HASA Resources

Things of Middle-earth

Rangers of the North

Type: Military Units

Other Names:
the Dúnedain
the Guardians

Description:

The Rangers were the soldiers of the Dúnedain of the North, who travelled incognito throughout Eriador, protecting its inhabitants from evil creatures. The Heir of Isildur was the hereditary Chieftain of the Dúnedain, and apparently also functioned as the commander of the Rangers.
The remnants of the Dúnedain of the North become rangers and errants, living largely in hiding, but waging ceaseless war on all evil things that still are abroad in the land. The sons of their chieftains are usually fostered in Imladris by Elrond, to whose keeping are given the chief remaining heirlooms of their house, especially the shards of Elendil's sword, Narsil.

The Peoples of Middle-Earth, HoME Vol 12, Part 1, Ch 7, The Heirs of Elendil: The Northern Line of Arnor: The Isildurioni

Valandil took up his abode in Annúminas, but his folk were diminished, and of the Númenóreans and of the Men of Eriador there remained now too few to people the land or to maintain all the places that Elendil had built; in Dagorlad, and in Mordor, and upon the Gladden Fields many had fallen. And it came to pass after the days of Eärendur, the seventh king that followed Valandil, that the Men of Westernesse, the Dúnedain of the North, became divided into petty realms and lordships, and their foes devoured them one by one. Ever they dwindled with the years, until their glory passed, leaving only green mounds in the grass. At length naught was left of them but a strange people wandering secretly in the wild, and other men knew not their homes nor the purpose of their journeys, and save in Imladris, in the house of Elrond, their ancestry was forgotten. Yet the shards of the sword were cherished during many lives of Men by the heirs of Isildur; and their line, from father to son, remained unbroken.

The Silmarillion, Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age

For each of the hobbits [Tom Bombadil] chose a dagger, long, leaf-shaped, and keen....

Then he told them that these blades were forged many long years ago by Men of Westernesse: they were foes of the Dark Lord, but they were overcome by the evil king of Carn Dûm in the Land of Angmar.

'Few now remember them,' Tom murmured, 'yet still some go wandering, sons of forgotten kings walking in loneliness, guarding from evil things folk that are heedless.'

The hobbits did not understand his words, but as he spoke they had a vision as it were of a great expanse of years behind them, like a vast shadowy plain over which there strode shapes of Men, tall and grim with bright swords, and last came one with a star on his brow. Then the vision faded, and they were back in the sunlit world.

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 1, Ch 8, Fog on the Barrow-downs

'[There] are few left in Middle-earth like Aragorn son of Arathorn. The race of the Kings from over the Sea is nearly at an end. It may be that this War of the Ring will be their last adventure.'

'Do you really mean that Strider is one of the people of the old Kings?' said Frodo in wonder. 'I thought they had all vanished long ago. I thought he was only a Ranger.'

'Only a Ranger!' cried Gandalf. 'My dear Frodo, that is just what the Rangers are: the last remnant in the North of the great people, the Men of the West. They have helped me before; and I shall need their help in the days to come....'

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

'But my home, such as I have, is in the North. For here the heirs of Valandil have ever dwelt in long line unbroken from father unto son for many generations. Our days have darkened, and we have dwindled; but ever the Sword has passed to a new keeper.... Lonely men are we, Rangers of the wild, hunters — but hunters ever of the servants of the Enemy; for they are found in many places, not in Mordor only.

'If Gondor, Boromir, has been a stalwart tower, we have played another part. Many evil things there are that your strong walls and bright swords do not stay. You know little of the lands beyond your bounds. Peace and freedom, do you say? The North would have known them little but for us. Fear would have destroyed them. But when dark things come from the houseless hills, or creep from sunless woods, they fly from us. What roads would any dare to tread, what safety would there be in quiet lands, or in the homes of simple men at night, if the Dúnedain were asleep, or were all gone into the grave?

'And yet less thanks have we than you. Travellers scowl at us, and countrymen give us scornful names. "Strider" I am to one fat man who lives within a day's march of foes that would freeze his heart or lay his little town in ruin, if he were not guarded ceaselessly. Yet we would not have it otherwise. If simple folk are free from care and fear, simple they will be, and we must be secret to keep them so. That has been the task of my kindred, while the years have lengthened and the grass has grown.

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

[In] the wild lands beyond Bree there were mysterious wanderers. The Bree-folk called them Rangers, and knew nothing of their origin. They were taller and darker than the Men of Bree and were believed to have strange powers of sight and hearing, and to understand the languages of beasts and birds. They roamed at will southwards, and eastwards even as far as the Misty Mountains; but they were now few and rarely seen. When they appeared they brought news from afar, and told strange forgotten tales which were eagerly listened to; but the Bree-folk did not make friends of them.

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 1, Ch 9, At the Sign of the Prancing Pony

The Inn of Bree... was a meeting place for the idle, talkative, and inquisitive among the inhabitants... of the four villages; and a resort of Rangers and other wanderers, and for such travellers (mostly dwarves) as still journeyed on the East Road....

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 1, Ch 9, At the Sign of the Prancing Pony

And certainly it was from Bree that the art of smoking the genuine weed spread in the recent centuries among Dwarves and such other folk, Rangers, Wizards, or wanderers, as still passed to and fro through that ancient road-meeting.

The Lord of the Rings, Prologue, Concerning Pipe-weed

Suddenly Frodo noticed that a strange-looking weather-beaten man, sitting in the shadows near the wall, was also listening intently.... He had a tall tankard in front of him, and was smoking a long-stemmed pipe curiously carved. His legs were stretched out before him, showing high boots of supple leather that fitted him well, but had seen much wear and were now caked with mud. A travel-stained cloak of heavy dark-green cloth was drawn close about him, and in spite of the heat of the room he wore a hood that overshadowed his face; but the gleam of his eyes could be seen as he watched the hobbits.

'Who is that?' Frodo asked....

'Him?' said the landlord.... 'I don't rightly know. He is one of the wandering folk — Rangers we call them. He seldom talks: not but what he can tell a rare tale when he has the mind. He disappears for a month, or a year, and then he pops up again.... What his right name is I've never heard: but he's known round here as Strider. Goes about at a great pace on his long shanks; though he don't tell nobody what cause he has to hurry. But there's no accounting for East and West, as we say in Bree, meaning the Rangers and the Shire-folk, begging your pardon.'

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 1, Ch 9, At the Sign of the Prancing Pony

The marshes were bewildering and treacherous, and there was no permanent trail even for Rangers to find through their shifting quagmires.

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

On the flat under-side Frodo saw some scratches: 'There seems to he a stroke, a dot, and three more strokes,' he said.

'The stroke on the left might be a G-rune with thin branches,' said Strider. 'It might be a sign left by Gandalf, though one cannot be sure. The scratches... certainly look fresh. But the marks might... have nothing to do with us. Rangers use runes, and they come here [to Weathertop] sometimes.'

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

There were some fallen rocks on the edge of the dell nearest to the hill. Behind them Sam came upon a small store of firewood neatly stacked....

Strider was greatly interested in these discoveries..., hurrying off to the spring to examine the footprints.

'It is just as I feared,' he said, when he came back. 'Sam and Pippin have trampled the soft ground, and the marks are spoilt or confused. Rangers have been here lately. It is they who left the firewood behind.'

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

The lands [around Weathertop] were empty of all save birds and beasts, unfriendly places deserted by all the races of the world. Rangers passed at times beyond the hills, but they were few and did not stay.

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

Contributors:
Elena Tiriel 6Jul06, 15Jul06, 18Jul06, 30Aug06

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