From Tolkien Gateway
Angelo Montanini - Beornings.jpg
"Beornings" by Angelo Montanini
General Information
LocationsUpper Vales of Anduin
RivalriesOrcs of the Misty Mountains
MembersBeorn, Grimbeorn
GalleryImages of Beornings

Beornings were a people that lived east of Rivendell[1] between the Misty Mountains and Mirkwood[2] in the upper Vales of Anduin[3] on both sides of the river Anduin[1].

History[edit | edit source]

The Beornings were Northmen, and as such descended from the Edain of the First Age or from their close kin.[3] Specifically, they were close akin to the Éothéod (the ancestors of the Rohirrim),[3][4] who were most nearly akin to the third people of the Edain.[5]

After the Battle of Five Armies and the decimation of the Orcs of the Misty Mountains, many Northmen gathered around Beorn who became a great chief. It is possible that they were named Beornings, because they were descendants of people whose chief was Beorn.[6][7][note 1]

The Beornings kept open the passages of the Ford of Carrock and the High Pass in return for high tolls, likely keeping the paths clear of evil creatures such as Orcs and Wolves.[2][8]

In the events leading up to the War of the Ring, the Beornings helped Aragorn, who was taking Gollum to Mirkwood, to cross the Anduin near the Carrock.[9]

During the War of the Ring, Grimbeorn, son of Beorn, was the leader of the Beornings.[2] It is possible that Sauron's forces had attacked them in early T.A. 3019, because Frodo Baggins saw the land of the Beornings aflame when he wore the One Ring on the Seat of Seeing upon Amon Hen[10] on 26 February T.A. 3019.[11]

After the War of the Ring, the Beornings and the Woodmen were given the central Eryn Lasgalen between the Mountains of Mirkwood and the Narrows of the Forest by Thranduil and Celeborn.[12]

Characteristics[edit | edit source]

The language of the Beornings was related to Adûnaic and to its descendant the Common Speech.[3][13] They also spoke the Common Speech as a second language of intercourse.[14][15]

Through many generations, the descendants of Beorn were like him skin-changers, able to take the shape of a bear.[note 2] Some of Beorn's descendants were grim like him and even "bad", but none of them matched Beorn in size and strength.[6]

The Beornings seemed to have shared a dislike for Dwarves,[2][16] perhaps related to the latter's praise of metals and the former's disinterest in it.[17]

They were known as great bakers, famous for their honey-cakes (which could feed travelers similarly to the lembas) although they were reluctant to share them with travelers around the time of the War of the Ring.[18]

Etymology[edit | edit source]

Portrayal in adaptations[edit | edit source]

Beornings in adaptations
A Beorning in The One Ring  

2011-: The One Ring (role-playing game):

Beornings are one of the playable cultures. The game describes them as rough Men, sometimes outlaws, gathered under the banner of Beorn. One of their cultural Virtues is the ability to take control of a 'spirit animal' whilst sleeping, a talent taught to some Beornings by Beorn himself.[19]

2013: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug:

Beorn tells Thorin and Company that in the past Azog hunted him and his people for sport and that, as a result, few of his kind are left. It is one of his prime motivations to help them in their Quest.

2014: The Lord of the Rings Online:

The ancestors of the Beornings were taught the art of skin-changing as a gift by Radagast the Brown, "master of shapes and hues". Evil men jealous of this gift captured a skin-changer and tortured him until he gave the secret away. Hearing of this, Radagast grieved and changed the gift so it could no longer be taught, only passed down to progeny. But the two new Skin-changer tribes - "Gauredain", men of the wolf, and "Ungoledain", men of the spider, - persisted and remained the most bitter enemies of the Beornings, even moreso than the goblins.
In the present day, Beornings live in and around the Vales of Anduin. Outside Beorninghús they have two notable settlements: Limlók, a village to the north, and Vegbár, a toll-collecting station on the road to the Misty Mountains. Other Beornings live in the wild in small groups or by themselves, as far north as the Grey Mountains, but even those who have little to no contact with their kin to the south still acknowledge Grimbeorn as their chieftain. All Beornings have a special love for honey-cakes, dedicating a large amount of attention and effort to their baking.
The Beornings were made playable in 2014, uniquely combining the race and the class. They can transform into the shape of the bear at will and perform skills in both man- and bear-form. The player's character is the youngest child of Grimbeorn who is sent by their sire to deliver a message to Strider from Radagast and takes on the adventuring life. Other Beornings also travel away from their home on various errands, ranging from the Lone-lands in the west to the Elvenking's Halls in the east and as far south as the river Limlight.

See also[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]


  1. The narrative is not clear whether Beorn belonged to the people of the Beornings, or whether the Beornings were the people of his descendants from T.A. 2492.
  2. Since it is unknown if all Beornings came from the line of Beorn, one can only guess if this was valid for all the Beornings.


  1. 1.0 1.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, "Unfinished index for The Lord of the Rings", in Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, p. 351 entry land of the Beornings
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "Many Meetings", p. 228
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix F, "The Languages and Peoples of the Third Age", "Of Men", p. 1129
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "The Riders of Rohan", p. 369
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan", "Notes", note 4
  6. 6.0 6.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "The Return Journey"
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "Many Meetings", p. 229 "Grimbeorn the Old, son of Beorn, was now the lord of many sturdy men" and "like Beorn of old they are not over fond of dwarves"
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Treason of Isengard, "XIII. Galadriel", p. 248
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Hunt for the Ring", "(ii) Other Versions of the Story", text B, second paragraph
  10. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Breaking of the Fellowship", p. 400
  11. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Great Years", entry for Februar 26 of the year 3019, p. 1092
  12. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Great Years", p. 1094
  13. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "II. The Appendix on Languages", manuscript F 2 § 14, p. 34
  14. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix F, "The Languages and Peoples of the Third Age", last paragraph, p. 1127
  15. Letter to Leila Keene and Pat Kirke (cf. The Peoples of Middle-earth, p. 72)
  16. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Queer Lodgings": [Beorn speaking:] "I am not over fond of dwarves"
  17. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Queer Lodgings": "[The Dwarves] spoke most of gold and silver and jewels and the making of things by smith-craft, and Beorn did not appear to care for such things: there were no things of gold or silver in his hall, and few save the knives were made of metal at all.
  18. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "Farewell to Lórien", p. 369
  19. Francesco Nepitello (2011), The One Ring: Adventures over the Edge of the Wild, pp. 41-6