From Tolkien Gateway
This article is about the character in The Hobbit. For the King of Dale in the Fourth Age, see Bard II.
"Bard the Bowman" by Jeremiah Humphries
Biographical Information
TitlesBowman, Dragon-shooter, King of Dale
LocationLake-town, Dale
LanguageDalish, Westron
RuleT.A. 2944 - 2977
DeathT.A. 2977
Notable forSlaying of Smaug
Re-founding Dale
ParentageDescendant of Girion
Physical Description
Hair colorBlack
WeaponryYew bow, Black Arrow
GalleryImages of Bard

Arrow! Black arrow! I have saved you to the last. You have never failed me and always I have recovered you. I had you from my father and he from of old. If ever you came from the forges of the true king under the Mountain, go now and speed well!

Bard, titled "the Bowman", was a descendant of Girion, the Lord of Dale, who slew the dragon Smaug and refounded Dale. He ruled his new kingdom as Bard I.


Bard, the heir of Girion, the last Lord of Dale whose wife and children had fled from the ruin of Dale down the River Running was known for his worth and courage and lived in Lake-town when Smaug attacked the town[1] in T.A. 2941[2]. When Bard recognized that the dragon was coming, he ran to the Master of Lake-town and shouted to cut the bridges and to get arms. Bard cheered on the archers and held out with a great yew bow in the burning town as the captain of a company of archers. He was an able archer and had inherited a Black Arrow from his ancestors, which had never failed him and which he had always recovered.[1]

The Black Arrow by Ted Nasmith

When Bard had shot all his arrows, except the Black Arrow, which he had saved for his last shot, the old thrush (who had overheard Bilbo Baggins' description of Smaug)[3] revealed an unarmoured spot on the Dragon's armpit to him and Bard killed the dragon by shooting him in the unarmoured spot with the Black Arrow. Because of his miraculous shot, he was given the epithet "the Bowman" and "the Dragon-shooter".[1]

The Arkenstone by Ted Nasmith

After the disaster, he led the Lake-men to the Lonely Mountain demanding a part of the treasure from the Dwarves.[4] The Wood-elves and Thranduil came to demand their own shares. Seeing Thorin's reluctance to help, Bilbo Baggins delivered the Arkenstone to them to bargain with.[5] Afterwards, when the Orcs and Wargs came, Bard led his Men in the Battle of Five Armies.[6]

The victors divided the treasure and Bard took Bilbo's fourteenth share of the gold and silver in return for the Arkenstone, whereupon he shared his reward with the Master of Lake-town to rebuild the town, and gave Thranduil the emeralds of Girion.[4] However, the Master stole the money and ran off into the wild where he died of hunger.[7]

Three years later, in T.A. 2944 after the rebuilding of the city, Bard became the first King of restored Dale.[8] He was succeeded by his son, Bain in T.A. 2977.[9]


It is not known, if Bard was a name in the language of Dale and the Long Lake. This language is only represented by a few names, especially the names of the Dwarves, which came from that region. The names of those Dwarves are Old Norse names.[10] In other Germanic names (such as Isembard), bard refers to beard. This could be either the facial hair, or more likely "Battle-Axe" (beard is also a term for a part of an axe).

Robert Ireland and Ruth S. Noel, who perhaps overlooked the connection to Old Norse, provide as translations the Celtic words, bárd ("guardian")[11] and bard ("poet").[12]


d. 2770
d. 2977
d. 3007
d. 3019
Bard II
fl. Fourth Age

Other versions of the legendarium

In his original concept of The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien intended Bilbo Baggins to be the slayer of Smaug the Dragon, stabbing him in his sleep in his lair in the Lonely Mountain. Tolkien then changed his mind and in a major shift decided that Smaug would die at Esgaroth.[13] This necessitated the creation of a hero, Bard, who was revealed to be the descendant of Girion. Having created this dragon-slayer, Tolkien was going to let him die in the wreck of Lake-town.[14] However, realizing new possibilities for the story, especially having a rightful claimant to part of the dragon's hoard other than the Dwarves, Tolkien kept Bard alive.[15]

Portrayal in adaptations

Bard in adaptations
Bard in The Hobbit (1977 film)
Bard Bowman in MECCG
Bard Bowman in MECCG  
Bard in The Hobbit (2003 video game)
Bard in The Hobbit (film series)

1968: The Hobbit (1968 radio series):

Bard is played by Peter Williams.

1977: The Hobbit (1977 film):

Bard's voice is provided by John Stephenson. Although Bard is chosen as king after slaying the dragon, there is no mention of him being of the line of Girion.

1979: The Hobbit (1979 radio series):

Bard’s voice is provided by Erik Bauersfeld.

1980: Der Hobbit (1980 German radio series):

Bard the Bowman is played by Rolf Schult.

1995-8: Middle-earth Collectible Card Game:

Bard Bowman is a Warrior/Scout Man, who can be used to influence the Men of Northern Rhovanion.[16]

2003: The Hobbit (2003 video game):

No actor is credited for the part of Bard, but it appears to be André Sogliuzzo. He is portrayed as the Captain of the guard, a stout black haired man with a full beard. Bilbo helps him retrieve the Black Arrow and stop a gang of Orcs and men from taking over Lake-town.

2013: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug:

Luke Evans portrays Bard.[17] He is first introduced coming across Bilbo and Thorin's Company along the River Running when waiting to retrieve the empty wine barrels returned by the Woodland Realm. The Dwarves agree to pay him to smuggle them into Lake-town and get the weapons and supplies they need for reaching the Lonely Mountain. He takes them in to his home until they plan to leave. When he learns of Thorin's true identity, he becomes worried about the Dwarves' quest, believing the Dragon will destroy everything in its path if awakened. In addition to his son, Bain, Bard also has two daughters: Sigrid and Tilda. He is also revealed to be a widower.
Known by the Master of Lake-town (and his right hand man Alfrid) to be the descendant of Girion, the last lord of Dale, and fearing he may be trying to undermine their authority, Bard is under constant surveillance by various spies. He is ultimately arrested at the Master's behest on some vague charge and imprisoned at the end of the film.

2014: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies:

Bard escapes from his prison cell during Smaug's destruction of Lake-town and attempts to take down the fire-drake. Bain manages to find him and get him the last Black Arrow, which allows him to finally take down the Dragon. He becomes a hero among the town's survivors and leads them in taking refuge in the remains of Dale. When Thranduil arrives with an army of Elves to attack the mountain, Bard attempts to peacefully come to terms with Thorin. He asks him for a portion of the treasure which Thorin had promised to the people of Lake-town, but Thorin refuses to give them anything while Thranduil's army remains. After this, Bard reluctantly joins Thranduil in his attack. However, the arrival of an Orc army leads all involved to refocus their attention and battle the Orcs instead.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Fire and Water"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age", entry for the year 2941, p. 1089
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Inside Information"
  4. 4.0 4.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "The Gathering of the Clouds"
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "A Thief in the Night"
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "The Clouds Burst"
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "The Last Stage"
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age", entry for the year 2944, p. 1089
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age", entry for the year 2977, p. 1090
  10. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 144, (dated 25 April 1954)
  11. Robert Ireland, Lord of the Rings Dictionary, A - C
  12. Ruth S. Noel, The Languages of Tolkien's Middle-earth, "The Languages of Rhovanion"
  13. J.R.R. Tolkien, John D. Rateliff (ed.), The History of The Hobbit, Return to Bag-End, The Second Phase, "Plot Notes C", pp. 496-497
  14. J.R.R. Tolkien, John D. Rateliff (ed.), The History of The Hobbit, Return to Bag-End, The Second Phase, "The Death of Smaug", p. 549
  15. J.R.R. Tolkien, John D. Rateliff (ed.), The History of The Hobbit, Return to Bag-End, The Second Phase, "The Death of Smaug", (i) Bard the Dragon-Slayer, p. 555
  16. "Search for a card: games > Middle Earth", (accessed 23 May 2014)
  17. Peter Jackson, "The Hobbit Casting Update" dated 19 June 2011, Facebook (accessed 23 December 2011)
Bard I
Died: T.A. 2977
Position established
1st King of Dale
T.A. 2944 - 2977
Followed by:

The Hobbit film series
Source material: The Hobbit · The Lord of the Rings
Films An Unexpected Journey (extended editionThe Desolation of Smaug (extended edition) · The Battle of the Five Armies (extended edition)
Music An Unexpected Journey (Special Edition) · The Desolation of Smaug (Special Edition) · The Battle of the Five Armies (Special Edition) · "Song of the Lonely Mountain" · "I See Fire" · "The Last Goodbye"
Tie-in books An Unexpected Journey Official Movie Guide · Visual Companion · Movie Storybook · Annual 2013 · Chronicles: Art & Design · Chronicles: Creatures & Characters · The World of Hobbits
The Desolation of Smaug Official Movie Guide · Visual Companion · Movie Storybook · Annual 2014 · Chronicles: Art & Design · Chronicles: Cloaks & Daggers · Smaug: Unleashing the Dragon · Activity Book · Sticker Book · Ultimate Sticker Collection
The Battle of the Five Armies Official Movie Guide · Visual Companion · Movie Storybook · Annual 2015 · Chronicles: Art & Design · Chronicles: The Art of War · Activity Book
Video games Kingdoms of Middle-earth · Armies of The Third Age · Lego The Hobbit
Characters Bilbo · Thorin · Gandalf · Balin · Fíli · Kíli · Dwalin · Dori · Nori · Ori · Óin · Glóin · Bifur · Bofur · Bombur · Smaug · Radagast · Elrond · Galadriel · Saruman · Azog · Bolg · Thranduil · Legolas · Tauriel · Bard · Bain · Tilda · Sigrid · Master of Lake-town · Alfrid · Dáin Ironfoot · Necromancer · Bert · William · Tom · Beorn · Thráin · Thrór · Goblin King · Gollum · Frodo