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Things of Middle-earth

Swords of the Barrow-downs

Type: Weapons

Other Names: Barrow-blades

Description:

Daggers made by the Dúnedain of the North; found by Tom Bombadil in the Barrow where the hobbits were trapped by the barrow-wights; carried as swords by the hobbits, except for Frodo, during the Quest of the Ring.
Tom went up to the mound, and looked through the treasures. ...

For each of the hobbits he chose a dagger, long, leaf-shaped, and keen, of marvellous workmanship, damasked with serpent-forms in red and gold. They gleamed as he drew them from their black sheaths, wrought of some strange metal, light and strong, and set with many fiery stones. Whether by some virtue in these sheaths or because of the spell that lay on the mound, the blades seemed untouched by time, unrusted, sharp, glittering in the sun.

'Old knives are long enough as swords for hobbit-people,' he said. 'Sharp blades are good to have, if Shire-folk go walking, east, south, or far away into dark and danger.' 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. ...

Their new weapons they hung on their leather belts under their jackets, feeling them very awkward, and wondering if they would be of any use. Fighting had not before occurred to any of them as one of the adventures in which their flight would land them.

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

Desperate, [Frodo] drew his own sword, and it seemed to him that it flickered red, as if it was a firebrand. ...

At that moment Frodo threw himself forward on the ground.... At the same time he struck at the feet of his enemy.

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

[Aragorn] lifted from the ground a black cloak.... A foot above the lower hem there was a slash. 'This was the stroke of Frodo's sword,' he said. 'The only hurt that it did to his enemy, I fear; for it is unharmed, but all blades perish that pierce that dreadful King.'

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

Then at last [Sam] began to weep; and going to Frodo he composed his body, and folded his cold hands upon his breast, and wrapped his cloak about him; and he laid his own sword at one side, and the staff that Faramir had given at the other.

'If I'm to go on,' he said, 'then I must take [Sting], by your leave, Mr. Frodo, but I'll put this one to lie by you, as it lay by the old king in the barrow....'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 4, Ch 10, The Choices of Master Samwise

Quickly they searched the bodies of the Orcs.... 'See!' cried Aragorn. 'Here we find tokens!' He picked out from the pile of grim weapons two knives, leaf-bladed, damasked in gold and red; and searching further he found also the sheaths, black, set with small red gems. 'No orc-tools these!' he said. 'They were borne by the [Merry and Pippin]. Doubtless the Orcs despoiled them, but feared to keep the knives, knowing them for what they are: work of Westernesse, wound about with spells for the bane of Mordor.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 1, The Departure of Boromir

[Pippin] drew his sword and looked at it, and the intertwining shapes of red and gold; and the flowing characters of Númenor glinted like fire upon the blade. 'This was made for just such an hour,' he thought. ...

Then Pippin stabbed upwards, and the written blade of Westernesse pierced through the hide and went deep into the vitals of the troll, and his black blood came gushing out.

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 5, Ch 10, The Black Gate Opens

But suddenly [the Witch-king] stumbled forward with a cry of bitter pain.... Merry's sword had stabbed him from behind, shearing through the black mantle, and passing up beneath the hauberk had pierced the sinew behind his mighty knee.

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 5, Ch 6, The Battle of the Pelennor Fields

Then [Merry] looked for his sword that he had let fall; for even as he struck his blow his arm was numbed, and now he could only use his left hand. And behold! there lay his weapon, but the blade was smoking like a dry branch that has been thrust in a fire; and as he watched it, it writhed and withered and was consumed.

So passed the sword of the Barrow-downs, work of Westernesse. But glad would he have been to know its fate who wrought it slowly long ago in the North-kingdom when the Dúnedain were young, and chief among their foes was the dread realm of Angmar and its sorcerer king. No other blade, not though mightier hands had wielded it, would have dealt that foe a wound so bitter, cleaving the undead flesh, breaking the spell that knit his unseen sinews to his will.

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 5, Ch 6, The Battle of the Pelennor Fields

Contributors: Elena Tiriel 11Aug06

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