Tolkien Gateway

Mat Heathertoes

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Mat Heathertoes
Man
Biographical Information
DeathT.A. 3019
Physical Description
GenderMale
"All good fellows, and they're missed"
Barliman Butterbur[1]

Mat Heathertoes (died Third Age 3019) was a Man of Bree.

History

With the War of the Ring raging in the South-east, many refugees came up the Greenway to Bree. Not all these refugees came with the same intentions: a group of ruffians was ousted from the town near the end of T.A. 3018. With the help of Bill Ferny and Harry Goatleaf, they returned soon after New Year, and a fight ensued. The number of casualties on the side of the ruffians was not recorded, but five of the Bree-folk, three Men and two Hobbits, were killed. Mat Heathertoes was one of them.[1]

Etymology

Mat was a name employed by Tolkien to translate the common (but untranslated) Hobbit name Matta.[2] The name Heathertoes was, like all surnames of the Men of Bree, a plant name,[3] though this seems to have escaped Tolkien when he wrote a list for translators. In it he said Heathertoes was a Hobbit name, and was given in joke to the unshod Hobbits. While walking, they would gather twigs and moss between their toes.[4] However, Mat was most certainly a Man: given that two of the five were Hobbits[1], and the last two named victims - Willie Banks and an Underhill were both positively identified as Hobbits as well.[3][4]

Portrayal in adaptations

1981: The Lord of the Rings (1981 radio series):

Though the "set-to" with the ruffians is mentioned by Butterbur, he does not give the names of the casualties.[5]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "Homeward Bound"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix F, "II: On Translation"
  3. 3.0 3.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "At the Sign of the Prancing Pony"
  4. 4.0 4.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, "Nomenclature of The Lord of the Rings" in Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, page 759
  5. Brian Sibley, Michael Bakewell, The Lord of the Rings, "Homeward Bound"