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Oakenshield

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Oakenshield was the title and surname of King Thorin II of Durin's folk.

Thorin acquired the title long before he became King. In T.A. 2799[1] when he was just fifty-three (a young age for a Dwarf) he marched with a mighty Dwarf-army to the valley they called Azanulbizar, Nanduhirion beneath the East-gate of Moria. There they fought the Battle of Nanduhirion, the last and greatest in the War of the Dwarves and Orcs. In that battle, Thorin's shield was broken, so he cut a bough from an oak-tree with his axe, and used that instead to fend off his enemies' blows, or to club them. It was that oaken branch that gave Thorin his surname, but it did not completely save him from injury - it is recorded that he was wounded in the battle.[2]

Inspiration

Like many Dwarvish names, it appears in the Norse poem Völuspá in the form Eikinskjaldi, but there it is the personal name of a Dwarf, not a surname as in Tolkien's work.[3]

Fans have speculated that Tolkien may possibly have been inspired by a Faroese ballad, "Regin Smiður", in which Sigurd uses an oak tree branch as a weapon:[4]

All from an ancient oaken-tree
A mighty branch he tore, and lammed those lads so lustily
That some rose up no more[5]

References

  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "Durin's Folk"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, John D. Rateliff (ed.), The History of The Hobbit, Return to Bag-End, "Appendix III. The Dvergatal (The Dwarf Names)"
  4. Various, "Influence of the Sigurd legend on parts of The Hobbit?" , The Lord of the Rings Fanatics Plaza: Forum (accessed 14 March 2013)
  5. E.M. Smith-Dampier (1937), Sigurd The Dragon-Slayer, A Faroese Ballad Cycle