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Barrow-wights

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[[Image:John Howe - Barrow-Wights.jpg|thumb|''Barrow-Wights'' by [[John Howe]]]]
 
[[Image:John Howe - Barrow-Wights.jpg|thumb|''Barrow-Wights'' by [[John Howe]]]]
  
'''Barrow-wights''' (also called '''Barrow-dwellers''')<ref>{{AB|1}}</ref> were wraith-like creatures.
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'''Barrow-wights''' were a kind of [[undead]]-like creatures, dead bones animated by [[demons|evil spirits]].<ref name=LotR>[[J.R.R. Tolkien]], ''[[The Lord of the Rings]]'', ''passim''</ref>
==Characteristics==
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Evil spirits of some kind, the Barrow-wights were sent to the [[Barrow-downs]] by the [[Witch-king]] of [[Angmar]] in order to prevent a resurrection of the destroyed [[Dúnedain]] kingdom of [[Cardolan]].<ref>{{PM|Elendil}}, p. 194</ref> The origin of these spirits is unknown; possibly they were  perverted [[Maiar]] or [[Fëa and hröa|spirits]] of [[Orcs]], fallen [[Avari]], or evil Men.
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They animated the dead bones of the Dúnedain buried there, as well as older bones of [[Edain]] from the [[First Age]] which still were buried there.{{fact}}
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==History and Characteristics==
[[Image:Ted Nasmith - Under the Spell of the Barrow-wight.jpg|thumb|left|''Under the Spell of the Barrow-wight'' by [[Ted Nasmith]]]]
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During the [[War of the Ring]], [[Frodo Baggins]] and company were trapped in the [[Barrow-downs]], and nearly slain by wights. It has been speculated that Frodo was trapped in the [[uncommon words|cairn]] of the last prince of [[Cardolan]].
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Their nature and origins was unknown, however [[Tom Bombadil]] seemed to have had complete authority over them. Probably his authority was sourced by the inherent power he had on this region of the world, not the spirits themselves.
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The Barrow-wights were evil spirits, sent to the [[Barrow-downs]] by the [[Witch-king]] of [[Angmar]] in order to prevent a resurrection of the destroyed [[Dúnedain]] kingdom of [[Cardolan]],<ref name=Eriador>{{App|Eriador}}</ref><ref name=Elendil>{{PM|Elendil}}, p. 194</ref> which stirred the dead bones in the mounds.<ref name=I7>{{FR|I7}}</ref> The true nature of these spirits is unknown; possibly they were perverted [[Maiar]] or [[Fëa and hröa|spirits]] of [[Orcs]], fallen [[Avari]], or evil Men.
  
==Etymology==
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During the [[War of the Ring]], [[Frodo Baggins]] and company were trapped in the [[Barrow-downs]] by the [[magic|spells]] of the Barrow-wights, and twere nearly slain by the creatures.<ref name=Barrow>{{FR|I8}}</ref> They were saved in the last minute by [[Tom Bombadil]], who seemed to have had complete authority over them. Indeed Tom (according to [[Hobbits|Hobbit]] verse) escaped a Barrow-wight on another occasion, using his enchanting incantations.<ref name=AB1/> Perhaps his authority was sourced by the inherent power he had on this region of the world, not the spirits themselves.
''[[Barrows|Barrow]]'' refers to the burial mounds they inhabited and ''wight'' is an [[Old English]] word for "human being" or "person".  
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Due to its obscurity, there is a popular misunderstanding that "wight" means "spirit" or "ghost"; however it is cognate to modern German "Wicht", meaning "unpleasant person".
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The Barrow-wights appeared as shadowy figures with a pale, icy light gleaming from what would be their eyes. They could speak, with deep, hollow and cold voices, and likewise their touch was icy.<ref name=Barrow/><ref name=AB1/> They were furthermore infamous for carrying rattling gold-rings on their bony fingers.<ref name=I7/><ref name=AB2>{{AB|2}}</ref>
  
Due to the misunderstanding, many works of fantasy fiction, role-playing games and computer and video games use the term as the name of spectral creatures very similar to Tolkien's Barrow-wights; DnD has created a monster called "[[Wikipedia:Wight (Dungeons & Dragons)|Wight]]", a kind of undead; the new terminology is also exemplified in ''A Song of Ice and Fire'' series by [[George R. R. Martin]], book IV ''A Feast for Crows'' (2005). (''"Who has been beyond the wall of death to see? Only the wights, and we know what they are like. We know."'')
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==Names==
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According to [[Elrond]], the [[Elves]] knew the Barrow-wights by many names.<ref>{{FR|II2}}</ref> While these names are not recorded (except for the general denomination "evil spirits"), the creatures were also called '''Barrow-dwellers''' in Hobbit lore.<ref name=AB1>{{AB|1}}</ref> Often, they were also referred by the shortened form ''wight''.<ref name=LotR/>
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*Etymology: ''[[Barrows|barrow]]'' + ''[[wights|wight]]''
  
 
==Inspiration==
 
==Inspiration==
They were based on the Old Norse Draugr. Tolkien borrowed this concept from Norse mythology, e.g. ''Waking of Angantyr'' and ''Hrómundar saga Gripssonar''.
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They were based on the Old Norse Draugr. [[J.R.R. Tolkien]] borrowed this concept from Norse mythology, e.g. ''Waking of Angantyr'' and ''Hrómundar saga Gripssonar''.{{fact}}
  
== Other versions of the legendarium ==
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== Other versions of the [[Legendarium]] ==
 
Due to his inspiration from ''Hrómundar saga Gripssonar'', during the writing of ''[[The Lord of the Rings]]'' (see ''[[The History of The Lord of the Rings]]'') Tolkien at first foresaw a link between the wights and the [[Nazgûl|Ringwraith]]s, initially describing the Black Riders as horsed Wights, but the suggestion that they were the same kind of creatures was dropped in the published work. In the final work there remained a link between them: the wights were now spirits sent by the Witch-king.
 
Due to his inspiration from ''Hrómundar saga Gripssonar'', during the writing of ''[[The Lord of the Rings]]'' (see ''[[The History of The Lord of the Rings]]'') Tolkien at first foresaw a link between the wights and the [[Nazgûl|Ringwraith]]s, initially describing the Black Riders as horsed Wights, but the suggestion that they were the same kind of creatures was dropped in the published work. In the final work there remained a link between them: the wights were now spirits sent by the Witch-king.
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==Portrayal in Adaptations==
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[[Image:Barrow-wight (Mark Evans).jpg|thumb|''Barrow-wight'' in ''[[The Lord of the Rings Roleplaying Game|LotRRPG]]'']]
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'''1982-97: ''[[Middle-earth Role Playing]]'':'''
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: Remnants haunting their own tombs, the Barrow Wights are a type of greater Undead Beings. They draw energy from living beings, sacrificing their victims.<ref>{{ICE|2012}}, p. 124</ref>
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'''2002-5: ''[[The Lord of the Rings Roleplaying Game]]'':'''
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: Barrow-wights (not to be confused with the [[ghosts|ghost]]-type ''wights'' appearing in the same game) are corpses of Men animated by evil spirits.<ref>{{D|Fell}}, pp. 14-15</ref>
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'''2007-: ''[[The Lord of the Rings Online]]'':'''
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: [[Sambrog]] is a Wight-lord of the Barrow-downs.
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{{references}}
 
{{references}}
[[category:Undead]]
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[[Category:Undead]]
 
[[de:Grabunholde]]
 
[[de:Grabunholde]]
 
[[fi:Haudanhaamut]]
 
[[fi:Haudanhaamut]]

Revision as of 00:47, 30 December 2010

Barrow-Wights by John Howe

Barrow-wights were a kind of undead-like creatures, dead bones animated by evil spirits.[1]

Contents

History and Characteristics

The Barrow-wights were evil spirits, sent to the Barrow-downs by the Witch-king of Angmar in order to prevent a resurrection of the destroyed Dúnedain kingdom of Cardolan,[2][3] which stirred the dead bones in the mounds.[4] The true nature of these spirits is unknown; possibly they were perverted Maiar or spirits of Orcs, fallen Avari, or evil Men.

During the War of the Ring, Frodo Baggins and company were trapped in the Barrow-downs by the spells of the Barrow-wights, and twere nearly slain by the creatures.[5] They were saved in the last minute by Tom Bombadil, who seemed to have had complete authority over them. Indeed Tom (according to Hobbit verse) escaped a Barrow-wight on another occasion, using his enchanting incantations.[6] Perhaps his authority was sourced by the inherent power he had on this region of the world, not the spirits themselves.

The Barrow-wights appeared as shadowy figures with a pale, icy light gleaming from what would be their eyes. They could speak, with deep, hollow and cold voices, and likewise their touch was icy.[5][6] They were furthermore infamous for carrying rattling gold-rings on their bony fingers.[4][7]

Names

According to Elrond, the Elves knew the Barrow-wights by many names.[8] While these names are not recorded (except for the general denomination "evil spirits"), the creatures were also called Barrow-dwellers in Hobbit lore.[6] Often, they were also referred by the shortened form wight.[1]

Inspiration

They were based on the Old Norse Draugr. J.R.R. Tolkien borrowed this concept from Norse mythology, e.g. Waking of Angantyr and Hrómundar saga Gripssonar.[source?]

Other versions of the Legendarium

Due to his inspiration from Hrómundar saga Gripssonar, during the writing of The Lord of the Rings (see The History of The Lord of the Rings) Tolkien at first foresaw a link between the wights and the Ringwraiths, initially describing the Black Riders as horsed Wights, but the suggestion that they were the same kind of creatures was dropped in the published work. In the final work there remained a link between them: the wights were now spirits sent by the Witch-king.

Portrayal in Adaptations

1982-97: Middle-earth Role Playing:

Remnants haunting their own tombs, the Barrow Wights are a type of greater Undead Beings. They draw energy from living beings, sacrificing their victims.[9]

2002-5: The Lord of the Rings Roleplaying Game:

Barrow-wights (not to be confused with the ghost-type wights appearing in the same game) are corpses of Men animated by evil spirits.[10]

2007-: The Lord of the Rings Online:

Sambrog is a Wight-lord of the Barrow-downs.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, passim
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Eriador, Arnor, and the Heirs of Isildur"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "The Heirs of Elendil", p. 194
  4. 4.0 4.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "In the House of Tom Bombadil"
  5. 5.0 5.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "Fog on the Barrow-downs"
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, "The Adventures of Tom Bombadil"
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, "Bombadil Goes Boating"
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Council of Elrond"
  9. Ruth Sochard Pitt, Jeff O'Hare, Peter C. Fenlon, Jr. (1994), Creatures of Middle-earth (2nd edition) (#2012), p. 124
  10. Scott Bennie, Mike Mearls, Steve Miller, Aaron Rosenberg, Chris Seeman, Owen Seyler, and George Strayton (2003), Fell Beasts and Wondrous Magic, pp. 14-15