Two Watchers

From Tolkien Gateway
This article is about the Watchers in Cirith Ungol. For the Watchers at Minas Morgul, see Silent Watchers.
Two Watchers
The Lord of the Rings - The Return of the King - Two Watchers.jpg
The Two Watchers from The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Biographical Information
Other namesWatchers (of Cirith Ungol)
LocationTower of Cirith Ungol
Physical Description
GalleryImages of the Two Watchers

The Two Watchers were two carved figures that guarded the arched gateway through the outer wall that led to the courtyard of the Tower of Cirith Ungol.

Description[edit | edit source]

The Two Watchers were great two figures that were sitting on thrones on both sides of the gateway. Their figures were formed of three bodies with heads with the faces of vultures with eyes of black stone. One head looked outward, one head looked inward and the third head stared across the gateway itself. They were inhabited by "some dreadful spirit of evil vigilance". Not a visible or invisible creature was unnoticed by them. They had the power to identify enemies and to block them from entering or from exiting through the gate with the force of their will alone, and were able to send up a shrill alarm call if their guard was breached.[1]:902

History[edit | edit source]

It is probable that the Two Watchers were not created by the Men of Gondor, because the vigilance of their spirits was described as "evil" and because they perceived a Hobbit as an enemy and let Orcs pass the gateway.[note 1][2][3]

On 14 March T.A. 3019,[4] Sam the Two Watchers blocked his initial attempt to pass through the gate. However, Sam was able to overcome the will of the Two Watchers with the help of the Phial of Galadriel and was able to pass through the gate into the court of the Tower of Cirith Ungol in a second attempt. When he passed the gate, the Two Watchers uttered a high shrill cry, which was answered by a single clang of a bell high up in The Tower of Cirith Ungol.[1]:902-903 After hearing the bell the orc Snaga said to the orc Shagrat that a great fighter, an Elf or a Man of Gondor ("tark") got past the Watchers, and that's tark's work.[1]:906 It is probable that he meant that the feat of getting past the Watchers was the work of a Man of Gondor.[5]:26

Later that day, in order to leave the Tower, Frodo and Sam held up again the Phial while invoking Eärendil and Elbereth, which broke the will of the Two Watchers so that they were able to pass through the gate to the outside. The keystone of the arch and the wall above the gate crumbled into ruin after they passed, but the Two Watchers uttered a high and dreadful wail.[1]:915

Other versions of the legendarium[edit | edit source]

Christopher Tolkien treats it like a fact that "tark's work" is the getting past the Watchers. Earlier manuscripts of what would later become the chapter The Tower of Cirith Ungol have the orc saying "that's Elvish work" or "that's wizard's work" and the latter has him assuming that the great fighter may be one of those filthy wizards.[5]:26

Portrayal in adaptations[edit | edit source]

1980: The Return of the King (1980 film):

Samwise Gamgee encounters the Watchers while attempting to enter the tower to rescue Frodo Baggins. He sets off the alarm, but gets by them by using the Phial of Galadriel. When he and Frodo encounter them once again when trying to leave the tower, they put up more of a resistance to the Phial, but give in when Frodo helps Sam use it.

1982-97: Middle-earth Role Playing:

The Two Watchers that guard the Tower of Cirith Ungol are referred to as the Silent Watchers. They are described to be a type of Pûkel-creatures, animated stone monsters that are magically instilled with enchanted spirits, that were produced by Sauron.[6] The Watchers-in-Stone of Moria are enchanted statues, inhabited by magical Spirits said to resemble the "spell-sewn Power that inhabits the 'Two Watchers'".[7]

2003: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King:

The Watchers are seen in the film, but never come into play, nor are they ever even acknowledged.

2003: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (video game):

The Watchers appear during the opening cutscene of the "Cirith Ungol" level, where their eyes glow red when Sam tries to enter the tower, and briefly obstruct him with an invisible wall.

2007-: The Lord of the Rings Online:

Watching Stones resemble common statues, but "hold the trapped spirit of malice within". These vigilant statues were created by Sauron and many guard the lands of Angmar.[8]


  1. Mark Fisher suggests in his Encyclopedia of Arda that the Two Watchers were "surely not the work of the Gondorians" while Michael Martinez suggests in his Middle-earth blog that they were "apparently made by the Númenóreans of Gondor", because he seems to infer from the text that the Orcs believe that the Men of Gondor (Tarks) made the Watchers.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Tower of Cirith Ungol"
  2. Mark Fisher, "Two Watchers", The Encyclopedia of Arda (accessed 17 May 2022)
  3. Michael Martinez, "What Are the Silen Watchers of Two Watchers of Mordor?", (accessed 17 May 2022), has a different opinion
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Great Years", entry 14 March 3019, p. 1093
  5. 5.0 5.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Sauron Defeated, "Part One: The End of the Third Age: II. The Tower of Kirith Ungol"
  6. Ruth Sochard Pitt, Jeff O'Hare, Peter C. Fenlon, Jr. (1994), Creatures of Middle-earth (2nd edition) (#2012), pp. 121-2
  7. Peter C. Fenlon, Jr. (1994), Moria (2nd edition) (#2011)
  8. Bestiary: Watching Stone at The Lord of the Rings Online Vault (accessed 5 March 2011)