Tolkien Gateway


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Ted Nasmith - Under the Spell of the Barrow-wight.jpg
LocationMost notably in Barrow-downs
AppearanceElongated mounds

Barrows were earthworks and burial chambers made by Men.


The mounds of the Barrow-downs in Eriador were built in the First Age by the ancestors of the Edain.

In the Third Age, they lay within the bounds of Arnor and later of Cardolan. The Dúnedain of Arnor used them to bury their dead.

The Witch-king of Angmar, though, sent evil spirits to inhabit the Barrow-downs, and they became a place of horror.[1]

On 28 September T.A. 3018[2] Merry, Pippin, Sam, and finally Frodo were captured by a Barrow-wight when they had wandered the downs after visiting Tom Bombadil. Within the barrow Frodo awoke to see his friends lying on the floor looking deathly pale. He heard a song or incantation and saw a long arm groping towards Sam. Seizing a sword, Frodo hewed off the hand of the arm, then began speaking the rhyme that Tom had taught the hobbits. Tom broke into the chamber and rescued the hobbits, and the sunlight destroyed the wight.[3] Some believed that the barrow that the hobbits had been imprisoned in was that of the last prince of Cardolan, slain in the war of 1409.[1]


A "barrow" (or "berrow"; from English beorg, berg, 'hill, mound') not to be confused with the wheeled vehicle, is a tumulus or other prehistoric grave-mound.[4]


  1. 1.0 1.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Eriador, Arnor, and the Heirs of Isildur"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Great Years"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "Fog on the Barrow-downs"
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Nomenclature of The Lord of the Rings" in Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, p. 766