Forum: Domain of the Dúnedain

Discussing: Dunedain Demographics

Dunedain Demographics

Rather than hijack poor GA's forum further, lets move the discussion here.

Sorry - I just had to interject in to the demography debate (I love this stuff!)

In the second half of the third age, isn't there something wrong with the Edain, reproductively speaking? I get the impression that, especially in Gondor and perhaps in the North as well, the Edain aren't having the 5-6 living children they should be. Then again, we don't know that the Rohirrim had lots of kids. I think Tolkein had it in mind that the growing darkness sapped the vital energy from Men (turning their minds to the past, etc.), that low fecundity was a symptom of the failure of the descendants of Numenor, and these low birth rates were one of the main causes of the low Edain population (Minas Tirith was partially uninhabited at the time of the War). It's why I've made fecundity a political and moral issue in my stories. But the question remains how small could the population of any given community have been without collapsing entirely? 300 families is a figure I recall from somewhere.

-Raihon

 Hmm, I never looked at it from that angle - the fewest number of people who could sustain the Dunedain.  I guess I don't see them as quite so close to extinction. After all, once Sauron is overthrown, Arnor does become a kingdom again.  The Northern Capital is rebuilt and it seems to be treated as a full kingdom and not just a poor backwater province of Gondor.

There are articles on Medieval Demographics and Classical Demographics 

I think the world was just more populous in the 'ancient days' than most people  believe.

 
The  "medieval demography" article states:

400-1000

As the ancient world came to an end there was a steep decline in population, reaching its lowest point around 542 with the bubonic plague (the Plague of Justinian, the last plague in Europe until the Black Death of the 14th century). Estimates of total population of Europe are speculative, but at the time of Charlemagne it is thought to be between 25 and 30 million, and of this 15 million are in Carolingian France. Unlike our modern image of a lone self-sufficient farmer who moves when he sees smoke from the neighbor's chimney, medieval settlements were thickly populated, with large zones of unpopulated wilderness in between. To be alone in the Middle Ages, and not part of a community, meant sure death. Crowded communities existed as islands in a sea of uncultivated wilderness

If we assume that the 'lowest point' for the 6th century is a tenth (which would be very low indeed) of the 11th century figure, "The West" in the 6th century still has between 2.5 and 3 million people.  The common Dunedain population estimates seem to run another order of magnitude, or even two orders of magnitude, fewer than the lowest of the lowest possible estimates from 'real life'.

And from classical demography:  The city of Athens in the 4th century BC had a population of 60,000 non-foreign free males.

 I can see Minas Tirith as being roughly as populous as 4th Century BC Athens.

 
I have no problem with people or stories who would like the Dunedain to be on the verge of dying out.  But I've got this rather out of date medieval history/physical anthropology double major that rears it's ugly head every once in awhile and splutters, "But, but..."

Now those of pure, or nearly pure, Numenorean blood can be a much smaller percentage of the population. Those I can see at no more than a thousand, or five or ten thousand, of the (much larger population of) people in the North. It's definitely a grafted on aristocracy that has spent the last three thousand years deliberately not intermarrying with the indiginous population. Although some MUST marry outside the limited bloodline, or by now they'd all be capable of nothing more than sitting in the corner drooling.

 After all, even Aragorn is pure Numenorean only by some chance combination. (although I'm darned if I can find the quote now)

We know there is a steady drain on the men in war. Fertility rates may well be low, especially if remarriage is not part of the cultural norms. But if there are really only a thousand people in North, who the heck do they marry?  Assuming a longevity of about 130 years - there would only be 77 people in each ten year age span.  (That's really rough, you'd have to weight it with men dying at a greater rate then women and have bulge in the lower half.) If half of those are men and half women, that's about 40 people in total to choose from to marry if you go woth someone roughly your own age. The chances that they would all be close enough cousins that you couldn't marry any one of them would be pretty high. We're definitely talking about extinction real soon now. If you add to that that a widow would not remarry and would be removed from the pool of fertile women - well, I'm surprised they lasted as long as they did.

 Gwynnyd

 

 

Re: Dunedain Demographics

From a historical perspective, your points are fascinating. But I find I have the same problem with this as I do with many other topics in fanfic discussion. The purpose of such realism in the stories is to enhance their effectiveness AS STORIES, not to make a realistic analysis. That really has no purpose in Middle-earth, does it?

For example, if you approach Dunedain demographics entirely from a realistic perspective, you've got a huge problem at the very beginning. Tolkien more or less eliminates the main source of reproduction, the powerful urge to, what shall I say, hump like bunnies? Taking a look at that, I'm REALLY surprised they lasted as long as they did. After all, we human animals did not evolve to our current state through individuals who found celibacy easy to do.

Thanks, Gwynnyd, for starting this thread. I hope it helps inspire a renewed interest in discussing Dunedain and MORE STORIES! Let's hear it for our heroes of the North! 

G.A. 

 

 

Re: Dunedain Demographics

The purpose of such realism in the stories is to enhance their effectiveness AS STORIES, not to make a realistic analysis. That really has no purpose in Middle-earth, does it?

I dunno. I have the most fun when I can integrate the two and have good stories AND reasonable real-world extrapolation.
 
There have been a number of authors I've beta-ed for (you know who you are ) where the catch phrase was "must!  have!  taxes!" to keep the stories grounded in some kind of reasonably satisfactory reality.

I'll allow magic, foresight, otherwordly charisma, Lamarckian genetics, and anything else that 'fits' JRRT's world.  Heck, I'll even allow them to hump like bunnies at the drop of a hat, if it makes sense within the story. (Just because my stories don't extrapolate in that direction doesn't mean I can't appreciate it.)

Most of the background is just that, background.  Unless it's a vital plot point, no character would stand up and say, "I've just visited every one of the two hundred Dunedain villages, each having an average of 500 people." or "Gosh, it's too bad this one fastness, which holds our entire population of one thousand people, is getting worn out."

Tolkien more or less eliminates the main source of reproduction, the powerful urge to, what shall I say, hump like bunnies?

He DID? When did that happen?  I thought they could hump like bunnies as much as they liked, but only after they were married.  The unresolved sexual tension is also part of the fun for me.

I'm interested now in the minimum  number of people necessary to sustain a 'civilization'.  Anyone have any good links? Googling on "minimum sustainable population"gets a lot of hits on the maximum earth can support, but very little at the lower end.

And if anyone has any thoughts on Elven economy, I'd love to talk about that too. I have absolutely no clue how supply, demand, money, taxes or production works for Elves, ot how it would integrate with the Dunedain economy.

Gwynnyd 

 

 

Re: Dunedain Demographics

But the question remains how small could the population of any given community have been without collapsing entirely? 300 families is a figure I recall from somewhere.

Found one!  Very interesting article on  

Goals and Limits for Wilderness for the North Slope of Alaska

It has this tantalizing factoid:

Each calculation of a population has become more comprehensive and cautious and has resulted in a smaller number. The target population for planning depends on how cautious the residents are. Should they gamble and go for more people, they might break the system. On the other hand, they might approach some minimum. The likelihood of this possibility is low. The Inupiat did not approach it at 5,000. The minimum number for genetic health, for the entire species, could be 5,000 individuals. For a guarantee of fertility for the species, 25,000, and for a minimum for social contact for the species, 50,000.

Will try and track down some of the bibliography to see where these numbers came from.

Gwynnyd 

 

 

Re: Dunedain Demographics

Found one!
 
Might as well keep my research here as anywhere.  
 
 
38% of land is currently cultivated to support roughly 6,525,000,000 people.
Challenging Nature – Lee M Silver
 
Gwynnyd 

 

 

Re: Dunedain Demographics

Of course all this is as open to artistic interpretation as any other element of Middle Earth, but since the Professor was so painstaking about his own area of linguistic expertise, I think it behooves those of us who care about responsible Subcreation to pay attention to how the world actually works.

There seems to be a very marked tendency for people to model the Dunedain on what they can read of medieval history, which provides good nuts-and-bolts details only from about the 12th century, except for the more urbanized societies around the Med and the Carolingians.  Those are very useful for reconstructing Gondor, but not the North.  What people need to look at is early medieval (AD 500-900) NW European societies, particularly those of the British Isles and Scandinavia: and not only because those were the ones the Professor knew best (from studying their languages).  Unfortunately, popular history sources that do a good job with this period are few and far between, and the archaeological literature is at least as important as the historical ones.

Look at Aragorn's formal title: he was the Chieftain of the Dunedain.  This supports the view that the Dunedain of the North did not have a state-level society, but a complex chiefdom.  These are common terms from the anthropological study of sociopolitical complexity.  Chiefdoms and states are both complex societies with social stratification (different classes/castes) that collect some form of tribute/taxes, but chiefdoms have only two significant social levels (chiefly and commoner) and states have three or more (rulers, merchants/professionals, artisans/farmers).  States have very high levels of craft and professional specialization, where people trade for many of the necessities of life; chiefdoms have low levels of specialization, with subsistence economies where all or nearly all families produce all the basic necessities (metalwork is the most common exception) for themselves.  States require stable communication and transportation networks, so people can manage large areas and move commodities reliably between them.  This is that the Witch-King smashed in Arnor, and as is common in such situations, society dropped down a level of complexity to what could be maintained; for instance, the British and then Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in what had been a province of the Roman Empire.  All the kingdoms of early medieval Britain are classic examples of complex chiefdoms.

The largest ethnographically documented complex chiefdoms ruled about 100,000 people.  This fits well with the Professor's description of Eriador.  Aragorn is almost certainly the High King over the Dunedain, whose "chiefly lineages" are largely Numenorean in descent.  There are almost certainly several other groups of Men, similar to the Breelanders, in other areas where action doesn't take place.  There are the Hobbits of the Shire.  An unknown number of Elves wandering around Lindon and the vicinity (more about my theory about Elves being hunter-gatherers or tree horticulturalists later).  An unknown number of Dwarves in the Ered Luin.  You can get to around a million people easily, and still leave those large unpopulated regions the Professor stipulated.

Early medieval sites are not densely populated villages; even royal sites (and there was no single central capital, but many royal estates, in each kingdom) would be better described as hamlets.  No, you don't want to live alone, but what you find is a cluster of 2-3 farmsteads (closely related families, or a dominant family and their cottagers), and the next nearest cluser is only a mile or two away.  A royal site (or monastery) might have a population of a couple of hundred, at most, no more than 15-20 families.  For examples, look at Dunadd (Dalriada Scots), Yeavering (Anglian Northumbria), and South Cadbury (SW British).

Cheers--

 

 

Re: Dunedain Demographics

What people need to look at is early medieval (AD 500-900) NW European societies, particularly those of the British Isles and Scandinavia: and not only because those were the ones the Professor knew best (from studying their languages).  Unfortunately, popular history sources that do a good job with this period are few and far between, and the archaeological literature is at least as important as the historical ones.

*nods vigorously*

 There are almost certainly several other groups of Men, similar to the Breelanders, in other areas where action doesn't take place.

It makes no sense to me that the Dúnedain would leave the most settled, least threatened areas they had, in Arthedain, and move wholesale into the devastated and orc overrun areas of Rhudaur and Cardolan.  That there are 'hidden fastnesses' in the Angle is canon, but I have such a hard time trying to come up with a plausible back story to explain why.  I'm still at the 'darned if I know' stage.

Gwynnyd 

 

 

Re: Dunedain Demographics

Hey there, Adaneth.

This is a fascinating analysis, and quite compelling.  It leaves me curious about something. 

What do you make of Aragorn's double title, that of "Lord" as well.  In your analysis, does this have further implications?

I'm a neophyte to medieval and post-Roman Britain, and can appreciate the complexity of its history and culture.  I'm afraid I've done just enough reading to be dangerous.  One of the things I ran into was Michael Martinez's analysis of the sociopolitical structure of the North.   

Of Thegns and Kings and Rangers and Things. February 17, 2005. Michael Martinez. http://www.merp.com/essays/MichaelMartinez/michaelmartinezsuite101essay82/

He seems to make the distinction between "lord" as indicative of Aragorn's relationship with his people, and "chieftain" as related to his relationship with the Rangers.  In your post, if I'm following it correctly, you seem to be extrapolating from the title "chieftain" to Aragorn's relationship to his people, the sociopolitical structure as a whole. 

I must confess to near ignorance of these matters, and so I'm interested in how these concepts play out.  I'm sure it's like many things in which these ideas evolved and thus had different meanings and implications depending upon where you are in both place and time.   So, I'm really interested in your take the distinction between "lord" and "chieftain" as a way to deepen my understanding of these concepts, or even if you see such a distinction.

LOL!  A hefty request.  But, if you enjoy discussing these matters as much as you seem to, perhaps not a wholly unwelcome one. 

~Silli 

 

 

Re: Dunedain Demographics

It makes no sense to me that the Dúnedain would leave the most settled, least threatened areas they had, in Arthedain, and move wholesale into the devastated and orc overrun areas of Rhudaur and Cardolan.  That there are 'hidden fastnesses' in the Angle is canon, but I have such a hard time trying to come up with a plausible back story to explain why.

The only way I can make sense of it is because of its relative proximity to Rivendell.  If the Dunedain of the North have fallen so far from military power, it would make sense to me for them to settle close to their stronger allies.  

~Silli 

 

 

Re: Dunedain Demographics

The only way I can make sense of it is because of its relative proximity to Rivendell.  If the Dunedain of the North have fallen so far from military power, it would make sense to me for them to settle close to their stronger allies.

I dunno.  They would still be close to the Havens that Cirdan maintains. I know they had a history with Elrond and Rivendell, but that does not explain why *everyone* was supposed to have moved to the Angle.

It's just one more of those niggling background things that I feel compelled to come up with backstory for, and where an explanation is eluding me.

 Gwynnyd

 

 

Re: Dunedain Demographics

Hello Gwynnyd (and Anoriath),

Yes, there's something about the Angle as the redoubt of the Dunedain that doesn't sit quite right with me, either. A note among the Marquette papers is certainly indicative of what the Professor was thinking at some point, but as we all know, he often felt the need to revise things later. For people who need or prefer to have the Dunedain gathered together in one place, the Angle is probably as good as any, despite its proximity to the Trollshaws.

Personally, my gut feeling is that the Dunedain were scattered over what had been the kingdom of Arnor: very thinly in some places, thicker in others. How could they expect to make a realistic political claim to the territory if they weren't on the ground? Plus, there is the critical point of detailed local knowledge for the Rangers. You don't have an intimate knowledge of land you haven't lived on. But if you take lads from one area and post them for years to a different area (and then a third, fourth, etc.), then you wind up with a body of men who know a very large territory extremely well and can operate in any terrain: mountain or marsh, forest or fell. Cross-training, anyone? Perhaps even more important would be the sense of unity created: these would be men not just of one small part of the North, but of all of it, with kin and friends in many places.

"In those days no other Men had settled dwellings so far west…."

Hm. Not that there were no Men so far west, but they had no "settled dwellings." What constitutes "settled dwellings"? Substantial permanent architecture (like the great delvings and mills of the Shire, or an inn at Bree), or simply that you could count on finding people in a particular place for more than a few generations? (The Elves had precious few settled dwellings, if you notice, and all of them had a significant "fortress" function.)

When Tolkien was writing, it was thought that Neolithic to Iron Age NW Europeans practiced shifting agriculture, sometimes called slash-and-burn. You cut down a bit of forest, farm on it until the soil fertility declines, then move to make a new clearing in the forest somewhere else. Most people would probably not consider this "settled." We now know that many hamlets even from the later Neolithic were continuously occupied for a half-century or more (because they were already rotating crops and manuring fields), but that still probably wouldn't be "settled" by Shire or Breeland standards.

I would guess that the majority of the Dunedain were living in extended family steadings or hamlets of a few families, with timber longhouses (very similar to Beorn's place; Tolkien's drawing was based on Viking models) and a few outbuildings. In colder and highland areas, they would be byrehouses, with the livestock stalled at one end and people living in the other (saves on heating bills). In less wooded areas, longhouses were built of stone, sod, and/or wattle and daub. This is pretty much how people lived in most of Celtic Britain and Norse Scandinavia (the Ice Men as Saami/Lapps?) until the 18th century.

Thirty years ago, a scholar described the people of Highland Britain as "footloose Celtic cowboys." When you walk the post-Clearance Highlands and see all the longhouse foundations, many of them dating back into the medieval period—earlier, houses were round—it's clear that while they may have wandered, they certainly weren't rootless.

Cheers—

 

 

Re: Dunedain Demographics

Hi folks,

Sorry to crash the party, but a map of the region I think explains the importance of the Angle - defense.  The Angle is bounded on two sides by rivers, one of which needs a bridge to cross it, the other of which has no crossing it apepars except a ford that is guarded by the Elves. The road running across the top looks to run through some small narrow valley or cut through the hills so it woul dbe difficult to leave it and easy to put up a fight along the ridge top overlooking it. It may have been where substantial forts or redoubts were located while the population moved more widely for agriculture and trade.

In terms of population, consider that there may have been out migration  to Gondor, at least until 2912 when the bridge at Tharbad is destroyed. A few families per year leaving would have significant impact over the long run to slow growing population.

Toodles - Ang 

 

 

Re: Dunedain Demographics

Hello, everyone

Ang's argument about defense is one that has always made sense to me, and what I use in my own writing about the Angle. But I don't think there's any "right" or "wrong" here. There's very little Canon on the Rangers, and certainly the Angle is not part of it, if you consider as "canon" only what Tolkien published in his lifetime. If the Angle doesn't work for you, then don't use it! Just give me a convincing portrait--draw me into your tale.

How you want to portray the Northern Dunedain in this period is really a matter of the story you want to tell, and using your choice effectively. On a purely intellectual and canon-geek level, I can make mutually contradictory arguments over just about any aspect of it. But given the starting point--a long-lived, specially gifted race of Men who take on the duty (unasked and unthanked) of defending the other inhabitants of their territory against an Evil Necromancer--realism isn't the most important part. Making the reader believe in your portrait is. I am fascinated by the variety of excellent interpretations that different Dunedain writers have made.

EDIT: Gwynnyd, I think you're right that "everyone" moving to the Angle doesn't make sense. How would they know their territory (Eriador)? And how would they feed everyone?  

The value of this discussion and all the fascinating theories is, I think, to make our stories better! Celtic cowboys....hmmm.....***wanders off in story-making daze***

Gandalfs apprentice

 

 

Re: Dunedain Demographics

Ah, yes—"Thegns and Kings." I read this some time back, but it was good to refresh my memory. Martinez does a good job trying to navigate through the shifting sands of the Professor's creative etymology, but if you look at the OED, it is clear that lord, chief, and chieftain are—outside of a specific social context—synonymous. (And these would be the Professor's translation of the Hobbit translation of the original Dunedain titles, yes?) If you follow later medieval English models, lords are definitely more important than chiefs, but North of the Border Scottish chiefs and chieftains take precedence over lairds.

The title "Chieftain" is strongly suggestive of a non-state society, but it is only supporting evidence for my characterization of the Dunedain of the North as a complex chiefdom. Interestingly, the anthropological use of "clan" and "chief" as terms for describing less complex societies comes from early modern Scotland. More "civilized" British explorers, trying to describe the alien cultures they encountered, compared them to the only people they already knew like that, the "barbaric" Highlanders. (Well, "noble savages" were usually compared to the Scots; the Irish were considered "brutal savages" by many.) This tradition continues right up through some of the last writings of Robert Louis Stevenson, who compared the Samoans to Highlanders.

As an archaeologist, what people call their social groupings and leaders is an interesting detail, but not very important. We so rarely know what past societies called anything, since most were non-literate. And even when we do know what they called them, what is the real difference between a pharaoh, king, imperator, khan, ahau, ri, huangdi, et alia? But there's plenty of other evidence for how society is organized.

Anthropologists and archaeologists have a simplified four-level classification for sociopolitical complexity. It may be helpful to think of these as "packages" of social, political, and economic practices that have proved to work well together.

band: egalitarian society of perhaps a few dozen people; without formal leaders; no craft specialization; all trade reciprocity (gift-giving)

tribe: egalitarian society of around a couple thousand people, formed when bands or villages feel a need for the security of a larger network; headmen mediate and strive to build consensus, community councils common; no craft specialization; all trade reciprocity (gift-giving)

chiefdom: stratified society of tens of thousands, with two social levels; hereditary leaders (chiefs) have authority to reward and punish; some craft specialization (chiefs, priests, metalworkers, boatbuilders); reciprocity and redistribution economies (taxes)

state: very large stratified society, with three or more social levels; leaders (often hereditary) from elite, who govern through bureaucratic institutions; writing; governmental monopoly on the legitimate use of force (law enforcement/standing armies); dependent on craft specialization; reciprocity, redistribution, and market economies (coinage)

When Tolkien was writing, scholars believed that societies naturally advanced to "higher," more complex levels (and therefore less complex societies were backward or deficient in some way). Today we see increasingly complexity as the only way to manage the increasing numbers of people on the planet and the conflicts produced. People surrender autonomy and self-sufficiency in return for greater efficiency and reduced strife—but if they don't get wealth and security, they start taking matters back into their own hands. (Afghanistan, for instance, is a collection of chiefdoms that many people wish was a state. That government very definitely doesn't have a monopoly on the use of force.)

Looking at Men in Middle Earth (the other races are complicated by a variety of factors), Gondor is obviously a state-level society. It has cities, armies, and libraries. All known states have had these things, even the Aztecs and Incas, who didn't have metal weapons or the wheel. The Mark is closely based on Anglo-Saxon models, and it fits right in as a complex chiefdom: hereditary rulers, mostly rural population, no standing army, functionally illiterate (hence the Red Arrow as a message). Laketown would also fit in here, although I suspect Dale was and once more becomes a small state. Most of the groups of Men in odd corners would rate as simple chiefdoms (Beornings) or even tribes. Does Barliman pay taxes to anyone?

So, the Dunedain of the North. Stratified society with hereditary leaders? Yes. Cities? No. Standing army? No. There aren't enough Rangers to make an army; like Rohirrim warriors, they're an elite officer corps. Writing? Well, the elite are literate, but we don't know about the rest. Probably not. Do they collect taxes? We don't know. Taxes are normally used to provide the elite with the trappings of power, feed and equip the warhost, build roads and public buildings, and help the needy. Aragorn is notoriously scruffy, the Rangers can live off the land, and there is precious little infrastructure to maintain. I suspect that the Dunedain take a certain amount of tribute in kind (foodstuffs, mainly used to feed the Rangers and for feasting in the local community) and as labor service (serving as a Ranger, working in the fields that feed the Dunedain women and children, taking a packtrain to trade with the Dwarves). Market? Come on, you have to go all the way to Dale to get good toys! They are probably largely self-sufficient, trading foodstuffs to the Dwarves of Ered Luin for higher-end metalwork, and wool and grain (and perhaps flax, hides, and horses) to the Elves for a few luxuries.

It's a very different social landscape from what most Westerners today are familiar with, but if you're looking for a nice literary snapshot, I strongly recommend Stevenson's Kidnapped, once Davie Balfour gets off the island (Ch. 15 on).  Alan Breck would have been bonnie Ranger, you must admit.

 

 

Re: Dunedain Demographics

Hello, Anglachel,

I've found "Hands of the King" a great read, even though I don't agree with all your interpretations.  It's nice to see works where people pay proper attention to their settings.  (Psst--I am extremely dubious about a late Third Age ship with a Numenorean mast, although a keel of that age I could accept.  Yes, I am also an O'Brien fan.)

Rivers can be good defensive borders, but they aren't as good as a cliff or steep crag.  Bridges are really an indicator of wagon-based transportation, which means high levels of trade or armies with big baggage trains.  There was a decided scarcity of bridges in north Britain until late in the medieval period, but that didn't stop anyone from attacking their neighbors.  The big problem with rivers is that their flow fluctuates seasonally: you couldn't cross it when swollen with spring snowmelt, but in late summer a kid might wade across.  And, as the Romans learned the hard way, even a wide river like the Rhine might freeze enough in a very hard winter to allow a passle of barbarians to ride across and wreak havoc.

For a river to be a really effective defense, you need to supplement it with some artificial fortification, enough to stop men who swam across or swam their horses across.  This is what the Romans did along the Clyde and Forth with the Antonine Wall, along the Tyne with Hadrian's Wall, and with the limes along the Rhine.

Cheers--

 

 

Re: Dunedain Demographics

Hello, GA (if I may shorten your moniker to that),

I really liked "Many Guises and Many Names," and "Themes and Variations" was fun.

You're right, there is a tremendous amount of latitude for interpretation of much of the Professor's work, and one of the neat things about HoME is seeing how his ideas shifted as he continued to work on it.  And what I like about this place is seeing how people take various pieces and run with them.

I'm working on a story to illustrate my points, but it will probably be another couple of weeks before the first chapter is ready for beta, given all the other things on my plate right now.

Cheers--

 

 

Re: Dunedain Demographics

Hello, Adaneth

G.A. will do just fine.

Thanks for your kind words on my stories. Have you read "The Sword of Elendil" (WIP beta)? That's where I put into practice my ideas about the Angle. Starting with the idea of defense and secrecy as primary, I worked out this scenario: Where the two rivers join is the remains of an ancient mountain, so that cliffs tower above the water. Think of it as the remnants of a volcano--it is bowl-like inside. Using the arts of Numenor, the Dunedain of Arnor turned this into a hidden fortress. On the inside the cliffs are carved out into walks, guardrooms and lookouts, with stairs and ladders leading down. From the outside you can't tell any of it is the work of Men.

I worried that those evil birds that keep popping up in LotR would discover this fortress. So I created a counter-espionage unit of Good Birds.

You'll have to read it and let me know if you think it works as a story. If I tried to justify it through archeological studies of ancient Britain or Rome, I don't think you'd be convinced.

G.A. 

 

 

Re: Dunedain Demographics

Thanks for the analysis, and the recommendation, Adaneth!  I'm not sure how I got through my secondary education without having read Kidnapped.  (And, yes, I'm rather into O'Brien's work, myself, though I've only gotten so far as Desolation Island.)

I think we're actually not very far off in our perceptions of the Dúnedain, both north and south.  Which is reassuring to me.  Though, I think I've portrayed life in the Angle as more typical of the latter part of the Early Middle Ages.  (How's *that* for splitting hairs?)

Writing? Well, the elite are literate, but we don't know about the rest. Probably not.

I wonder if, here, the parallels between the Britain's Middle Ages and Middle-earth might not break down.  I understand that there would be precious little pressure on the day to day dúnadan to be lettered.  Reading seems to serve the function of a state in which there is a business class, a beauracracy, and a higher level of specialization.  But I wonder about the impact of the difference in "history." 

Britain didn't have a Númenor, nor did it have Elves with their long lives allowing for quite that depth of exploration of various lores, including languages and arts.  I wonder if the Northern Dúnedain didn't cling to some of the vestiges of their "higher" cultural history.  Not that I think that it was quite up to the levels of literacy to be found in the South, but I could see households having one very precious book, and those of highest status a few more, that they bring out for special occasions. 

I keep remembering the journal kept by my great-great-grandmother on the plains of Oklahoma.  It's beautiful, with drawings of wildlife and notes, copied hymns, letters, pressed flowers, and a braid of hair from her own mother at her death.   Families out West often also kept a Bible.  Given the rough nature of their lives, settlers had very little day to day need for reading, but the isolated homesteads frequently banded together to form schools and insisted on a basic level of literacy.  In this way, they retained something of "civilization" out in the Wild, that the being the American West. 

In this way, at least, I wonder if the Dúnedain of the North retain their status as Faramir's "High Men of the West" as opposed to "the Middle Peoples, Men of the Twilight, such as are the Rohirrim and their kin that dwell still far in the North."  (I also wonder if rituals and the preservation of Sindarin and/or Quenya might also serve the same function.)

Market? Come on, you have to go all the way to Dale to get good toys!

Very true!  But I wonder if that's not exactly how it could have happened.  IIRC, of all the races in LOTR, only the dwarves are really portrayed as travelers moving from one part of Middle-earth to the other. 

There were, however, dwarves on the road in unusual numbers. The ancient East-West Road ran through the Shire to its end at the Grey Havens, and dwarves had always used it on their way to their mines in the Blue Mountains. (FOTR, The Shadow of the Past)

The Elves journey to the Havens, but seem to travel little except between Lorien and Rivendell, and that limited to Elrond's family.  I don't recall much, if anything, of reference to Men traveling other than the odd traveler here or there, other than within their own domains.  So, I wonder if, especially as they are not well-known for agriculture or arts other than metal and stonework, they weren't the traders of Middle-earth.  As you note, they would certainly need a network with local supplies of foodstuffs, but then also ale/wine, wool and linen for clothing, etc.  But if they're traveling from one end of the Great East Road to the Old Forest Road to the Iron Mountains, that's a lot of land they're passing through (suggesting they'll need to trade as they go along to keep themselves provisioned), and a lot of opportunity.

 They are probably largely self-sufficient, trading foodstuffs to the Dwarves of Ered Luin for higher-end metalwork, and wool and grain (and perhaps flax, hides, and horses) to the Elves for a few luxuries.

Yes, I can certainly see that.  Though, I'd imagine there would be the odd toy from Dale showing up occasionally.  ;)

Thanks for the informative discussion, Adaneth!

~Silli 

 

 

Re: Dunedain Demographics

Hello, Anoriath--

I've been reading good things about your "No Man's Child," but I'm afraid I'll have to put off reading it for a bit if I'm to give you all some of my prose to niggle at in the near future.  I would like to point out, though, that nettles don't have thorns and wouldn't catch at your hem: they have hairy leaves that give you a irritating chemical burn if you brush your bare skin against them.

I wonder if the Northern Dúnedain didn't cling to some of the vestiges of their "higher" cultural history.  Not that I think that it was quite up to the levels of literacy to be found in the South, but I could see households having one very precious book, and those of highest status a few more, that they bring out for special occasions.

I have no problem with that at all, but I think it would only be the nobler families.  Your great-great-grandmother's journal sounds fabulous--you do have it in archivally stable storage media, don't you?  The sticking point is the time it takes to teach someone to read, and how useful that skill will be.

Dwarves interest me exceedingly.  Absolutely they are artisans and traders.  I keep wondering how their economies must have worked before they traded significantly with Elves and Men, especially how they fed themselves.  (The Petty-Dwarf Mim and his sons are hardly representative.)  There is clearly a strong strain of Jews in their inspiration, and the seclusion of their women also savors of the Middle East.  I would like to know a lot more about their settlements in Ered Luin and the Iron Hills.  (Long ago, I considered setting a fantasy campaign in the Lake District, with Dwarves beneath the Langdale Pikes, where the Neolithic axe quarries are.)

For those of you who would like some recommendations for early medieval reading, here are some gems written for a general audience, without being wild-eyed about Arthur or grinding axes for a war between Celts and Anglo-Saxons.

Leslie Alcock's Arthur's Britain (now in a second edition).  This is now a bit dated, but remains a classic, providing basic historical and archaeological information for the British, Anglo-Saxons, Scots, and Picts the mid-first millennium AD.

For an update, Edward James' Britain in the First Millennium (2001) gives you all that and info on the Romans and Vikings to boot.

Historic Scotland has put out a wonderful series of well-illustrated popular archaeology books that start with the Mesolithic and run right through to the Jacobites.  Celtic Scotland; Picts, Gaels and Scots; Saints and Sea-Kings; Angels, Fools and Tyrants; Alba; The Sea Road; and Viking Scotland all cover the Iron Age/Early Medieval period.

If you are interesting in something more specific, let me know, and I'll see if I can find something that isn't impenetrably academic.

Cheers--

 

 

Re: Dunedain Demographics

Your great-great-grandmother's journal sounds fabulous--you do have it in archivally stable storage media, don't you?

I'm afraid the only thing I have of it are memories. I really don't know where it ended up after my grandmother's death. But, you're right. It would be criminal to not store it properly. I'll have to ask next time I visit the fam.

(Long ago, I considered setting a fantasy campaign in the Lake District, with Dwarves beneath the Langdale Pikes, where the Neolithic axe quarries are.)

LOL! Sounds like too fun of an idea to let it languish. *nudge*

For my purposes, the problem I run into with many such books is that they focus too much on recitation of historical facts (which noble did what when), and not enough delving into the day to day lives of the people who lived then. But, I looked up the descriptions on amazon.com, and the Historical Scotland series looks like it's very interesting and perhaps Alcock's book, as well. Thanks for the recs.

I'm afraid I'll have to put off reading it for a bit if I'm to give you all some of my prose to niggle at in the near future.

Believe me, I perfectly understand. My "bookshelf" at HASA is about to topple over.

I would like to point out, though, that nettles don't have thorns and wouldn't catch at your hem: they have hairy leaves that give you a irritating chemical burn if you brush your bare skin against them.

*horrified blink* Oh... dear... What was I thinking? Nettles, nettles... *googles image* Noooooo... that's obviously not it... OH! Thistles! *face-palm* Oh my.

*snork* Well, at least, I see, you made it through Chapter 1.

Okay... I better go, then. I'm off to search and destroy all versions of "nettles" in the various, far-flung-across-the-LOTR-fanfic-universe versions I have out there. Thanks for catching it for me, Adaneth.

~Silli

 

 

Re: Dunedain Demographics

Fascinating thread!

Did Tolkien ever specify the number of Dunedain in the North?

I always assumed that proximity to Mordor, and its physically and psychically toxic influences, lessened the fertility of the people of Minas Tirith and the Pelennor in a major way - the residents either left, or took ill, or lived but had less children than they might have in, say, Dol Amroth (compare the number of Finduilas' offspring with that of her brother Imrahil's, for example). 

I would think that the Northern Dunedain would be a literate culture; prizing books, but not having the time to read or write them much.  Still, they would be proud enough of their history to teach their kids how to read, and study the past few Ages.

I would love to see stories about the Fourth Age cross-pollination of the Northern Dunedain with the folk of Gondor and possibly Rohan.  All sorts of nifty possibilities. 

RAKSHA THE DEMON

 

 

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