The Annotated LotR Project - Fog on the Barrow-downs

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The Annotated LotR Project - Fog on the Barrow-downs

Postby roaccarcsson » Tue Sep 21, 2004 3:35 pm

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Postby roaccarcsson » Tue Sep 21, 2004 3:38 pm

Fog on the Barrow-Downs

Downs or *downlands* ( http://www.webster-dictionary.org/definition/downland ) are areas of sedimentary uplands (most commonly chalk) formed when layers of sedimentary rock are pushed up and meet the surface at an angle. As the layers are slowly eroded, the more resistant rock layers are left behind, standing up as long parallel or concentric ridges, while the softer sediments are eroded more rapidly, forming lowlands. A steep scarp slope forms where the rock has been removed, with a shallow dip slope where the rock remains. Chalk downs have alkaline soil and support little agriculture other than grazing.

Tolkien commented on the name:
Barrow-downs. [...] low treeless hills on which there are many 'barrows', that is tumuli and other prehistoric grave-mounds. This barrow is not related to modern barrow, an implement with a wheel; it is a recent adoption by archaeologists of the English dialect word barrow (earlier berrow, from English beorg, berg, 'hill, mound').


"Downs" is from Old English dún, another word for "hill." The word has a complex history:

We might suspect that the substantive down in North and South Downs is somehow related to the adverb down in spite of its completely opposite meaning. The history of this word is most interesting and other factors beside grammatical conversion are involved. Down is doubtless of Celtic provenance (Old Irish dún 'hill-fort', Modern Welsh din) and it is, in fact, a distant variant of the dune in 'sand-dune', which was adopted into English from French in the late eighteenth century and was at first applied specifically to the great sand-hills on the coast of France and the Netherlands. French had itself taken the word from Dutch, and Dutch in its turn from Celtic. Already in late Old English of dūne 'from the hill', showing the dative inflexional -e, had become weakened to adūne (giving the poetic variant adown as, for example, in Scott's Marmion: 'His gorgeous collar hung adown') and then, by aphesis and apocope (loss of initial and final unstressed syllables), adūne became dūn and was written doun or down by Norman scribes just as hūs was written hous. 'Doun cam the reyn' wrote Chaucer in his Legend of Good Women, anticipating the very words of a modern popular song. We may now use down as an adjective ('the down platform'), as a preposition ('down the hill'), or as a verb ('to down tools'), and the wheel of functional adaptation comes full circle when we speak of the 'ups and downs of life', making down a substantive once more.

- Our Language, Simeon Potter, p.58


The Sindarin name of the Barrow-downs was "Tyrn Gorthad." Appendix A(iii) says:
It is said that the mounds of Tyrn Gorthad, as the Barrowdowns were called of old, are very ancient, and that many were built in the days of the old world of the First Age by the forefathers of the Edain, before they crossed the Blue Mountains into Beleriand, of which Lindon is all that remains. Those hills were therefore revered by the Dúnedain after their return; and there many of their lords and kings were buried.

This passage is enclosed in quotation marks, signifying that it was "extracted" directly from the Red Book."

"Tyrn Gorthad" is just Sindarin for "Barrow-downs"

Tyrn: "downs" (PM/194), plural form of *turn "down". This term could derive from the stem TUN *tundu which resulted in N. tunn>tund hill, mound.

Gorthad: "terrible place" < gorth <ÑGOROTH (GOR, GOS) "horror, dread"+ sâd "place" < (?SAT)


But either in his dreams or out of them, he could not tell which, Frodo heard a sweet singing running in his mind; a song that seemed to come like a pale light behind a grey rain-curtain, and growing stronger to turn the veil all to glass and silver, until at last it was rolled back, and a far green country opened before him under a swift sunrise.

Again Frodo experiences a visionary dream, in this case a premonition of his first sighting of Tol Eressëa (see The Annotated LOTR - The Grey Havens ).

The vision melted into waking

The date is September 28, 3018. According to Appendix B, Gandalf on this day reaches Sarn Ford ("Sam Ford" in the one-volume Houghton Mifflin edition illustrated by Alan Lee).

"Speed now, fair guests!" she said. "And hold to your purpose! North with the wind in the left eye and a blessing on your footsteps! Make haste while the Sun shines!"

"Wind in the left eye" because it's blowing from the north-west. The second sentence sounds like a pun on the English saying "make hay while the sun shines".

There was no tree or any visible water

Because chalk is highly permeable and retains water, downs have few permanent streams or bournes; most disappearing in the drier seasons.

on some were standing stones, pointing upwards like jagged teeth out of green gums.

Standing stones of prehistoric origin are found throughout Britain. Tolkien was certainly familiar with the group called the Rollright Stones, which are located between the villages of Rollright and Long Compton, near the boundary between Oxfordshire and Warwickshire. Here is a site with pictures ( which draws the connection to LotR):

http://www.cv81pl.freeserve.co.uk/rollright.htm

The Rollright Stones actually appear in Farmer Giles of Ham, where the dog Garm first encounters the dragon Chrysophylax "North over the hills and far away, beyond the Standing Stones and all." Letter 116 confirms this:
The incident of the dog and dragon occurs near Rollright, by the way, and though that is not plainly stated at least it clearly takes place in Oxfordshire.
.

Here is a site with photographs of more Neolithic monuments in Oxfordshire:

http://www.henge.org.uk/oxfordshire/sites_in_oxfordshire.html

There they took food and drink, and made as good a noon-meal under the open sky as anyone could wish; for the food came from 'down under Hill'.

Tom Bombadil’s house has previously been said to be: Down along under Hill and up, down, under hill.

beyond the wall the fog was thick, cold and white.

Unlike the fog described in the previous chapter, this fog does not have a "natural" explanation - which is appropriate since it is evidently brought about by the Barrow-wight.

Fog is simply a cloud that forms on the ground, when the air is cooled below the point where the moisture in it condenses into droplets (the "dewpoint"). This is most ofted caused by the flow of humid sea air inland ("marine fog"), or by the cooling of the ground surface by radiation into space on a clear night ("radiation fog"). Neither condition is present here, since it is midday and the location is well inland.

The obvious explanation is that the Barrow-wight is somehow able to absorb the heat in the air until it cools below the dewpoint. This is perfectly consistent with Tolkien's description of the Wight's "icy touch" and so forth.

Whether or not Tolkien had a "scientific" grasp of meteorology, it is apparent throughout LotR that he was a close and accurate observer of weather patterns.

Out of the east the biting wind was blowing.

In Western Europe in winter, east winds bring bitter cold because they blow from central Asia and Siberia; the interior of a continent is subject to seasonal extremes of temperature, while the climate of coastal regions is moderated by the oceans, which absorb and release heat slowly. This is particularly true in south-eastern England (including Oxfordshire) where there is effectively nothing to stop the east wind coming in over the North Sea. The geography of Middle-earth should be a little different, as the Shire might be expected to be sheltered by the Misty Mountains.

This is no doubt one factor that reinforces Tolkien's consistent association of the East with evil, and of the West with the Elves and the benevolent Valar. (In the eastern part of North America the situation is reversed; frigid winds in winter come from the west, from the high plains and the interior of Canada.)

A great barrow stood there.

"Barrow" is from Old English beorh, which meant simply a hill. The word could be applied to a burial mound, as in Beowulf line 2808, where the hero, giving instructions for his burial, refers to Béowulfes beorh. However, the choice of the word here was evidently dictated by the alliteration; a few lines earlier the poet, needing an "h," uses the word hlaéw instead: hátað heaðomaére hlaéw gewyrcean, "order war-famed men to construct a mound" (line 2804).

The word beorh did not survive in Modern English except in a few regional dialects, including that of Wiltshire, where it became "barrow." That county, because it is close to London and is the site of Stonehenge as well as other conspicuous monuments, was a major focus of early British archaeology; archaeologists adopted the local word as a technical term for a burial mound built over a stone chamber. (Tolkien was aware of this; see the annotation to the title of this chapter.) There is no evidence that, prior to this development, it was ever used to distinguish a burial mound from a natural hill. (This information comes largely from this article, which is entertaining as well as informative:

http://www.veryfaery.com/indigo3.html)

(The phonetic process by which beorh became "barrow" is well understood, and exactly parallels the evolution of dweorh to "dwarrow," the alternative form of "dwarf" which Tolkien said he would really have preferred (see Appendix F). One would expect, then, that if dweorh could become either "dwarrow" or "dwarf," beorh could also become "barrow" or "barf" - and indeed the OED records "barf" (sometimes spelled "bargh") as occurring in the North of England. If the pioneer archaeologists had been working in the North, Frodo and his companions might have encountered a Barf-wight!)

Archaeologists use the term "barrow" to refer to artificial grave mounds generally, not only those in the British isles. Several distinct types are recognized. The literature is extensive; here is a brief summary.

http://www.bartleby.com/65/ba/barrow.html

Burial mounds in the Icelandic sagas, like Tolkien's barrows, are often dangerous places, haunted not by immaterial spirits or by intrusive creatures like the Barrow-wights, but by the reanimated corpses of their occupants. Such a one was called a haugbúi, meaning "mound-dweller."

(The name haugbúi survived in the heavily Norse-influenced dialect of the Orkney Islands as "hogboy" or "hogboon":

http://www.orkneyjar.com/history/maeshowe/maeshhogboon.htm)

Perhaps the most famous haugbui in the sagas is found in "The Saga of Grettir the Strong" (Grettis saga inn sterki):

One evening very late when Grettir was preparing to return home, he saw a great fire shoot up on the headland below Audun's place, and asked what new thing that might be. Audun said there was no pressing need for him to know.

"If they saw such a thing in our country," said Grettir, "they would say the fire came from some treasure."

"He who rules that fire," answered the man, "is one whom it will be better not to inquire about."

"But I want to know," Grettir said.

"On that headland," said Audun, "there is a howe, wherein lies Kar the Old, the father of Thorfinn. Once upon a time father and son had a farm-property on the island; but ever since Kar died his ghost has been walking and has scared away all the other farmers, so that now the whole island belongs to Thorfinn, and no man who is under Thorfinn's protection suffers any injury."

"You have done right to tell me," said Grettir. "Expect me here tomorrow morning, and have tools ready for digging."

"I won't allow you to have anything to do with it," said Audun, "because I know that it will bring Thorfinn's wrath down upon you."

Grettir said he would risk that.

The night passed; Grettir appeared early the next morning, and the bondi, who had got all the tools for digging ready, went with Grettir to the howe. Grettir broke open the grave, and worked with all his might, never stopping until he came to wood, by which time the day was already spent. He tore away the woodwork; Audun implored him not to go down, but Grettir bade him attend to the rope, saying that he meant to find out what it was that dwelt there. Then he descended into the howe. It was very dark and the odour was not pleasant. He began to explore how it was arranged, and found the bones of a horse. Then he knocked against a sort of throne in which he was aware of a man seated. There was much treasure of gold and silver collected together, and a casket under his feet, full of silver. Grettir took all the treasure and went back towards the rope, but on his way he felt himself seized by a strong hand. He left the treasure to close with his aggressor and the two engaged in a merciless struggle. Everything about them was smashed. The howedweller made a ferocious onslaught. Grettir for some time gave way, but found that no holding back was possible. They did not spare each other. Soon they came to the place where the horse's bones were lying, and here they struggled for long, each in turn being brought to his knees. At last it ended in the howedweller falling backwards with a horrible crash, whereupon Audun above bolted from the rope, thinking that Grettir was killed. Grettir then drew his sword Jokulsnaut, cut off the head of the howedweller and laid it between his thighs. Then he went with the treasure to the rope, but finding Audun gone he had to swarm up the rope with his hands. First he tied the treasure to the lower end of the rope, so that he could haul it up after him. He was very stiff from his struggle with Kar, but he turned his steps towards Thorfinn's house, carrying the treasure along with him.


Translation by G. H. Hight (London, 1914); full text found here:

http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/OMACL/Grettir/

A particularly nasty variant of the haugbúi, the draugr, was not tied to its burial place but roamed about freely at night, sometimes devastating whole districts with its superhuman strength. Grettir later had a life-changing encounter with one of these. See this website:

http://www.vikinganswerlady.com/ghosts.htm

Then suddenly he knew that he was imprisoned, caught hopelessly; he was in a barrow.

In the Volsunga Saga Sigmund and Sinfjotli are imprisoned in a barrow:

Then the king ponders what longest and worst of deaths he shall mete out to them; and when morning came he let make a great barrow of stones and turf; and when it was done, let set a great flat stone midmost inside thereof, so that one edge was aloft, the other alow; and so great it was that it went from wall to wall, so that none might pass it.


Now he bids folk take Sigmund and Sinfjotli and set them in the barrow, on either side of the stone, for the worse for them he deemed it, that they might hear each the other's speech, and yet that neither might pass one to the other. But now, while they were covering in the barrow with the turf-slips, thither came Signy, bearing straw with her, and cast it down to Sinfjotli, and bade the thralls hide this thing from the king; they said yea thereto, and therewithal was the barrow closed in.


VS, Morris translation. The word translated by Morris as "barrow" is haugr.

Cold be hand and heart and bone,
and cold be sleep under stone:
never more to wake on stony bed,
never, till the Sun fails and the Moon is dead.
In the black wind the stars shall die,
and still on gold here let them lie,
till the dark lord lifts his hand
over dead sea and withered land


The Incantation of the Barrow-wight looks to the future triumph of the Dark Lord (Sauron or more probably, his master Morgoth) in a sunless, lifeless world. This is reminiscent of the Oath sworn by the followers of Morgoth Bauglir in the First Age:
Whom do ye serve, Light or Mirk?
Who is the maker of mightiest work?
Who is the king of earthly kings,----------------2145
the greatest giver of gold and rings?
Who is the master of the wide earth?
Who despoiled them of their mirth,
the greedy Gods? Repeat your vows,
Orcs of Bauglir! Do not bend your brows!------2150
Death to light, to law, to love!
Cursed be moon and stars above!
May darkness everlasting old
that waits outside in surges cold
drown Manwë, Varda, and the sun!---_---
2155
May all in hatred be begun,
and all in evil ended be,
in the moaning of the endless Sea!'


But no true Man nor Elf yet free
would ever speak that blasphemy,----------__-2160
[...]

The Lay of Leithian, Canto VII (lines 2143-2160), The Lays of Beleriand.

Given that the Barrow-wight was sent by the Witch-king of Angmar (who was the chief servant of Sauron, who was in turn the Lieutenant of Morgoth), it is not surprising that its desired future reflected the ambitions of the first Dark Lord.

Get out, you old Wight! Vanish in the sunlight!

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, "wight" (Old English wiht) generally means merely a living creature, of any kind - often one regarded as insignificant or pitiable. The OED goes on to say, however, that the word was originally "and chiefly with (good or bad) epithet, applied to supernatural, preternatural, or unearthly beings." The first example cited by the OED is from a tenth-century translation of Mark's Gospel, ch. vi v. 49, which renders Greek phantasma (usually translated "ghost") as yfel wiht.

Chaucer frequently uses the word in the more general sense, but it is also found The Canterbury Tales with its "supernatural" meaning: "I crouche thee [make the sign of the cross to protect you] from elves and fro wightes." "The Miller's Tale," line 293.

None of the recorded uses of the word seem to refer to a supernatural being with any particular characteristics - any more than the comparable use of the word "creature" in old horror and science-fiction films implies a specific armamentarium of fangs, claws, or tentacles. The cognate word in German, wicht, seems to have developed in a similar way; the discussion of the term in the Grimms' treatise on mythology is long on philology and short on description.

http://www.northvegr.org/lore/grimmst/017_01.php

In Dutch, wicht is a mildly contemptuous term for a girl.

In the Norse languages, however, the cognate vætt (plural vættir) retains its supernatural meaning (as the Grimms observe). There was apparently in the Viking Age a widespread belief that localities were inhabited and protected by landvættir, "land spirits." The early Icelandic Lándnamabók, the "Book of Settlements," records that ships approaching the island were required to take down their dragon figureheads lest they anger or offend the landvættir.

The most famous landvættir in legend appear in Snorri Sturluson's Heimskringla, which tells how they frustrated the Danish king Harald Gormsson's plan to invade Iceland:
King Harald told a warlock to hie to Iceland in some altered shape, and to try what he could learn there to tell him: and he set out in the shape of a whale. And when he came near to the land he went to the west side of Iceland, north around the land, where he saw all the mountains and hills full of guardian-spirits, some great, some small. When he came to Vapnafjord he went in towards the land, intending to go on shore; but a huge dragon rushed down the dale against him with a train of serpents, paddocks, and toads, that blew poison towards him. Then he turned to go westward around the land as far as Eyjafjord, and he went into the fjord. Then a bird flew against him, which was so great that its wings stretched over the mountains on either side of the fjord, and many birds, great and small, with it. Then he swam farther west, and then south into Breidafjord. When he came into the fjord a large grey bull ran against him, wading into the sea, and bellowing fearfully, and he was followed by a crowd of land-spirits. From thence he went round by Reykjanes, and wanted to land at Vikarsskeid, but there came down a hill-giant against him with an iron staff in his hands. He was a head higher than the mountains, and many other giants followed him. He then swam eastward along the land, and there was nothing to see, he said, but sand and vast deserts, and, without the skerries, high-breaking surf; and the ocean between the countries was so wide that a long-ship could not cross it. At that time Brodhelge dwelt in Vapnafjord, Eyjolf Valgerdson in Eyjafjord, Thord Geller in Breidafjord, and Thorod Gode in Olfus. Then the Danish king turned about with his fleet, and sailed back to Denmark.


The modern nation of Iceland has adopted the dragon, eagle, bull and giant as the "supporters" of its coat of arms:

http://flagspot.net/flags/is-coa.html

A final note on vættir: In 2003, an article in a "Neo-Pagan" magazine put forward the proposition that computers are particularly hospitable to these beings, and gave advice on how to keep them happy and deter them from crashing your hard drive. The piece was widely noted on the Internet, mostly with derision:

http://www.popsci.com/popsci/computers/article/0,12543,464015,00.html

Come never here again! Leave your barrow empty!

Tom is exorcising the Barrow-wight - countering the Wight's incantation with his own song.

The "singing duel" is not dissimilar to that between Finrod Felagund and Sauron in the Silmarillion, although the latter is in reported speech. However, in that encounter, singing "songs of power", Sauron "had the mastery".

In LOTR the Wight foretells a Black Resurrection of a dark lord. Against this image of negation, Tom, whose "songs are stronger songs", expels the Wight with the aforementioned reference to the Gates of Night.

Where gates stand for ever shut, till the world is mended.

This appears to be a reference to the expulsion of Morgoth, the barrow-wight's ultimate master, in the Silmarillion:

But Morgoth himself the Valar thrust through the Door of Night beyond the Walls of the World, into the Timeless Void; and a guard is set for ever on those walls, and Earendil keeps watch upon the ramparts of the sky...

If it has passed from the high and the beautiful to darkness and ruin, that was of old the fate of Arda Marred; and if any change shall come and the Marring be amended, Manwe and Varda may know; but they have not revealed it, and it is not declared in the dooms of Mandos.


When he came out he was bearing in his arms a great load of treasure: things of gold, silver, copper, and bronze; many beads and chains and jeweled ornaments. He climbed the green barrow and laid them all on top in the sunshine.

The carrying of the treasure out of the barrow is an echo of Beowulf. In the final episode of that poem, the hero, with the aid of a loyal companion, kills a dragon inside a barrow and receives his death-wound from it; he instructs his companion to bring the dragon's hoard out so that he can look at it (lines 2744-52).

He bade them lie there "free to all finders, birds, beasts, Elves or Men, and all kindly creatures"; for so the spell of the mound should be broken and no Wight ever come back to it.

Again, the link between the spell on the Barrow and the treasure is evidently due to Beowulf, where the dragon's treasure, brought from the mound, is described as follows:
By it there stood the stoups and jars;
dishes lay there, and dear-decked swords
eaten with rust, as, on earth's lap resting,
a thousand winters they waited there.
For all that heritage huge, that gold
of bygone men, was bound by a spell,
so the treasure-hall could be touched by none
of human kind, -- save that Heaven's King,
God himself, might give whom he would,
Helper of Heroes, the hoard to open, --
even such a man as seemed to him meet.

Lines 3048-59 (Francis Gummere translation). Tolkien was interested enough in spell-guarded treasures to write a poem about one, published in The Adventures of Tom Bombadil as "The Hoard." Its final stanza reflects both this chapter and the quoted passage from Beowulf:
There is an old hoard in a dark rock,
forgotten behind doors none can unlock;
that grim gate none can pass.
On the mound grows the green grass;
there sheep feed and the larks soar,
and the wind blows form the sea-shore.
The old hoard the Night shall keep,
while earth waits and the Elves sleep.

Tolkien in fact said of the poem in Letter 235 that it was inspired by a line from the Beowulf passage, "iúmonna gold galdre bewunden, 'the gold of men of long ago enmeshed in enchantment' (Beowulf 3052)."

In the poem, the spell of the hoard is plainly equated to the greed and posessiveness of its successive owners (Elves, dwarf, dragon, warrior). That Tom is able to break the spell on the Barrow by giving the treasure away fits well with the central metaphor of the Ring in LotR.

He chose for himself from the pile a brooch set with blue stones, many-shaded like flax-flowers

The Common Flax (Linum usitatissimum) has been cultivated for millenia, both for linen fiber and for linseed oil.

http://www.missouriplants.com/Bluealt/Linum_usitatissimum_page.html

or the wings of blue butterflies.

A number of species of blue butterfly are found in Britain. The most common is the Common Blue, Polyommatus icarus:

http://www.leps.it/indexjs.htm?SpeciesPages/PolyomIcarus.htm

they were foes of the Dark Lord, but they were overcome by the evil king of Carn Dûm in the land of Angmar.

The "Witch-king of Angmar" was in fact the Lord of the Nazgûl; an account of his conquest of the Numenorean kingdoms of Eriador is given in Appendix A(iii). Angmar is stated to have first arisen "in the beginning of the reign of Malvegil of Arthedain" (about TA 1350); the final overthrow of the last of the Numenorean kingdoms took place in 1974. Angmar was itself overthrown in 1975, by an alliance between Elves of Lindon under Círdan and an army from Gondor led by Eärnur, the heir to the throne. "Angmar" may mean "Iron-home," though the etymology is not certain.

The dark line they had seen was not a line of trees but a line of bushes growing on the edge of a deep dyke with a steep wall on the further side . Tom said that it had once been the boundary of a kingdom, but a very long time ago.

The boundaries of the three successor kingdoms to the Numenorean kingdom of Arnor (Rhudaur, Arthedain, and Cardolan) are not marked on Tolkien's map; only their general locations are indicated. It is plausible, however, that this was the boundary between Arthedain on the north and Cardolan on the south. That the ditch was on the south side indicates that the dyke was constructed by Arthedain, the last of the successor kingdoms to hold out against Angmar. See Appendix A(iii).

This fortification has a real-life counterpart in "Offa's Dyke," which marks the medieval boundary between the kingdom of Mercia and Wales. This is believed to have been built by the eighth-century Mercian king Offa, under whose reign Mercia dominated the rest of England. This is probably the most prominent physical relic of Anglo-Saxon England; as a scholar of the period, and a "Mercian patriot," Tolkien would certainly have been familiar with it. Its construction matches the description here.

http://www.smr.herefordshire.gov.uk/saxon_viking/offas_dyke.htm

"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.


Obviously Tom knows about Aragorn. The star on his brow I take to be a reference to the Elendilmir, the "whiite star of Elvish crystal upon a fillet of mithril that had descended from Silmarien to Elendil, and had been taken by him as the token of royalty in the North Kingdom.

UT: Disaster of the Gladden Fields

This was lost with Isildur in the Anduin, retrieved by Saruman's spies and recovered in Orthanc early in the Fourth Age. Thus Aragorn-Elessar became the first chieftain of the Dunedain since Isildur to wear the true Elendilmir (a copy was made for Valandil by the Elven-smiths of Rivendell as it was thought that the original was lost for ever).

Tom seems to be prophesying Aragorn's kingship, albeit obliquely.
Last edited by roaccarcsson on Thu Mar 10, 2005 6:22 pm, edited 29 times in total.
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Postby -Rómestámo- » Tue Sep 21, 2004 7:46 pm

Fog on the Barrow-Downs

Downs or *downlands* ( http://www.webster-dictionary.org/definition/downland ) are areas of sedimentary uplands (most commonly chalk) formed when layers of sedimentary rock are pushed up and meet the surface at an angle. As the layers are slowly eroded, the more resistant rock layers are left behind, standing up as long parallel or concentric ridges, while the softer sediments are eroded more rapidly, forming lowlands. A steep scarp slope forms where the rock has been removed, with a shallow dip slope where the rock remains. Chalk downs have alkaline soil and support little agriculture other than grazing. Because chalk is highly permeable and retains water, downs have few permanent streams or bournes; most disappearing in the drier seasons.

Tolkien commented on the name:
Barrow-downs. [...] low treeless hills on which there are many 'barrows', that is tumuli and other prehistoric grave-mounds. This barrow is not related to modern barrow, an implement with a wheel; it is a recent adoption by archaeologists of the English dialect word barrow (earlier berrow, from English beorg, berg, 'hill, mound').

'Guide to names in The Lord of the Rings'.

But either in his dreams or out of them, he could not tell which, Frodo heard a sweet singing running in his mind; a song that seemed to come like a pale light behind a grey rain-curtain, and growing stronger to turn the veil all to glass and silver, until at last it was rolled back, and a far green country opened before him under a swift sunrise.

Again Frodo experiences a visionary dream, in this case a premonition of his first sighting of Tol Eressëa (see The Annotated LOTR - The Grey Havens ).
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Postby Queen_Beruthiel » Thu Sep 23, 2004 1:26 pm

"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.


Obviously Tom knows about Aragorn. The star on his brow I take to be a reference to the Elendilmir, the "whiite star of Elvish crystal upon a fillet of mithril that had descended from Silmarien to Elendil, and had been taken by him as the token of royalty in the North Kingdom.

UT: Disaster of the Gladden Fields

This was lost with Isildur in the Anduin, retrieved by Saruman's spies and recovered in Orthanc early in the Fourth Age. Thus Aragorn-Elessar became the first chieftain of the Dunedain since Isildur to wear the true Elendilmir (a copy was made for Valandil by the Elven-smiths of Rivendell as it was thought that the original was lost for ever).

Tom seems to be prophesying Aragorn's kingship, albeit obliquely.
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Postby roaccarcsson » Thu Sep 23, 2004 3:31 pm

The vision melted into waking

The date is September 28, 3018. According to Appendix B, Gandalf on this day reaches Sarn Ford ("Sam Ford" in the one-volume Houghton Mifflin edition illustrated by Alan Lee).

Out of the east the biting wind was blowing.

In Western Europe in winter, east winds bring bitter cold because they blow from central Asia and Siberia; the interior of a continent is subject to seasonal extremes of temperature, while the climate of coastal regions is moderated by the oceans, which absorb and release heat slowly. This is no doubt one factor that reinforces Tolkien's consistent association of the East with evil, and of the West with the Elves and the benevolent Valar. (In the eastern part of North America the situation is reversed; frigid winds in winter come from the west, from the high plains and the interior of Canada.)

there was Tom's head (hat, feather and all) framed against the light of the sun rising red behind him.

It is the morning of September 29. According to Appendix B, Gandalf came to Hobbiton and visted the Gaffer later on this day.

like flax-flowers

The Common Flax (Linum usitatissimum) has been cultivated for millenia, both for linen fiber and for linseed oil.

http://www.missouriplants.com/Bluealt/Linum_usitatissimum_page.html

or the wings of blue butterflies.

A number of species of blue butterfly are found in Britain. The most common is the Common Blue, Polyommatus icarus:

http://www.leps.it/indexjs.htm?SpeciesPages/PolyomIcarus.htm

they were foes of the Dark Lord, but they were overcome by the evil king of Carn Dûm in the land of Angmar.

The "Witch-king of Angmar" was in fact the Lord of the Nazgûl; an account of his conquest of the Numenorean kingdoms of Eriador is given in Appendix A(iii). Angmar is stated to have first arisen "in the beginning of the reign of Malvegil of Arthedain" (about TA 1350); the final overthrow of the last of the Numenorean kingdoms took place in 1974. Angmar was itself overthrown in 1975, by an alliance between Elves of Lindon under Círdan and an army from Gondor led by Eärnur, the heir to the throne. "Angmar" may mean "Iron-home," though the etymology is not certain.

The dark line they had seen was not a line of trees but a line of bushes growing on the edge of a deep dyke with a steep wall on the further side . Tom said that it had once been the boundary of a kingdom, but a very long time ago.

The boundaries of the three successor kingdoms to the Numenorean kingdom of Arnor (Rhudaur, Arthedain, and Cardolan) are not marked on Tolkien's map; only their general locations are indicated. It is plausible, however, that this was the boundary between Arthedain on the north and Cardolan on the south. That the ditch was on the south side indicates that the dyke was constructed by Arthedain, the last of the successor kingdoms to hold out against Angmar. See Appendix A(iii).

This fortification has a real-life counterpart in "Offa's Dyke," which marks the medieval boundary between the kingdom of Mercia and Wales. This is believed to have been built by the eighth-century Mercian king Offa, under whose reign Mercia dominated the rest of England. This is probably the most prominent physical relic of Anglo-Saxon England; as a scholar of the period, and a "Mercian patriot," Tolkien would certainly have been familiar with it. Its construction matches the description here.

http://www.smr.herefordshire.gov.uk/saxon_viking/offas_dyke.htm
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Postby roaccarcsson » Sat Sep 25, 2004 5:47 pm

I have inserted the following, after the title. Peer review seemed unecessary since it is a straight quote from the Appendix.

The Sindarin name of the Barrow-downs was "Tyrn Gorthad." Appendix A(iii) says:
It is said that the mounds of Tyrn Gorthad, as the Barrowdowns were called of old, are very ancient, and that many were built in the days of the old world of the First Age by the forefathers of the Edain, before they crossed the Blue Mountains into Beleriand, of which Lindon is all that remains. Those hills were therefore revered by the Dúnedain after their return; and there many of their lords and kings were buried.

This passage is enclosed in quotation marks, signifying that it was "extracted" directly from the Red Book."

I left out the last sentence of the paragraph, identifyuing the mound in which the hobbits were imprisoned. It seems to fit better in the spot where Merry channels the last prince of Cardolan.

Some things that need to be written up:

1. Etymology of "Tyrn Gorthad." I have found one, but without a source cited.

2. Description of the Hobbit's swords. There used to be all kinds of experts on arms and armor hanging out in this place. Come out, come out, wherever you are.

3. On the description of standing stones "like jagged teeth." I find lots of pictures online of standing stones meeting the description in various parts of England, A writeup on the topic might come better from someone who has seen such things firsthand. Like, is there a particular stone or group of stones which JRRT would likely have been familiar with? (I see that the Rollright Stones are in Oxfordshire, and they are certainly sinister enough.)
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Postby roaccarcsson » Mon Sep 27, 2004 5:48 pm

Get out, you old Wight! Vanish in the sunlight!

It is clear that the Barrow-wights were agents of the Lord of the Nazgul, sent by him to occupy the mounds of Tyrn Gorthad. In "The Hunt for the Ring," Tolkien wrote that he
had known something of the country long ago, in his wars with the Dúnedain, and especially of the Tyrn Gorthad of Cardolan, now the Barrow-downs, whose evil wights had been sent there by himself.


UT, p. 363 (1st paperback ed.). Annotating this statement, Christopher Tolkien quotes Appendix A(iii):
It was at this time [during the Great Plague that reached Gondor in 1636] that an end came of the Dúnedain of Cardolan, and evil spirits out of Angmar and Rhudaur entered into the deserted mounds and dwelt there.

Id. at p. 370.
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Postby Queen_Beruthiel » Tue Sep 28, 2004 4:29 pm

Some pictures of the Rollright Stones and similar stones. I haven't seen them personally but they are situated on the Warwickshire-Oxfordshire border, on a hilltop, above the Warwickshire village of Long Compton and they do look like jagged teeth. There are apparently burial chambers near by.

http://www.cv81pl.freeserve.co.uk/rollright.htm
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Postby Queen_Beruthiel » Tue Sep 28, 2004 4:48 pm

Wayland's Smithy, a neolithic long barrow in Oxfordshire:

http://www.henge.org.uk/oxfordshire/wayland.html
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Postby roaccarcsson » Tue Sep 28, 2004 7:05 pm

When he came out he was bearing in his arms a great load of treasure: things of gold, silver, copper, and bronze; many beads and chains and jeweled ornaments. He climbed the green barrow and laid them all on top in the sunshine.

The carrying of the treasure out of the barrow is an echo of Beowulf. In the final episode of that poem, the hero, with the aid of a loyal companion, kills a dragon inside a barrow and receives his death-wound from it; he instructs his companion to bring the dragon's hoard out so that he can look at it (lines 2744-52).

He bade them lie there "free to all finders, birds, beasts, Elves or Men, and all kindly creatures"; for so the spell of the mound should be broken and no Wight ever come back to it.

Again, the link between the spell on the Barrow and the treasure is evidently due to Beowulf, where the dragon's treasure, brought from the mound, is described as follows:
By it there stood the stoups and jars;
dishes lay there, and dear-decked swords
eaten with rust, as, on earth's lap resting,
a thousand winters they waited there.
For all that heritage huge, that gold
of bygone men, was bound by a spell,
so the treasure-hall could be touched by none
of human kind, -- save that Heaven's King,
God himself, might give whom he would,
Helper of Heroes, the hoard to open, --
even such a man as seemed to him meet.

Lines 3048-59 (Francis Gummere translation). Tolkien was interested enough in spell-guarded treasures to write a poem about one, published in The Adventures of Tom Bombadil as "The Hoard." Its final stanza reflects both this chapter and the quoted passage from Beowulf:
There is an old hoard in a dark rock,
forgotten behind doors none can unlock;
that grim gate none can pass.
On the mound grows the green grass;
there sheep feed and the larks soar,
and the wind blows form the sea-shore.
The old hoard the Night shall keep,
while earth waits and the Elves sleep.

Tolkien in fact said of the poem in Letter 235 that it was inspired by a line from the Beowulf passage, "iúmonna gold galdre bewunden, 'the gold of men of long ago enmeshed in enchantment' (Beowulf 3052)."

In the poem, the spell of the hoard is plainly equated to the greed and posessiveness of its successive owners (Elves, dwarf, dragon, warrior). That Tom is able to break the spell on the Barrow by giving the treasure away fits well with the central metaphor of the Ring in LotR.
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Postby -Rómestámo- » Tue Sep 28, 2004 7:11 pm

Cold be hand and heart and bone,
and cold be sleep under stone:
never more to wake on stony bed,
never, till the Sun fails and the Moon is dead.
In the black wind the stars shall die,
and still on gold here let them lie,
till the dark lord lifts his hand
over dead sea and withered land


The Incantation of the Barrow-wight looks to the future triumph of the Dark Lord (Sauron or more probably, his master Morgoth) in a sunless, lifeless world. This is reminiscent of the Oath sworn by the followers of Morgoth Bauglir in the First Age:
Whom do ye serve, Light or Mirk?
Who is the maker of mightiest work?
Who is the king of earthly kings,----------------2145
the greatest giver of gold and rings?
Who is the master of the wide earth?
Who despoiled them of their mirth,
the greedy Gods? Repeat your vows,
Orcs of Bauglir! Do not bend your brows!------2150
Death to light, to law, to love!
Cursed be moon and stars above!
May darkness everlasting old
that waits outside in surges cold
drown Manwë, Varda, and the sun!---_---
2155
May all in hatred be begun,
and all in evil ended be,
in the moaning of the endless Sea!'


But no true Man nor Elf yet free
would ever speak that blasphemy,----------__-2160
[...]

The Lay of Leithian, Canto VII (lines 2143-2160), The Lays of Beleriand.

Given that the Barrow-wight was sent by the Witch-king of Angmar (who was the chief servant of Sauron, who was in turn the Lieutenant of Morgoth), it is not surprising that its desired future reflected the ambitions of the first Dark Lord.
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Postby wilko185 » Wed Sep 29, 2004 11:50 am

Re Tolkien's familiarity with the Rollright stones, in Letter #116 Tolkien identifies the "Standing Stones" in Farmer Giles of Ham with Rollright.


roac wrote:Out of the east the biting wind was blowing.

In Western Europe in winter, east winds bring bitter cold because they blow from central Asia and Siberia; the interior of a continent is subject to seasonal extremes of temperature, while the climate of coastal regions is moderated by the oceans, which absorb and release heat slowly.

This is particularly true in south-eastern England (inc. Oxfordshire) where there is effectively nothing to stop the east wind coming in over the North Sea. The geography of Middle-earth should be a little different, as the Shire might be expected to be sheltered by the Misty Mountains.

A particularly nasty variant of the haugbúi, the draugr, was not tied to its burial place but roamed about freely at night

In TAOTB the wight gets loose from the barrow and into Tom's house at night (until Tom chases him out of the window :)).


Ok, a couple of trite annotations...

"Speed now, fair guests!" she said. "And hold to your purpose! North with the wind in the left eye and a blessing on your footsteps! Make haste while the Sun shines!"

"Wind in the left eye" because it's blowing from the north-west. The second sentence sounds like a pun on the English saying "make hay while the sun shines".


There they took food and drink, and made as good a noon-meal under the open sky as anyone could wish; for the food came from 'down under Hill'.

Tom Bombadil’s house has previously been said to be: Down along under Hill and up, down, under hill.


Come never here again! Leave your barrow empty!
Lost and forgotten be, darker than the darkness,
Where gates stand for ever shut, till the world is mended.


This sounds like an obscure reference to the Gates of Night, and Arda Remade. Worth an annotation?
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Postby roaccarcsson » Wed Sep 29, 2004 8:08 pm

Hey - the Rollright Stones are actually in Farmer Giles! The dog tells Giles he met the dragon "beyond the Standing Stones."

I will do a post tomorrow incorporating this and Queen B's link.
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Postby roaccarcsson » Wed Sep 29, 2004 9:52 pm

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, "wight" (Old English wiht) generally means merely a living creature, of any kind - often one regarded as insignificant or pitiable. The OED goes on to say, however, that the word was originally "and chiefly with (good or bad) epithet, applied to supernatural, preternatural, or unearthly beings." The first example cited by the OED is from a tenth-century translation of Mark's Gospel, ch. vi v. 49, which renders Greek phantasma (usually translated "ghost") as yfel wiht.

Chaucer frequently uses the word in the more general sense, but it is also found The Canterbury Tales with its "supernatural" meaning: "I crouche thee [make the sign of the cross to protect you] from elves and fro wightes." "The Miller's Tale," line 293.

None of the recorded uses of the word seem to refer to a supernatural being with any particular characteristics - any more than the comparable use of the word "creature" in old horror and science-fiction films implies a specific armamentarium of fangs, claws, or tentacles. The cognate word in German, wicht, seems to have developed in a similar way; the discussion of the term in the Grimms' treatise on mythology is long on philology and short on description.

http://www.northvegr.org/lore/grimmst/017_01.php

In the Norse languages, however, the cognate vætt (plural vættir) retains its supernatural meaning (as the Grimms observe). There was apparently in the Viking Age a widespread belief that localities were inhabited and protected by landvættir, "land spirits." The early Icelandic Lándnamabók, the "Book of Settlements," records that ships approaching the island were required to take down their dragon figurehead lest they anger or offend the landvættir.

The most famous landvættir in legend appear in Snorri Sturluson's Heimskringla, which tells how they frustrated the Danish king Harald Gormsson's plan to invade Iceland:
King Harald told a warlock to hie to Iceland in some altered shape, and to try what he could learn there to tell him: and he set out in the shape of a whale. And when he came near to the land he went to the west side of Iceland, north around the land, where he saw all the mountains and hills full of guardian-spirits, some great, some small. When he came to Vapnafjord he went in towards the land, intending to go on shore; but a huge dragon rushed down the dale against him with a train of serpents, paddocks, and toads, that blew poison towards him. Then he turned to go westward around the land as far as Eyjafjord, and he went into the fjord. Then a bird flew against him, which was so great that its wings stretched over the mountains on either side of the fjord, and many birds, great and small, with it. Then he swam farther west, and then south into Breidafjord. When he came into the fjord a large grey bull ran against him, wading into the sea, and bellowing fearfully, and he was followed by a crowd of land-spirits. From thence he went round by Reykjanes, and wanted to land at Vikarsskeid, but there came down a hill-giant against him with an iron staff in his hands. He was a head higher than the mountains, and many other giants followed him. He then swam eastward along the land, and there was nothing to see, he said, but sand and vast deserts, and, without the skerries, high-breaking surf; and the ocean between the countries was so wide that a long-ship could not cross it. At that time Brodhelge dwelt in Vapnafjord, Eyjolf Valgerdson in Eyjafjord, Thord Geller in Breidafjord, and Thorod Gode in Olfus. Then the Danish king turned about with his fleet, and sailed back to Denmark.


The modern nation of Iceland has adopted the dragon, eagle, bull and giant as the "supporters" of its coat of arms:

http://flagspot.net/flags/is-coa.html

A final note on vættir: In 2003, an article in a "Neo-Pagan" magazine put forward the proposition that computers are particularly hospitable to these beings, and gave advice on how to keep them happy and deter them from crashing your hard drive. The piece was widely noted on the Internet, mostly with derision:

http://www.popsci.com/popsci/computers/article/0,12543,464015,00.html
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Postby roaccarcsson » Thu Sep 30, 2004 5:07 am

A thought that just occurred to me: Since the OED was up to "W" when Tolkien worked there, it is possible that the entry for "wight" is by him. Anybody know if specific information is available on this subject?
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Postby Almatolmen » Tue Oct 05, 2004 10:39 am

The proper Gregorian conversion of 28 Halimath is 20 September. On the same date Gandalf reached Sarn Ford riding Shadowfax.
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Postby Queen_Beruthiel » Thu Oct 07, 2004 12:49 pm

Adding to roac's post about the WiKi and the Barrow-wights:

But the Black Captain established a camp at Andrath, where the Greenway passed in a defile between the Barrow-downs and the South Downs; and from there some others were sent to watch and patrol the eastern borders, while he himself visited the Barrow-downs. In notes on the movements of the Black Rders at that time it is said that the Black Captain stayed there for some days, and the Barrow-wights were roused, and all things of evil spirit, hostile to Elves and Men, were on the watch with malice in the Old Forest and the Barrow-downs.


UT: The Hunt for the Ring
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Postby Queen_Beruthiel » Thu Oct 07, 2004 1:07 pm

Incredible. All these years... er... decades, of reading LOTR and I have only just realised what is happening in this chapter. Probably because I tend to skip Tom's verses.

Tom is exorcising the Barrow-wight.

The "singing duel" is not dissimilar to that between Finrod Felagund and Sauron in the Sil, although the latter is in reported speech. However, in that encounter, singing "songs of power", Sauron "had the mastery".

In LOTR the Wight foretells a Black Resurrection of a dark lord. Against this image of negation, Tom, whose "songs are stronger songs", expels with Wight with the aforementioned reference to the Gates of Night.

Tom:

"Where gates stand for ever shut, till the world is mended."


The Sil:

But Morgoth himself the Valar thrust through the Door of Night beyond the Walls of the World, into the Timeless Void; and a guard is set for ever on those walls, and Earendil keeps watch upon the ramparts of the sky...

If it has passed from the high and the beautiful to darkness and ruin, that was of old the fate of Arda Marred; and if any change shall come and the Marring be amended, Manwe and Varda may know; but they have not revealed it, and it is not declared in the dooms of Mandos.
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Postby roaccarcsson » Thu Oct 07, 2004 3:54 pm

Well, of course - "His songs are stronger songs!" And Tom's quashing of Old Man Willow has already been presented as a singing contest.

(It is a long time since I read the Kalevala and my memory is faint - is magic accomplished by singing there?)
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Postby rowanberry » Fri Oct 08, 2004 8:05 am

Yes, "songs of power" are used in many situations in the Kalevala.
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Postby roaccarcsson » Tue Nov 23, 2004 6:04 pm

I patched this together a while back, as I had promised, but it got lost in cyberspace. Just got around to reconstructing it:

on some were standing stones, pointing upwards like jagged teeth out of green gums.

Standing stones of prehistoric origin are found throughout Britain. Tolkien was certainly familiar with the group called the Rollright Stones, which are located between the villages of Rollright and Long Compton, near the boundary between Oxfordshire and Warwickshire. Here is a site with pictures ( which draws the connection to LotR):

http://www.cv81pl.freeserve.co.uk/rollright.htm

The Rollright Stones actually appear in Farmer Giles of Ham, where the dog Garm first encounters the dragon Chrysophylax "North over the hills and far away, beyond the Standing Stones and all." Letter 116 confirms this:
The incident of the dog and dragon occurs near Rollright, by the way, and though that is not plainly stated at least it clearly takes place in Oxfordshire.
.

Here is a site with photographs of more Neolithic monuments in Oxfordshire:

http://www.henge.org.uk/oxfordshire/sites_in_oxfordshire.html
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Postby Queen_Beruthiel » Sun Dec 05, 2004 4:17 pm

Then suddenly he knew that he was imprisoned, caught hopelessly; he was in a barrow.

In the Volsunga Saga Sigmund and Sinfjotli are imprisoned in a barrow:

Then the king ponders what longest and worst of deaths he shall mete out to them; and when morning came he let make a great barrow of stones and turf; and when it was done, let set a great flat stone midmost inside thereof, so that one edge was aloft, the other alow; and so great it was that it went from wall to wall, so that none might pass it.


Now he bids folk take Sigmund and Sinfjotli and set them in the barrow, on either side of the stone, for the worse for them he deemed it, that they might hear each the other's speech, and yet that neither might pass one to the other. But now, while they were covering in the barrow with the turf-slips, thither came Signy, bearing straw with her, and cast it down to Sinfjotli, and bade the thralls hide this thing from the king; they said yea thereto, and therewithal was the barrow closed in.


VS, Morris translation
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Postby Breogan » Mon Dec 06, 2004 6:07 am

Roaccarcsson

1. Etymology of "Tyrn Gorthad." I have found one, but without a source cited



_Tyrn Gorthad_ Sindarin for "Barrow-downs"

Tyrn: "downs" (PM/194), plural form of *turn "down". This term could derive from the stem TUN *tundu which resulted in N. tunn>tund hill, mound.

Gorthad: "terrible place" < gorth <ÑGOROTH (GOR, GOS) "horror, dread"+ sâd "place" < (?SAT)



~I Elleth e -Noss Faenor~
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Postby roaccarcsson » Tue Dec 07, 2004 8:43 pm

Thanks to QB for the quote from Volsunga Saga.

I was curious as to what the Norse word was that Morris translated "barrow," so I looked up the text. As I expected, it has haugr (English "howe"). Since I was there, I thought I might as well drop in the Norse text of the quote, in case anybody wanted to see what it looks like:

Nú hyggur konungur að fyrir sér hvern dauða hann skal fá þeim, þann er kenndi lengst. Og er morgunn kom þá lætur konungur haug mikinn gera af grjóti og torfi. Og er þessi haugur er ger þá lét hann setja hellu mikla í miðjan hauginn svo að annar jaðar hellunnar horfði upp en annar niður. Hún var svo mikil að hún tók tveggja vegna svo að eigi mátti komast hjá henni. Nú lætur hann taka þá Sigmund og Sinfjötla og setja í hauginn, sínum megin hvorn þeirra, fyrir því að honum þótti þeim það verra að vera eigi báðum saman en þó mátti heyra hvor til annars.

Og er þeir voru að tyrfa hauginn þá kemur Signý þar að og hefir hálm í fangi sér og kastar í hauginn til Sinfjötla og biður þrælana leyna konunginn þessu. Þeir já því og er þá lokið aftur hauginum.
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Postby Queen_Beruthiel » Sun Jan 16, 2005 3:50 pm

Found the singing duel in the Kalevala:

Now the happy Wainamoinen,
Sits upon the rock of gladness,
Joyful on the rock of music,
Sings a little, sings and ceases,
Sings again, and sings a third time,
Thus to break the spell of magic,
Thus to lessen the enchantment,
Thus the potent charm to banish.



Etcetera.

The translation of by John Martin Crawford. On-line here:

http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/kveng/kvrune03.htm
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Postby roaccarcsson » Fri Mar 04, 2005 6:52 am

beyond the wall the fog was thick, cold and white.

[Hoping somebody with a real scientific education will check this over]

Unlike the fog described in the previous chapter, this fog does not have a "natural" explanation - which is appropriate since it is evidently brought about by the Barrow-wight.

Fog is simply a cloud that forms on the ground, when the air is cooled below the point where the moisture in it condenses into droplets (the "dewpoint"). This is most ofted caused by the flow of humid sea air inland ("marine fog"), or by the cooling of the ground surface by radiation into space on a clear night ("radiation fog"). Neither condition is present here, since it is midday and the location is well inland.

The obvious explanation is that the Barrow-wight is able to turn itself into a "heat sink" and absorb the heat in the air until it cools below the dewpoint. This is perfectly consistent with Tolkien's description of the Wight's "icy touch" and so forth.

Of course, according to the principle of conservation of energy, the heat has to go somewhere - the Barrow-wight could not simply absorb it without itself being heated. Whether or not it occurred to Tolkien, however, an explanation is suggested by the widespread hints of an "alternate universe" laying parallel to our own (see, e.g., Gandalf's statement that Frodo saw Glorfindel "for a moment as he is on the other side" (Bk. II, ch. 1)). It could be supposed that the Wight has the power to override the laws of thermodynamics by moving heat out of our world entirely and into the "other."
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Postby roaccarcsson » Fri Mar 04, 2005 6:58 am

A sudden thought appended to the previous post: Suppose the heat sucked out of our world by Barrow-wights and such creatures re-entered it at the Sammath Naur!?!
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Postby Mahima » Fri Mar 04, 2005 7:43 am

:shock: :shock:
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Postby MithLuin » Mon Mar 07, 2005 1:31 pm

roac - Come back, come back! You've floated a bit too far away this time ;).

While it is perfectly appropriate to explain (or suggest) that the fog in this passage is supernatural in character, it is entirely inappropriate for annotations to suggest how the barrow wight meddles with thermo ;).

For one thing, the "spirit world" is not an alternate universe. It is merely an unseen universe that exists in conjunction with ours. Even Sam can see it sometimes - for instance, his visions of Frodo in the Emyn Muil, Ithilien and on Mount Doom all count. His great love for Frodo is all that is needed for him to catch these glimpses, while Frodo's ownership of the Ring occasionally allows him to do the same (such as seeing Galadriel's ring). You do not pass from one world to the other (picture children jumping back and forth across a line - "I'm in, now I'm out, now I'm back in..."); you can walk in both at the same time. So to suggest that energy is passing back and forth between these two worlds is rather suspect, though not, of course, impossible.

More importantly, though, there is no thermo problem to be solved! Yes, the heat has to go somewhere, and it always moves from hot to cold. Eventually, the entire universe will be a uniform temperature (I think it has been calculated as 4 K, but don't quote me on that one), but we don't have to worry about that happening any time soon. So, as long as the Barrow wight remains colder than his surroundings, heat will continue to move from his surroundings to him. The rate at which this occurs will depend on both the difference in temperature (heat moves faster if the two objects are more extreme, and slower if they are close in temperature), as well as the materials through which the heat has to move. So, the most obvious explanation is that the Barrow wight has a high heat capacity, so that it can absorb large amounts of energy and only heat up slowly. Also, it probably starts out exceedingly cold. So, even when the hobbits run into him, he is still quite cool.

Also, his hill (barrow) is not always surrounded by fog, because sometimes he keeps himself insulated. Some materials conduct heat easily, such as metal and water, while others put up some resistance, such as wood or plastic. It is harder for heat to get through air than through glass, which is why double-paned windows are so effective at keeping heat in your house - it isn't the two panes of glass that do the trick, it is the layer of air between them! So, the barrow wight can insulate his barrow (just like you would replace screens with storm doors/windows) if he wants to avoid drawing in the heat of his environment, and then open the place up when he wants to spook unsuspecting travelers ;).

I may not have explained heat capacity well. The heat has to go somewhere, but the same amount of heat will not result in the same change of temperature. Water has a high heat capacity - you have to add a lot of heat to it to make it raise in temperature just a single degree. If you put the same amount of heat into, say, a piece of wood, it would get even hotter. Heat and temperature are not the same thing. Heat is the energy - temperature is how we measure that energy in a particular object. Heat causes the temperature to change, but making the air 1° colder will not automatically make you 1° warmer - it depends on a lot of things, such as the surface of contact, how much air, how much of you, and what your actual temperatures are ahead of time.

I hope that some of that makes sense...
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Postby roaccarcsson » Mon Mar 07, 2005 7:48 pm

That's all right - the real groundbreakers in science were always subject to mockery in their lifetimes! Wegener didn't even live to see his theory of continental drift gain general acceptance! I am proud to be in that company!

Gandalf said "the other side." So obviously there is something there that has two sides. Call it "the OS-Barrier."

Besides being a total thermal insulator under typical conditions, the OS-Barrier is also normally opaque to most of those living on this side of it. Some Near Side-creatures, however (Eldar, Istari, some Numenoreans) are able to adjust the refractive properties of their eyes so that, under ideal condiditons, they can see more or less of what is taking place on the OS.

Moreover, certain objects, such as the Ruling Ring, generate strong fields that, over time, can reshape the eyes of other NS-creatures and give them similar abilities. (The nature of these fields is not well understood, but obviously they are quite complex, which makes their effects difficult to predict.)

Note also that the ability to see through the OS-barrier is statistically correlated with the ability to foretell the future. I believe that this is also accounted for by the Grand Unified OS Theory ("GUOST").

The dual and parallel space-time continuum of Middle-earth is obviously multi-dimensional in nature, and thus impossible to visualise. As a two-dimensional analogy, however, think of it as being curved like a tennis ball. Men, Hobbits, etc. live in the outer, or green fuzzy layer ("GFL"). The Valar, the Maiar, and such live in the inner rubbery layer ("RL"). (Eru is at the center, so all is visible to Him.)

Because the GFL is curved, and temporal signals travel in straight lines, dwellers in the GFL are totally unable to see into the future. However, those whose eyes are adapted to the OS-Barrier, under certain conditions, are able to receive signals from areas of the continuum that lie in the "future." These signals have traveled in straight lines from the "GFL-future," across OS-Barrier into the "RL-future, then across the space in the center of the tennis ball, before crossing the "present" OS-Barrier in the other direction, to be detected by Malbeth, Elrond, Aragorn, Frodo, or other individual with OS-adapted eyeballs.

Call me whacko, will they? HahahahahaHAHAHAhaha. I await with confidence the Middle-earth equivalent of the Nobel Prize.
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