Toggle menu
Toggle personal menu
Not logged in
Your IP address will be publicly visible if you make any edits.

Daggers of Westernesse

From Tolkien Gateway
(Redirected from Barrow-blades)
"Dagger of Westernesse" by Stefano Baldo
Sword
Barrow-blades
LocationFound in the Barrow-downs
OwnerFrodo Baggins, Meriadoc Brandybuck, Peregrin Took, and Samwise Gamgee
AppearanceLong, leaf-shaped, damasked with serpent-forms in red and gold
CreatorDúnedain of Cardolan
Created atCardolan
Created inDuring the war with Angmar
Destroyed atFord of Bruinen, Pelennor Fields
Destroyed in13 October T.A. 3018, 15 March T.A. 3019

The Barrow-blades[1] were weapons that Tom Bombadil brought out of the mound in which Frodo Baggins and his friends had been imprisoned. Each Barrow-blade 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 fiery stones. Despite their great age they were sharp and unrusted by time.[2]

History

The Barrow-blades 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.[2] After the fall of Cardolan, at least four of these Barrow-blades ended up in the tomb[2] of which it was said that it was the grave of the last prince of that realm who fell in T.A. 1409.[3]

On 28 September T.A. 3018,[4]:1091 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 Barrow-blade from the tomb and told them their history.[2]

On 13 October,[4]:1092 at the Ford of Bruinen the Witch-king raised up his hand and Frodo's Barrow-blade broke and fell out of his shaking hand.[5]

On 15 January T.A. 3019,[4]:1092 Sam felled an Orc with a thrust with his Barrow-blade in the Chamber of Mazarbul.[1]

On 26 February,[6] Pippin and Merry had drawn their swords to defend themselves against a group of Orcs in the woods near Amon Hen and Merry cut off several of the arms and hands of the Orcs with his Barrow-blade before they were captured by the Orcs.[7]

On 6 March,[4]:1093 in the Hornburg Merry laid his sword in the lap of King Théoden offering service to him. The king gladly made Merry an esquire of Rohan of the household of Meduseld.[8]

When Pippin came before Denethor in Minas Tirith on 9 March,[9] he offered his sword to the Steward in token of service. Denethor smiled at first but was impressed by the Barrow-blade, recognizing it as coming from his own kindred in the North.[10]

The Ride of the Rohirrim by Anke Eißmann

On 13 March,[4]:1093 the the monstrous spider Shelob stung Frodo and Sam picked up Frodo's sword Sting, which had fallen to the ground, to fight against Shelob. Sam believed Frodo to be dead who had been incapacitated by the poison on Shelob's sting and left his Barrow-blade beside the unconscious Frodo. A patrol of Orcs found the unconscious Frodo and took him and Sam's Barrow-blade with them to the Tower of Cirith Ungol. The Orcs were under orders to send a full description of every weapon or ring of any trespasser they had found to Lugbúrz.[11] Sam's Barrow-blade was probably taken by Shagrat to Barad-dûr after Shagrat had fled from the Tower of Cirith Ungol with a heavy bundle.

On 15 March,[4]:1094 during the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, Merry stabbed the Witch-king from behind and pierced his sinew in the back of the knee with his Barrow-blade, which enabled Éowyn to thrust her sword into his face.[12]

The Barrow-blade that Merry stabbed into the Witch-king had a power beyond mere metal, for it broke the spell that linked the will of the Ringwraith to his unseen sinews. However, after Merry's blow the blade of the sword writhed and withered, vanishing like a dry branch in a fire. Thus while the Barrow-blade was created centuries before to battle against the forces of Angmar, it contributed to the demise of the Witch-king.[12]

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.

On 25 March,[4]:1094 the Mouth of Sauron showed Sam's sword to Gandalf during a parley in front of the Black Gate and Gandalf seized it from him before he rejected the terms offered by Sauron. During the following Battle of the Morannon, Pippin stabbed the great troll-chief of a company of Hill-trolls from Gorgoroth with his barrow-blade causing the troll to lose a lot of blood and to crash down.[13]

On 8 April,[14] Gandalf returned Sam's Barrow-blade to Sam when they rested in the Field of Cormallen after the Battle of the Morannon.[15]

On 2 November,[14] Pippin drew his Barrow-blade and threatened to use it, referring to it as "this troll's bane", and Sam also drew his sword to support him when they were confronted by Ruffians at Bywater.[16]

On 3 November,[14] during the Battle of Bywater in The Shire Pippin probably used his Barrow-blade when he and Merry charged the Ruffians.[17]

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.[18]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Bridge of Khazad-dûm", p. 325
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "Fog on the Barrow-downs", pp. 145-6
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Eriador, Arnor, and the Heirs of Isildur", entry for King Argeleb II, p. 1041
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Great Years"
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "Flight to the Ford", p. 214
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Great Years", entry for the year 3019, February 26, p. 1092
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "The Uruk-hai", p. 444
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Passing of the Grey Company", p. 777
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Great Years"}, entry for the year 3019, March 9, p. 1093
  10. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "Minas Tirith", pp. 755-6
  11. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "The Choices of Master Samwise", pp. 731, 735-40
  12. 12.0 12.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Battle of the Pelennor Fields", pp. 841-4
  13. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Black Gate Opens", pp. 889-92
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Chief Days from the Fall of Barad-dûr to the End of the Third Age", pp. 1095-6
  15. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Field of Cormallen", p. 954
  16. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Scouring of the Shire", p. 1005
  17. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Scouring of the Shire", p. 1015
  18. "Tolkien Society Anglo-Saxon Study Pack 2", The Tolkien Society (accessed 30 May 2022)
Weapons in Tolkien's legendarium
 Arrows:  Black Arrow · Dailir · Red Arrow
Axes:  Dramborleg · Durin's Axe
Bows:  Belthronding · Bow of Bregor · Bow of the Galadhrim
Knives:  Angrist · Barrow-blades · Morgul-knife · Sting
Maces:  Grond
Spears:  Aeglos
Swords:  Anglachel/Gurthang · Anguirel · Aranrúth · Dagmor · Glamdring · Glend · Gúthwinë · Herugrim · Narsil/Andúril ·  Orcrist · Ringil · Sword of Manwë