Balin's Tomb

From Tolkien Gateway
This article describes a concept which is mentioned in J.R.R. Tolkien's works, but was never given a definite name.
Balin's tomb by Anke Eißmann

Balin's tomb was the burial place of Balin, Lord of Moria, after his death in T.A. 2994.[1]

History[edit | edit source]

On 10 November T.A. 2994,[2] Balin was shot from behind by an Orc when he went alone to Dimrill Dale to look into Mirrormere. Balin's body was placed in a tomb in the Chamber of Mazarbul, Balin's former seat, which itself was located off the north end of the Twenty-first Hall.[3]

But the archer was just the first of the orcs who came up the Silverlode. After a fierce battle in the halls there was a final stand in the Chamber of Mazarbul but the dwarves were completely wiped out.

The Fellowship of the Ring later found Balin's tomb whilst journeying through Moria in 3019. A shaft of light from outside of the mountain fell directly onto the tomb, though it is not known what the shaft originally lit.[1] The Chamber was the site of the battle between the Fellowship and a group of attacking orcs.[3]

When the Fellowship fled the chamber after the battle Gandalf remained behind to hold the door against the orcs. However he unexpectedly found himself matched against an unknown power and the struggle between the two caused the roof of the Chamber of Mazarbul to collapse and bury Balin’s tomb deep beneath the rubble.

It is not known if the chamber or Balin's tomb were ever recovered when Moria was retaken by the dwarves in the Fourth Age.

Characteristics[edit | edit source]

Balin's tomb by J.R.R. Tolkien

The tomb was made of a single oblong block, about two feet high, underneath a large slab of white stone. Runes were cut deeply into the slab:


Rune inscription[edit | edit source]

The runes carved into Balin’s tomb were Angerthas Moria, used before the flight of the Dwarves. Balin’s folk would have followed this example in such a circumstance. The larger top runes (the first three lines) are written in Khuzdul, while the smaller ones of the final line were in the Common Speech, written with Angerthas Erebor.[4]

The Dwarves never used their "true" Khuzdul names, not even in inscriptions, but rather their names in a Mannish dialect of the Northmen.[5] Tolkien, having translated all uses of Mannish into modern English and Norse, rendered these names as "Balin" and "Fundin" as he did the other words in the last line of the inscription (see note on English below). The name "Moria" was used, for by the time of the inscription, it had become the accepted name for Khazad-dûm in the Common Speech.

The use of English to represent the Common Speech in primary sources such as the inscription on Balin's tomb was a result of Tolkien's vision of completely translating all Westron into modern English,[6] even in authentic documentation, although upon reflection Tolkien said that this translation was "an erroneous extension of the general linguistic treatment".[7]

Portrayal in adaptations[edit | edit source]

Balin's tomb in adaptations
Balin's tomb in The Lord of the Rings Online  

2001: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring:

Balin's tomb is referred to as Balin's Tomb and is portrayed on film exactly as described in the book. The runes on the tomb are copied verbatim. Grant Major specifically tried to retain the evocative image of the shaft of light landing directly on Balin's tomb in the film sequence.[8] In the film, Balin's tomb is destroyed by the Cave-troll during the Battle of the Chamber of Mazarbul.

2002: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (video game):

Balin's tomb is referred to as the Tomb of Balin and is not a straight box, but rather an elevated tomb, held up by four small Dwarf-like statues in the corners.

2008: The Lord of the Rings Online:

Balin's Tomb can be found in the Chamber of Mazarbul, off the Twenty-First Hall. The body of a dead dwarf is leaning on it, possibly Ori.