Tolkien Gateway

Trolls' Cave

Tell me, who are you, alone, yourself and nameless? - Tom Bombadil
This article describes a concept which is mentioned in J.R.R. Tolkien's works, but was never given a definite name.
Trolls' Cave
Cave
David T. Wenzel - Cave.jpg
The cave from David T. Wenzel's The Hobbit
General Information
LocationWestern Trollshaws
TypeCave
DescriptionA messy, smell cave on a hill
InhabitantsThe three Trolls

The Trolls' Cave was the hideout of the three trolls, Tom, Bert and William that captured Bilbo and the dwarves. The cave served as their hideout from the Sun and also their treasury and storeroom.

Contents

Description

The cave floor had bones and an untidy litter of plunder, from brass button to pots of gold. On shelves was a good deal of food, along with a barrel of ale. Clothing of victims hung on the walls as well as several swords. There was also a horrible smell in the air.

History

"One may guess that your trolls had plundered, other plunderers, or come on the remnants of old robberies in some hole in the mountains of old. I have heard that there are still forgotten treasures to be found in the deserted caverns of the mines of Moria, since the dwarf and goblin war."
Elrond[1]

After Gandalf had rescued Thorin and his party, he reminded them that the trolls must have a cave or hole to hide in from the sun. Searching about, they followed the marks of stony boots uphill to a big stone door hidden by bushes. Pushing and incantations by Gandalf did not open it. Then Bilbo asked if the key he had found would help. It did.

The party took much of the food, the barrel of ale, and the gold. Gandalf and Thorin took two swords with beautiful scabbards and jewelled hilts, and Bilbo took a knife in a leather sheath (which for a hobbit was as good as a short sword). Outside the cave the party ate and rested, and then buried the pots of gold near the river with many spells put over them.[2]

Later in Rivendell it was Elrond who read the runes on the swords of Gandalf and Thorin. He revealed that they were very old and had been made by the High Elves of the West, in Gondolin. Thus from the trolls' cave Thorin obtained Orcrist the Goblin-cleaver and Gandalf got Glamdring the Foe-hammer.[3] Much later Bilbo would name his short sword from the trolls' cave "Sting".[4]

Other Versions of the Legendarium

In the manuscript for The Hobbit the Company found something else in the Trolls' cave besides the three swords - they also found the key to the Back Door of the Lonely Mountain, although they did not know it at the time.[5] Gandalf took charge of the key in the cave and gave it to Thorin just before he departed from the Company at the gates of Mirkwood.[6] On Durin's Day it was Bilbo who recalled the troll-key and they found that it was the right one to open the door.[7]

Portrayal in adaptations

1968: The Hobbit (1968 radio series):

Trolls' Cave features in this adaptation without any difference from book.

1977: The Hobbit (1977 film):

In this film, the cave does not have a locked door as in the book.

1979: The Hobbit (1979 radio series):

Trolls' Cave appears in this adaptation with the same role as in the book.

2003: The Hobbit (2003 video game):

In the game, the cave is explored by Bilbo, and it is implied that it was built by Witch-king.

2007: The Lord of the Rings Online:

The Trolls' Cave, along with the Stone Trolls' Glade, is located in the Trollshaws region. The cave is inaccessible.

2012: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey:

Trolls' Cave appears in the first film of The Hobbit film series as an open tunnel with no locked door blocking it. Bilbo finds Sting inside the cave.

References

  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "A Short Rest"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Roast Mutton"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "A Short Rest"
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Flies and Spiders"
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, John D. Rateliff (ed.), The History of The Hobbit, Mr. Baggins, The Second Phase, "Trolls", p. 97
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, John D. Rateliff (ed.), The History of The Hobbit, Mr. Baggins, The Second Phase, "Medwed", p. 244
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, John D. Rateliff (ed.), The History of The Hobbit, Return to Bag-End, The Second Phase, "The Lonely Mountain"
Route of Thorin and Company
Bag End · Green Dragon · The Shire · Lone-lands · Last Bridge · Trollshaws · Trolls' Cave · Rivendell · High Pass · Front Porch · Goblin-town · Goblin-gate · Eagle's Eyrie · Carrock · Beorn's Hall · Wilderland · Forest Gate · Elf-path · Mirkwood · Elvenking's Halls · Forest River · Lake-town · Long Lake · River Running · Desolation of the Dragon · Ravenhill · Back Door · Lonely Mountain · Great Hall of Thráin