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Barrows

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Barrows
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.

Contents

[edit] History

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, also considering that Merry saw his last memories in dreams, even mentioning the "men of Carn Dûm"[1][3]) 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 reciting the rhyme that Tom had taught the hobbits. Tom broke into the chamber and rescued the hobbits, and the sunlight destroyed the wight.[4]

[edit] Etymology

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.[5]

[edit] Inspiration

Prehistorical burial mounds and stone circles are found all around Europe, creating a long tradition and superstitions. In some barrows the interred are found with gold and other precious things, which according to folklore are guarded by Wights. In Norse folklore such burial mounds are haunted by the undead known as draugr.[6]

References

  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. Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, "Fog on the Barrow-downs", pp. 144-5
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "Fog on the Barrow-downs"
  5. 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
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien; Christina Scull & Wayne G. Hammond (eds), The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, "Commentary"