Things You Didn’t Know About Middle-earth Artefacts
by Zan Campbell

Artefacts play a large role in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. As a matter of fact, rings themselves are part of the title! But weapons, armor, and other items also feature prominently in the story. So, here are a few facts you may not have known about the treasures that form such an important part in the story of Middle-earth.

Elrond was not one of the original owners of an elf ring (neither was Gandalf).

Those familiar with Middle-earth lore know that during the time of the War of the Ring, the three elf rings were worn by Elrond of Rivendell, Gandalf the Wizard, and Galadriel the Lady of Lothlórien. However, only Galadriel was an original bearer of an elf ring. Celebrimbor gave the two rings Narya and Vilya to the high elf king Gil-galad, who held them for some time. In the beginning of the War of the Elves with Sauron, Gil-galad gave them to Círdan, the Lord of the Havens of Mithlond and Elrond. Later Círdan passed his ring to Gandalf saying, “Take this ring, master… for your labours will be heavy; but it will support you in the weariness that you have taken upon yourself. For this is the Ring of Fire, and with it you may rekindle hearts in a world that grows chill.””

Narsil was made by a dwarf!

Perhaps the most famous and recognizable sword from The Lord of the Rings after Frodo’s ‘Sting’, ‘Narsil’ is the sword that cut the Ring from Sauron’s hand. Narsil was forged in the first age by Telchar, the dwarven master-smith. It was an heirloom of Elros (Elrond’s brother), the first king of Númenor. Amandil, the leader of the Faithful in Númenor, brought it to war against Sauron, where his son, Elendil, used it to cut the ring from Sauron’s hand, causing Sauron’s first defeat. Later, Narsil was re-forged into Anduril and was taken to the War of the Ring by Aragorn. Thus, forged by a dwarf, re-forged by elves and worn by men, this sword embodied the free-people’s united resistance against Sauron.

Glamdring and Orcrist glow too!

While ‘Sting’ glows with a blue light in the movies, neither Orcrist (Thorin’s sword) nor Glamdring (Gandalf’s Sword) glow at all. However, this is not the case in the books. Both Glamdring and Orcrist were swords forged by the Elves of Gondolin in the first age. Both are described as glowing with a pale light in the presence of orcs. After Thorin’s death, Orcrist was even placed on his grave and always gave warning of approaching orcs by gleaming in the darkness.

Legolas only used one knife.

Despite his awesome double knife-wielding skills in the movies, Legolas only used a single long white knife, which he wore on his belt. Only having one knife did not seem to slow him down, though, since at Helm’s Deep he went toe-to-toe with the Uruk-Hai and came out without a scratch.

The other hobbit swords were special too.

While they are depicted as somewhat rusty knives in the movies, the swords born by Sam, Merry, and Pippin (and at one time by Frodo) were actually of ancient lineage made by the Dúnadan, who were foes of Angmar and its Witchking. They are described as “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.” No rusty knives these!

Legolas does run out of arrows!

While our favorite elven archer seems to have an unlimited supply of arrows in the LotR movies, in the books, Tolkien twice describes Legolas as running out of arrows (at Amon Hen and Helm’s Deep). In both cases, he fights with his long knife, while he looks around for spent arrows to refill his quiver. Tolkien was a soldier in WWI, so he would have been quite familiar with the problem of running out of ammunition and needing to get more!

The Light of Eärendil came from a Silmaril.

The light that Galadriel gave to Frodo (‘The Phial of Galadriel’), contained the “Light of Eärendil, our most beloved star.” The light of the star of Eärendil was actually produced by a Silmaril, one of the jewels that contained the light of the two trees that gave light to the world before the creation of the sun and moon. The star was actually the Silmaril that was attached to the prow of Eärendil’s ship as he sailed across the skies for eternity, giving light to the people of Middle-earth. Light from the star was captured in water by Galadriel, who then placed the water in the phial and gave it to Frodo for his journey.

There is more Mithril around than you may think.

A big deal is made about Bilbo’s/Frodo’s Mithril coat, and for good reason. It was very rare and expensive. However, as it was relatively indestructible, there was quite a bit floating about Middle-earth. Most, however, was not available, as it was hoarded by Sauron, who coveted it. Mithril does appear elsewhere in the stories, as Arwen used it to ornate the banner of the king of Gondor that she made for Aragorn. The helms of the Guards of the Citadel at the Court of the Fountain in Minas Tirith were also made of Mithril, as were the re-made gates of Minas Tirith.

There were more magic rings out there.

A big deal is made of the “Great Rings of Power”, those being the Three, the Seven, and the Nine, with the One being most powerful. However, magic rings were not uncommon. So much so, that Gollum thought it a plausible story that his grandmother owned a magic ring. Furthermore, Gandalf, the bearer of one of the Three, as someone who was well versed in the lore of the rings, was not overly worried or surprised when he discovered that Bilbo had one. How common they were, and what they did, is still a mystery that only Tolkien himself knows!

Artefacts play a large role in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. As a matter of fact, rings themselves are part of the title! But weapons, armor, and other items also feature prominently in the story. So, here are a few facts you may not have known about the treasures that form such an important part in the story of Middle-earth.

Elrond was not one of the original owners of an elf ring (neither was Gandalf).

Those familiar with Middle-earth lore know that during the time of the War of the Ring, the three elf rings were worn by Elrond of Rivendell, Gandalf the Wizard, and Galadriel the Lady of Lothlórien. However, only Galadriel was an original bearer of an elf ring. Celebrimbor gave the two rings Narya and Vilya to the high elf king Gil-galad, who held them for some time. In the beginning of the War of the Elves with Sauron, Gil-galad gave them to Círdan, the Lord of the Havens of Mithlond and Elrond. Later Círdan passed his ring to Gandalf saying, “Take this ring, master… for your labours will be heavy; but it will support you in the weariness that you have taken upon yourself. For this is the Ring of Fire, and with it you may rekindle hearts in a world that grows chill.”

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