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Daggers of Westernesse

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Stefano Baldo - Dagger of Westernesse.jpg
Daggers of Westernesse
LocationFound in the Barrow-downs
Owned byFrodo, Merry, Pippin, and Sam
MakerMen of Westernesse
AppearanceLong, leaf-shaped, damasked with serpent-forms in red and gold

The Daggers of Westernesse were weapons that Tom Bombadil brought out of the mound in which Frodo Baggins and his friends had been imprisoned. Each dagger had a long, leaf-shaped blade, damasked with serpent-forms in red and gold. They had black sheaths of an unknown metal, light and strong, adorned with firey stones. Despite their great age they were sharp and unrusted by time.[1]

[edit] History

The daggers were created by the Dúnedain of Cardolan during their war against the Witch-king of Angmar. They were made for fighting forces sent from Angmar.[1] After the fall of Cardolan, at least four of these daggers ended up in the tomb of the last prince of that realm who fell in T.A. 1409.[2]

On 28 September 3018[3] Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin became lost in the Barrow-downs and were captured by one of the wights and imprisoned in the tomb. Frodo was able to call Tom Bombadil to their aid, and he opened the tomb and drove the wight away. Tom gave each of them a dagger from the tomb and told them their history.[1]

Frodo's dagger was broken by the Witch King at the Ford of Bruinen.[4]

Merry laid his sword in the lap of King Théoden on 6 March 3019[3] offering service to him. The king gladly made Merry an esquire of Rohan of the household of Meduseld.[5]

When Pippin came before Denethor in Minas Tirith on 9 March[3] he offered his sword to the Steward in token of service. Denethor smiled at first but was impressed by the dagger, recognizing it as coming from his own kindred in the North.[6]

On 15 March[3] during the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, Merry stabbed the Witch-king in the back of the knee with his dagger, which enabled Éowyn to thrust her sword into his face.[7]

"But suddenly he too stumbled forward with a cry of bitter pain, and his stroke went wide, driving into the ground. Merry's sword had stabbed him from behind, shearing through the black mantle, and passing up beneath the hauberk had pierced the sinew behind his mighty knee."
The Return of the King, "The Battle of the Pelennor Fields"

The dagger that Merry stabbed into the Witch-king had a power beyond mere metal, for it broke the spell that held the spirit's body together. However, after Merry's blow the blade of the dagger writhed and withered, vanishing like a dry branch in a fire. Thus while the blade was created centuries before to battle against the forces of Angmar, it contributed to the demise of the Witch-king.[7]

"So passed the sword of the Barrow-downs, work of Westernesse. But glad would he have been to know its fate who wrought it slowly long ago in the North-kingdom when the Dúnedain were young, and chief among their foes was the dread realm of Angmar and its sorcerer king. No other blade, not though mightier hands had wielded it, would have dealt that foe a wound so bitter, cleaving the undead flesh, breaking the spell that knit his unseen sinews to his will."
The Return of the King, "The Battle of the Pelennor Fields"

[edit] Inspiration

Swords that dwindle can be seen in the Volsungasaga and the Nibelungenlied. In Beowulf, the sword melts "like ice" after decapitating Grendel and his mother.[8]

[edit] References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "Fog on the Barrow-downs"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Eriador, Arnor, and the Heirs of Isildur"
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 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 Fellowship of the Ring, "Flight to the Ford"
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Passing of the Grey Company"
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "Minas Tirith"
  7. 7.0 7.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Battle of the Pelennor Fields"
  8. "Tolkien Society Anglo-Saxon Study Pack 2" dated 29 July 2006, The Tolkien Society (accessed 29 July 2014)


Weapons of Middle-earth
Aeglos · Andúril · Anglachel · Anguirel · Angrist · Aranrúth · Belthronding · Black Arrow · Daggers of Westernesse · Dagmor · Dailir · Dramborleg · Durin's Axe · Glamdring · Grond · Gúthwinë · Gurthang · Herugrim · Morgul blades · Narsil · Orcrist · Red Arrow · Ringil · Sting