewd fellow', said Merry. 'A lot goes on behind his round face that does not come out in his talk. I've heard he used to go into the Old Forest at one time, and he has the reputation of knowing a good many strange things'
A Conspiracy Unmasked; LotR
But in the Adventures of Tom Bombadil, it is Tom who goes out of the Old Forest to a party in Maggot's Farm:

Quote:
Maggot's sons bowed at door, his daughters did their curtsy,
his wife brought tankards out for those that might be thirsty.
Songs they had and merry tales, the supping and the dancing;
Goodman Maggot there for all his belt was prancing,
Tom did a hornpipe when he was not quaffing,
daughters did the Springle-ring, goodwife did the laughing.
Bombadil Goes Boating; The Adventures of Tom Bombadil
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Old 09-27-2003, 07:21 AM   #19
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Oops. Well thanks for the correction [img]smilies/biggrin.gif[/img]
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Old 01-02-2005, 09:10 PM   #20
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When I read through this passage, Tom's tone of voice and wording almost sounds somber as if he is mourning for the loss of this person as if they were really close.
Assuming that the Barrow downs and with them the Barrow wights began their existence in the war that lasted from TA 1409- TA 1975, we can tell from the Adventures of Tom Bombadil that Tom didn't marry Goldberry until sometime after that point, because the Barrow-Wight attempted to "kill" him. Tom married Goldberry after this time. It would indeed be odd for him, being "alive" from the beginning, to be unmarried until about TA 2000.
Obviously, the person this brooch belonged to, is one that Tom highly admired, or even deeply loved,
"Goldberry will where it now, and we will not forget her"-- Tom Bombadil

If it is to be assumed that the Barrow-wight could heve killed Tom if he would have let him, what is saying that the Wight couldn't have killed Tom's former wife, if indeed he had one. Tom isn't omniscient , he needed Frodo to call for his help to even be able to come help the hobbits. if his former wife was wandering alone and taken by the wight to the barrow, she may not have been able to call for help, think about Sam, Merry, and Pippen. I do not think everything in the barrow was buried with him, maybe some of the treasure came from his victims.
Therefore, I think this brooch came from Tom's former wife, who is never mentioned or alluded to in the story but is a high possibility.

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Old 11-01-2006, 04:53 AM   #21
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All I can say is that this would make a fabulous RPG.
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Old 11-01-2006, 11:28 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thinlómien
All I can say is that this would make a fabulous RPG.
Aye, I'll drink to that.
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Old 11-01-2006, 11:48 AM   #23
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Bêthberry is a guest of Elrond in Rivendell.Bêthberry is a guest of Elrond in Rivendell.Bêthberry is a guest of Elrond in Rivendell.
Why don't we just imagine that Tom's first wife is kept hidden away in an upstairs room somewhere, unbeknownst to Goldberry?
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Old 11-01-2006, 01:28 PM   #24
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Although no mention is made of it so that it might have been left behind in Arnor or Rivendell, it is quite possible that Elendil wore the Ring of Barahir to Mordor, and that Isildur took it along with the shards of Narsil with him to the Gladden Fields. He gave the shards of Narsil and its sheath to “Ohtar,” who is described as “dear to Isildur and of his own kin,” (Unfinished Tales, “The Disaster of the Gladden Fields”, footnote 17), so it is possible that the Ring of Barahir was also saved by Ohtar or one of his companions.

The war of III 1409 launched by Angmar against Rhudaur, Cardolan and Arthedain was ruinous. The spartan description (in Return of the King, “Appendix A”) seems to indicate that Angmar’s main force struck south across the Hoarwell into Rhudaur, then crossing the Hoarwell again (probably at the Last Bridge) swept into Cardolan from the east, surrounding and destroying Amon Sûl along the way. “A remnant of the faithful among the Dúnedain of Cardolan also held out in Tyrn Gorthad (the Barrowdowns), or took refuge in the [Old] Forest behind.” (Ibid.) That suggests that not all the Dúnedain of Cardolan were “faithful,” but it also strongly suggests that the people who remained in the towns and fields (i.e., farms and homesteads) were slaughtered.

Since the brooch was buried with a woman entombed with the “last prince of Cardolan, who fell in the war of 1409” (that citation was settled by Amarie), it is likely, as Evisse has already demonstrated, that the woman was a close kinswoman or even the wife of that “last prince,” and that she was murdered along with the rest of the people who were captured. She was a noblewoman, someone whom Bombadil (and Goldberry, too, from Tom’s words) plainly recalled with fondness; and as she was a noblewoman, it seems reasonable that she would have taken refuge in a fortification guarded by a garrison. The regular fortifications of Cardolan were overrun by Angmar (the survivors had to hide out in the barrows and the Old Forest, remember?), and if she were captured, it is likely that her death was horrifically cruel.

Bombadil shows a particular interest in the goings-on of Buckland and The Marish, with Farmer Maggot supplying him much of his current information. He seems also to have shown that kind of interest in Cardolan. (Aragorn knew him personally: “‘I need not repeat all that they said to old Bombadil...’” Fellowship of the Ring, “Strider”).
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Old 11-01-2006, 01:48 PM   #25
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Alcuin, I have troubles picturing the faithful Dunedain taking refuge in the fortifications of the sacred tombs of their forefathers, if that is what you implied.

As always, your post is well documented and on point. Let me extend to you a warm welcome on this site!
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Old 11-01-2006, 02:01 PM   #26
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Thank you, Raynor. I look forward to participating with you and so many other excellent denizens of the Barrow-Downs.

I suspect that hiding in the barrows was a necessity of life-or-death. In such straits, the Dúnedain would have been foolish to forego the barrows as strongholds, whether they were ancient (from the First Age Edain and their kinsfolk who remained in Eriador) or newer (from burials of the Dúnedain in the Third Age). In any case, Lord of the Rings is our source for this citation.
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Old 11-01-2006, 02:15 PM   #27
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It seems to me that there were other buildings in/around Tyrn Gorthad, which could have been the actual refuge places, besides the ancient graves:
Quote:
Originally Posted by In the house of Tom Bombadil, FotR
[The hobbits] heard of the Great Barrows, and the green mounds, and the stone-rings upon the hills and in the hollows among the hills... Green walls and white walls rose. There were fortresses on the heights. Kings of little kingdoms fought together, and the young Sun shone like fire on the red metal of their new and greedy swords. There was victory and defeat; and towers fell, fortresses were burned, and flames went up into the sky.
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Old 11-01-2006, 02:40 PM   #28
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I see your point, Raynor, but I am still inclined to believe that the Dúnedain were driven to the barrows, which were natural defensive positions because of their partially buried positions, their sturdy stone structures, and their relative inaccessibility. The passage you cite says that the “towers fell, [and the] fortresses were burned,” which is exactly what I think happened during the war of III 1409.

If they were like barrows in the British Islands, anyone entering the Dúnedain or Edain barrows would have to duck down to enter through a narrow passage that opened into a space that permitted anyone inside to stand on either side of the tunnel, allowing defenders considerable advantage.

Finally, we should consider whether the soldiers of Angmar and their commanders would immediately think to check the graves of the Dúnedain while they were trying to flush out and hunt down survivors: the folk of Angmar were, after all, likely worshipping either a Morgul-lord (the Witch-king) or his Master (Sauron), both notorious necromancers, so to them graves probably implied necromancy and thus places by all means to be avoided; while to the Dúnedain they were still “clean” places (before the arrival of the barrow-wights about III 1636, when the lands around the tombs were deserted because of the death toll exacted by the Great Plague).
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Old 11-01-2006, 03:12 PM   #29
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I don't think that the barrows enjoyed a relative inaccessibility. Hammond and Scull, in their comments say that:
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Old Forest, "the Barrow-downs", page 122, LotR Reader's Companion
In Nomenclature, Tolkien describes the Barrow-downs as "low, treeless hills on which there were many "barrows", sc. tumuli and other prehistoric grave-mounds".
Then again, I have zero military experience, so you may be right. Hammond quotes Shippey saying that Tolkien must have seen barrows in person, including the famous Wayland's Smithy, which was fifteeen miles from Tolkien's study.
I also think that the servants of Sauron/Witch-king would have wasted no time in searching the mounds themselves, as a blasphemy, as I believe they had little if any fear of necromancy (and they might have also known that necromancy was a no-no for their enemies). Imo, the dunedain weren't hiding in the barrows, nor would they have used them as defensive positions (I believe in Vietnam one would just smoke them out).
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Old 11-01-2006, 04:03 PM   #30
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Maybe you’re right, Raynor, but your alternative is that the Dúnedain fortifications in the barrow-downs and their defenders survived the assault of Angmar and its troops. If that was the case, why then would the “remnant of the faithful among the Dúnedain of Cardolan [hold] out in Tyrn Gorthad (the Barrowdowns), or take refuge in the [Old] Forest”? I think you are arguing that fortifications in the Barrow-Downs survived; why then would there be only a “remnant of … the Dúnedain” at the end of the war remaining in Cardolan, and why on earth would they flee their prepared military positions in the Barrow-Downs for the Forest right next door? They should have stayed in their fortifications, safe, secure, with victuals and whatever pleasures of life they salvaged before their outlying homes and farms were overrun and destroyed.

I think that had the military fortifications survived the invasion, then this passage does not make sense: “A remnant of the faithful among the Dúnedain of Cardolan also held out in Tyrn Gorthad (the Barrowdowns), or took refuge in the Forest behind.” To me that implies that the attack stalled in western Cardolan, because while Rhudaur is occupied after the war and the description of Cardolan suggests it was ravaged along with its castles and fortified towns, but there is no mention of destruction in Arthedain, which was just north of the Great Road. Since we know that Angmar was repulsed by Elves from Lindon and reinforcements called by Elrond from Lórien, I think that the invasion force stalled in northwestern Cardolan: it is likely that it did not long occupy that region, and that it either retreated to Rhudaur or was destroyed. I don’t think the leaders of Angmar had time to desecrate the tombs of the barrow-downs; however, they learned that they existed, and of what military importance they could be: hence the infestation of barrow-wights sent over 200 years later.

As for “smoking them out,” I believe American and South Vietnamese forces used chemical grenades and explosives against Viet Cong tunnels during the 1960s and early ’70s. These efforts were largely unsuccessful: in the past decade, the government of Vietnam has opened part of its extensive tunnel-and-bunker system to foreign visitors. Americans in particular have been both surprised and impressed with its enormous size (hundreds if not thousands of miles, apparently), the complexity of the underground facilities (hospitals, command posts, storage and munitions depots, barracks, kitchens, machine and repair shops, communications, and even electric generators in some instances), and their ingenious defenses (including water barriers and traps, secret entrances behind secret entrances, defensive geometry, and even defenses against fire – and smoke!).

The only means the soldiers of Angmar would have to accomplish this would be to light a fire outside and try to fan the smoke into the barrow, which could have been countered reasonably well by placing a wet blanket across the entrance. Because they were covered in part by earth, the barrows did not burn, so you could not “smoke out” defenders as you would in a partially wooden structure like a castle, where you could set fire to the wood in the building and force the people inside (and above the burning) to come out and take their chances or suffocate.
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Old 11-02-2006, 07:16 AM   #31
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I've never imagined Tom to have any relation with the woman who owned the brooch. When Tom takes the brooch and recalls then past, it has never occured that Tom would have had a close relationship with its bearer. Maybe he was just speculating in the manner of "she who once bore this must have been beautiful" and the sadness comes from the passing away of the dúnedain, not of a single woman. Or maybe Tom knew who the woman was, but didn't know her personally (eg. had seen her somewhere) or then he, holding the brooch, got a "vision" of its bearer (thus, again, the sadness is for the people, not for one person). My picture of the events has always been a mixture of the first and the third options.

Now I honeslty don't know do I think that way anymore, because the way it's presented, why indeed Tom could have not known the woman? Well, anyway, I thought I'd bring this out. But in any case I hope arcticstorm's theory was not seriously made...
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Old 11-02-2006, 09:32 AM   #32
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Maybe whatever fortifications were in place weren't enough for all the dunedain, in terms of strength or space of accomodation; in some circumstances a forest could provide a better cover than a fixed position, and some of the elder edain used forests as cover during the first age, IIRC. For the downs themselves, I don't think that, individually, they were sophisticated enough to protect their inhabitants in large numbers and for a long time against attempts to draw them out, it just wasn't what they were built for. And, to return to Tom Bombabil's words, it seems that the only times the tombs were disturbed was when the wights entered them.
Quote:
There was victory and defeat; and towers fell, fortresses were burned, and flames went up into the sky. Gold was piled on the biers of dead kings and queens; and mounds covered them, and the stone doors were shut; and the grass grew over all. Sheep walked for a while biting the grass, but soon the hills were empty again. A shadow came out of dark places far away, and the bones were stirred in the mounds. Barrow-wights walked in the hollow places with a clink of rings on cold fingers, and gold chains in the wind.
Edit:
It has also occured to me that, besides being unable to counter beyond a short term, attempts to "smoke 'em out", the graves could also be subject to flooding; and unless they are made of Orthanc-hard stone, they can be penetrated from above, sides, or one could simply reinforce the entrance, burry the dunedain for good, and forget about them. After all, what the drugs say about them, that they eat stone, shouldn't be taken literally
Edit II:
I just remembered the referrence in The Hobbit, Over Hill and Under Hill, that orcs always delighted in wheels, engines and explosives. I guess it would have been really fun for them to implode barrow after barrow

Last edited by Raynor; 11-02-2006 at 11:11 AM.
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Old 11-02-2006, 04:11 PM   #33
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I don’t doubt that any of this would be correct if the forces of Angmar were given time to pursue those goals. I just don’t think that the sparse information that we are given concerning these events indicates that Angmar occupied Cardolan for any length of time: it looks more as if the army invaded, destroyed, and slaughtered everyone they found; in that case, the tombs were secure hiding places rather than long-term defensive works: if a few invaders entered a tomb to loot it, the people inside could kill them, and it is unlikely that the entire army fell to looting tombs: that could wait until later.

The material that we have been working with (Return of the King, “Appendix A”) says that Angmar also attacked Fornost (in post #30 in this thread, I erred by writing that “there is no mention of destruction in Arthedain”: it helps to reread everything thoroughly rather than glance over it). That indicates that the war-aim of Angmar was the complete destruction of all the Northern Dúnedain kingdoms; it was successful in destroying Rhudaur and crippling Cardolan, but not in the destruction of Arthedain.

As another argument for the destruction of the fortifications of Cardolan so that the barrows were hide-outs for some of the survivors, consider that in the penultimate northern war in the winter of III 1974-1975, most of the population of Arthedain was annihilated, so that Arthedain became a kingdom with a king but no people: the only way in which this plausibly could have been accomplished is if the inhabitants were caught and killed in a few places, which implies that the Dúnedain fortifications, especially Fornost Erain, fell during siege and the inhabitants and refuges inside were killed by invaders. In fact we know that Fornost was captured and the only surviving Dúnedain fled to Lindon in that last war of 1974-75.

Finally, the major battle in the war of 1409 before the defeat of Angmar at Fornost with the assistance of the Elves of Lindon and Lórien was the fall of Amon Sûl. We often think of Amon Sûl as a single tower, but Aragorn’s approach to the main ruins leading Frodo and his companions traveled along ruined works and partially concealed roads, indicating that Amon Sûl consisted not of a single tower but also of considerable defensive works around it. If Cardolan and Arthedain committed a significant part of their forces to this battle and lost, then the speed and ferocity of the advance of Angmar into Cardolan and then to Fornost can be explained: the only people who survived in Cardolan were those who hid in the tombs or fled into the forests. The text says that “a remnant” of the Dúnedain of Cardolan survived, indicating that the majority of them were killed.
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Old 11-03-2006, 01:18 AM   #34
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I am not sure how good are the tombs even for hiding. For one thing, how much food can you store in one and how safely? How many people do you put in one? The more you put in one, the more risked get caught at once; the more barrows you use, the more the risk of not properly deleting your prints around them. How do you move inside a barrow with so many metal objects around you, that can give you away in a second? And how safely can you use light to counter that? How well can you conceal the presence of humans, with all the food and other scents giving them away? Let us remember that orcs have very good trackers among them, who can literally sniff their opponents around, as we see in The land of shadow, RotK. Are the barrow doors sealed shut? And if they are, how much air is in them? How do you safely communicate that danger has passed or that it is still around? The ones inside are basically sitting ducks, waiting to be found, while they have little if any idea of what is going on in their surroundings. All in all, the using, in and of itself, of a tomb to hid in from enemies has a _lot_ of downsides; not to mention that it implies a profanation of what is, arguably the most sacred place in Middle-Earth for them (perhaps only the gondorians would consider the hallow of Mindoluin to be of similar importance). Hiding in the forest, if that is the only purpose, provides better means of cloaking, it also allows for mobility, communication, gathering of food, attack and retreat, etc.

Concerning the possible fortifications in the barrows, there are also many possibilities: they already existed, they were reinforced in the original manner or with palisades, trenches or whatever other more or less primitive means or these means were just made there. [IIRC, the saying that more wars have been won with the shovel than with the sword has been attributed to Caesar.]
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Old 11-03-2006, 01:23 PM   #35
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Why don't we just imagine that Tom's first wife is kept hidden away in an upstairs room somewhere, unbeknownst to Goldberry?
And of course this gives the opportunity for a fan-fic entitled The Wide Sargasso Withywindle...

The finding of the brooch and what Tom says is one of those small, yet incredibly touching moments in the story - the brooch is in effect a tangible reminder of a dim and distant past, a reminder of mortality and long faded beauty. Having puzzled over who may have owned the brooch and why Tom may have taken it, I have come to the conclusion that what Tom does and says is simply out there by Tolkien as an intensely poetic moment. Maybe it is even a metaphor for story - that many years later a fragment of a life may be found in just a few words and then be taken up and passed on...

Of course, Merry does have his dream while in the Barrow that he was one of the people killed there - at night, a spear in his heart. The Barrow-downs seem to be a place which is liminal, outside normal concepts of time (as is Lothlorien) judging by Merry's experience (and so do all the Hobbits when they fall asleep in the lee of the Megalith), so when Tom finds the brooch he could quite literally be remembering a woman he did just 'see'.

Anyway, onward to the solid topic of hiding out in tombs.

Reading the new Companion and Guide I was delighted to find out that Tolkien did indeed have an interest in archaeology and ancient history. So he wrote with some knowledge and it is true that in reality people did use passage tombs as hideouts and for other purposes such as for hiding loot and storing food. Fogous are quite enigmatic in this respect as evidence of storage has been found in them, however they also appear to have been built for ritual purposes; passage tombs were not just used as sombre burial places, the people would hold feasts on the threshold to honour their ancestors - many cultures are not at all squeamish about sharing living space with the dead, in fact it is an honour (and Gondorians certainly spend a lot of time thinking about tombs and they have them in their city, too, close to them).

Passage Tombs and creeps and the like were also built to exacting standards and were (are) not often damp, nor prone to flooding. And owing to general superstitions surrounding tombs and graves (no matter how old they are, tales linger on) people might assume, rightly or wrongly, that a graveyard would be a perfect place to hide out as their enemies would never consider they would be so desperate as to choose such a frightening and possibly gruesome place to seek refuge.

It's annoying me now, as there is a well known legend of someone hiding out in a passage tomb (as distinct from ordinary Barrows, which do not have open entrances - or do not now, anyway!). That's in addition to all the tales of Arthur and Merlin living in tombs, waiting for the day they are needed again.
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Old 11-03-2006, 02:06 PM   #36
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I believe that the whole history of Numenor, Gondor and Arnor shows a huge respect for the burrial grounds.
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Originally Posted by Letter #154
In their way the Men of Gondor were similar: a withering people whose only 'hallows' were their tombs.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Letter #156
But in a kind of Noachian situation the small party of the Faithful in Numenor, under the leadership of Elendil, Isildur and Anarion ... established a kind of diminished memory of Numenor in Exile on the coasts of Middle-earth – inheriting ... the yearning for longevity, and the habit of embalming and the building of splendid tombs – their only 'hallows': or almost so.
Seeing that these lasting dunedain are called "faithful", I believe that they remain true to the core values of their kin.
Also, even if some tombs are not prone to floodings, that can be easily accomplished with some engineering efforts - cannals, small dams around the barrows or whatever. Also, I don't think that the orcs would have excluded the barrows from their suspicion list, seeing how they demonise their opponents. I found your refference to the barrows being closed constructions very interesting. From what I saw around the internet, it does seem that at least nowadays they are so, perhaps they were so from the begining, so as to avoid looting or profanation from animals.
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Old 11-03-2006, 03:37 PM   #37
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Indeed, there is huge respect for burial grounds in Middle-earth, in most of the cultures. I think that this sense of respect might in fact have led to feelings of superstition, even suspicion in cultures further down the line, and in other less respectful cultures, so this may have contributed to why these people thought the Downs would be a good place to hide. Even Orcs have their beliefs which would lead to superstition and an unwillingness not only to search the Downs for people but to even consider them as a likely hiding place!

Barrows (back in the real world now) were built over many thousands of years and by various cultures (as indeed they were in Middle-earth, as the Rohirrim still used them), by Iron Age and older cultures, but also by the Saxons and Vikings. So they had a lot of differences; there is also evidence that some very old ones could have bee re-used thousands of years later. Anyway...there are Barrows that seemed to be simple burials underneath mounds of earth, others that had openings which were sealed at a later date, and still more that remained open always - open in the sense that the way in could be seen, though it would be closed with stones or earth. Some 'Barrows' were not just burial places but also were used for other purposes.

Most of the looting would have taken place in later years sadly, by antiquarians, on whom the old tales of demons, witches and spooks would have no effect in scaring them off! Not all of them were as careful as archaeologists are today. As for animals eating the flesh of the deceased, one of the old ways of burial was excarnation - whereby the corpse would be laid out where the elements might eat away the flesh from the bones; in some cases consumption by animals was avoided by enclosing bodies (like the Zoroastrian Towers of Silence in Iran and Tibetan Sky Burials - though birds would be allowed access), but in other cultures and times (e.g. in Britain in some periods), consumption by animals would be viewed as proper. I believe some saints' bones were also preserved.

Anyway I digress now I'm onto my hobbyhorse...the main point I suppose is that burial practices of other cultures can often be quite stomach churning which leads inevitably to suspicion and superstition, and that may have been why these Men took the chance to hide out in the Downs, which may have been a comforting place to them, being the 'home' to their ancestors.
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Old 11-03-2006, 05:45 PM   #38
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Hiding in tombs is a last-ditch, desperate act. It definitely isn’t a desecration by Christian standards: the during the persecutions of the Roman emperors before Constantine, Christians were famous for hiding in the catacombs of Rome; in Paris, they also hid in the catacombs. The people who do this are not to disturb the bodies except as a last resort: but the idea is that the souls are gone, the bodies are empty, and if necessary, corpses may even be destroyed at the utmost effort if the living can thereby survive. Friar Lawrence did not believe it a desecration for Juliet to “hide” in her family tomb – Count Paris thought that Romeo had come to desecrate the tomb by disturbing the bodies and so opposed him to his grievous loss. Hiding in a tomb or mausoleum in Christian tradition is little different from hiding in a church – except that there are dead bodies about, and it is better not to disturb them. (Of course, those who disturb the dead, particularly the freshly dead (like the Barrow-Down’s “Newly Deceased”?) risk infection if disease was the cause of death.) I think that Tolkien is drawing on that tradition.

Consider, too, how the deceased would argue the case were the living under such duress that they hid amongst the dead. Would the departed Dúnedain and the Edain forebears prefer that their descendents die, or hide in their tombs to seek refuge from rapine and death?

Again, I don’t think this was a long-term solution: a few days or weeks at the very most. You are correct, Raynor, that the refugees would soon run short of victuals and perhaps of potable water, and concealing their entry and exit would be an important and possibly delicate task But I think that the army of Angmar did not long remain in any one place in Cardolan: if this invasion followed real-world historical examples, its mission after the fall of Amon Sûl was probably to kill everyone found outside fortified places, reduce each fortification as rapidly as possible and massacre their defenders, and then move on to the next place. Finding hideouts and eliminating those overlooked in the initial assault is a separate “mopping-up” operation that must be delayed until primary objectives are achieved. After the rape of Cardolan, the next objective seems to have been Fornost, to which I suspect the Army of Angmar proceeded with all speed. Stopped to hunt down, find, and clear out the hiding places (interestingly, “caves” are not mentioned as hiding places in this case) would give the remaining Arthedain army and survivors of the forces of Rhudaur, Cardolan more time to regroup and possibly repulse an attack on Fornost, giving up the critical advantages of speed and momentum.

Finally, the text strongly implies that few of the Dúnedain of Cardolan survived, only “a remnant,” whether they hid in the Forest, in the tombs, or any strongholds not overrun by the soldiery of Angmar.
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Old 11-04-2006, 02:42 AM   #39
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There are more than 200 years between the retreating of the Cardolan dunedain to the barrow downs (1409) and their noted dissappearance, at the time of the coming of the plague (1636).
It also seems that the phrasing:
A remnant of the faithful among the Dunedain of Cardolan also held out in Tyrn Gorthad (the Barrowdowns)
as opposed to
or took refuge in the Forest behind
means that those who were in the BD were not as much hiding, as resisting in that position. I would also note that in the Tale of years it is stated that Tyrn Gorthad is "defended" in 1409; this reinforces the idea that it was a position held in strength, about which the enemy knew there was an active opposition (the last successful one in Cardolan actually), not a hopefuly unknown hiding place.
Tom referrs to the tombs being "stirred" only at the coming of the wights, a referrence which I think remains unadressed.
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