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The Mearas was the name given by the Rohirrim in their language for a race of exceptional horses.[1] The Mearas were strong, wild, and intelligent. They would bear no man but the kings or princes of the Mark. Their lifespan was as long as men[note 1] and, according to tradition, the ancestors of the Mearas were brought from the West by Béma.[2]

Mearas by Jef Murray


In T.A. 2501[note 2] Léod of the Éothéod captured and tried to tame the first of the Mearas, only to be killed when he tried to mount it. His son, Eorl, however managed to ride it and named it Felaróf. Eorl came with this horse south to Rohan and the Mearas were his descendants. Felaróf was said to be able to understand men's speech.[2]

In 3018[3] the greatest of the Mearas, Shadowfax, consented to be ridden by Gandalf.[1] After Gandalf's return after defeating the balrog he rode Shadowfax during the War of the Ring.[4]


The word Mearas comes from an Old English word meaning simply "horses". Its singular form would be mearh or marh. Robert Foster in his The Complete Guide to Middle-earth,incorrectly displays the singular as Meara.

The root marh can be seen in the names of the Northmen Marhwini and Marhari (which are actually Gothic)[5] as well as Marcho.

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  1. The average lifespan of those Kings of Rohan who did not die young was 82.4 years; thus the Mearas lived for eight decades.
  2. Eorl was 16 when his father died. Since Eorl was born in 2485 Léod died in 2501.


  1. 1.0 1.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "The Riders of Rohan"
  2. 2.0 2.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The House of Eorl"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Great Years"
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "The White Rider"
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan",note 6