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Timeline Event

Attack on the Camp at Weathertop: Overview

Event Type: Military/Strategic

Age: 3rd Age - Ring War

Date: October 6, 3018


An event in the Frodo's Departure from the Shire; see that entry for an overview:
Strider and the four Hobbits are attacked at night by Nazgûl in their camp on Amon Sûl.

Table of Contents:
The Combatants
— Attacking Forces
— Defensive Forces
The Timeline
The Prelude
The Attack
The Aftermath

The Combatants

The Combatants: Attacking Forces
The nine Black Riders, including the Witch-king, pursue the travelling party in hopes of seizing the One Ring. Their chief weapon is terror.

The Combatants: Defensive Forces
Aragorn (whom the hobbits call Strider) leads the travelling party; he is captain of the Rangers and an experienced wilderness traveller. He is armed with the hilt-shard of Narsil.

The rest of the travelling party consists of the four hobbits of the Fellowship, who have never before left the Shire. They are armed with short swords that they recently acquired but have no experience using.

The Timeline
September [3018]
Crickhollow and the Inn at Bree are raided in the early hours. Frodo leaves Bree. Gandalf comes to Crickhollow, and reaches Bree at night.

[See: Travellers leave Bree for Weathertop]

[30 September-2 October]
[See: Travellers take an evasive route through the Chetwood]

Gandalf leaves Bree.

[See: Gandalf leaves Bree for Weathertop]

[See: Travellers cross the Midgewater Marshes]

He is attacked at night on Weathertop.

[See: Nazgûl attack Gandalf on Weathertop]
[See: Travellers see lightning over Weathertop]

[See: Gandalf flees from Weathertop pursued by Nazgûl]

[See: Travellers approach the Weather Hills]

The camp under Weathertop attacked at night. Frodo wounded.

[See: Travellers reach Weathertop]
[See: Strider finds signs of Gandalf on Weathertop]

[See: Travellers camp at Weathertop]
[See: Strider tells the tale of Lúthien at Weathertop]

[See: Nazgûl attack the Travellers at Weathertop]
[See: Frodo puts on the One Ring at Weathertop]
[See: Witch-king wounds Frodo at Weathertop]
[See: Strider drives the Nazgûl from Weathertop]

[See: Frodo awakens at Weathertop]

[See: Strider finds the Morgul-knife at Weathertop]
[See: Strider attempts to heal Frodo at Weathertop]

[See: Travellers flee from Weathertop]


Escape across the Ford of Bruinen.

[See: Frodo falls at the Ford of Bruinen]

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, The Tale of Years: The Third Age

The Prelude
'Weathertop?' said Sam. 'What's that?'

'It is a hill, just to the north of the Old Road, about half way from [Bree] to Rivendell.... [There] we shall have a chance to look about us. Gandalf will make for that point, if he follows us.'

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 1, Ch 10, Strider

'[When] we do get there, it is not certain what we shall find. It is close to the Road.'

'But surely we were hoping to find Gandalf there?'

'Yes; but the hope is faint.... [Unless] by luck we arrive almost together, we shall miss one another; it will not be safe for him or for us to wait there long. If the Riders fail to find us in the wilderness, they are likely to make for Weathertop themselves. It commands a wide view all round. Indeed, there are many birds and beasts... that could see us... from that hill-top. Not all the birds are to be trusted, and there are other spies more evil than they are.'

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 1, Ch 11, A Knife in the Dark

'But when [the other Riders] were foiled in Bree and at Crickhollow, they returned to their Captain1 with tidings, and so left the Road unguarded for a while....

'I [Gandalf] reached [Weathertop] before sundown... and they were there before me. They... closed round at night, and I was besieged on the hill-top....

'At sunrise I escaped and fled towards the north.... It was impossible to find you, Frodo, in the wilderness, and it would have been folly to try with all the Nine at my heels.... I hoped to draw some of them off.... Four Riders did indeed follow me, but they turned back after a while and made for the Ford.... That helped a little, for there were only five, not nine, when your camp was attacked.'

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 2, The Council of Elrond

'I think...,' said Strider, 'that the enemy has been watching this place for some days.'

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 1, Ch 12, Flight to the Ford

The Attack
On the western flank of Weathertop they found a sheltered hollow, at the bottom of which there was a bowl-shaped dell with grassy sides. There they left Sam and Pippin with the pony and their packs and luggage....

Down in the lowest and most sheltered corner of the dell they lit a fire, and prepared a meal. The shades of evening began to fall, and it grew cold.

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 1, Ch 11, A Knife in the Dark

All seemed quiet and still, but Frodo felt a cold dread creeping over his heart.... He huddled closer to the fire. At that moment Sam came running back from the edge of the dell.

'I don't know what it is,' he said, 'but I suddenly felt afraid.... I felt that something was creeping up the slope.'....

'I saw something,' said Merry; '... away westwards... beyond the shadow of the hill-tops, I thought there were two or three black shapes. They seemed to be moving this way.'

'Keep close to the fire, with your faces outward!' cried Strider. 'Get some of the longer sticks ready in your hands!'....

Over the lip of the little dell, on the side away from the hill, they felt... a shadow rise... or more than one.... Soon there could be no doubt: three or four tall black figures were standing there on the slope, looking down on them.... Frodo thought that he heard a faint hiss as of venomous breath and felt a thin piercing chill. Then the shapes slowly advanced.

Terror overcame Pippin and Merry, and they threw themselves flat on the ground. Sam shrank to Frodo's side. Frodo... was quaking as if he was bitter cold, but his terror was swallowed up in a sudden temptation to put on the Ring.... He shut his eyes and struggled for a while; but resistance became unbearable, and at last he slowly drew out the chain, and slipped the Ring on the forefinger of his left hand.

Immediately, though everything else remained... dim and dark, the shapes became terribly clear.... There were five tall figures: two standing on the lip of the dell, three advancing. In... their haggard hands were swords of steel. ... [They] rushed towards him. Desperate, he drew his own sword, and it seemed to him that it flickered red.... Two of the figures halted. The third was taller than the others:... on his helm was a crown. In one hand he held a long sword, and in the other a knife; both the knife and the hand that held it glowed with a pale light. He sprang forward and bore down on Frodo....

A shrill cry rang out in the night; and [Frodo] felt a pain like a dart of poisoned ice pierce his left shoulder. Even as he swooned he caught... a glimpse of Strider leaping out of the darkness with a flaming brand of wood in either hand. With a last effort Frodo... slipped the Ring from his finger....

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 1, Ch 11, A Knife in the Dark

The Aftermath
[The] pain of [Frodo's] wound was slowly growing, and a deadly chill was spreading from his shoulder to his arm and side.

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 1, Ch 12, Flight to the Ford

'I think I understand things better now,' [Strider] said in a low voice. 'There seem only to have been five of the enemy.... I don't think they expected to be resisted.... They will come again another night, if we cannot escape. They are only waiting, because they think that their purpose is almost accomplished, and that the Ring cannot fly much further. I fear, Sam, that they believe your master has a deadly wound that will subdue him to their will.'

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 1, Ch 12, Flight to the Ford

[Strider] stooped again and lifted up a long thin knife.... [They] saw that... its edge was notched and the point was broken off. But even as he held it up... the blade... vanished..., leaving only the hilt in Strider's hand. 'Alas!' he cried. 'It was this accursed knife that gave the wound. Few now have the skill in healing to match such evil weapons. But I will do what I can.'....

From the pouch at his belt he drew out the long leaves of a plant.

'These leaves,' he said, 'I have walked far to find... [It] is a healing plant.... Athelas they named it.... It has great virtues, but over such a wound as this its healing powers may be small.'

He threw the leaves into boiling water and bathed Frodo's shoulder.... The herb had... some power over the wound, for Frodo felt the pain and also the sense of frozen cold lessen in his side; but the life did not return to his arm, and he could not raise or use his hand.

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 1, Ch 12, Flight to the Ford

[Frodo] bitterly regretted his foolishness, and reproached himself for weakness of will; for he now perceived that in putting on the Ring he obeyed not his own desire but the commanding wish of his enemies. He wondered if he would remain maimed for life, and how they would now manage to continue their journey.

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 1, Ch 12, Flight to the Ford

The others... quickly decided to leave Weathertop as soon as possible....

It was impossible for Frodo to walk, so they divided the greater part of their baggage among the four of them, and put Frodo on the pony....

They started off in a southerly direction. This would mean crossing the Road, but it was the quickest way to more wooded country. And they needed fuel; for Strider said that Frodo must be kept warm, especially at night, while fire would be some protection for them all.

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 1, Ch 12, Flight to the Ford

1    [The] Black Captain established a camp at Andrath, where the Greenway passed in a defile between the Barrow-downs and the South Downs....

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 4, The Hunt for the Ring: Other Versions of the Story

Elena Tiriel 10Jul06

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