Weapons are tools and objects designed for hunting or warfare and in the world of Arda they have been used for both.
The most common and favored types of weapons were bows, arrows, spears, pikes, and swords. Other weapons were axes, favored exclusively by the dwarves, maces, war hammers, battering rams, and crossbows. The more exotic types of weapons such as: Wizard Staffs, morgul-blades, and siege tools were used by the wise and crafty for good or evil purposes on special occasions or whenever the need called for it.
Origins (speculative) and HistoryEdit
As the Valar used the powers of the Ainur given to them by Eru, they had no real use for handheld weapons at least not any of any recognizable conventions, and their greatest champion bore no weapon and fought only with his hands. As Melkor began corrupting and despoiling the world creating many unnatural monsters, weapons became necessary or at the very least preferred for Oromë was a great hunter and was often in Middle-earth hunting these unnatural abominations. The weapons that he used were probably fashioned by him or perhaps Aulë assisted him, as he worked with and used many hand tools. Weapons were probably used against Melkor when he became more powerful and was a threat to the elves and had to be removed.
The elves in Cuiviénen no doubt fashioned their own weapons or perhaps fathomed there use. When the elves eventually did come to Aman, they learned much from the Valar but had no use for weapons as Aman was a hallowed place. Only when Melkor, who released from prison began spreading many lies creating dissention between the Noldor of the House of Finwë. It was then that they began fashioning weapons particularly that of Fëanor who had been trained by Mahtan, a great smith trained by Aulë. This was the first time weapons specifically designed for real warfare not hunting were to be made by one of Children of Ilúvatar.
When Melkor returned to Middle-earth with the Silmarils, his armies attacked the Sindar and they were almost totally unprepared lacking in heavy weapons and suffering heavy casualties. This event was the beginning of a long war and the beginning of a long era of protracted on and off warfare against the forces of darkness that would last for thousands of years. During these wars, weapons and armies would not only become commonplace but a perfected art form including in it many elaborate machines of war. Over this great space of time, other races would soon develop the arts and arms of war.
List of known Canonical weaponsEdit
Anglachel and GurthangEdit
Anglachel (meaning Iron of the Flaming Star in Sindarin) is a sword smithed by Eöl the Dark Elf. It was one of two swords Eöl forged out of a black meteorite: the other, Anguirel, he kept for himself. Eöl gave this sword to Thingol as payment for staying in his forest, Nan Elmoth, though he did not relish giving it away. Thingol's wife, Melian, prophesied the following:
- "There is malice in this sword. The dark heart of the smith still dwells in it. It will not love the hand it serves; neither will it abide with you long."
Thingol gave the sword in keeping to his subject Beleg. Whenever Beleg took the sword out of its sheath, the sword is said to have sung with gladness.
At one time, Beleg was unbinding the unconscious Túrin, who had been held captive. However, whilst undoing his bonds, the sword slipped or fell and cut Túrin in his foot. Túrin then woke, and not knowing who it was, slew Beleg with Anglachel, a mistake that he mourned for a long time.
Anglachel was then re-forged by the expert smithies at Nargothrond, and was renamed by its new keeper, Túrin, to Gurthang, which means Iron of Death. The orcs and elves called the weapon, and Túrin, "Mormegil", signifying Black Sword. When Túrin discovered that Nienor was his sister and that she had killed herself, in despair he fell upon his sword.
- 'Hail Gurthang! No lord or loyalty dost thou know, save the hand that wieldeth thee. From no blood wilt thou shrink. Wilt thou therefore take Túrin Turambar, wilt thou slay me swiftly?'
- And from the blade rang a cold voice in answer: 'Yea, I will drink thy blood gladly, that so I may forget the blood of Beleg my master, and the blood of Brandir slain unjustly. I will slay thee swiftly.'
Angrist (Sindarin: Iron-cutter) was a knife made by Telchar of Nogrod and borne by Curufin. It was taken from Curufin by Beren, who used it to cut a Silmaril out of Morgoth's Iron Crown. However, as he was attempting to remove a second Silmaril, the knife broke in his hand and cut Morgoth.
Aranrúth (King's Ire), was a sword that belonged to Elu Thingol, King of Doriath and High King of the Sindar. It later became a sword of the Kings of Númenor but was eventually lost with Ar-Pharazon, who was entombed on the shores of Aman.
The Black Arrow was an heirloom of the house of Girion passed down to Bard. It was his last arrow remaining when Smaug attacked Laketown and, directed by a thrush, he shot it into a weak spot in the dragon's armour killing him.
The Black Arrow was forged by Thror the Dwarf, who was "King Under The (Lonely) Mountain" according to The Hobbit. It is not known if it had any magical properties, but Bard said that he had successfully retrieved it every time he used it (like Beleg's arrow Dailir, see below).
The Barrow-blades are daggers or short swords forged in Arnor in the early Third Age. They are found by the Hobbits in the barrow of a Barrow-wight and given to them by Tom Bombadil. Frodo's sword breaks in the confrontation with the Nazgul on the banks of the River near Rivendell and is replaced by Sting. Sam, Merry and Pippin keep their swords.
Merry's barrow-blade plays a major role in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields- He stabs the Witch King of Angmar in the knee with it. Being of Númenórean make, it breaks the spell protecting his undead flesh and pierces his knee. He falls to the ground, and this gives Eowyn the chance to kill him.
The Barrow-blades are described as red in colour, with "flowing characters of Númenor " inscribed on them. They will not rust, so long as they are kept in their sheaths and are "wrought with spells for the doom of Mordor".
Belthronding and DailirEdit
Glamdring was a sword, forged for the elf Turgon in the First Age. For several thousand years it went missing, until Gandalf (and company) found it (along with Sting and Orcrist) in the trolls' cave in The Hobbit and claimed it for himself. He continued to use Glamdring through the events of The Lord of the Rings.
Glamdring is translated as Foe-hammer, and the goblins in The Hobbit call it "Beater".
Glamdring, along with Orcrist, its mate, are described in The Hobbit as having "...beautiful scabbards and jeweled hilts", and Glamdring is referred to by Elrond as "Foe-hammer that the king of Gondolin once wore". In Unfinished Tales, one of the footnotes to the story "Of Tuor and his Coming to Gondolin" mentions that the sword of Turgon was "...white and gold...in a ruel-bone (ivory) sheath,..." While Glamdring is not mentioned by name, it is reasonable to assume that the same sword is described.
Glamdring is inscribed with runes in the Elven language. In the movies released by New Line Cinema and directed by Peter Jackson, the runes say "Turgon Aran Gondolin, Tortha gar a matha Glamdring, Vegil Glamdring gud daelo. Dam an Glamhoth." which translates to "Turgon, king of Gondolin, wields, has, and holds the sword Glamdring, Foe of Morgoth's realm, Hammer of the Orcs." This inscription, however, was not mentioned in any of J. R. R. Tolkien's writings. All Tolkien says in The Hobbit is that the names of the swords were given in the runes, but nothing else is clearly stated. The invented inscription for the movie sword, however, does sound plausible, since Elrond was able to identify that the sword belonged to Turgon.
One problem, though, is that the inscription is given in Sindarin, but in an essay written late in J. R. R. Tolkien's life, he explicitly states that Turgon had re-established Quenya as the language of his household in Gondolin (see The Peoples of Middle-earth, p. 348). Curiously, it is mentioned in The Hobbit that Gandalf could not read the runes, but that Elrond could, suggesting they were inscribed not in normal Cirth but in some special mode which Gandalf did not know—or, as is more likely, it was at first an inconsistency on Tolkien's part, keeping in mind that The Hobbit had not originally been intended to be so closely woven into the Silmarillion legends. Although the inscription in the film version is Lord of the Rings-era Sindarin and Cirth, the Elvish languages had certainly changed since Turgon's time, so it may be that since Elrond was a survivor from the First Age, he would have been able to read the inscription, whereas Gandalf, who had lived in Aman until the middle Third Age, was unacquainted with it.
Like all High-Elven swords, Glamdring is supposed to glow with a blue or white flame when Orcs (or Balrogs) are near, like Frodo's sword Sting and Thorin Oakenshield's sword Orcrist, which were also made in Gondolin. However this was left out of the Lord of the Rings movies by New Line Cinema because they felt it would be confusing.
In addition to the licensed reproduction sword linked below, Del Tin Antiche of Italy made unlicensed interpretations of both Glamdring and Orcrist, which were sold through Museum Replicas, Ltd. back in the mid to late 1980s. These were very high quality steel and well constructed (if quite plain).
Another rather ornate version of Orcrist created by Greg Hildebrandt was issued by Franklin Mint in 1998
- External link: Licensed Glamdring Reproduction
Grond (Warhammer) (called the Hammer of the Underworld) is the name of two weapons:
In the First Age, Grond was the great mace of Morgoth Bauglír, the first Dark Lord, who wielded it when he fought with Fingolfin, High King of the Noldor. With every blow from the hammer that struck the ground, a crater was formed. Morgoth managed to kill the High King, but not without receiving seven wounds himself.
During the War of the Ring in the Third Age, the name was used for a great battering ram. A hundred feet long with a head shaped like a snarling wolf, it was used in the siege of Minas Tirith. Aided by spells laid on it by the Witch-king of Angmar, and the spells cast upon it during its forging in Mordor, Grond destroyed the formidable gate of Minas Tirith in just three blows.
In Peter Jackson's The Return of the King, Grond has fire spewing from its gaping jaws and is pulled by four huge rhinoceros-like creatures (such "Great Beasts" were briefly mentioned as pulling it in the book). The wolf design is extended, with the whole battering ram carved to resemble a great wolf. Gothmog refers to it as "the wolf's head" in the film.
Gúthwinë (Old English battle-friend) was a sword that belonged to Éomer. It was borne by him at the battle of Hornburg, and presumably at the battle of the Pelennor Fields and the battle before Morannon.
Herugrim was a sword that belonged to Théoden. He had entrusted the blade to Gríma Wormtongue for "safekeeping", but Gríma hid it away and allowed it to rust. When Gandalf restored Théoden to power, the sword was renewed as well.
- External link: Licensed Herugrim Reproduction
A Morgul-blade is a Magic (paranormal) magical poisoned dagger.
At Weathertop, during his journey to Rivendell with the One Ring, the Hobbit Frodo Baggins was stabbed with a Morgul-blade by the leader of the Nazgûl. A fragment of the blade remained within the wound, working its way toward his heart and threatening to turn Frodo into a wraith. Elrond was able to remove the shard and heal the wound, but each year on the anniversary of his stabbing Frodo became seriously ill. Only his eventual departure to Eldamar offered a permanent cure.
Narsil and AndúrilEdit
Narsil was the sword of King Elendil of the Dúnedain. It was forged during the First Age by the Dwarf Telchar, making it a cousin to the blade Angrist which cut a Silmaril from the crown of Morgoth. The name contains the elements nar "fire" and thil "white light", referring to the sun and moon.
Elendil used Narsil in the Siege of Barad-dûr and, being slain in combat with Sauron, fell over it and broke it. His son Isildur took it up and used its shard to cut the One Ring from the hand of Sauron. Isildur took the shards home with him. After Isildur was killed in TA 2, the shards were rescued by Ohtar, esquire of Isildur. He took them to Rivendell, where Isildur's youngest son Valandil was fostered.
The Shards of Narsil were one of the heirlooms of the Kings of Arnor, and after the Northern Kingdom was destroyed they remained an heirloom of the Rangers of the North, although it was not reforged until the War of the Ring.
In 3019 TA Narsil was reforged in Rivendell as the sword Andúril (Sindarin for "Flame of the West") for the heir of Isildur, Aragorn. He carried the sword during his journey south as part of the Fellowship of the Ring and it featured prominently at several points in the story, where it was sometimes referred to as the Sword that was Broken.
Boromir, son of the Steward of Gondor, travelled to Rivendell in time for the Council of Elrond because of the prophetic dream of his brother Faramir, in which he was told to "Seek for the Sword that was broken". Aragorn often uses the sword to help to establish his credentials.
Narsil (broken and reforged) acts as a symbol of the kingship of Arnor and Gondor. As Chieftain of the Rangers of the North, Aragorn carries the fragments of the ancient sword, secret but ever vigilant, and the blade is reforged when he sets out to reclaim his kingdom.
In the movie trilogy by Peter Jackson, Narsil was not broken in two but in several parts (which were kept at Rivendell), and is not reforged until the third movie, when it is brought to Aragorn (who seems to need the encouragement) by Elrond. In the book, Aragorn actually wears the broken blade and shows it to the Hobbits when they meet at Bree, and its reforging prior to the departure of the Fellowship is a decisive move toward kingship.
Orcrist is a noted sword of the Dwarf-lord Thorin Oakenshield from The Hobbit. Orcrist is Sindarin for "Goblin-cleaver" ("Goblin" being another word for "orc"). It was crafted by the elves of Gondolin, who not only made it a valuable weapon, also a feared one, particularly among traditional enemies of the elves: orcs and other evil creatures of Middle-earth. Orcrist as well as Sting and Glamdring, was found in a troll lair on a Journey to the Lonely Mountain. Sting and Glamdring, the blade could detect the presence of orcs and warn its bearer by glowing blue. It is also known as "biter" by the Goblins encountered by Bilbo and the Dwarves from whom they took both it and Glamdring, or "beater," which became Gandalf's sword. In The Hobbit, Thorin is mortally wounded at the Battle of Five Armies. After his death Orcrist is placed upon Thorin's tomb and that it "gleamed ever in the dark if foes approached" (The Hobbit Chapter 18, "The Return Journey").
Its flights were black and its barbs were made of steel, and it took its name from a mark of red painted on the arrow's tip, standing for blood to show the situation was serious. The black flights were like the orc arrow.
First mention of the Red Arrow is when Borondir of Gondor and five other messengers rode north along Anduin to seek out Gondor's old allies, the Éothéod, when Gondor was being overrun by Easterlings, in TA 2509. Borondir was the only survivor, and presented the Red Arrow to the Éothéod King Eorl the Young.
Later it became a summons for the Rohirrim. The Red Arrow was presented to Rohan by Hirgon in the War of the Ring, and Théoden King rode out with the Muster of Rohan to the Battle of the Pelennor Fields.
Ringil was the sword of Fingolfin, High-King of the Noldor. It bit with chilling cold, and glittered with blue ice. Fingolfin wielded it to great effect against Morgoth, wounding him seven times. However, he was slain by the Black Enemy, who broke his neck with his foot.
Sting was an elvish knife made in Gondolin in the First Age. Sting was used as a sword by Bilbo, who found it in a troll-hoard together with Glamdring and Orcrist. Although it was just the size of a dagger by the standard of men or elves, it made an excellent sword for a Hobbit. Bilbo gives Sting to Frodo, just before the Fellowship of the Ring sets off from Rivendell. Peter Jackson, the director of the movie series of the Lord of the Rings, added an inscription on the blade. This is not mentioned in any of Tolkien's works, but is a completely original idea of Jackson's. The inscription is in Sindarin, but means "Maegnas (Sting in Sindarin) is my name, I am the spider's bane." It has the magic ability to detect any orc presence near it. When this presence is felt, it glows blue, as it does when the Fellowship encounters orcs in the mines of Moria. Gollum, who clearly dislikes anything made by elves, is afraid of Sting. This fear helped Bilbo when confronting Gollum under the mountain in The Hobbit. It also helps Frodo to tame Gollum (temporarily) in The Lord of the Rings.
- External link: Licensed Sting Reproduction
The Witch-king's weaponsEdit
In The Fellowship of the Ring, the Witch-King of Angmar wields a normal sword, as do his fellow Ringwraiths, as well as the Morgul-blade he stabs Frodo with. In The Return of the King, he wields a flaming sword at his confrontation with Gandalf at the Gate of Minas Tirith. He does not use it at his duel with Éowyn, however; instead he wields a flail(similar to a mace, but with the weighted end on a length of chain).
- External link: Licensed Witch-king sword Reproduction
- External link: Licensed Witch-king dagger Reproduction
Weapons in generalEdit
One of the most common weapons in Middle-Earth, Swords make a good stabbing weapon as well as a slashing weapon. Among the elves, the Noldor were famed for their swords. The Dwarves used swords as well. In The Hobbit Dain's troops bear short swords and shields as well as axes. Telchar the dwarf forged Narsil, the sword of Elendil and later Aragorn (as Andúril). As described in Unfinished Tales, the Númenoreans used a short sword called an eket. It was a stabbing weapon. Isildur threw all his weapons and armor away except his eket when escaping from an orc-ambush at the Disaster of the Gladden Fields. Common orcs used curved swords (the word Tolkien uses is scimitars) while Saruman's Uruk-hai used short broad-bladed ones.
Axes were primarily the weapons of the Dwarves. Dain's dwarves were described as wielding "two-handed mattocks". The Sindar of the First Age were lightly armed in battle, and used axes as well. The Orc-men at the Pelennor Fields used broad axes.
Elves were known to have used longbows (in the case of the elves of Doriath and Lothlórien) and smaller bows (in the case of Legolas and the elves of Mirkwood). The human woodsmen in The Hobbit were said to use great yew bows, as did Saruman's Uruk-hai. As described in Unfinished Tales, the Númenóreans used a type of bow called the steelbow, which was hollow and made of steel, as its name implies. It was much feared by their enemies.
Spears were common in Middle-earth. The Vanyar were famous for their spears. The Rangers of the Grey Company bore spears in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields. The elves of Mirkwood also bore spears in the Battle of the Five Armies. Saruman used pikemen in the Battles of the Fords of Isen (though not at the Hornburg as in the movie).
In The Lord of the Rings Hadhafang is a sword used by Arwen. The sword and its history are not part of the original story, but were invented for the movies. In the books, Arwen is never seen in combat. Since her character was given an action scene in the movie version, it was deemed necessary to give her a weapon and to provide the weapon with a back story like many of the fictional weapons described in the original novel. According to the movie trilogy's official publicity material, Hadhafang (whose name is a newly-coined Sindarin word meaning "throng-cleaver"), once belonged to the Elven Princess Idril, who wed a mortal man (Tuor) and bore Eärendil, the father of Elrond, who in turn was father to Arwen. Before Arwen's birth, Elrond wielded Hadhafang at the end of the second age of Middle-earth, during the Last Alliance of Elves and Men in the great battle against Sauron on the slopes of Mount Doom.
Later his daughter, Arwen, used Hadhafang when she aided Frodo in his escape from the Ringwraiths. Inscribed on the blade are Cirth (runes) in Sindarin that say, "Aen estar Hadhafang i chathol hen, thand arod dan i thang an i arwen." Which transfers to "this blade is called Hadhafang, a noble defense against the enemy throng for a noble lady." (In Sindarin "Arwen" actually means "noble (or royal) woman").
Like all of the props used in the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, Hadhafang was manufactured by Weta Workshop.
- External link: Licensed Hadhafang Reproduction
The Pale BladeEdit
Weapons in generalEdit
The Uruk-hai used Crossbows at Helm's Deep. Although, Tolkien never mentions them in the book.
Not found in the original text, the Lhang is an elvish sword. It was developed by designers and armourers at Weta Workshop for use in the Lord of the Rings film trilogy. It is reminiscent of the Japanese nagamaki. Some viewers have found this Eastern-influenced weapon odd, since Tolkien drew from Western sources for his work.
Examples of Masters in ArmsEdit
|Weapons of Middle-earth|
|Aeglos | Andúril | Anglachel | Anguirel | Angrist | Aranrúth | Belthronding | Dagmor | Dailir | Dramborleg | Durin's Axe | Glamdring | Grond | Grond (Warhammer) | Gúthwinë | Gurthang | Herugrim | Morgul-blade | Narsil | Orcrist | Red Arrow | Ringil | Sting|