|Distinctions||Good stoneworkers, mysterious powers, glowing red eyes|
|Lifespan||Shorter than most Men|
The Drúedain were the race of Men that lived in the Drúadan Forest at the end of the Third Age. Often referred to as Woses, they were one of the least numerous and most mysterious races in Middle-earth.
Later, a number of the Drúedain were present in Númenor, but they had left or died out before the Downfall, as had the Púkel-men of Dunharrow. At the end of the Third Age they still lived in the Drúadan Forest of the White Mountains, and at the long cape of Andrast west of Gondor. The region north of Andrast was still known as Drúwaith Iaur, or "Old Drûg land".
Though the Drúedain largely held themselves apart from the troubles and calamities of Middle-earth, they were clearly a good-hearted people: their most significant contribution to the Free Peoples was showing the Rohirrim paths through their forest. Without their aid, the Rohirrim would have arrived at the Pelennor Fields much later, suffering losses from an Orc army that was waiting for them. The Woses then used poison-darts and arrows to hold off an army of Orcs searching for the Rohirrim.
Beyond that, though, their contribution to the history of Middle-earth is little. Even after the War of the Ring, when King Elessar granted the Drúadan Forest to be theirs forever, they never showed their faces again, nor was any alliance or trading system struck up between them and Gondor.
There is no record of their acts in the Fourth Age, but it is clear that they never mingled with the Free Peoples, content to live their mysterious life in the Drúadan Forest, until they faded away into the mists of history and legend.
In appearance, the Woses were short, stumpy-bodied men, possibly related to the Pukel-men of ancient Rohan. They had disproportionate bodies and small, sunken eyes that glowed red when they were angry or suspicious. Elves described them as 'unlovely', and it is clear that they were, though not evil, as their appearance led many to believe.
The term Drúedain is Sindarin in origin, the singular being either Drûg or Drúadan. However there are many terms used for the same peoples in the various languages of Arda. The most common are listed below:
- Drughu: the Drúedain's own name for themselves. Drughu is ultimately the source of the Sindarin 'Drú' and many of the other names they are known by.
- Drú/Drúin: Simple Sindarin term for the Drughu, singular and plural.
- Drúath: An earlier Sindarin collective (that means, plural) term for the Drúedain, modified as early as the First Age when it became known that they were enemies of the orcs. Later used to refer to a large number of the Drúedain as opposed to 'Drúin' which was a simple pluralisation (As 'Woses' to the singular 'Wose') and Drúedain, used to refer to the race as a whole.
- Drúadan/Drúedain: Meaning 'Drú-men'. It also has possessive qualities as in the case of Drúadan Forest
- Drûg-folk: Rarely used collective term.
- Róg/Rógin: Rohirric terminology, singular/plural respectively (as in 'Drúg'/'Drúedain'. In Tolkien's text it is translated as Wose(s).
- Wose/Woses: A term borrowed from Old English by Tolkien as a translation of the Rohhirric 'Róg'. This is perhaps the most common term used by readers of the text.
- Rú/Rúatani: Quenya terms for the Drughu, derived from their Sindarin counterparts. Singular/plural respectively.
Both the description of Woses, as well as the word "Wose" itself, derives from a folkloric figure of Medieval heraldry, the "wuduwasa" or "wood man", modern English Woodwose.