Beornings also known as skin-changers were a race of men that were able to change into bears. They were descended from Beorn, from whom they inherited their name and their ability to turn into bears. They dwelt in the Vales of Anduin between Mirkwood and the Great River. During the Third Age they guarded the Ford of Carrock from the Orcs and Wargs (though Gloin lamented that their tolls were high) and they also aided the Elves in defending their kingdom in northern Mirkwood.
Beornings are magical shape-changing beings who could take different forms at will. Little is known about them and of their abilities. The only skin-changers identified by Tolkien were Beorn and his descendants (who could take the shape of a man or of a bear).
They had the same life-span of mortal men, and could speak in both the tongue of men and of bears. They did not seem very fond of Dwarves, and were enemies with the Goblins. The people of Rohan shared kinship with them. They hunted neither bird nor beast and lived mostly off of cream and honey.
The Beornings were well known for their honey-cakes, which they likely made in their bee farms and sold openly to others, at least until the return of Sauron, for then the Beornings no longer trusted strangers and their trade stopped. Gimli considered the Beornings the best bakers he knew, though they were not so willing to give out their cakes to travelers during the days of the War of the Ring.
During the War of the Ring, while wearing the One Ring at Amon Hen upon the seat of seeing, Frodo Baggins saw many things from afar, including the land of the Beornings aflame. This hints at an attack by Sauron's forces upon the Beornings, though the outcome of this attack is unknown.
Gandalf believed that Beorn might have come from the mountains, making the Beornings descendants of the men of the mountains. The only known leaders of this people were Beorn and later his son Grimbeorn.
- Beornings appear in the video game The Lord of the Rings: War of the Ring, in this game they can turn into a bear at will and when in human form can heal other units.
- In Old Norse, björn meant "brown"; the English word bear is from the Germanic word beron (literally, "the brown one").
- Beornings also appear in the video game The Hobbit where they help kill the goblin king after you free him from an enchanted, purple, shell.
- The Hobbit/The Hobbit (1982 video game) (First appearance)
- The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (Mentioned only)
- The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (Mentioned only)
- The Lord of the Rings: War of the Ring
- Skinchangers at The Encyclopedia of Arda