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Fellowship of Fans > Books  > Why the presence of Barrow-wights could make sense in the Second Age
Why the presence of Barrow-wights makes sense in the Second Age

Why the presence of Barrow-wights could make sense in the Second Age

The well-known British magazine Empire Magazine has in recent days released a lengthy roundup of content related to Season 2 of Rings of Power, and among the many images shown it is impossible not to notice the presence of Barrow-wights. Obviously, the sight of these creatures in the show has sparked several discussions among fans, due to their contextualization in Tolkien mythology. These evil spirits are in fact famous for having captured the hobbits during the events of “The Lord of the Rings”, therefore in a time very distant from the Second Age, which is why many are wondering why the production decided to include them in the show. In this article we will explore the reasons why the presence of these evil beings in the Second Age is absolutely not only justifiable, but also plausible.



The Barrow-Wights in the books

The origin of these evil spirits is placed in the Third Age, precisely during the war between the kingdom of Angmar and Arnor. In that fragment of history the Witch King attacked the realm of Cardolan to subjugate it to his dominion and eliminate the threat it represented. After completing the conquest and defeating his enemies, the mighty commander of Sauron summoned these spirits and sent them to to the Barrow-downs, in order to prevent a resurrection of the destroyed DĂșnedain realm. From that moment on, these creatures infest and fill the place with evil, attacking anyone who dares to approach. During their tavel to Bree, Frodo, Samwise, Meriadoc and Peregrin were also captured by these terrible beings, but were saved just in time by the powerful Tom Bombadil vocal magic. 

This is what Tolkien’s best-known books tell us, but are we really sure that these creatures did not also exist in other ages? The answer could be given by Tolkien himself, through a sentence reported in Appendix A of the Lord of the Rings: “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 now remains. Those hills were therefore revered by the DĂșnedain after their return; and there many of their lords and Kings were buried”. Based on these informations, it is possible to realize that the mounds were very ancient, and that they could have hosted other spirits of this kind in past times, or that the possibility should not be excluded.


(Source: Empire Magazine)


What are the Barrow-wights?

It is not known if the Barrow-wights were perverted Maiar (Úmaiar) or fallen Avari, spirits of orcs or evil Men, and Tolkien himself was never totally clear on this aspect. What is certain is that these are evil creatures that can be summoned through the dark arts, as in the case of those who appeared in the Lord of the Rings. In that case it was the Witch King of Angmar who gave them existence, but this ability certainly does not belong only to him. Sauron was probably the most powerful sorcerer who ever existed in Middle Earth, and according to what was written in the 10th volume of the History of Middle Earth, he was able to communicate, dominate and enslave the spirits of the dead, and it is reasonable to suppose that he may have summoned numerous spirits during his long stay in Middle-earth. 

In the Second Season of the show we could therefore see the Dark Lord call upon these spirits and push them to attack the protagonists, as can be seen from the beautiful images released by Empire. Finally, also noteworthy is a detail relating to the clothes and ornaments worn by these spirits, which suggests that they, when alive, were people of high rank. This was confirmed by the production in one of the interviews given to Empire Magazine, in which it is said that the spirits belong to those who were once royals. We just have to wait for the start of the new season to find out more, but for now we thank you for reading and invite you to tell us your opinion in the comments section.

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Francesco - Role: Chief Editor Hi i'm Francesco, and i'm a proud member of FoF team since last year. My passion for Tolkien books started since i was 9, when my elder cousin gives me a DVD of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. It was love at first sight, and then i read the books, and i fallen in love with Middle Earth much more. That tales of elves, dwarves, hobbits, human and orcs became, throug the years, a lifestyle to me, and have changed deep my life. To be part of this team is such an honor for me, and, as a journalist, im very proud to write about Tolkien for our fans and followers.

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