The One Wiki to Rule Them All

List of Miscellaneous Items and Objects of Note

Redirected from Matches

6,128pages on
this wiki
Add New Page
Talk0 Share

Miscellaneous Items and Objects of Note are things of properly referenced and justified things of interest in Tolkien canon.


300px-The Hobbit - The Desolation of Smaug - Packing the Dwarves

The Dwarves in Barrels

Barrels were used by the Elves of Mirkwood to ship items such as apples, wine, and many other foods. They were shipped back to their origin when emptied via a brook that ran down the middle of the Mirkwood Elves' fortress, where they were pushed into the brook via a portcullis, and then finally float along the Forest River.

Barrels are only mentioned in The Hobbit, when Bilbo Baggins freed the Dwarves from the dungeons by using the Ring to open up the locks of the cells that held the twelve Dwarves while the Elves enjoyed a feast. He went, still wearing the Ring, and found twelve barrels, put some straw in them, and sealed them up. Then the Elves pushed the barrels, which they believe to be empty, into the brook. Bilbo, being unable to go into a barrel himself, grabbed onto the last barrel and held on the bottom, using it as a "life ring". Later, he pulled over another barrel and used the two barrels as a raft. After a meal, the barrels were tied up into a raft, pushed by Elves and finally end up near Lake-town, where they were hauled back to shore by men. At this point, the barrels containing the Dwarves were opened by Bilbo. Thorin, Fíli and Kíli and many of the Dwarves took a while to get back to normal, due to slightly leaky barrels and lack of air. A number seemed only half alive.[1]

Flags and SymbolsEdit

There were several flags in Middle-earth;

Friendly NationsEdit

Elvish NationsEdit

Nations of MenEdit

  • The emblem on the banners of Elendil and his heirs was six-pointed stars.
  • Gondor had a white tree on a gray background.
  • The prince of Dol Amroth also had a flag that carried the image of a white ship like a swan on blue water.
  • Rohan's flag was green with a white horse and red-gold icons.[3][4]

Nations of EvilEdit

  • The forces of Morgoth used a field of sable, emblazoned as a symbol.
  • Saruman used a black flag with a hand (the White Hand of Saruman) as his symbol.
  • Mordor's flag was long, large and black, with the Eye of Sauron at the center. The Corsairs of Umbar also used this flag.
  • The Haradrim used a red banner with a black snake on it.[3][4]
  • The Easterlings wielded a banner of red with gold trimmings, and had a silver snake.



Clocks are a form of timekeeping technology the Shire folk; the Hobbits.


The Shire clocks are very important part of Hobbits every day life[5] as they must keep a schedule of when to have their multiple breakfasts or when setting up appointments with others. The hobbits use the term 'o'clock' in the Shire reckoning of time. Clocks are considered a sign of comfort in Hobbit life, and apparently found in every hobbit hole.[6]

Bilbo Baggins kept a clock on the mantelpiece above his fireplace which he and others often placed letters.

Despite the ingenious nature of the technology it has apparently not moved beyond the Shire.

It is said that Hobbits did not understand or like machines more complicated than a forge-bellows, a water-mill, or a hand-loom though they were skilful with tools; but whatever reason clocks were an exception.

Behind the scenesEdit

Clocks first appear in The Hobbit, but also referenced throughout LOTR by the Hobbits. Of note it is even referenced in the index of LOTR.

The mantel clock is a rare bit of modern used technology found in the Middle-earth legendarium appearing to be more advanced than the tools and machines many of the other races are known to use. It appears anomalous and a bit anachronistic to the technologies used outside the shire. But it also a plot tool that helps ground Hobbits into a more contemporary but heroic everyman characters that the reader can better relate to.

John Rateliff notes in the History of the Hobbit;

Like the Britain of Geoffrey of Monmouth and Aegidius of Ham, Bilbo’s world is full of anachronisms, from policemen on bicycles to mantle clocks; in this The Hobbit resembles works like Dunsany’s ‘The Bird of the Difficult Eye’ and ‘The Long Porter’s Tale’ (both in The Last Book of Wonder [1916]) more than, say, the neo-medieval romances of William Morris.



Matches are a Hobbit a tool used to light pipe-weed in their clay smoking pipes.


Matches are not commonly used outside of the Shire. Matches are said to never caught on with Dwarves who use only tinder-boxes. On long journeys tinder-boxes are more practical as tinder is more readily available; as Hobbits tend to run out of matches when they need them most.

When Bilbo was lost in the Goblin caves he tried to feel in his pockets for any spare matches but couldn't find any at all, but he realized that the striking of matches and smell of tobacco would have exposed his position to the Goblins.

After leaving the Misty Mountains; the Dwarves had needed Gandalf to light a fire after they lost their tinder-boxes. They commonly use tinder-boxes and had never really took to using matches.

Behind the scenesEdit

The matches are a rare bit of modern used technology found in the Middle-earth legendarium appearing to be more advanced than most races use flint and tinder. It appears anomalous and a bit anachronistic to the technologies used outside the shire. But it also a plot tool that helps ground Hobbits into a more contemporary everyman character that the reader can better relate to being the central character of the plot. John Rateliff notes in the The History of the Hobbit;

Chapter VI observes that 'Dwarves have never taken to matches even yet' (DAA.159). Whether this line, and the relatively modern touch of Bilbo’s pocket-matches in Chapter V (DAA.116), would have survived in the 1960 Hobbit, had the Fifth Phase reached so far, is an unanswerable question; at any rate, they survived unchanged through the third edition changes of 1966.

In real world matches predate fireworks something that Gandalf has introduced to the Shire. As they are based on similar technology it may be possible that matches were introduced to the shire by Gandalf as well.


  1. The Hobbit, Chapter IX: "Barrels Out of Bond"
  2. The Silmarillion
  3. 3.0 3.1 The Lord of the Rings
  4. 4.0 4.1 The Complete Guide to Middle-earth
  5. 'About a couple of hours after daybreak,' said Sam, ‘and nigh on half past eight by Shire clocks, maybe. J.R.R. Tolkien (2009-04-17). The Lord of the Rings (p. 655). Harper Collins, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
  6. I wonder how many breakfasts, and other meals, we have missed inside that nasty clockless, timeless hole?” Tolkien, J.R.R. (2009-04-17). The Hobbit (Kindle Locations 3707-3708). Harper Collins, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

External linksEdit

Ad blocker interference detected!

Wikia is a free-to-use site that makes money from advertising. We have a modified experience for viewers using ad blockers

Wikia is not accessible if you’ve made further modifications. Remove the custom ad blocker rule(s) and the page will load as expected.