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Balin's Tomb

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The site of Balin the Dwarf’s burial in Moria.


The Books

History and Geography

Balin was killed at the hands of Moria orcs in T.A. 2994. He was promptly buried in a tomb in the center of the Chamber of Mazarbul. The Fellowship of the Ring, journeying through Moria in T.A. 3019, found his tomb. The tomb was the site of a battle between the Fellowship and a group of attacking orcs. The tomb was located inside the Mazarbul chamber, Balin’s former seat, which itself was located off the north end of the Twenty-first Hall. A shaft of light from outside of the mountain fell directly onto Balin’s Tomb, though it is not known what the shaft originally lit, if it was even in existence prior to Balin’s fall.


The tomb was made of a single oblong block, about two feet high, underneath a large slab of white stone. Runes were deeply into the slab. Included in The Fellowship of the Ring: Book II: Chapter 4: A Journey in the Dark are these runes, which read:

  • “BALIN FUNDINUL UZBADKHAZADDUMU BALINSONOVFUNDINLORDOVMORIA”, or: “Balin Fundinul Uzbad Khazaddumu, Balin Son of Fundin Lord of Moria” (ov=of phonetically).
File:Balins-tomb cd jrrt.jpg
The runic inscription found on Balin's Tomb.

The Runes

The runes carved into Balin’s Tomb were Daeron’s Runes. These runic values were older than those of Angerthas Erebor and were used in Moria before the flight of the Dwarves, appearing on such inscriptions. Balin’s Dwarves would have followed this example in such a circumstance. The top, larger runes (the first three lines) are written in Khuzdul, while the smaller ones below (the final line) were in the Common Speech.

The Dwarves never used their “true” Khuzdul names, not even in inscriptions, but rather their names in the Common Speech. Tolkien, having translated all uses of the Common Speech into modern English, rendered these names as “Balin” and “Fundin”, as he did the other words in the last line of the inscription (see note on English below). The name “Moria” was used, for by the time of the inscription, it had become the accepted name for Khazad-dûm in the Common Speech.

The use of English to represent the Common Speech in primary sources such as the inscription on Balin's Tomb was a result of Tolkien's vision of completely translating all Westron into modern English, even in authentic documentation, although upon reflection Tolkien said that this translation was "an erroneous extension of the general linguistic treatment" (The Peoples of Middle-Earth, pp. 298-9: "Of Dwarves and Men").


The Films


Portrayal & Behind the Scenes

Balin's Tomb is portrayed on film exactly as described in the book. The runes on the tomb are copied verbatim. Alan Lee was likely the conceptualizer of the tomb, maintaining the rigid, blocky style characteristic of the Dwarves (see Dwarven design), and fitting Tolkien's original description. Grant Major specifically tried to retain the evocative image of the shaft of light landing directly on Balin's Tomb in the film sequence. In the film, Balin's Tomb is destroyed by the Cave-troll during the Battle of the Chamber of Mazarbul.


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