The Attack on Weathertop

From Tolkien Gateway
The Return of the Shadow chapters
The First Phase
  1. A Long-expected Party
  2. From Hobbiton to the Woody End
  3. Of Gollum and the Ring
  4. To Maggot's Farm and Buckland
  5. The Old Forest and the Withywindle
  6. Tom Bombadil
  7. The Barrow-wight
  8. Arrival at Bree
  9. Trotter and the Journey to Weathertop
  10. The Attack on Weathertop
  11. From Weathertop to the Ford
  12. At Rivendell
  13. 'Queries and Alterations'
The Second Phase
  1. Return to Hobbiton
  2. Ancient History
  3. Delays Are Dangerous
  4. A Short Cut to Mushrooms
  5. Again from Buckland to the Withywindle
The Third Phase
  1. The Journey to Bree
  2. At the Sign of the Prancing Pony
  3. To Weathertop and Rivendell
  4. New Uncertainties and New Projections
The Story Continued
  1. In the House of Elrond
  2. The Ring Goes South
  3. The Mines of Moria

"The Attack on Weathertop" is the title of the tenth chapter of The Return of the Shadow, the sixth book of The History of Middle-earth series by Christopher Tolkien.


Odo and Frodo[note 1] find a dell in the northwest corner of Weathertop. In it they discover a store of firewood and (unlike the published text) a wooden case filled with cram, bacon, dried fruit, and tobacco. The narrative explains that Bilbo Baggins brought the recipe back with him from his travels and that Gandalf had taken to using it on his perpetual journeys.

Down from the summit come Trotter, Bingo,[note 2] and Merry with the news that Black Riders have been spotted. The five hobbits debate whether to stay or go, finally deciding to stay because of the firewood. Merry asks if the Riders can see; Trotter does not know but points out that their horses can see.

The hobbits eat and take turns standing guard at the edge of the dell. Trotter tells the others tales to keep them from becoming fearful. When asked for the story of Gil-galad Trotter explains a little but declines to tell the full story. Instead he tells them the tale of Tinúviel, "the fairest [tale] that has come out of the oldest days".

J.R.R. Tolkien at this point inserted a note to include either his poem Light on Linden Tree or some alliterative lines. He wrote a prose summary of the story of Beren and Lúthien but then went back and inserted a new version of Light as Leaf on Lindentree. The poem is printed but would undergo many later emendations before final publication. Trotter goes on to explain the story of Beren and Lúthien in a little more detail than in the published story, but without connecting them to Elrond, Eärendil, or the Kings of Númenor.

The moon rises and a dark shape is seen on the hill-top. Odo hurries to the fire, reporting two or three shapes moving towards them. The hobbits arm themselves with sticks from the fire. Three or four tall black figures advance upon them. Bingo feels compelled to put on the One Ring and does so. Immediately the three (not yet five) tall figures are fully revealed to Bingo. They rush forward and the tallest, wearing a crown, stabs Bingo, who feels a dart of poisoned ice. As he swoons he glimpses Trotter leaping with a flaming brand; with a last effort Bingo removes the Ring and grasps it in his hand.[1]

Christopher commented that in a sketch for this chapter the attack in the dell was envisioned before the idea of Trotter's song and story for the other hobbits (originally he was just to tell them about animals in the wild). However, Christopher stated that here the full significance of the Ring had been attained. This chapter was largely kept as is for the final published story, although the full scope of The Lord of the Rings was still absent and that the Ring might hold the fate of all Middle-earth was not present. None of the great lands and histories east or south of the Misty Mountains had been conceived. Christopher said that in October 1938 his father could still tell Stanley Unwin that he had hopes of submitting the story early in the following year.[2]


  1. Odo and Frodo would later become Peregrin Took and Samwise Gamgee.
  2. Trotter (a hobbit) and Bingo would later become Aragorn and Frodo Baggins.


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Return of the Shadow, "The First Phase: X. The Attack on Weathertop"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Return of the Shadow, "The First Phase: X. The Attack on Weathertop, [Untitled final section on pencilled drafts]"