Stone of Erech

From Tolkien Gateway
Stone of Erech
Tryst-stone
"Oathbreakers, Why Have Ye Come?" by Abe Papakhian
Other namesBlack Stone
LocationUpon the Hill of Erech in northern Lamedon
OwnerIsildur
AppearanceGreat black spherical stone
GalleryImages of the Stone of Erech

The Stone of Erech or the Black Stone[1] was a great black stone shaped like a globe, which was as high as a man, although its lower half was buried in the ground at the top of the Hill of Erech.[2]

History

According to the lore of Númenor it had been brought out of the ruin of Númenor and had been set at the Hill of Erech by Isildur at his landing[2] as a symbol of his overlordship and a place of meeting[3] for the establishment of a covenant[4] between the Men of the Mountains and the realm of Gondor.[5] It is possible that the Stone of Erech was one of the heirlooms or many things "of beauty and power" or "of virtue and wonder" that the Númenoreans had created in the days of their wisdom that Elendil, the father of Isildur, had loaded onto ships that were anchored off the east coast of Númenor for a possible evacuation of the Faithful from Númenor.[6] Near the end of the Second Age, in the beginning of the realm of Gondor the King of the Mountains swore allegiance to Isildur at the stone. After Sauron had returned and become powerful Isildur summoned the Men of the Mountains to fulfill their oath to fight with Gondor in the upcoming war with Sauron. However, they refused, because they had worshipped Sauron during the Dark Years. As a consequence, Isildur cursed the King of the Mountains and his people to find no rest until their oath was fulfilled and said to the king that he would be the last king of his people. The Men of the Mountains fled and hid in secret locations in the mountains, did not have contact with other people and slowly dwindled. After their death their spirits found no rest and spread terror near the Hill of Erech and all places where they had lived.[5]

The dead spirits of the Men of the Mountains haunted the caverns beneath the Dwimorberg and their wraiths appeared in the valley of Harrowdale that lay in the mountain's shadow in times of trouble and coming death and caused the local people to lock themselves in their houses in fear.[7] They believed that the Stone had fallen from the sky.[8] The wraiths of the dead also filled the population near the Hill of Erech with fear, who knew that the host of the wraiths was led by the King of the Dead.[2]

In the time of King Arvedui of Arthedain a prophecy was made regarding the arising of the dead during the War of the Ring. In this prophecy the Stone of Erech was mentioned:[9]

The Dead awaken; for the hour is come for the oathbreakers: at the Stone of Erech they shall stand again and hear there a horn in the hills ringing.

When the Grey Company came to Rohan the sons of Elrond brought with them a reminder of these words from their father to Aragorn, who acted upon these words to brave the Paths of the Dead.[9]

During the War of the Ring, on 8 March T.A. 3019[10] Isildur's Heir, Aragorn passed through the Paths of the Dead with the Grey Company and commanded the Dead who lingered there to let them pass and to come to the Stone of Erech. The Dead followed him through the Paths of the Dead and the Blackroot Vale south of the White Mountains to the Stone of Erech. There Aragorn commanded the Oathbreakers to follow him to Pelargir and announced that he would hold the oath fulfilled when all the servants of Sauron have been removed from this land.[11] The Dead fulfilled their oath and drove away the allies of Sauron through fear at the fords over the river Gilrain at Linhir on 11 March[12] and at Pelargir on 13 March.[13] In return for their aid, at the shore of the river Anduin at Pelargir, Aragorn held their oath as fulfilled, commanded them to never again trouble the valleys, to depart and to be at rest.[14]

Etymology

The name Erech, like many names in Gondor, is of forgotten Mannish pre-Númenórean origin.[15]

Other versions of the legendarium

In early manuscripts the Stone of Erech seems to be a Palantír, because Aragorn says that that there are other Stones in this ancient land and that one is at Erech after he had looked into the Stone (i.e. the Palantír) of Orthanc.[16] In later manuscripts, a ring-wall existed around the Stone of Erech and a tower with a Palantír stood next to it.[17] The last of these later manuscripts mentions that the Stone of Erech was brought from Númenor before its fall when its ships came to the western coasts of Middle-earth.[18]

Portrayal in adaptations

2010: The Lord of the Rings Online:

The Stone of Erech in The Lord of the Rings Online
The Stone of Erech is named Orossar and is reimagined as one of the seven Vandassari (Oath-stones in Quenya) brought from Númenor. They are the "seven stones" from the rhyme spoken by Gandalf, while the Palantíri are revealed to be the "seven stars". The stones had in them the power that made the oaths sworn in their presence more potent, and thus they were divided much like the palantíri (three to Arnor and four to Gondor) to make pacts friendship with the non-Dúnedain peoples of Middle-earth.

References

  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Last Debate", pp. 874, 876
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Passing of the Grey Company", p. 789
  3. Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, 1996 Index, "a tryst-stone (symbol of Isildur's overlordship)", p. 530
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 297, (dated August 1967), "Isildur set the covenant-stone"
  5. 5.0 5.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Passing of the Grey Company", p. 782
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Akallabêth: The Downfall of Númenor"
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Muster of Rohan", p. 797
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Passing of the Grey Company"
  9. 9.0 9.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Passing of the Grey Company", p. 781
  10. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Great Years", entry for the year 3019, March 8, p. 1093
  11. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Passing of the Grey Company", pp. 787-9
  12. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Great Years", entry for the year 3019, March 11, p. 1093
  13. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Great Years", entry for the year 3019, March 13, p. 1093
  14. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Last Debate", pp. 874-6
  15. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix F, "The Languages and Peoples of the Third Age", "Of Men", p. 1129
  16. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Ring, "Part Three: Minas Tirith", "IV. Many Roads Lead Eastward (1)", pp. 300-2, 304, 309 (note 10)
  17. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Ring, "Part Three: Minas Tirith", "XII. The Last Debate", pp. 397, 410
  18. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Ring, "Part Three: Minas Tirith", "XII. The Last Debate", p. 410