Gondolinic Runes

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Gondolinic Runes by Ronald Kyrmse

The Gondolinic Runes were a writing system used in Gondolin. They were created by J.R.R. Tolkien between 1920-1925, when he was devising the first writing systems for his Elvish languages. They were the first runic system invented by him, and one of the few alphabets including lower case letters.[1] Like the Gnomic Letters, this early writing system was never used.

The only possible glimpse of these runes used within the legendarium is in The Hobbit: Glamdring and Orcrist, famous swords from Gondolin, had runes that even Gandalf was unable to read, but Elrond (who knew of all types of runes) could.[2] However it is clear that Tolkien did not consider using these letters in his writings, as in 1960, while rewriting The Hobbit, he found another explanation of why Gandalf could not read the runes: Glamdring was covered in dark blood when Gandalf found it, explaining why the runes were unreadable until cleaned by Elrond.[3]

Table[edit | edit source]

t t p p c ch k k
d d b b j j g g
T th f f S sh h h
D dh v v Z zh x x[note 1]
n n m m ñ[note 2] n, -ng r r l l
M mh Ñ nh R rh L lh
s s z z
w w y y
H hw X hy K ks
a a e e i i o o u u
A á E é I í O ó uu ú
ia æ ö œ U y
iAi ǽ Ö long œ[note 3] UU long y[note 3]

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. This rune is described as x, however, this is an alternate spelling for the Sindarin sound ch, not the English x (Quenya ks). For x, the letter K was used.
  2. This rune seems to be used both for n and -ng (ñ).
  3. 3.0 3.1 These runes were used for long œ and y respectively, but there are no such accented characters in typesetting, so they are displayed here as double. The sounds they represents are of those that appear in the alphabet, but not attested in any elvish tongue.

Examples[edit | edit source]

If we accept the values of the runes above, we can apply them to the inscriptions of the famous swords of The Hobbit:

  • glamdriñ, Glamdring (Foe-hammer)
  • orkrist, Orcrist (Orc-cleaver)


Realm of Gondolin
Ondolindë · Hidden City · City of Seven Names
Outside locations Amon Gwared · Anghabar · Echoriad (Crissaegrim · Eithel Nínui · Fingolfin's cairn) · Seven Gates of Gondolin (Gate of Wood · Gate of Stone · Gate of Bronze · Gate of Writhen Iron · Gate of Silver · Gate of Gold · Gate of Steel) · Orfalch Echor · Tumladen
Inside locations Alley of Roses · Arch of Inwë · Caragdûr · Fountains of the South · Gar Ainion · Great Market · Lesser Market · Idril's secret way · Place of the Fountain · Place of the Well · Road of Arches · Road of Pomps · Tower of the King · Way of Running Waters
Objects Anguirel · Axe of Tuor · Crown of the Hidden Kingdom · Elfstone · Glamdring · Glingal and Belthil · Orcrist · Sting
Houses House of the King · House of the Wing · House of the Mole · House of the Swallow · House of the Heavenly Arch · House of the Pillar · House of the Tower of Snow · House of the Tree · House of the Golden Flower · House of the Fountain · House of the Harp · House of the Hammer of Wrath
People Aranwë · Aredhel · Dark Guard · Duilin · Eärendil · Ecthelion · Egalmoth · Elemmakil · Elenwë · Enerdhil · Eöl · Exiles of Gondolin · Galdor · Glorfindel · Huor · Húrin · Hendor · Idril · Legolas · Maeglin · Meleth · Pengolodh · Penlod · Rog · Salgant · Tuor · Turgon · Ulmo · Voronwë · Warden of the Great Gate
Events Fall of Gondolin · Gates of Summer · Nirnaeth Arnoediad · Ulmo's warning · Wanderings of Húrin
Main texts Lost Tale of The Fall of Gondolin (1916-20) · The Lay of the Fall of Gondolin (c. 1920) · Of Tuor and his Coming to Gondolin (1950) · Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin (1977) · The Fall of Gondolin (2018)
Languages and scripts in Tolkien's works
Elvish Angerthas (Angerthas Daeron) · Avarin · Cirth (Certhas Daeron) · Common Eldarin · Mátengwië · Moon-letters · Nandorin · Primitive Quendian · Quenya (Exilic · Valinorean · Vanyarin) · Sarati · Silvan Elvish · Sindarin (Doriathrin · Falathrin · Númenórean · Mithrimin · Old) · Telerin (Common) · Tengwar
Mannish Adûnaic · Dalish · Drúadan · Dunlendish · Halethian · Northern Mannish · Pre-Númenórean · Rohanese · Taliska · Westron (Bucklandish · Hobbitish · Stoorish)
Dwarvish Angerthas (Erebor · Moria) · Aulëan · Iglishmêk · Khuzdul
Other Black Speech · Old Entish · Orkish · Valarin · Warg-language
Earlier legendarium Gnomish · Gnomic Letters · Gondolinic Runes · Ilkorin · Keladian · Noldorin (Kornoldorin) · Melkian · Oromëan · Qenya · Valmaric script
Outside the legendarium Animalic · Arktik · Gautisk · Goblin Alphabet · Mágol · Naffarin · New English Alphabet · Nevbosh · Privata Kodo Skauta
Real-world Celtic · English (Old · Middle · AB) · Finnish · Germanic · Gothic · Hebrew · Runic alphabet · Welsh
"A Secret Vice" (book) · "The Lhammas" · "The Tree of Tongues" · Sub-creation