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  • The Dunedain of the North

     Arassuil updated 3 months ago 4 Members · 5 Posts
  • Arassuil

    Citizen of Imladris : 25 posts

    The Dunedain of the North…

    Much history is written of them. From an equal kingdom with Gondor, to its partition into three kingdom states of Rhuadur, Cardolan, and Arthedain, to each state’s eventual destruction by the sustained pressure from the Witch King of Angmar. With the downfall of Fornost Erain, the capitol of Arthedain, in late 1974 of the Third Age and the loss of King Arvedui in the frozen north, the Dunedain of the North were much weakened, and the remnants of the people became wanderers of the wild of the old lands. But the continuous watch of the Rangers for more than a millennia helped keep the former lands of Arnor as peaceful as possible. Finally, Aragorn returned as the King of both Kingdoms. (All of which was swept under the rug by PJ’s fanfic. Anyway, I wont go on my usual rant about that.)

    This has to be one of my favourite passages from the Lord of the Rings books….

    From Chapter II of Return of the King. Passing of the Grey Company.

    … They had not long passed the mounds at the Fords of Isen, when a Rider galloped up from the back of their line.

    ‘My Lord,’ he said to the king. ‘there are horsemen behind us. As we crossed the fords I thought that I heard them. Now we are sure. They are overtaking us, riding hard.’

    Theoden at once called a halt. The Riders turned about and seized their spears. Aragorn dismounted and set Merry on the ground, and drawing his sword he stood by the king’s stirrup. Eomer and his esquire rode back to the rear. Merry felt more like unneeded baggage than ever, and he wondered, if there was a fight, what he should do. Supposing the king’s small escort was trapped and overcome but he escaped into the darkness – alone in the wild fields of Rohan with no idea of where he was in all the endless miles? ‘No good’ he thought. He drew his sword and tightened his belt.

    The sinking moon was obscured by a great sailing cloud, but suddenly it rode out clear again. Then they all heard the sound of hoofs, and at the same moment they saw dark shapes coming swiftly on the path from the fords. The moonlight glinted here and there on the points of spears. The number of the pursuers could not be told, but they seemed no fewer than the king’s escort, at the least.

    When they were some fifty paces off, Eomer cried out in a loud voice : ‘Halt! Halt! Who rides in Rohan?’

    The pursuers brought their steeds to a sudden stand. A silence followed; and then in the moonlight, a horseman could be seen dismounting and walking slowly forward. His hand showed white as he held it up, palm outward, in token of peace; but the king’s men gripped their weapons. At ten paces the man stopped. He was tall, a dark standing shadow. Then his clear voice rang out.

    ‘Rohan? Rohan did you say? That is a glad word. We seek that land in haste from long afar.’

    ‘You have found it.’ said Eomer. ‘When you crossed the fords yonder you entered it. But it is the realm of Theoden the King. None ride here save by his leave. Who are you? And what is your haste?’

    ‘Halbarad Dunedain, Ranger of the North I am.’ cried the man ‘We seek one Aragorn, son of Arathorn, and we heard that he was in Rohan.’

    ‘And you have found him also!’ cried Aragorn. Giving his reigns to Merry, he ran forward and embraced the newcomer. ‘Halbarad!’ he said. ‘Of all joys this is the least expected!’

    Merry breathed a sigh of relief. He thought that this was some last trick of Saruman’s, to waylay king while he had only a few men about him; but it seemed there would be no need to die in Theoden’s defence, not yet at any rate. He sheathed his sword.

    ‘All is well.’ said Aragorn, turning back. ‘Here are some of my own kin from the far land where I dwelt. But why they come, and how many they be, Halbarad shall tell us.’

    ‘I have thirty with me.’ said Halbarad. ‘That is all of our kindred that could be gathered in haste; but the brethren Elladan and Elrohir have ridden with us, desiring to go to the war. We rode swiftly as we might when your summons came.’

    ‘But I did not summon you,’ said Aragorn, ‘save only in wish.My thoughts have often turned to you, and seldom more than tonight; yet I have sent no word. But come! All such matters must wait. You find us riding in haste and danger. Ride with us now, if the king will give his leave.’

    Theoden was indeed glad of the news. It is well!’ he said. ‘If these kinsmen be in any way like to yourself, my lord Aragorn, thirty such knights will be a strength that cannot be counted by heads.’

    Then the Riders set out again, and Aragorn for a while rode with the Dunedain; and when they had spoken of tidings in the North and in the South, Elrohir said to him :

    ‘I bring word to you from my father : “The Days are short. If thou art in haste, remember the Paths of the Dead.”‘

    ‘Always my days have seemed to me short to achieve my desire.’ answered Aragorn. ‘But great indeed will be my haste ere I take that road.’

    ‘That will soon be seen.’ said Elrohir. [i]‘But let us speak no more of these things upon the open road!

    And Aragorn said to Halbarad: ‘What is that that you bear, kinsman?’

    For he saw that instead of a spear he bore a tall staff, as it were a standard, but it was close-furled in a black cloth bound about with many thongs.

    ‘It is a gift that I bring you from the Lady of Rivendell.’ answered Halbarad. ‘She wrought it in secret, and long was the making. But she also sends word to you : “The days now are short. Either our hope cometh, or all hopes end. Therefore I send thee what I have made for thee. Fare well Elfstone!”‘

    And Aragorn said : ‘Now I know what you bear. Bear it still for me a while!’ And he turned and looked away to the North under the great stars, and then he fell silent and spoke no more while the night’s journey lasted.


    I believe this is just about everything mentioned about the Dunedain Rangers of the North in the various books. Let me know if there are some I missed?

    <i class=””>”Few now remember them … yet still some go wandering, sons of forgotten kings walking in loneliness, guarding from evil things folk that are heedless.”
    -Tom Bombadil … The Fellowship of the Ring – Fog on the Barrow-downs

    Rangers – The Dúnedain of the North after the fall of the North Kingdom, secret guardians of Eriador
    -Unfinished Tales, index

    “…the Dúnedain of the North, ……..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.
    -Silmarillion, Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age

    When the kingdom ended the Dúnedain passed into the shadows and became a secret and wandering people, and their deeds and labours were seldom sung or recorded. Little is now remembered of them since Elrond departed….
    -Lord of the Rings, Appendix A

    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 language 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.
    -Lord of the Rings, At the Sign of the Prancing Pony

    “I have thirty with me.” said Halbarad “That is all of our kindred that could be gathered in haste.”
    -Lord of the Rings, The Passing of the Grey Company

    When the Nazgul came to Sarn Ford and tried to enter the Shire:

    They came to Sarn Ford and the southernmost borders of the Shire. They found them guarded, for the Rangers barred their way.……some fled northward … Some still dared to bar the ford and held it while the day lasted.
    -Unfinished Tales, The Hunt for the Ring

    Aragorn speaks of some of their ways:

    “There is food in the wild,’ said Strider “berry, root and herb; and I have some skill as a hunter at need.”
    -Lord of the Rings, A Knife in the Dark

    Aragorn is described as such:

    He wore high boots of supple leather that fitted him well……A travel-stained cloak of heavy dark green cloth was drawn closely about him……he wore a hood that overshadowed his face;……..a shaggy head flecked with grey, and in a pale, stern face a pair of keen grey eyes.
    -Lord of the Rings, Strider

    It’s mentioned:

    Strider was content with a single cloak
    -Lord of the Rings, A Knife in the Dark

    When when the fellowship left Rivendell:

    Aragorn had Anduril, but no other weapon, and he went forth clad only in rusty green and brown, as a Ranger in the wilderness.
    -Lord of the Rings, The Ring Goes South

    A description of Halbarad’s company of Rangers:

    A little apart the Rangers sat, silent, in an ordered company, armed with spear and bow and sword. They were clad in cloaks of dark grey, and their hoods were cast now over helm and head. Their horses were strong and of proud bearing, but rough-haired;…….There was no gleam of stone or gold, nor any fair thing in all their gear or harness; nor did their riders bear any badge or token, save only that each cloak was pinned upon the left shoulder by a brooch of silver shaped like a rayed star.
    -Lord of the Rings, The Passing of the Grey Company

    Rangers looked out for each other in the wild:

    ’Rangers have been here lately. It is they who left the firewood behind.
    -Lord of the Rings, A Knife in the Dark


    Jan 27, 2021 at 5:53 pm
  • Anonymous

    Petitioner to the Council : 5 posts

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    Feb 1, 2021 at 12:25 am
  • Morwenna

    Citizen of Imladris : 20 posts

    One thing we never see, though, is anything of their families. Presumably they have them, but they must be well hidden. Eriador is a large area, and Arnor and its successive kingdoms were at one time populated enough to actually be kingdoms. Yet we see no sign of previous habitation; the closest we get is the Barrow-downs where the royalty or nobility of Cardolan were interred. Did the folk of the North actually abandon all that land, except for the Shire and the Bree-land?

    Mar 6, 2021 at 12:28 pm
    • Otaku-sempai

      Citizen of Imladris : 62 posts

      The Dúnedain seem to dwell in hidden enclaves in the region known as the Angle, south of Rivendell.

      Mar 6, 2021 at 6:11 pm
  • Arassuil

    Citizen of Imladris : 25 posts

    Yes, the “big mystery” is where did the families live? One would assume they were scattered after the fall of For ost in 1974 of the Third Age, but they had to sustain enough of a population to keep regenerating through the 1000+ years between the fall of Fornost and the time Halbarad put out a call for Rangers to ride to the aid of Aragorn. I’ve read a lot of speculation about the actual number of Dunedain Rangers at the time Halbarad was able to gather thirty in haste. The number of 100 seems to come up a lot based on the area they were watching over, but I never really see any evidence of that many. It have sustained thirty, let alone one-hundred, fighting men of prime age would require a lot more daughters and wives and some aged population through the years. Is it Michael Martinez who says they lived in ’The Angle’? It would seem it would have been pretty crowded there and they wouldn’t be all that ‘secretive’.

    Mar 13, 2021 at 10:18 pm

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