Tolkien Gateway


Moon-letters were a method of writing invented by the Dwarves. Moon-letters were ordinary Runes, but written in such a way that they could only be read when the light of the moon shone behind the writing. Some moon-letters could be read by any moonlight, but it was possible to make the writing even more secret. More sophisticated moon-letters could only be read by the light of the same shape of moon, or at the same time of year, as when they were written.

Moon-letters were written with silver pens.[1] The substance Ithildin, made from mithril, reflected only starlight and moonlight,[2] and it seems likely that ithildin, or something very similar, was used by the Dwarves to write their moon-letters.

An example of moon-letters was found by Elrond on Thrór's Map of the Lonely Mountain and surrounding areas that Gandalf had given Thorin in T.A. 2941.[3] The moon letters were of the more cunning type had been written on a Midsummer's eve under a crescent moon. They said:

"Stand by the grey stone when the thrush knocks and the setting sun with the last light of Durin's Day will shine upon the key-hole."[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "A Short Rest"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "A Journey in the Dark"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age"
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"A Secret Vice" (book) · "The Lhammas" · "The Tree of Tongues" · Sub-creation