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This article is about Thorin's sword. For the journal, see Orcrist (journal).
Ted Nasmith - Orcrist, The Goblin Cleaver.jpg
"Orcrist, The Goblin Cleaver" by Ted Nasmith
Other namesBiter
LocationGondolin, Trollshaws, Erebor
AppearanceSword with a jewelled hilt, glowed blue in the presence of Orcs
CreatedGondolin, First Age
Notable forBeing Thorin's Blade
GalleryImages of Orcrist
"This, Thorin, the runes name Orcrist, the Goblin-cleaver in the ancient tongue of Gondolin; it was a famous blade."
― Elrond, "A Short Rest"

Orcrist was an Elven sword, the mate of Glamdring. It had a decorated scabbard and a jewelled hilt. Like Glamdring and Sting, the blade could detect the presence of Orcs and warn its bearer by glowing blue.

Goblins called the blade Biter.[1] It had been crafted by the Elves, who not only made it a valuable weapon, but also a feared one to their enemies, particularly among Orcs and other evil creatures.[2]


[edit] History

As the "mate" to King Turgon's sword Glamdring, Orcrist was likely borne by him, or a high ranking lord of the Gondolindrim in the King's entourage.

Orcrist "had killed hundreds of goblins in its time, when the fair elves of Gondolin hunted them in the hills or did battle before their walls".[1] During the Fall of Gondolin, Rog, Duilin, Egalmoth, Tuor and Ecthelion's houses defended at the gates before the walls. Ecthelion led a charge that resulted in the deaths of thousands of orcs, which made his name a terror to their race, before fighting Gothmog.

By the Third Age Orcrist and its mate were found and kept in a trolls' cave in Eriador. Thorin and Company, found and searched the cave early in the Quest of Erebor, and Thorin Oakenshield obtained the weapon.[3] Elrond identified the sword and Thorin promised to honor the sword and hoped to cleave Goblins once again[2] which he did when captured in Goblin-town.[1]

Thorin was disarmed when captured by the Elves of Mirkwood and Orcrist was kept there.[4] However after his death, Thranduil returned Orcrist and placed it upon Thorin's tomb under Erebor, and it "gleamed ever in the dark if foes approached".[5]

[edit] Etymology

Orcrist is Sindarin for "goblin-cleaver".[6]

In the Etymologies, the name Orchrist is said to be a "sword-name", related to Noldorin risto ("rend, rip"), derived from the root RIS ("slash, rip").[7]

[edit] Portrayal in adaptations

2012-14: The Hobbit (film series):

As in the book, the sword is found in the trolls' cave and is identified as Orcrist by Elrond in Rivendell. The hilt of the sword is a dragon's tooth and the sword contains the Sindarin inscription "NAGOL E-LYG" meaning "Tooth of-Snake [or dragon]".[8]
When it is discovered by the Goblins, the Great Goblin recognizes the sword, and claims that it sliced a thousand necks. Later, when Thorin and Company are captured by the Wood-elves, Legolas personally confiscates the sword, believing that Thorin Oakenshield had stolen it from his kinfolk. He then takes up the legendary weapon as his own, using it when Bolg and his stealth-Orcs raid Lake-town in search of the Dwarves, and during the Battle of the Five Armies, where he returns Orcrist to Thorin just in time for his final showdown with Azog the Defiler.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Over Hill and Under Hill"
  2. 2.0 2.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "A Short Rest"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Roast Mutton"
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Flies and Spiders"
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "The Return Journey"
  6. Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, p. 265
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, Part Three: "The Etymologies", p. 384
  8. Jude Fisher, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug: Visual Companion, p. 13

Weapons of Middle-earth
Aeglos · Andúril · Anglachel · Angrist · Anguirel · Aranrúth · Belthronding · Black Arrow · Bow of Bregor · Bow of the Galadhrim · Daggers of Westernesse · Dagmor · Dailir · Dramborleg · Durin's Axe · Glamdring · Grond · Gúthwinë · Gurthang · Herugrim · Morgul-knife · Narsil · Orcrist · Red Arrow · Ringil · Sting