Tolkien Gateway


Revision as of 19:00, 15 January 2018 by Mith (Talk | contribs)
Burial chambers
Ted Nasmith - Under the Spell of the Barrow-wight.jpg
"Under the Spell of the Barrow-wight" by Ted Nasmith
LocationMost notably in Barrow-downs
OwnerThe rich among the dead
AppearanceMounds ("barrows") in which the dead were placed with some of their wealth

Barrows were earthworks and burial chambers made by Men.


The mounds of the Barrow-downs in Eriador were built in the First Age by the ancestors of the Edain and their chieftains were buried there.

In the late Second Age and afterwards, the Tyrn Gorthad lay within the bounds of Arnor and later of Cardolan. The Dúnedain of Cardolan used the barrows to bury their dead, such as the last prince of Cardolan, slain in the war of T.A. 1409.

The Witch-king of Angmar, though, sent evil spirits to inhabit the Barrow-downs, and they became a place of horror.[1]

On 28 September T.A. 3018[2] Merry, Pippin, Sam, and finally Frodo were captured by a Barrow-wight when they had wandered the downs after visiting Tom Bombadil. Within the barrow (believed by some to be that of the last prince of Cardolan[1]) Frodo awoke to see his friends lying on the floor looking deathly pale. He heard a song or incantation and saw a long arm groping towards Sam. Seizing a sword, Frodo hewed off the hand of the arm, then began speaking the rhyme that Tom had taught the hobbits. Tom broke into the chamber and rescued the hobbits, and the sunlight destroyed the wight.[3]


A "barrow" (or "berrow"; from English beorg, berg, 'hill, mound') not to be confused with the wheeled vehicle, is a tumulus or other prehistoric grave-mound.[4]


  1. 1.0 1.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Eriador, Arnor, and the Heirs of Isildur"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Great Years"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "Fog on the Barrow-downs"
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Nomenclature of The Lord of the Rings" in Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, p. 766