Barrels Out of Bond

From Tolkien Gateway
Barrels Out of Bond
Chapter of The Hobbit
EventBilbo helps Thorin and Company escape the Elvenking's dungeons.
DateLate August22 September T.A. 2941
LocationElvenking's Halls, Forest River
J.R.R. Tolkien - Map - Barrels out of bond.png
<  Flies and Spiders
A Warm Welcome  >

Barrels Out of Bond is the 9th chapter of The Hobbit.


Following their capture by the Wood-elves, Thorin and the Dwarves are imprisoned on the orders of the Elvenking (Thranduil, father of Legolas), with Thorin in the deepest, darkest dungeon. Bilbo - who uses his magic ring to escape capture - once again proves his usefulness by conveying secret messages between the dwarves. The gates to the caves are sealed by magic; sometimes he is able to slip out with hunting parties but he spends a miserable life in the deepest, darkest corners of the palace.

One day, while wandering about, Bilbo discovers that the gates are not the only way out of the caves: a stream flowed through the lowest regions of the palace although the exit was blocked with a portcullis. As there were no vines in Mirkwood, the Elves drank wines that "were brought from far away, from their kinsfolk in the South, or from the vineyards of Men in distant lands"; the empty wine barrels were floated back down the stream to Lake-town, from where the wine came.

One night, Galion, the butler and the chief guard sneak downstairs to the wine cellars to drink of the wine; they get drunk, and fall asleep. Bilbo, still invisible, spots his opportunity: he steals the keys and sets the Dwarves free.

Bilbo stuffs them into the empty wine barrels, padding them with straw and drilling air holes in the barrels. The elves float the barrels down the river; the plan came close to ruin when the elves almost open the barrels due to their weight, however, the dwarves successfully escape to Lake-town.