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John Howe - Dunlending.jpg
Physical Description
Lifespanas all men
Average heightsmaller in stature than other men
GalleryImages of Dunlendings

Dunlendings were the ferocious, stunted and vicious men that lived in Dunland, close to Rohan. Also called the Wild Men of Dunland, they have long been enemies of the Rohirrim, becuase they are jealous that the rich lands of the old Númenórean province of Calenardhon were granted by the Gondorians to the Rohirrim instead of them.




The ancestors of the Dunlendings are also the ancestors of the Haladin, the second of the Three Houses of the Edain who led her people from East Beleriand to Brethil. They were a reclusive folk, dark-haired but smaller in stature than the Bëorians or the Marachians. They kept separate from the other Men. Their language was different from the ones that used by the other Edain.

After the fall of Beleriand, the survivors went to Númenor but those who didn't cross the Ered Luin settled upon either side of the Gwathló or in the Ered Nimrais. In the First Age, the Drúedain lived among them and shared close relationship, more than with any other race of men.

Númenórean contact

In ancient times the peoples who were the ancestors of the Dunlendings ranged over much Eriador and what later became Gondor, but they were increasingly driven back by the Númenóreans. Offshoots of these peoples survived in isolated places like the hilly country of Dunland or in the White Mountains: thus the Oathbreakers are akin to the ancient Dunlendings.

During the advance of the Númenóreans, many people overcame their fear of the Elves and fled from Minhiriath into the dark woods of the great Cape of Eryn Vorn. Those from Enedwaith took refuge in the eastern mountains that would become Dunland.[1] Interestingly, the Men of Bree are themselves actually an offshoot of the Dunlendings, who moved even further north until they reached what became the Bree-land, and were absorbed into Arnor.

Some of the Pre-Númenóreans were absorbed into the population of Gondor, and some stayed in the White Mountains. There are few records of the Dunlending language, due to their lack of a written history and poor oral tradition.

They remained unaffected, independent and even unfriendly to the Dúnedain, holding their own manners and Dunlendish language[2]. However the Dunlendings also remained hostile to those with Orc-blood[3]. The Dunlendings also dwelled alongside the Stoor Hobbits during their Wandering Days and the latter even formed a related language to theirs.[2]

The Dunlendings suffered from the Great Plague less than other peoples owing to their isolation[2] and were still found in the foothills of the Misty Mountains. By the time of the Ruling Stewards they ceased to be subjects of Gondor and, being surrounded by barbarous folk[4], they moved to settle the region of Calenardhon as Gondor ceased to man the garrisons during the Watchful Peace.[5]

Arrival of the Rohirrim

Dunlendings by Angelo Montanini

In T.A. 1944, Calenardhon passed to the Northern Eotheod who came from Rhovanion and the wild hillmen and herd-folk who were the Dunlendings view them as competitors and usurpers. Kings Brego and Aldor drove the Dunlendings out of Rohan beyond the Isen until Enedwaith. As the ensuing enmity did not concern the Stewards, the Dunlendings kept hostilities to the Rohirrim and attacked whenever the latter were weak or in trouble[5].

After the death of King Aldor, and as Isengard became more friendly to them, the Dunlendings passed and settled northern Westfold, the mountain glens around the Ring, and southern eaves of Fangorn Forest, becoming openly hostile.[5] This allowed the two peoples to mingle in some peaceful circumstances; and the dark-haired Landlord Freca was said to have Dunlendish blood[6] But the Dunlendings began raiding over the Isen during the reign of King Déor, and when it became clear that the raiders were coming from near Isengard, in T.A. 2710 Déor led an expedition to the north. He found and defeated a host of Dunlendings, but discovered that Isengard was held by hostile forces. He was unable to drive them out as Steward Egalmoth could not send help.[5]

The worst of these incidents was when Freca's son, Wulf, allied with the Corsairs of Umbar who were in turn stirred by Sauron, keeping safe his properties at Adorn. Joining his kin from outside of Rohan with enemies of Gondor that had landed in the mouths of Lefnui and Isen, Rohan was invaded from the East, the Isen and Isengard, and finally Wulf took Edoras in T.A. 2758. Gondor, fighting Corsair fleets, could not help[6]. as the people of Rohan survived the crisis due to the leadership of King Helm Hammerhand, the usurping Dunlendings were reduced after the Long Winter and finished off by Fréaláf. The Rohirrim now kept a strong force in north Westfold.[5]

Eventually many Dunlendings were found later in the west-march, until again Folcwine, aided by Gondor, reconquered it.[6] But the people remaining between Isen and Adorn were largely of mixed blood, and not loyal to Edoras.[5]

The Dunlendings were employed by the wizard Saruman to attack and raid the cities and settlements of Rohan. Since Gríma Wormtongue had corrupted the mind of King Théoden, the Rohirrim were absent for the most part, and the farm boys and old men who picked up rusty swords proved to be little contest to the ferocious Dunlendings.

Wild Men were also present at the Battle of the Hornburg (Battle of Helm's Deep), as well as an odd breed of Half-orcs, derived from Orcs and the Men of Dunland. They fought viciously against their old enemy, but when Gandalf stormed down the hill with a thousand Rohirrim at his back and his staff shining piercing light into the eyes of the Dunlendings, they dropped their weapons and surrendured. This proved to be a wise decision, as the Orcs who fled were killed by a massive forest of Huorns that blocked the entrance to the valley.

After Saruman's downfall, the Dunlendings retreated back into their homeland and did not trouble the people of Rohan. When the wizard Saruman attempted to take over the Shire, there were a number of Dunlendings with him. However, they were slain or driven away by Hobbits, Saruman died at the hands of his own servant, Wormtongue, Sauron, the basis of all evil, had fallen, and King Elessar took the throne of Gondor, the Dunlendings agreed never to trouble the free peoples of Middle-earth again, and their old and evil power was finally broken.


A Sindarin name for the Dunlendings was Gwathuirim (gwathui "shadowy" + rim "people").[7][8]


It is possible that the rivalry between the primitive Dunlendings and the blonde-haired, pseudo-Anglo-Saxon Rohirrim who migrated into the lands neighboring them was meant by Tolkien to be analagous to the real life conflicts that arose between the Anglo-Saxons in England and neighboring Celtic peoples.

This is supported by the fact that placenames of Bree-land like Bree, Archet and Combe are Celtic. The Stoor Hobbits (who had stayed long in Dunland), have Celtic elements in their names. Tolkien mentioned that the survival of traces of the older language of the Stoors and the Bree-men resembled the survival of Celtic elements in England.

See also


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn"
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix F, "The Languages and Peoples of the Third Age"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Hunt for the Ring"
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn"
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Battles of the Fords of Isen"
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The House of Eorl", "The Kings of the Mark"
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "Of Dwarves and Men", p. 330 (note 76)
  8. Hiswelókë's Sindarin Dictionary (accessed 31 December 2010)