Tolkien Gateway

Barrow-wights

(Difference between revisions)
(Added an image)
(History and Characteristics: fixed spelling issue.)
 
(35 intermediate revisions by 9 users not shown)
Line 1: Line 1:
[[Image:Ted Nasmith - Under the Spell of the Barrow-wight.jpg|thumb|250px|''Under the Spell of the Barrow-wight'' by [[Ted Nasmith]].]]
+
[[File:John Howe - Barrow-Wights.jpg|thumb|''Barrow-Wights'' by [[John Howe]]]]
'''Barrow-wights''' are wraith-like creatures based on the Old Norse Draugr. ''[[Barrows|Barrow]]'' refers to the burial mounds they inhabited and ''wight'' is an Old English word for "human being" or "person" (it does not mean "spirit" or "ghost"; it is cognate to modern German "Wicht", meaning "unpleasant person"). Tolkien borrowed this concept from Norse mythology, e.g. ''Waking of Angantyr'' and ''Hrómundar saga Gripssonar''.
+
  
Evil spirits of some kind (perverted [[Maiar]] or possibly [[Fëa and hröa|spirits]] of [[Orcs]], fallen [[Avari]], or evil Men), they were sent to the [[Barrow-downs]] by the [[Witch-king of Angmar|Witch-king]] of [[Angmar]] in order to prevent a resurrection of the destroyed [[Dúnedain|Dúnedain]] kingdom of [[Cardolan]].
+
'''Barrow-wights''' were a kind of [[undead]]-like creatures, dead bones animated by [[spirits (creatures)|evil spirits]].<ref name=LotR>[[J.R.R. Tolkien]], ''[[The Lord of the Rings]]'', ''passim''</ref>
  
[[Image:John Howe - Barrow-Wights.jpg|thumb|left|''Barrow-Wights'' by [[John Howe]].]]
+
==History and Characteristics==
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.
+
The Barrow-wights were evil spirits, although their true nature is unknown; it is not known if they were perverted [[Maiar]] ([[Úmaiar]]) or [[Fëa and hröa|spirits]] of [[Orcs]], fallen [[Avari]], or evil Men.
  
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 [[cairn]] of the last prince of [[Cardolan]].
+
The [[Witch-king]] of [[Angmar]] sent them to the [[Barrow-downs]], in order to prevent a resurrection of the destroyed [[Dúnedain]] kingdom of [[Cardolan]]. The spirits stirred the dead bones in the mounds and haunted them.<ref name=Eriador>{{App|Eriador}}</ref><ref name=Elendil>{{PM|Elendil}}, p. 194</ref><ref name=I7>{{FR|I7}}</ref>
  
== Other versions of the legendarium ==
+
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>
  
 +
According to [[Hobbits|Hobbit]] verse, [[Tom Bombadil]] escaped a Barrow-wight on some 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.
 +
 +
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 were nearly slain by the creatures.<ref name=Barrow>{{FR|I8}}</ref> They were saved in the last minute by Tom, who seemed to have had complete authority over them.
 +
 +
==Names==
 +
 +
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 to by the shortened form "'''Wights'''".<ref name=LotR/><ref>The use of a capital "W" for the short form was noted by Jerome S. Colburn in [[Elfling]] message [http://groups.yahoo.com/group/elfling/message/19711 19711 (24 November 2002)]; compare "''They are Elvish wights''", in {{RK|Company}}</ref>
 +
 +
*Etymology: ''[[Barrows|barrow]]'' + ''[[wights|wight]]''
 +
 +
== 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.
 +
 +
==Other writings==
 +
 +
The character Tídwald, appearing in [[J.R.R. Tolkien|Tolkien]]'s poem "[[The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth|The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth Beorhthelm's Son]]", accuses Torhthelm of fancying "''barrow-wights and bogeys''".<ref>{{HB|II}}</ref>
 +
 +
==Portrayal in Adaptations==
 +
[[File:Mark Evans - Barrow-wight.jpg|thumb|''Barrow-wight'' in ''[[The Lord of the Rings Roleplaying Game|LotRRPG]]'']]
 +
'''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.<ref>{{ICE|2012}}, p. 124</ref>
 +
 +
'''2002-5: ''[[The Lord of the Rings Roleplaying Game]]'':'''
 +
: 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>
 +
 +
'''2007-: ''[[The Lord of the Rings Online]]'':'''
 +
: [[Sambrog]] is a Wight-lord of the Barrow-downs. Barrow Wights are not just confined to the Barrow Downs, but have risen in many parts of Middle-earth mainly around the decaying ruins of Arnor. Wights can be found haunting the darkest corners of Mirkwood to even the Elven ruins which dot Ered Luin. A clan of warriors in Dunland has even gone as far as trying to raise their own undead army.
 +
 +
{{references}}
 +
[[Category:Characters in The Lord of the Rings]]
 +
[[Category:Undead]]
 +
[[de:Grabunholde]]
 +
[[fi:Haudanhaamut]]

Latest revision as of 20:10, 14 September 2012

Barrow-Wights by John Howe

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

Contents

[edit] History and Characteristics

The Barrow-wights were evil spirits, although their true nature is unknown; it is not known if they were perverted Maiar (Úmaiar) or spirits of Orcs, fallen Avari, or evil Men.

The Witch-king of Angmar sent them to the Barrow-downs, in order to prevent a resurrection of the destroyed Dúnedain kingdom of Cardolan. The spirits stirred the dead bones in the mounds and haunted them.[2][3][4]

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]

According to Hobbit verse, Tom Bombadil escaped a Barrow-wight on some 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.

During the War of the Ring, Frodo Baggins and company were trapped in the Barrow-downs by the spells of the Barrow-wights, and were nearly slain by the creatures.[5] They were saved in the last minute by Tom, who seemed to have had complete authority over them.

[edit] 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 to by the shortened form "Wights".[1][9]

[edit] 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.

[edit] Other writings

The character Tídwald, appearing in Tolkien's poem "The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth Beorhthelm's Son", accuses Torhthelm of fancying "barrow-wights and bogeys".[10]

[edit] Portrayal in Adaptations

Barrow-wight in LotRRPG

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.[11]

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.[12]

2007-: The Lord of the Rings Online:

Sambrog is a Wight-lord of the Barrow-downs. Barrow Wights are not just confined to the Barrow Downs, but have risen in many parts of Middle-earth mainly around the decaying ruins of Arnor. Wights can be found haunting the darkest corners of Mirkwood to even the Elven ruins which dot Ered Luin. A clan of warriors in Dunland has even gone as far as trying to raise their own undead army.

[edit] 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. The use of a capital "W" for the short form was noted by Jerome S. Colburn in Elfling message 19711 (24 November 2002); compare "They are Elvish wights", in J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Passing of the Grey Company"
  10. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth, "II. The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth Beorhthelm's Son"
  11. Ruth Sochard Pitt, Jeff O'Hare, Peter C. Fenlon, Jr. (1994), Creatures of Middle-earth (2nd edition) (#2012), p. 124
  12. Scott Bennie, Mike Mearls, Steve Miller, Aaron Rosenberg, Chris Seeman, Owen Seyler, and George Strayton (2003), Fell Beasts and Wondrous Magic, pp. 14-15