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Beornings

Meaning: the people of Beorn

Location(s):
Vales of Anduin, between the Misty Mountains and Mirkwood

Race/Species: Man

Dates: after 2941 Third Age

Description:

The Beornings are northmen of the upper vales of Anduin and woodsmen of the western eaves of Mirkwood, who took as lord Beorn, the skin-changer, after the Battle of the Five Armies.

Table of Contents:
Description
Origins
Skills
History
Language
Etymology
Notes

Description

[Gandalf:] '[Beorn] is very strong, and he is a skin-changer....

Sometimes he is a huge black bear, sometimes he is a great strong black-haired man with huge arms and a great beard.'

The Hobbit, Ch 7, Queer Lodgings

However, Aragorn's physical description of some Beornings is quite different from Beorn himself, so some mixture of bloodlines with Northmen (who descend from ancestors of the light-haired House of Hador) is evident:

[Aragorn:] '[The] kinship [of the Rohirrim] is rather with the Bardings of Dale, and with the Beornings of the Wood, among whom may still be seen many men tall and fair....'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 2, The Riders of Rohan

[Some] were grim men and bad, but most were in heart like Beorn, if less in size and strength.

The Hobbit, Ch 18, The Return Journey

'Indeed,' said Glóin, 'if it were not for the Beornings, the passage from Dale to Rivendell would long ago have become impossible. They are valiant men and keep open the High Pass and the Ford of Carrock [read: the Old Ford1]. But their tolls are high,' he added with a shake of his head; 'and like Beorn of old they are not over fond of dwarves. Still, they are trusty, and that is much in these days.'

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 1, Many Meetings


Origins
Winter 2941-42, after the Battle of the Five Armies:

Yule-tide was warm and merry [at Beorn's house]; and men came from far and wide to feast at Beorn's bidding. The goblins of the Misty Mountains were now few and terrified... and the Wargs had vanished from the woods, so that men went abroad without fear.

The Hobbit, Ch 18, The Return Journey

Beorn indeed became a great chief afterwards in those regions and ruled a wide land between the mountains and the wood....

Ibid.


Skills
[It] is said that for many generations the men of [Beorn's] line had the power of taking bear's shape....

The Hobbit, Ch 18, The Return Journey

[Gimli:] 'Why, [lembas] is better than the honey-cakes of the Beornings, and that is great praise, for the Beornings are the best bakers that I know of; but they are none too willing to deal out their cakes to travellers in these days.'

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 8, Farewell to Lórien


History
[Gandalf:] 'Some say that [Beorn]... is a man descended from the first men who lived before Smaug or the other dragons came into this part of the world, and before the goblins came into the hills out of the North.'

The Hobbit, Ch 7, Queer Lodgings

Approximately 2942-3018:

Beorn indeed became a great chief afterwards in those regions and ruled a wide land between the mountains and the wood.... In their day the last goblins were hunted from the Misty Mountains and a new peace came over the edge of the Wild.

The Hobbit, Ch 18, The Return Journey

Approximately 3018:

Grimbeorn the Old, son of Beorn, was now the lord of many sturdy men, and to their land between the Mountains and Mirkwood neither orc nor wolf dared to go.

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 1, Many Meetings

March 3019, after the War of the Ring:

And on the day of the New Year of the Elves, Celeborn and Thranduil met in the midst of the forest; and they renamed Mirkwood Eryn Lasgalen, The Wood of Greenleaves. Thranduil took all the northern region as far as the mountains that rise in the forest for his realm; and Celeborn took the southern wood below the Narrows, and named it East Lórien; all the wide forest between was given to the Beornings and the Woodmen.

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, The Tale of Years

May 3019, after the Crowning of King Elessar:

[Embassies] came from many lands and peoples, from the East and the South, and from the borders of Mirkwood....

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 6, Ch 5, The Steward and the King


Language
East of the Misty Mountains, even far to the north, the Common Speech was known; though there, as beside the Long Lake or in Dale, or among the Beornings and the Woodmen of the west-eaves of Mirkwood, Men also retained their own tongues in daily use.

The Peoples of Middle-Earth, HoME Vol 12, Part 1, Ch 2, The Appendix on Languages


Etymology
The name 'Beornings' derives from the name of their original lord, Beorn:

The name Beorn is actually an Old English word for 'man, warrior,' but originally meant 'bear'; it is a cognate with the Old Norse björn, 'bear.'

The Annotated Hobbit, Annotated by Douglas A. Anderson, Ch 7, Queer Lodgings, Note 4


Notes
1Ford of Carrock: Ford over Anduin between the Carrock and the east bank of the river; but probably here referring to the Old Ford, where the Old Forest Road crossed Anduin, south of the Ford of Carrock.

Unfinished Tales, Index

Contributors:
Elena Tiriel 11Jan04, 1Feb04, 22Feb04, 23May04, 18Dec04, 30Aug09

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