Delving the Dwarrowdelf

When the fellowship journeys through the long dark of Moria they at one point arrive at one of the Great Halls of Khazad-dûm.  This is where Gimli sings to the fellowship of Durin and the Dwarrowdelf (changed to Gandalf briefly mentioning it in Peter Jackson’s adaptation).

The Dwarrowdelf in Peter Jackson's LoTR

The Dwarrowdelf in Peter Jackson’s LoTR

“There must have been a mighty crowd of dwarves here at one time ‘ said Sam; ‘and every one of them busier than badgers for five hundred years to make all this, and most in hard rock too! What did they do it all for? They didn’t live in these darksome holes surely? ‘     ‘These are not holes,’ said Gimli. ‘This is the great realm and city of the Dwarrowdelf. And of old it was not darksome, but full of light and splendour, as is still remembered in our songs.” [LoTR – FoTR – Journey in the Dark]

At which point our friend Gimli begins to chant of the city of old.

Reading this passage again recently, a tiny question popped into my mind… “could Khazad-dûm really have been built?”.  A question that didn’t go away either and starting gnawing at me until I finally did it justice by doing a bit of research and crunching some numbers.   Obviously we have (unfortunately, as usual) little factual numbers to work with from Tolkien’s writing, so we must base ourselves on what little we do know and what conjecture could be valuable for this exercise.

So, what exactly do we want to find out here…

Could Khazad-dûm actually have been built beneath the mountains?

To answer this question we have a multitute of variables to take into account, being amongst others: the density and weight of the Mountains, the amount of dwarven workers, dwarven excavating techniques, workhours per worker, strenght of each worker, system of rubble removal, etc… .

So let’s start with our facts and data we can deduct from these fact.

Khazad-dûm was delved under three mountains; Bundushathûr (Cloudyhead), Barazinbar (Redhorn) and Zirakzigil (Silvertine).  Unfortunately we do not know the actual height or base diameter of these mountains.  We could however base ourselves on maps to find out the base diameter of these mountains.  With a perfect conical mountain, the base diameter is usually twice the length of the actual height.  So, this means that if we found out the base lenght of these mountains by studying Tolkien’s map in more detail we would be able to deduct the estimated height.

Conical Shape

Conical Shape

With both height and base we could make a decent estimate at the weight of this range.

Though we are able to find maps that feature the Misty Mountains, of which these three peaks are part of, it’s a bit of a challenge to find an original map that features these three mountains prominently.

Hence me basing myself on a map featured on The Encyclopedia of Arda. Based on this map our mountains would end up with the following specifics:

Thanks to The Encyclopedia of Arda

Mountains of Khazad-dûm

Mountains of Khazad-dûm

Bundushathûr Height


Bundushathûr Base


Bundushathûr Cubic M


weight in tons


Barazinbar Height


Barazinbar Base


Barazinbar Cubic M


weight in tons


Zirakzigil Height


Zirakzigil Base


Zirakzigil Cubic M


weight in tons


Connecting Passage Weight (tons):


Kh-D Mountains weight (tons):


Total Kh-D Range weight (tons):


So, what do the above numbers tell us really?

In short, the range of the three mountains above Khazad-dûm (mountains and connecting passages and plains) would weigh 7.6 trillion tons.  With the ice and snow on top of these it would likely be closer to 8 trillion tons.

For those that wonder, I calculated the weight based on the average weight per cubic centimeter of earth (5.5gr) and granite (2.8gr), using a 75/25 ratio (a bit more then usual in most mountains – taking into account Sam’s comment “and most in hard rock too! ” ) Metals such as gold, silver or even mithril in this case would not even account for one thousand of a percent of the total weight of the mountains.   Yet to be as complete as I can be, I’ve taken all this into account, and came up with an average weight per cubic centimeter of 4.813 gram.

Now you might wonder what the weight of these mountains has to do with the whole question we’ve asked.. well we’ll come to that a bit later.

Let us focus first on the key question here.. How many Dwarves would we have needed to excavate Khazad-dûm to the size we know from the books?  Without question Khazad-dûm was beyond vast.  By the time of the Balrog (T.A 1980) thousands of smaller and larger mansions would have been build/excavated to house the growing number of Dwarves.  Bring into that equation the Great Halls and the Smaller Halls and the numerous passage ways, this mammoth construction task would make the Great Pyramid of Giza look like a tiny LEGO-set.  So, how many Dwarves would we have needed to actually have completed this “job” ? And would there have been enough of them around to build Khazad-dûm in the first place ?

In order to come up with an answer to this question I based myself on the Khazad-dûm we find in Turbine’s LoTRO.

Moria in LoTRO

Is this the definite answer to the inner size of Khazad-dûm ? No, it isn’t… that I fear rests forever in the genius mind of Tolkien himself.  But to be frank, Turbine did a brilliant job at capturing the vastness of the Dwarrowdelf and in my view comes close to the vastness described by Tolkien.   So let’s crunch some number shall we…

Sizing up and adding up all the Great Halls, Small Halls, mansions, passage ways and mines we find in our virtual LoTRO Moria a grand total of no less then 1.5 billion tons of excavated matter.  To give you an idea this rubble pile could have made a small mountain/large hill on its own with a height of about 500 meters.

We know that the vast majority of the Khazad-dûm would have been completed by the mid of the Second Age (when the friendship with the Elves of Eregion was at its height and the West-Gate would have been built).  Seeing that Durin the Deathless would have founded his seat of power back in the year of trees, we are looking at roughly 6000 years of construction time.

Moria West Gate

Moria West Gate

Now add to that the concept that Dwarves are very hardy beings, that live more then twice as long as men and are expert delvers, we start to get a good idea of how many delvers we would have needed to complete this epic monument that is the Dwarrowdelf.

Let’s say our average dwarf works for 150 years (excluding their youth and old age), hardy as he is he can work 12 hours a day (forget the Middle-Earth union for minute).. and would work about 300 days a year (apart from the Dwarven holidays these lads would be delving away).  Being stronger than men we can safely say these dwarves would have had no problem with cutting away 30 kilos per hour (which would be twice as much as what men would have been able to on a very good day, in present day).  So with all these founded assumptions… we can work out that we would have needed a work-force of 2381 dwarves (on average) each generation.   Each dwarf excavating about 16 tons of rock over their lifetime.   If the above were true, Khazad-dûm could indeed have been completely built by mid Second Age.

These figures aren’t pulled out of thin air either as Gimli gave us a very decent hint at the construction fury of the dwarves:

At the Hornburg: “Ever my heart rises as we draw near the mountains. There is good rock here. This country has tough bones. I felt them in my feet as we came up from the dike. Give me a year and a hundred of my kin and I would make this a place that armies would break upon like water. …Sleep! I feel the need of it. Yet my axe is restless in my hand. Give me a row of orc-necks and room to swing and all weariness will fall from me!”  [LoTR – The Two Towers – 7 Helm’s Deep]

This may have been a bit of boasting on Gimli’s part, though I doubt it myself.  Still, Gimli seems quite convinced that a hundred longbeards could construct a massive defensive structure in only a year.  Which strengthens my earlier suggested numbers on dwarven work ethic.

The big question now is, would there have been at least 2381 dwarves ready for delving each generation ?

Dwarf miner by Vikingair Thane

Dwarf miner by Vikingair Thane

Short answer… eventually YES.   The first generations, at the time Durin the Deathless founded Khazad-dûm, would have been too few to complete anything more than a few mansions and perhaps a small hall.  But after about 30 generations the numbers would have been enough for the dwarves to go into overdrive and create massive construction works, such as the endless stair, many of the great halls and eventually passages to the West leading to the Hollin Gate.   So work on Khazad-dûm would have started very slow, due to the very slim number of dwarves around.  At the end of the first age, when many of the Firebeards and Broadbeams fled to Khazad-dûm (after the Halls of Tumunzahar and Gabilgathol fell to ruin), there would have been more than enough dwarves around to reach our minimum number of 2381 dwarven workers.

It would be fair to assume that the workers that actually delved the Dwarrowdelf would likely not have been the largest group of workers by the start of the Third Age.  As by this time most of the grand constructions of Khazad-dûm would have been completed and mining for Mithril would have become the highest priority.

Which leads me to a little bonus point in this article.

Bilbo/Frodo's Mithril Courslet

Bilbo/Frodo’s Mithril Courslet


How much mithril would the dwarves have mined by T.A 1980?

I know, I know, this is based on a zillion variables and would be as accurate as pinning answers on a board and throwing a few darts at them.  Still, that won’t stop me to have a bit of fun and come up with a somewhat educated guess.

“‘The wealth of Moria was not in gold and jewels, the toys of the Dwarves; nor in iron, their servant. Such things they found here, it is true, especially iron; but they did not need to delve for them: all things that they desired they could obtain in traffic. For here alone in the world was found Moria-silver, or true-silver as some have called it: mithril is the Elvish name. …… ‘Mithril! All folk desired it. It could be beaten like copper, and polished like glass; and the Dwarves could make of it a metal, light and yet harder than tempered steel. Its beauty was like to that of common silver, but the beauty of mithril did not tarnish or grow dim.” [LoTR – FoTR – Journey in the Dark]

What does the above tell us…  Mithril was a very light metal and the mining industry of Khazad-dûm was aimed at it exclusively.  We also know the dwarves were relentless at finding new veins of Mithril, eventually leading to their own doom.     So, without much shame, here come my darts…

1) Mithril was nearly as light as water (1.05 grams per cubic centimeter)

2) It was common at first in Khazad-dûm (likely slightly less common as gold would be, yet at lot less frequent than iron ore), but became ever more rare as time went on.

3) We know these mountains contained gold and jewels, so taking real life examples of mountains that also contain gold and jewels, we can estimate how much of these metals would have been in these mountains.

As a result: The three mountains of Khazad-dûm likely contained over 100 tons of Mithril.  That sounds like a tremendous amount at first, yet is not even one billionth of the total weight of these mountains, making it extremely hard to find.  And once the first larger veins were excavated the price of mithril would have gone “beyond price”, forcing the dwarves to delve deeper and deeper for it, as we know.  By T.A 1980, some 9000 years since the founding of Khazad-dûm, it is extremely unlikely the dwarves would have been able to find more then 1% of that total mithril weight.

Giving us a bit more than 600 kilos of true-silver.  If you think that thousands and thousands of dwarves would have been delving for generations to gather this “small” amount, you quickly think at how rare a mithril shard would have actually been. The average dwarven delver would likely not even have found a handful of it, over his entire lifetime.

Posted in History, LoTRO, Maps | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Durin! And the winner is…

In a not so distant past I launched a contest to label a true Dwarven ale with the Deathless name of “Durin!”.



I asked artists (and beer-lovers alike) to design a front and back label for this delicious ale, and I must say that I was certainly not disappointed.

Obviously (let’s be honest here folks) the main drive for our artists/beer-lovers was the chance to get their hands on a fine selection of Durin!, with their very own labels printed on them.

Receiving no less than eleven entries by artist from all over the world this has truly been a delight and tremendous honor.  A grand dwarven thank you for all those artists that sent in their fabulous art-work!

Saying that picking a winner was an extremely challenging task would be a huge understatement, hence this taking a bit longer then I had originally planned.


However, without further ado… the winner of our Durin! Label Contest is…

Matthew James Aldridge from the UK!

His winning front label:

Durin! Frontlabel


And backlabel:

Durin! Backlabel

Durin! Backlabel

Matthew is an extremely talented English 3D Artist who (as we can see) does tremendous 2D work as well.  The details on the design, without making it over-complex nor blinding the viewer, draw in all who take a glance at it.  Stunning work!

More info on Matthew and his artwork can be found on his site:

Matthew, congratulations my friend, you can expect an email soon so we can finalize the details and get your selection of Durin! to your doorstep.  Don’t hesitate to share with us your view on this delicious Dwarven ale.

Again, to all artists that entered the contest, thank you again so much…. and those beer-lovers that want their chance for their own selection of Durin!… stay tuned my friends.

Posted in Food, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Queen Dís ? (Dwarven Customs of Succession)

Some time ago I asked everyone to send me any question you might have concerning the Dwarves. As a result I got a wonderful collection of questions, of which I have already attempted to answer some in previous blog posts.

One outstanding one, – and one I’ve saved up as I felt it deserved quite a bit of thought-, is this one from Laure M.

“If Dis would not have had children, and Dáin would not have existed, would Gimli have become King of the dwarves?”


Firstly my apologies Laure for not answering your question straight away.
Apart from a busy schedule that prevented me to dive into it at once, I felt this question deserved a bit more time to answer properly.

As first glance, my answer to the above question would be “no, Gimli would not have become King of the Dwarves.”
This off course raises more questions than actually answering them, such as “why not ?”, or “who would have been King instead?”. A deluge of what-if-scenarios pour down, but let’s explore shall we.

To answer these questions, we would need to take a closer look at the Dwarven customs of succession first.
These would clearly indicate who (and by what right) would inherit the throne.
Right off the bat we run into problem number one. If J.R.R. Tolkien wrote anything concerning the customs of succession of the Dwarves it unfortunately did not reach any of his published works.
So we must study the published works that we do have to attempt to “reconstruct” the succession customs of the Dwarves.

Let’s start with the answer of our follow-up question… “why wouldn’t Gimli have become King?”

Line of Durin

This depends firstly on “when” this question is asked. As if you mean at the time of Thorin’s death, then Gimli’s father Glóin and uncle Óin were still alive, in addition to his cousins once removed Balin and Dwalin. Gimli’s grandfather Gróin had died 18 years before the Quest for Erebor at the ripe old age of 252, Gróin being one of four great-grandchildren of King Náin the Second, along with King Thráin II, the father of Thorin Oakenshield.

Now, for the sake of argument, let’s say Dáin, Balin, Dwalin, Glóin and Óin all perished in the Battle of Five armies, along side Thorin, Fíli and Kíli. I believe that in this scenario Gimli would have become King, at the tender age of 62.
Now, one could argue if Dís herself would have right to claim the throne herself, becoming Queen of Durin’s Folk.

Well, there are a number of problems with this scenario, mainly we don’t know if she herself was still alive at this point, as Tolkien only gave her year of birth but never her year of death. But even if she would have been alive (which is very likely), the fact that Dáin Ironfoot – who was seven years younger than her – became King when her brother Thorin and two young sons died clearly indicates that dwarven females would have no (or very little) right to inherit the throne. As Dís was a direct descendant of King Thráin II and was older than Dáin (who was “merely” King Thrain’s cousin once removed), yet was not considered to become Queen of Durin’s Folk.

So with all the above in mind, what would the rules of succession of Durin’s Folk be?

Being well-known with historical primogeniture rights (the right of the firstborn son to inherit the throne, in preference to siblings), it is very likely that Tolkien based himself on the historic succession laws of European monarchies.

The most popular rule of succession in Europe has long been Male-preference cognatic primogeniture, a very fancy way of saying that a female member of a dynasty can inherit the throne if she has no living brothers and no deceased brothers who left surviving descendants. It is the succession right currently in place in Monaco, Spain, Thailand, and the sixteen Commonwealth Realms. I believe we can safely say that this rule is not in place with the Dwarves, as otherwise Dís would have become Queen in T.A 2941.

Which would leave two likely alternatives…

Agnatic primogeniture – The Kinship is determined patrilineally, only through males back to a common ancestor. One form of agnatic primogeniture is know as “Salic Law”, which altogether excludes females from the throne. A variation on Salic primogeniture allows the sons of women to inherit, but not women themselves. This seems to be the case with the Dwarves. Seeing that we known that if Fíli had not perished in the Battle of Five armies, he would have become King of Durin’s Folk.

Semi-Salic law, (yet another variation on agnatic primogeniture) which allows women to succeed only at the extinction of all the male descendants in the male line. The female who is nearest in kinship to the last male monarch of the family inherits the Kingdom. In case of multiple females the elder are preferred over the younger.

As Tolkien only mentioned one female dwarf, being Dís… nor is there any talk ever of a Dwarven Queen one might believe that it could be fairly likely for the Dwarves not to have Queens at all and implement a form of Salic Law, barring females from ruling positions completely.

Dís, the dwarf-woman * Artist: Gregor Roffalski

Dís, the dwarf-woman * Artist: Gregor Roffalski

There is one thing however that makes me doubt that.

Between the time of Awakening of the Dwarves and the Battle of Five Armies lay approximately 90 to 100 generations (assuming the early Dwarven generations also had children around the age of 100, which is common in the later generations of the Line of Durin). We know that only a third of all Dwarves were females and that not all of them married. Looking at the royal line of Durin we notice that the later royal generations didn’t have that many children (3 at most). With all of the above in mind it’s fair to assume that as some point one of the Kings of old would not have had a son (Thorin being a prime example of this in the third age). At such a time they would have looked at other male heirs, similar to Dáin becoming King when Thorin, Fíli and Kíli died. What if there would have been no direct male heirs in the same branch of descendants ? So, as a practical example, what if there would have been no Dáin, Balin, Dwalin, Glóin, Óin or Gimli… .

Would the Dwarves have made Dís Queen or would they have looked further down the line of Durin to find an male heir in a further branch, if so how far would they go back ? As Dís was likely too old to still have children this might not be a good example as her branch would have had no potential heirs it is likely they would have needed to go back 11 generations to the potential brothers or sisters of Durin VI (the King who was slain by the Balrog in Khazad-dûm). And tracing the descendants of these back to any living relatives.

I do believe however that if their would have been a female heir with potential of still delivering male offspring she likely would have become Queen. Now this is a personal view of mine, basing myself on the fact that the Dwarves would have preferred to keep the line of the Kings as close to the direct line of first-born descendants of one of the seven fathers (in this case Durin) as possible.

Example Scenario

Imagine the above scenario for a minute. One of the Kings of Old (we’ll call him Frár) had no sons and only one daughter (let’s call her Fía), his brothers (Fráin and Frarin) had no descendants of their own, nor did the rest of the nearest family members have any sons. In our scenario here Fía is a young dwarf maiden, still able to have sons later in life. Woe strikes the royal household and a Dragon attacks the Halls of King Frár, and in the battle that follows the King and his two brothers perish. Would Fía become Queen, in a regent-like-function, until she would have sons that would become King themselves ? Or would the Dwarves go back further down the family tree, to find a male heir, if so, what if Fía did have sons later on in her life? Surely they would contest the throne with the dwarf of further lineage that was made King prior to their birth.

To conclude, though it is possible that the Dwarves would have in place a form of Salic Law, I believe it to be more likely for the Dwarves to have had in place a form of Semi-Salic Law, ensuring the line would remain closest to the direct line of first-born descendants of the Seven Fathers.

Laure M, thank you so much for your brilliant question, as it has lead to us exploring more on the succession of the Dwarves.

“There he lived so long that he was known far and wide as Durin the Deathless. Yet in the end he died before the Elder Days had passed, and his tomb was in Khazad-dûm; but his line never failed, and five times an heir was born in his House so like to his Forefather that he received the name of Durin.” “Durin’s Folk – Appendix III” – The Return of the King – LOTR – J.R.R. Tolkien

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Durin! Bottled

As I’ve received quite a few of emails asking for a sneak peek at our Dwarven Ale “Durin!“, I just couldn’t bring myself to disappoint you fine folks and had to drag myself to the brewery for another tasting.   It was quite the challenge but you know me, anything for you wonderful ale enthusiasts!

Me and a few of my mates headed over to the brewery yesterday and had a select tasting of (if I may say so myself) our excellent Dwarven ale.   Well, truth be told… we were in luck we knew the brewer that well, otherwise he likely wouldn’t have allowed us to behave like drunken dwarrows as the night progressed… but I digress.

Without further ado, I bring you… Durin!




“Durin!” is a deep brown, creamy, richly flavored bitter ale sporting a woolly foam beard. A true cross between a bold Stout and a traditional Trappist. The deep burnt malt flavor and heavy alcohol aroma form a dwarven chorus with the coffee, liquor, fruit and caramel flavors. A very pleasurable long and bitter aftertaste complete this “deathless” of ales.

And now our “Deathless” bottled..

Durin! Bottled

Durin! Bottled


As you can see the deep brown ale in the brown bottle make for a very dark brown (nearly black) look at first glance.   The bottle cap with the same color complete this ale perfectly, well… not quite off course.  As I’m still looking for that perfect label to stick on this fine bottled brew.

Anyone willing to have a go at designing a brilliant label, or wishes to win a selection of Durin! should have a look at the artist competition article posted earlier last week.

Good luck and cheers!

Oh, and here’s to the Dwarven New Year *raises another Durin!*

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Durin! A call to Artists and Beer-Lovers alike.

Artists and lovers of Beer alike, time to pay attention!

As some of you might know, I’m from Belgium, a country known for its plethora of gourmet delights, among so many… our beers.

Ever since I started my blog “The Dwarrow Scholar” I’ve always wanted to try my hand at brewing my own ale, a real Dwarven Ale.

So, about a year ago I started to try just that.
After many months of failed attempts (or attempts that didn’t quite give me and my friends the result we hoped for), I contacted a local brewer.

I was overjoyed to hear they were more than willing to help out in our quest for a true dwarven ale and a month or so later they succeeded in brewing an ale that surpassed all expectations.



This is the description for the back label we came up with, which should give you a grand idea of our ale:


“Durin!” is a deep brown, creamy, richly flavored bitter ale sporting a woolly foam beard. A true cross between a bold Stout and a traditional Trappist. The deep burnt malt flavor and heavy alcohol aroma form a dwarven chorus with the coffee, liquor, fruit and caramel flavors. A very pleasurable long and bitter aftertaste complete this “deathless” of ales.


For those that are wondering “why this combination of flavors?” Well, for me it’s clear from The Hobbit that Dwarves have a sweet tooth for cakes and anything fruity (hence the caramel and fruity flavors). Making it heavy on the burnt malt and alcohol flavor is more of a link to the old Norse Dwarves where Tolkien got quite a bit of his inspiration.

“Some called for ale, and some for porter, and one for coffee, and all of them for cakes . . . A big jug of coffee had just been set in the hearth, the seed-cakes were gone, and the dwarves were starting on a round of buttered scones . . . ‘And raspberry jam and apple-tart,’ said Bifur. ‘And mince-pies and cheese,’ said Bofur. ‘And pork-pie and salad,’ said Bombur. ‘And more cakes — and ale — and coffee, if you don’t mind,’ called the other dwarves through the door. ‘Put on a few eggs, there’s a good fellow!’ Gandalf called after him, as the hobbit stumped off to the pantries. ‘And just bring out the cold chicken and pickles!’” An Unexpected Party, The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Durin! Bottled

Durin! Bottled

The time has now come to bottle our dwarven ale and put labels on these beauties.
Hence me coming to the artists among us to put their talents at work and come up with a great label.

Now some might be thinking, “what’s in it for me ?”.

Well, to be clear, “Durin!” wouldn’t be sold (it’s not something I will be making a profit on at all – quite the contrary in fact), but would be an exclusive sample product (handed out to friends and benefactors of this blog).

However, the artist coming up with the winning design will be getting the following:

a) A selection of Durin! (labeled with your design) sent to your home*
b) Your name (and link to your site if you have any) on the labels
c) A permanent promotional link to your site on the Dwarrow Scholar site

* I say “selection” here because I know it can be difficult to ship alcohol to specific countries, and some countries have limits of what can be sent. But you can be sure that I will aim to provide what I can and won’t be stingy.

Competition rules:
* Artists have until Friday 25th October to send me their designs (via email to kstrongbeard[AT]aol[DOT]com).
* Designs must be in .jpg format.
* Any design must have a front and back label.
* Front and back label must clearly mention the name of the ale, written as: “Durin!”
* Label sizes: must be no larger then 3.5″ (9cm) wide and 3″ (7,5cm) high
* Back label must contain above mentioned back label text, including “Brewed in Belgium in Honor of J.R.R. Tolkien” , “non-profit sample product, not to be sold” and “10% alc vol – 33cl” text.
* Front label should contain your name (or artist name) and may have the name of your site mentioned.

Note: seeing that the prize of this competition contains alcohol this directly means that all artists entering this competition must in fact be of the legal age (in their country of residence) to drink beer.

Other then the above mentioned “rules” I don’t wish to constrain anyones creativity.
If you would have an interest in lending your talents to this project, I look forward to receiving you designs.

Any questions ? Feel free to contact kstrongbeard[AT]aol[DOT]com

The winner will be announced on Wednesday October 30th.
Have fun and Good luck!

Posted in Food | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Is Durin’s Day upon us ?

This article is partly in response to a very well written article from Iduna related to the calculating Durin’s Day on the “Heirs of Durin site” (Thank you again for that Iduna), and in response to many similar questions about this dwarven holiday I’ve received over the past months.

Quite a few that have emailed me have wondered how this day is really calculated and I’ll try to do my best to explain in this article what my view on that is.

Firstly, though a well-thought-out and sound theory, I can’t say I fully agree with Iduna’s calculation of Durin’s Day, let me try to explain why.

“The first day of the dwarves’ New Year is, as all should know, the first day of the last moon of Autumn on the threshold of Winter. We still call it Durin’s Day when the last moon of Autumn and the sun are in the sky together. “

This means that for the dwarves their New Year is on the first day of the last moon of Autumn. Now this indeed does not make it into a “Durin’s Day”, as Iduna has pointed out as well. It would only be called a Durin’s Day when the last moon of Autumn and the sun can be seen in the sky together.

Durin's Day - Sun and Moon

Durin’s Day – Sun and Moon

As Iduna also correctly pointed out, a new moon cannot be seen together with the sun. In fact it could only be seen with the sun in the event of a solar eclipse (when a new moon passes before the sun). When we look for more details in “The Hobbit”, we can clearly see that this however is not what Tolkien meant.

In fact when we look closely to the details given to us in the Hobbit all becomes much clearer I find …

[The Hobbit – On the Doorstep – Page 243] “As the sun turned West there was a gleam of yellow upon its far roof, as if the light caught the last pale leaves. Soon he saw the orange ball of the sun sinking towards the level of his eyes. He went to the opening and there pale and faint was a thin new moon above the rim of the Earth”

What does this tell us about this Durin’s Day: a) the sun was setting, at the point of having gone below the horizon b) a thin pale new moon could be seen faintly – this means that it was in fact not a “new” moon (as those can only be seen in the event of a solar eclipse) but was in fact a moon on the first day of a waxing crescent (a thin new moon). With the above description in mind we can in fact pinpoint exactly at what time this would have happened – being on the evening of the second day after the new moon.

This being the very moment the Old thrush was hinting at:  “At that very moment he heard a sharp crack”… “It had caught a snail and was knocking it on the stone. Crack! Crack!”

The Old Trush

Now the most important thing we must not overlook when we wish to pinpoint Durin’s Day exactly is something clearly mentioned in Thorin’s line at the start of this article: “… on the threshold of Winter”.

Assuming that the seasons start/end at the same time they do in our current reckoning could potentially be a great mistake.  Unfortunately, as the Red Book of Westmarch tells us, „the seasons usually named … had no exact definitions, and quellë (or lasselanta) was also used for the latter part of autumn and the beginning of winter” (TC), otherwise known as yávië and hrívë, respectively. It may seem reasonable to guess that the calendar of Erebor may not have been vastly different from that of nearby Dale, for anything else would have been an inconvenient complication in the on-going commerce.

And we know that in Dale the last month of the year was celebrated at the beginning of the harvest season. The Men of Dale called it by a name similar to Hobbitish Winterfilth, signifying „the filling or completion of the year before Winter.” (TC) Winterfilth of the Shire Calendar corresponds more or less to the 10th month in ours, October (cf. Winterfylleth of the heathen Anglo-Saxons, recorded by the Venerable Bede). Therefore we may predict that the Dwarvish New Year occurred in late October, after Winterfilth, and that Thorin therefore said quellë, not hrívë which (in the Shire) began around Yuletide.

Tolkien himself established the New Moon of June 2941 on the 26th and that of October on the 19th. This would fit perfectly with our idea that “on the threshold of Winter” is not the winter in our current reckoning (otherwise this date would be in December not October). In addition further information in The Hobbit confirms this assumption – as Bilbo arrived in Lake-town on September 22nd and about a month later sat before the doorstep of the Lonely Mountain on Durin’s Day (giving us an exact match with our date October 19th, established by Tolkien)

Crescent Moon above Rivendell – The Hobbit Movie

The above theory would place this year’s date of the Dwarven New Year on October 5th 2013 (the last new moon on the threshold of winter). Seeing that Tolkien considered the waxing crescent (a thin new moon) as still being a new moon, we must add our 1,5/ 2 days to this calculation.

This means we clearly have a difference between Durin’s Day and the Dwarven New Year (of almost 2 full days) . We’ve established that the Dwarven New year is on October 5th, so this means that Durin’s Day this year is on October 7th…  if we would be able to see the first thin slice of the waxing crescent moon together with the sun.

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LoTRO: Harnkegger Games (2013 Edition)




Hail and well met!

As the end of summer comes within reach, the Dwarves of Khuzd Belkul and Durin’s Folk and the good Hobbits of the Shire Angling Club will together host the 3-day-long Harnkegger Games – On 27th, 28th and 29th of August.

Known for its various gaming contests, general merriment and consumption of rather large amounts of ale, this festival of Dwarvish origin, is often nicknamed the Deep Ale Fest. As ever the fest and games will be opened to all, be it dwarves, hobbits, men or yes… even elves 😉

This year the Games will be bigger then ever before, with 7 full-scale events spread over 3 days… and the largest hoard of prizes ever seen in Middle-Earth!
Our grand benefactors of these Harnkegger Games are the good people of Turbine, who have donated a harras of horses ((Perlino- and Cremello Steed codes)) and hundreds upon hundreds of Tasty Pies ((codes for 9000 TP IN TOTAL!)) to be given to the winners. On top of these very generous prizes the organizing committee will also ensure additional exclusive gifts and gold coins.

On overview of the Schedule Activities:

Opening of the Harnkegger Games (at the top of the steps at Thorin’s Halls) by Lord Kandral of Khuzd Belkul – start at 2:30 PM ST August 27th – The opening will include plenty of ales, food and music for all.

1) The HARNKEGGER RACE – our first Horse Race of the Games, starts at 3PM ST- in good dwarrow tradition, having a horse race after having had plenty of ales, will surely provide a merry opener of the Games.

RACE INFO: The Harnkegger race is a short but exciting race and uses the area of Thorin’s Halls

Harnkegger Race

RULES: See horse race rules below

RACE COURSE: Entrance of the Festival Arena – Down the steps to Frerin’s Court (must go round the central statue) – back up the steps to the Festival Arena, first one to make it up the stairs wins.

PRIZES: The organizing committee will grant the following prizes:
• WINNER: 2 gold pieces + 1 Perlino Steed code + 1 Cremello Steed code + a 500 TP code + 1 Raffle number (*3)
• RUNNER-UP: 1 gold piece + 1 Perlino Steed code + 1 Cremello Steed code + 1 Raffle number (*3)
• THIRD: 500 silver pieces + 1 Perlino- OR 1 Cremello Steed code (selected by the third place**) + 1 Raffle number (*3)
2) THE BROKEN BONE RACE – our second Horse Race of the Games, starts at 3:30 PM ST – And takes us from Thorin’s Hall to the borders of the Shire.

RACE INFO: Though this yearly grand race is originally a pony race, like last year, goats and horses will be allowed… and is open to all… so allied men, elves and hobbits are most welcomed.

RULES: See horse race rules below

RACE COURSE: From Thorin’s Hall Gate, through the vale of Thrain – passed Noglond – then the first checkpoint* at Gondamon – through eastern Ered Luin toward the second and final checkpoint* at Duillond – to the finish line just West of Needlehole. *officials will be present at the Gondamon and Duillond checkpoints, which all competitors must pass.

PRIZES: The organizing committee will grant the following prizes:
• WINNER: 2 gold pieces + 1 Perlino Steed code + 1 Cremello Steed code + 2 x 500 TP code + 1 Raffle number (*3)
• RUNNER-UP: 1 gold piece + 1 Perlino Steed code + 1 Cremello Steed code + a 500 TP code + 1 Raffle number (*3)
• THIRD: 500 silver pieces + 1 Perlino- OR 1 Cremello Steed code (selected by the third place**) + 1 Raffle number (*3)


3) FISHING CONTEST at the Needlehole river – Hosted by the Shire Angling Club.

GAME INFO: This fishing contest marks the start of the Needlehole Festivities, commemorating the founding of Needlehole 677 years ago – (2342 T.A) There will be fine music and plenty of food between the end of the fishing and the announcement of the winners. Cooks will be standing by to turn your freshly caught carps and dace into delicious dishes.


RULES: Competitors will all have 15 minutes to catch as many fish as they can. They will receive points depending on the type of fish caught:
• 1 point per normal fish
• 3 points for cooking fish
• 10 points for mountable fish

((All competitors must be in fellowship, judges will count the points))

LOCATION : Needlhole River

PRIZES: The organizing committee will grant the following prizes:
• WINNER: 2 gold pieces + 1 Perlino Steed code + 1 Cremello Steed code + 1 Fisher’s Backpack + 2 x 500 TP code + 1 Raffle number (*3)
• RUNNER-UP: 1 gold piece + 1 Perlino Steed code + 1 Cremello Steed code + a 500 TP code + 1 Raffle number (*3)
• THIRD: 500 silver pieces + 1 Perlino- OR 1 Cremello Steed code (selected by the third place**) + 1 Raffle number (*3)
• CONSOLATION PRIZE (4th-till 14th placed): Shire Angling Club Lebethron Rod
END OF DAY 1 – With music, food, fine drinks and Fireworks!


4) MUSIC EVENT (Needlehole) – Continuing the Needlehole Festivities that commemorate the founding of Needlehole 677 years ago, this Music Event searches for the finest of singers and musicians.

GAME INFO: Can you impress the judges with your musical skills?

Music Event

RULES: A best song competition – contestants will be judged on lyrics, song tune and performance.

* Can be groups or individuals
* Each contestant can only enter one song, either individually or as part of a group.
* Jury decides the winner, runner-up and third place.

LOCATION: Needlehole market square.

PRIZES: The organizing committee will grant the following prizes:
• WINNER: 2 gold pieces + 1 Perlino Steed code + 1 Cremello Steed code + 2 x 500 TP code + 1 Raffle number (*3)
• RUNNER-UP: 1 gold piece + 1 Perlino Steed code + 1 Cremello Steed code + a 500 TP code + 1 Raffle number (*3)
• THIRD: 500 silver pieces + 1 Perlino- OR 1 Cremello Steed code (selected by the third place**) + 1 Raffle number (*3)
5) THE DRUNKEN MERCHANT RACE – A foot race that takes us through the pubs of the Shire.

GAME INFO: Competitors must run on foot, drinking one or two drinks at each pub they pass, first one to cross the finish line wins. This is a race that commemorates the first trade between Dwarves and Hobbits in the Shire.

Drunken Merchant Race – Course

RULES: Competitors must follow the following route (1-8):

• 1) Start at Needlehole Market to Brockenborings.
• 2) At the Plough and Stars: purchase and drink 1 Wooly-foot Stout
• 3) To Stock: At the Golden Perch, purchase and drink 1 Old Withywindle
• 4) To Frogmorton: At the Floating Log inn, purchase and drink 1 Toad’s Tongue Ale
• 5) To Bywater: At the Green Dragon, purchase and drink 1 Green Dragon’s Breath Ale
• 6) To Hobbiton: At the Ivy Bush, purchase and drink 1 Thistlebelly Brew
• 7) To Michel Delving: At the Bird and Baby, purchase and drink 1 Blagrove’s Brown
• 8) Run to the finishing post at the statue in the centre of Michel Delving.
• Competitors must run a fair race on foot ((no buffs, no mounts of any kind))
• Stewards will monitor the race at undisclosed locations ((competitors will be in fellowship/raid to ensure correct drinks are purchased))
• The route taken by the competitors is at their own choice (suggested route below), they must however pass the taverns and drink the drinks that have been specified in the specified order.
LOCATION: Starts at Needlehole market square – Ends at Michel Delving Centre Statue.

PRIZES: The organizing committee will grant the following prizes:
• WINNER: 2 gold pieces + 1 Perlino Steed code + 1 Cremello Steed code + 2 x 500 TP code + 1 Raffle number (*3)
• RUNNER-UP: 1 gold piece + 1 Perlino Steed code + 1 Cremello Steed code + a 500 TP code + 1 Raffle number (*3)
• THIRD: 500 silver pieces + 1 Perlino- OR 1 Cremello Steed code (selected by the third place**) + 1 Raffle number (*3)

END OF DAY 2 – With music, food, fine drinks and Fireworks!

6) SPARRING TOURNAMENT (Gondamon) – We start of the Ered Luin festivities in Gondamon with a good old sparring tournament, organized by the Dwarves of Durin’s Folk

GAME INFO: Participants will be put into groups depending on their strength ((level)).

RULES: Standard sparring rules will apply – depending on the number of participants several rounds can be held until we declare a winner of each category. Minimal 3 Groups will be made ((low, mid, end-game lvls)) – exact divide of the groups will be done when the amount of contenders is known before the start. The Judges decide how the divide will be made.

LOCATION: Gondamon center trading square

PRIZES: The organizing committee will grant the following prizes:
• WINNER of EACH GROUP: 1 Gold piece + 1 Dwarrow Gift Box + 1 Raffle number (*3) (+ For winner of End Game Group: 1 Riddermark Crystal)
• TOURNAMENT BEST(*4): 2 gold pieces + 2 x 500 TP code + 1 Tarnished Symbol of Celebrimbor + ‘ 1 Raffle number (*3)
We will then move to the Lune River as a group where the final event of the Harnkegger games will be held:
7) THE LUNE SWIM – A swimming contest in the Lune River.

GAME INFO: Swimming from an island in the Lune, round a pillar of the Bridge that crosses the Lune, back to the island. First one to set foot on the island is the winner.

The Lune Swim

RULES: Competitors must follow the route described above (will be displayed by the judges once we reach the Lune) –

• Competitors must swim a fair race on foot ((no buffs of any kind, nor steeds))
• Stewards will monitor the race

LOCATION: Starts on an island in the Lune River.
PRIZES: The organizing committee will grant the following prizes:
• WINNER: 2 gold pieces + 1 Perlino Steed code + 1 Cremello Steed code + 2 x 500 TP code + 1 Raffle number (*3)
• RUNNER-UP: 1 gold piece + 1 Perlino Steed code + 1 Cremello Steed code + a 500 TP code + 1 Raffle number (*3)
• THIRD: 500 silver pieces + 1 Perlino- OR 1 Cremello Steed code (selected by the third place**) + 1 Raffle number (*3)


The Harnkegger games will end with the traditional ceremony of the Harnkegger – the grand winner of the Harnkegger games will be announced. This winner, selected by a group of judges from all the winners of the events in the past three days, will receive the title “Harnkegger” ((in game title code: “The Sociable”, will be given)), in addition to 6 gold and 500 silver pieces.

Additional rules and notes :

(Grand thanks to folks of Windy Acres Ranch and gracious Kiralynn especially. As we’ve used their standard rules as a base for our races)
* Only standard speed ponies, horses or goats (62% – NOT 68%!) will be allowed.
* We ask all competitors NOT to use any mount speed buffs. People that have acquired the new Apprentice and Journeyman riding skills are kindly asked NOT to enter the race, as this would give them an unfair advantage over the other racers. As it would otherwise become impossible to determine which racing tier a steed belongs in.
* Participating riders will be given a clear explanation again of the course before the race begins. Riders are welcome to visit the race site and practice the course before race day.
* Riders must only use their pony, horse or goat for transportation. Changing steeds will not be allowed mid race, you must finish the race with the steed you started with. Stables, milestones, wayfaring, camps, rally points, acorns, mustering horns, summons and all other non-mount forms of travel are not allowed.
* Spamming fellow riders, giving a false start signal, having allies ride in the wrong direction to mislead riders, and all other forms of unsportsmanlike behavior will result in disqualification.
* Riders must clear all checkpoints in the proper direction and order. Course judges are the final authority in determining if a checkpoint has been properly cleared. ((A decision can be appealed if screenshots or video can be presented immediately after the race.))
* The winner will be determined by the first rider to cross the finish line, not the first mount.
* If more than a dozen riders show up to participate, there may be a qualifier race to narrow the field.

** For some games the competitors that finish in second or third place have the choice to select either a Perlino or Cremello Steed code. If one of these codes would have become depleted (through previous races) the choice would become void and the competitor will be given a Steed code of the type that is still available.
*3 = each winner will receive a Raffle Number to be used at the next Open Day of The Shire Museum of Fishing and Hunting’s Grand Raffle – Held on August 31st 2PM ST @ 2 Chalk Road, Harville, Shire Homesteads.
(*4) = The tournament best is selected from the winners of each category of the sparring tournament

Have you ever wondered how to advance your angling skills, or where to catch that elusive Darter? Wonder no more! The Shire Museum of Fishing and Hunting is holding another Open Day, and this time the subject is ‘Fishing Holes of Middle Earth’. Come along to discover how to catch game fish including Trout and Salmon and where to find safe spots to angle for Darter and Sturgeon. All-comers welcome, regardless of angling skill. Take part in the Crazy Catfish Catch then let our fish chefs convert your catch into supper. There will be plenty of music and dancing and a grand firework display!
August 31st 2PM ST @ 2 Chalk Road, Harville, Shire Homesteads.

All times mentioned in this post are on SERVER TIME of the LAURELIN Server (which is Boston Time) – Meaning that 3PM ST, would equal 8PM UK Time and 9PM Central European Time.

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RP-ing Dwarves in LoTRO

RP-ing in LoTRO

When not working on Neo-Khuzdul translations, or reading Tolkien’s works for the gazillionth time, I often jump into Lord of the Rings Online where I Role-Play a dwarf (honestly, what else?) from the Grey Mountains.

Kandral, son of Kuinn. Dwarf character on the LoTRO Laurelin Server

Kandral, son of Kuinn.
Dwarf character on the LoTRO Laurelin Server

It’s something I greatly enjoy doing, as it allows me to slip into the mind of a dwarf and RP to my hearts delight.  Though I do enjoy questing and crafting and I’m in awe of the epic-story line the good people at Turbine have made for us, my favorite thing above all in LoTRO has to be Role-Playing.

"The Lord of the Rings Online" logo is a  registered trademark of Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

“The Lord of the Rings Online” logo is a registered trademark of Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

When you spend some time RP-ing in LoTRO you quickly notice that there are different styles of RP-ers in this wonderful world. Each RP-er has a set of skills that sets them apart from other RP-ers, some more outspoken than others. In my view a good RP-er in LoTRO is the person that is able to find a decent balance in these skills.  Here’s my view on them:

  • Lore-wise:  There are RP-ers that focus mainly on the world of Tolkien and its lore.  These are the people that know their Gabilgathol from their Tumunzahar, and have the ability to fill their RP lines with the tiniest details of Tolkien’s works.  I know a few brilliant lore-wise RP-ers; the best of them however only use this skill moderately and don’t go about spamming Middle-Earth with their book-smarts.
  • Empathy: In my view one of the most important skills of a good RP-er. The capacity to recognize emotions that are being experienced by other players, be it via their emotes or (and this is likely far more frequent) through their lines – and act on these appropriately.
  • Patience:  An underrated skill. Someone once told me that a good RP-er is like a tiger waiting for the good moment to jump its pray.  I do believe there is much truth in this saying as I honestly feel there is nothing worse than a RP-er that continuously turns the story toward their own character before the situation calls for it.   This is all about timing and respect for the evolving story.
  • Acting-skill:  After RP-ing a character for a while your character often slowly get’s many traits of yourself, only natural off course.  Distancing your real life self from your character, or rather, distancing your character from your real life self is often not as easy as it looks at first.  Think of it as if you are an actor and have been cast a role (it is “role play” after all).  To play your character you must study who he/she is, what makes them tick, their history, their style, their personal experiences that have shaped them.  These items can be inspired by your RL self off course, but ultimately must see to fit in the world of Middle-Earth and your character.   Those RP-ers that often have impressed me the most in LoTRO are those that have made their characters “real”, by acting as their character and not necessarily as themselves.  Giving their characters (at least) as many flaws and weaknesses as they would have qualities and strengths. It often isn’t easy to “expose” your character and make them weaker, however it makes them a lot more interesting and “real” to others around you, as opposed to being the one-millionth hero out for revenge.

    The Art of Acting

    The Art of Acting

  • Tolerance:  Every RP-er in LoTRO will one day find him or herself in a situation where another RP-er launches a line into the ongoing RP-session that either doesn’t fit or breaks the momentum of the RP-session completely.   When such moments happen…. you leave the Prancing Pony. I kid, I kid… when such moments happen you have a choice as a RP-er, you a) continue the RP-session as if nothing happened b) try to fit in the line as best as you can c) end the RP-session.   Unless this is the x time that this kind of thing happens I would always suggest you go for a) or b), depending on the topic at hand.  Reason for this is that I believe a good RP-session sometimes just happens when you least expect it, and by throwing in the towel at the first bump in the road you often miss out on some excellent RP further down that road.
  • Preparation:   Before you jump into RP, make your character 3-dimensional by developing the basics.  This doesn’t need to be a 20 page biography, but do try to think of “where am I from?”, “how old am I?”, “what are my strengths and qualities?”, “what are my weaknesses and flaws?”, “what have I witnessed?” etc.. ..   I find that the more in depth you make your character, the easier you will find it to RP with them.   With some players a lot of these questions are answered at the character-creation screen.  Others write down the basics and improvise the rest as they go along.   Both are fine, just beware you don’t jump into RP as a blank page, as in those cases you might often revert back completely to the person behind the keyboard, or the cliché “dorf”, instead of the complex and interesting character waiting to be RP-ed.

RP-ing Dwarves

It would be easy to dictate how dwarves should be played, based on characters such as Thorin or Gimli.  But I’m not going to do that.  Main reason behind this is that not every dwarf in Middle-Earth is like Thorin and Gimli.  In addition, and equally important, YOU are the one doing the RP. And I’m convinced everyone has a great RP-er within them (even if he/he might be hidden very thoroughly), you just need some tips and tricks to find him/her.

Thorin at the Battle of Azanulbizar ® & ™ 2012 Warner Bros, Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Thorin at the Battle of Azanulbizar
® & ™ 2012 Warner Bros, Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

There are specific traits however that make a dwarf a dwarf though, separating them from the Elves, Hobbits and Men of this fantasy world.  I believe if we try to focus on these traits in a bit more detail by asking ourselves some key-questions, it will reveal (by magic) that inner RP-er, giving you a blue-print of how your character could be played.

1- What Hall does your dwarf hail from?

The first thing that strikes you when you review the options in LoTRO is that Turbine limits the options to different Mountain ranges where dwarves would have dwelt, instead of using the names of the seven clans of the dwarves.

I believe this wasn’t done lightly.  This choice has some pro’s but also some con’s.

I don’t know the actual reason behind this choice (anyone from Turbine reading this is welcome to comment of course), but it would seem logical NOT to have players select one of the seven clans, for several reasons.  Firstly, by the end of the Third Age, there would have been far fewer Firebeards and Broadbeams around than most other clans.  Secondly, the vast majority of the dwarven characters in Tolkien’s works are Longbeards.  And lastly, four out of seven of these clans (Stiffbeards, Ironfists, Blacklocks and Stonefoots) live far in the East and would have rarely been seen in the lands shown by LoTRO.

Though, granted, these Eastern dwarves would have been seen more in the late third age than at any other time in History: “But now Frodo often met strange dwarves of far countries, seeking refuge in the West. They were troubled, and some spoke in whispers of the Enemy and of the Land of Mordor.” (FoTR, The Shadow of the Past).   Seeing that Turbine uses Mountain ranges in this option, this quote from FoTR would have allowed them to use “The Red Mountains” (where many of the dwarves of the East would have come from), as one of the options.  Unfortunately “The Red Mountains” is not an option in the game, we do have 5 other options, let’s review them in a bit more detail….

  • Of the Blue Mountains – “Your home is in Ered Luin, the Blue Mountains, where there had once been two great dwarf-kingdoms and where the kinsmen of Thráin and his son Thorin Oakenshield lived in exile after Smaug drove them from the Lonely Mountain.” – If you want to play a Firebeard or Broadbeam dwarf, this is likely the logical choice for you.  “Where there had once been two great dwarf-kingdoms” refers to Gabilgathol (Belegost) and Tumunzahar (Nogrod), homes of the Broadbeam and Firebeard dwarves.   We know these clans, though ravished by several events lived on in fewer numbers, many moving to Khazad-dûm.  When the Balrog drove out the dwarves of Moria these clans would have likely either followed the Longbeards or resettled Halls of their own in their native Blue Mountains.  It seems the folks at Turbine went along with that idea as when you roam through the region of Ered Luin you will be able to spot far away Halls in the West which you can’t get to (Gabilgathol or Tumunzahar of old rebuild ?)  You could off course also be a Longbeard who chose to remain in the Blue Mountains after Erebor was reclaimed.   Going for a Firebeard or Broadbeam character is bold choice, though an extremely interesting one.  These clans excelled in smith-craft (even more so then other clans), so when you love crafting, you might want to give this choice a go and make your character a Firebeard or Broadbeam.  Going for a Longbeard of the Blue Mountains is just as interesting though, as it sets you apart from other Longbeards, as your family (or perhaps you individually) did not heed the call of King Dáin to return to Erebor, perhaps unwilling to leave behind what you had build up, or content with life… Whatever the reason is, you would have been the rare exception to the rule, so give a careful thought as to “why” you didn’t follow the rest of your clan-brothers and sisters.

    Blue Mountains in LoTRO

  • Blue Mountains in LoTRO

    Of the Lonely Mountain – “You hail from Erebor, the Lonely Mountain, where Smaug the Golden made his Lair until Thorin Oakenshield reclaimed it for his people. There does Dáin Ironfoot now rule as King under the Mountain. “- The safe option in a way, as the majority of the dwarves would have dwelt here by the end of the third age. On the other hand, you need to ask yourself the question “what is a dwarf of Erebor doing in places like Ered Luin, Bree and the Shire?”  Is he a trader? Perhaps and adventurer or trying to settle in these parts?

  • Of the Iron Hills “You come from the Iron Hills, settled by dwarves as a refuge from the Cold-drakes, and whence came Dáin Ironfoot, King under the Mountain, kinsman of the great Thorin Oakenshield.” – Though the Iron Hills had been a colony of the Longbeard Dwarves since the early years of Khazad-dûm, around the year 2500 of the Third Age Grór son of Dáin I founded an independent kingdom here.  At the time of the events of LoTRO however these halls would have been a shadow of their former self, as most of the Dwaves would have gone with King Dáin to live in Erebor. So again, choosing for a dwarf of the Iron Hills is setting you apart from the main stream. Ask yourself why this is ? The answers should give your character some “meat” and him/her more detailed.
  • Of the Grey Mountains – “You are from Ered Mithrin, the Grey Mountains, the chief of which is Mount Gundabad, from whence came Durin the Deathless, first Father of the Dwarves. Your kindred returned to the Mountains after the Dragons perished. “- Most of the dwarves would have left these mountains by the time of the events in LoTRO, settling in the Iron Hills first and later on at Erebor when it was reclaimed.  Picking this option adds two distinct features to your character 1) You have experience with Dragons 2) Your hatred of Orcs and Dragons is likely unrivaled – as the Holy site of Mount Gundabad now defiled by Orcs is ever in sight.  – These would have been hardened dwarves, and you would have had a good reason for staying, being….  In T.A 2210 King Thorin I, learning that most of his people were gathering in the Grey Mountains, left the Lonely Mountain to join the Dwarves to the north, for those mountains were rich and little explored. ”  …  “riches”.   It would not be an easy life to remain in these drake and orc infested lands, but a profitable one it likely would have been, if you don’t mind a bit of risk.
  • Of the White Mountains – “You are from the southwestern halls of Ered Nimrais, the White Mountains in the south bordering the lands of Andrast. Though your kingdom lies far from the central mountains where Men once dwelt, the rumor of the Oathbreakers has given your realm an ill name.” – This is a strange choice I always found.  As it wasn’t until Gimli returned to the White Mountains at the start of the 4th Age that these mountains would have been settled by Dwarves.  Also the Turbine description of this choice refers more to the men that dwelt there, than to the actual dwarven population.  Now, of course, we can’t always follow lore, otherwise it wouldn’t be much of a game.  So Turbine has added their own hall, “Zigil-jabâl”, in the White Mountains.  If you follow the epic line, you will run into one or two dwarves that mention this hall.  No need to look for it in Tolkien’s works, as you won’t find it.   Now, we can assume that some dwarves took refuge in these mountains after the fall of Khazad-dûm.   So, this option gives you a bit of carte blanche really, allowing you to fill in much of the blanks the way you see fit.  Personally I believe it might have been better to change this to the Red Mountains, giving folks a chance to pick an Eastern kindred dwarf, but I understand their choice however, so I’m not complaining here.
  • So I can’t play an Eastern Dwarf?  Of course you can!  Who’s stopping you?  Just pick one of these above options and tell folks that ask you were raised there but born in the East… there are a zillion options here.  Just have fun with it.


2- What age is your Dwarf?

The introduction quest of LoTRO tells us that we would have been around at the time Thorin left on the quest for Erebor.

This took place in T.A 2941, so that would make us at least 78. However, we know newborns don’t travel, in fact any dwarf under the age of 65 would have to stay put and not go out on adventures (hence why Gimli didn’t come with his father Glóin on their quest to reclaim Erebor).  So that would make us at least 143.   Seeing that dwarves die round the age of 250, this “limitation” would kind of have written much of your life story already, perhaps limiting the RP we had in mind.

Example Character Creation Screen

Example Character Creation Screen

So, what if you want to play a younger dwarf… one that might still want to raise a family (for those around the age of 90).  Just ignore the introduction quest, is my advice on that one.   I know this all starts a finely laid out path by the good folks at Turbine, but if it honestly does not serve your fantasy as RP-er, ignore it.  In the end YOU make your character what it is, not Turbine… and yes, not even lore.  While I hear rocks being gathered by the lore-buffs for a good stoning of the Dwarrow Scholar, let me explain why I feel lore should not hinder your character in LoTRO.

Firstly, the world of Middle-Earth of Tolkien’s books is not what we see in LoTRO.  If it were we wouldn’t see Hobbits east of Bree (with the exception of those of the fellowship themselves), nor any dwarves in Lothlorien for that matter, nor a thriving dwarven colony in Moria, nor dwarves riding horses by the hundreds, etc… .  If we are to RP in the world of LoTRO I believe we must first respect the world created for us by Turbine.  A world in which things differ from lore, so you can enjoy a tremendously fun game.  Should we throw everything over board and have flying horses and dwarf-elven mixed marriages? No, we should not.  Merely using your common sense and trying to stay as close to lore as you can, yet giving yourself some space to play with your own fantasy in the world of LoTRO.

Some examples I can think of:   A good friend of mine loves playing a dwarven female, and it must be said, she does a tremendous job at it too.  If we were to strictly follow lore, we couldn’t have dwarven females running about in Middle Earth, they would have been fiercely protected and shielded within the halls of her husband or father.  Hence Turbine not even allowing this option in the character creation screen. Yet, my friend here (yes, talking about you Fryjpora) has made such a wonderful RP story that justifies her being out there in Middle-Earth, as opposed to being locked up in a Hall.  Who are any of us to strike that down?  In fact it should be applauded, as it brings an amazing flavor to the game.  In short, try to respect the writings of Tolkien as much as you can, but don’t shy away from adding to them, as Turbine has also done themselves on occasion.

Fryjpora "The True"

Fryjpora “The True”

3 – Are there any tips I can take into account when playing a dwarf?

  • Hating Elves: Yes, most dwarves aren’t fond of Elves, not really a secret.  Yet, that doesn’t mean every single dwarf would swing his axe in the air at the very sight of one.  If you look at Tolkien’s writings dwarves are respectful toward elves, even if they aren’t their cup of tea.  If you must play the elf-hating dwarf, which is your good right, try making it personal.  Maybe there was an elf that treated you badly in the past and you never got over it.  Try to avoid the old “an elf killed my family and I’m out for revenge”-story, as it does get a bit old (nor would it make much sense).  Be inventive; think out of the Hall 🙂
  • Talking like your average Glaswegian:  Yes, you can say “lad” or “lass”, people won’t drop like flies if you do.  Some claim it isn’t lore and dwarves don’t use the word “lad”.  Well, that’s incorrect, they do (though rarely).  There are in fact two occurrences of the word “lad” spoken by dwarves (both in the Hobbit).  Thorin refers to himself as “a fine adventurous lad” (in chapter 1. An Unexpected Party), and Balin refers to the company as “lads”(in chapter 8. Flies and Spiders). So using the word “lad” while RP-ing a dwarf isn’t a crime, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it.  The issue is that you sound like your average Glaswegian and half those around you have no clue what you are on about. So, as long as you ensure folks can actually understand what you are saying, I don’t have much of a problem with Glaswegian-style-words myself. If we were to follow the typical Tolkien dwarf, like Thorin and Gimli, we would not go binge drinking with our characters, nor would we speak in clearly defined Scottish accents. In fact we would be rather long-winded most of the time, with a tremendous love for strong adjectives and never ending speeches.  All I can add here is that it’s your call, but if you go for the “dorf”, then don’t go overboard either, as you’ll quickly fall in a caricature of a dwarf and perhaps might not be as interesting for yourself and others in the long run.
  • Animals:  Dwarves aren’t fond of any type of beast and see them more as a tool than a being with proper feelings.  A dwarf wouldn’t willingly mount a horse.  So what are we to do with all these ponies and goats thrown at us?  My advice is, embrace Turbine’s fantasy and use them as you see fit, yet keep in mind that dwarves don’t love the animals either, so a grunt every now and then at your pony might be just the trick.  When I RP, I’m anything but gentle with my steeds. Calling them “beasts” and loathing the very thought of having to ride them.
  • Homesteads:  Dwarves live in their Halls underground, no news there.  Yet Turbine offers us the deluxe choice of living in the Shire, or even in an Elven neighborhood.  The choice is yours off course, but if you want to RP that your house is amongst elves, you might want to come up with a good reason for it (as I’m having a hard time thinking of one).  The Shire might not be that difficult as dwarves traded with Hobbits and lived amongst them at times.  A dwarf-trader wouldn’t have had many issues explaining he lived amongst Hobbits.

    Homesteads at Thorin's Hall in LoTRO

    Homesteads at Thorin’s Hall in LoTRO

  • Outfits:  Turbine gives us loads of dwarven-style outfits, try them out, play with them a bit, and try to find a dwarven-style outfit that is just you.  Though I don’t mind personally if folks dress around in elven-armour, it’s kind of a hard thing to sell in RP.
  • Language:  Khuzdul is the language of the dwarves, a secret language even.  Meaning, you really shouldn’t be talking khuzdul to anyone who isn’t a dwarf (with the exception of some place names).  Yes, Tolkien wrote extremely little Khuzdul (compared to Elvish), so if you want to go all out and RP in khuzdul with other dwarves (which is a challenge, I’ll grant you) you might want to have a look the following articles.  Shameless plug I know… ah well, sue me 😉
  • Spend some time on the character creation screen.  Think long and hard about your character. It will be worth it in the long run.
  • Practice makes perfect:  By far the most important tip I can give anyone. Seek out some fun RP-events on your server (Laurelin and Landroval have loads) and try out your character.  It’s like making pies, you might have a burned crust at first, but eventually you’ll get it right… oh wait, that’s a Hobbit saying.

And don’t forget to have fun RP-ing 🙂

Updated: 13/04/2015 – pictures re-added

Posted in LoTRO | 10 Comments

Counting Dwarves

Some weeks ago I asked everyone to throw some interesting Dwarven questions my way while my PC was in the shop… and to my absolute delight I received quite a few.  The following outstanding question came via email from Samir:

“How many dwarves would there have been around at the end of the third age?”

Thank you Samir. I have often wondered the very same, so I decided to dig into to this without delay. Truth be told I was already busy looking in to this very question some months earlier, while working on demographic models for the various Dwarven halls of Middle Earth (another related project I was working on).

Unfortunately we can’t hold a census, nor are their any written records on their exact numbers either. The easy answer here would be: “We have no idea, nor is there anyway to know”.

Those of you that have read a few of my articles here know I’m not too fond of easy answers; hence I did what any good dwarf would do… I started digging.

Now if we want to answer this question there are various factors we must consider, as these can impact the outcome to our question tremendously.

Factors such as:

* How many dwarves did Aulë actually create?

* How many children do dwarves have, how many dwarves choose to have children and at what age do dwarves have children?

* What impact do war and times of troubles have on their numbers?

* What impact does the availability of food have on their numbers?

* What interaction was there between the various halls of the dwarves?

Granted, some of these question might seem odd to ask when trying to answer our question at hand, but bear with me on this, as I believe that when we answer the above questions, or more accurately “try to make a somewhat educated guess on these questions”, we should see patterns appearing giving us a clearer picture on the number of Dwarves by the end of the third age.

* How many Dwarves did Aulë actually create?

This is one of the only questions we can answer without any doubt.  The Silmarillion tells us that Aulë (who the Dwarves call Mahal) created the seven fathers of the Dwarves and their six spouses before the awakening of the Elves.   Though The History of Middle Earth talks about the fact that Tolkien had plans to rewrite this piece quite drastically (adding many more Dwarves) he in the end never did.  So we can be sure that all Dwarves that roamed Middle Earth were in fact descendants of this first generation of 13 Dwarves.

Ted Nasmith's  Aulë and the Seven Fathers

Ted Nasmith’s
Aulë and the Seven Fathers

* How many children do Dwarves have, how many Dwarves choose to have children and at what age do Dwarves have children?

From the start, we can see something odd about the Dwarven population… it has more males then females.   This odd feature is apparently still in place well in the third age, in fact – using Gimli as our source – the gap between the sexes has become even worse: “It was said by Gimli that there are few dwarf-women, probably no more than a third of the whole people.” (From the Appendices in The Lord of the Rings).

I believe we must be extremely careful with this statement, as if we draw the wrong conclusions here; based on this quote, our end result could be way off.

Though this is the opinion of one dwarf, we have no reason to doubt our good friend Gimli here.  In fact he is one of the rare direct sources we have related to the customs of the Dwarves of the late third age.  So let us assume indeed that only 1 out of 3 is female.

Unfortunately fewer still will ever give birth, as less than one-third of all males ever choose to marry….

“For Dwarves take only one wife or husband each in their lives, and are jealous, as in all matters of their rights. The number of dwarf-men that marry is actually less than one-third.”

Now, it could be argued here that Dwarven women would not need to marry to have children.

On that topic I would like to refer to the article on marriage customs.  Where the link between sexual relations and marriage is explained in more detail.    In short, if we follow Judaic customs and Tolkien’s own writings, having sexual relations would mean you are in fact engaged to be married, meaning that a pregnant dwarf is a married (or soon to be married) dwarf.

Now, if the above (less than 1 out of 3 dwarf women would give birth) would be a fixed rule we would have a major issue from the start, as that would mean that out of our 7 clans only 2 would have survived past the first generation.  We know from Tolkien’s own writings that this is not so. As he writes that in the Second Age 7 rings were given to 7 Dwarven kings.  Clearly indicating that all the seven clans survived well beyond the first generation and at the same time also indicating that this rule “less than 1 out of 3 dwarf women would give birth” is not a rule that applies to all ages and is likely to have been valid more for the Dwarves of the late third age then those of earlier ages.

Some of the Seven Kings of the Dwarves

Some of the Seven Kings of the Dwarves

Given the fact that Tolkien stated that the Dwarven population was on the decline by the end of the third age, we can be sure that at some point in the past it was in fact on the rise (otherwise there would likely not have been any population at all past the first 3 generations).

Tolkien gives us a very decent hint on one actual Dwarven population, be it extremely indirectly…

In the Silmarillion Tolkien mentions that the Dwarves of Belegost went to war along side the Elves and Men during the Battle of Unnumbered Tears.  Though no direct number is mentioned as to the size of the Dwarven host, there are ways we can make a founded estimate – (Mythlore, Number 51, Volume 14, No.1, ‘The Kindreds, Houses and Population of the Elves During the First Age’, 1987; Mythlore ISSN:0146-9339, a detailed study of the numbers of Elves). From this 1987 article and from more recently published volumes of The History of Middle-earth (e.g.: Vol. XI, pp. 380-381, pp. 420–423; Vol. XII, p. 307, “two thousand full grown men”). relatively sound estimates can be drawn of the numbers of Elves, Men AND Dwarves.    

If we additionally consider that Tolkien stated that Dwarven females were fiercely guarded, it would be very unlikely that there were many Dwarven women in the army of King Azaghâl (as the risk too lose the valuable women folk would be far too high).  This study gives us a minimal number of male Dwarves of Belegost (this just being one of the seven clans), being 6.000.   With this number in mind and what we know about female Dwarven numbers, the total Dwarves of Belegost would have at least been 9.000.

Seeing that at that point in time no other major battles would have happened that impacted the dwarven clans, we are looking at (at least) 63.000 dwarves of all Seven Clans by the year 468 of the First Age.

From the time the second generation of Dwarves was born, till the time of this battle, over 4000 years would have passed. Now to achieve these population numbers in this period of time all Dwarven females that had chosen to marry (and had the chance to have children) would have had on average 6 children.  Taking into account also that most Dwarves would rarely get married before the age of 90.

* What impact do war and times of troubles have on their numbers?

In short… a devastating impact.

The history of the Dwarves is filled with battle after battle; the vast majority of those battles would have greatly impacted their numbers.

For example, the biggest battle of all Dwarven history, The Battle of Azanulbizar, wiped out half of all Dwarves alive at the time.   The battle of Sarn Athrad for instance almost killed all the Dwarves of Nogrod.  Tolkien often gives us a very clear overview of battles the Dwarves were in, and the impact some of those battles had.  In addition, dramatic events such as the arrival of Smaug at the Lonely Mountain, further desecrated Dwarven numbers (especially those of the Longbeards).

Ted Nasmith's Smaug the Destroyer

Ted Nasmith’s
Smaug the Destroyer

Taking the above into account and the previously mentioned slow population growth, we have a clear opportunity of estimating the Dwarven population in the third age.

We however have two problems with this… 1) Tolkien mentions next to nothing about the 4 clans in the East (Blacklocks, Stonefoots, Ironfists and Stiffbeards).  2) He also focuses almost exclusively on the battles and events where the Longbeards were involved in.

So when we ask ourselves “how many Dwarves were around by the late third age”, we can only base us on the Longbeard clan.  Seeing that this clan had a tremendous amount of devastating wars and battles in their history, we can assume that their numbers would likely be one of the smallest clans (with the exception of the Firebeards and Broadbeams perhaps – who saw their ancient halls of Tumunzahar and Gabilgathol ruined at the end of the First Age).

* What impact does the availability of food have on their numbers?

Little to none.   Unlike men Dwarves could suffer great hardships and still come out on top.  The best example of this is Khazad-dûm being closed off after the Sack of Eregion in 1697 S.A and being opened once again some 1700 years later.   No trade of food went into Khazad-dûm, so they were solely reliant on their own food supplies and whatever they could grow under the mountain.  They might not have flourished during this time, but at least they did more than just survive.  As the first thing they did when opening the gates of Khazad-dûm again, was go to war (The Last Alliance).

* What interaction was there between the various halls of the Dwarves?

Now this might seem an odd question at first when trying to calculate Dwarven population numbers.  However, the reasoning behind this question can have a tremendous impact on our outcome.  Let us, for the sake of an example, say that there was only one clan and all Dwarves lived in one Hall.  This would mean that the females that wished to marry would have more potential male mates outside of their own family.  This would result in potentially more births.  While if Dwarves would live in very small groups far away from other Dwarves, their potential mates could perhaps be limited. This could result in fewer births.  Now if the interaction between the various halls of the Dwarves would be high, this problem could be avoided, not impacting the maximum potential births.

Tolkien tells us that the females rarely traveled from their Halls and at the same time also tells us that Dwarven traders were a frequent occurrence in Middle Earth, meaning that (most likely the male) Dwarves traveled freely within the Western regions.   I say “Western regions”, as it can be believed that the Eastern clans rarely traveled west, due to great distances.  Another reason I believe the Dwarves of Eastern clans would rarely come to west can be found here: “But now Frodo often met strange dwarves of far countries, seeking refuge in the West. They were troubled, and some spoke in whispers of the Enemy and of the Land of Mordor.” (FoTR, The Shadow of the Past).

These “strange dwarves of far countries”, could not have been Longbeards, as these were frequently seen on the trade routes that passed through the Shire.  Hence must have been dwarves of the Eastern clans, and indeed these rarely traveled to the West.

Throughout Dwarven history the population numbers of the Longbeards would have been great enough to not be impacted by a limitation of potential partners.  This I believe changed drastically in 1981 T.A, when Khazad-dûm was lost and Durin’s Bane drove out the remnant of the Longbeards into exile.   From that moment on their history is one of woe and war, further impacting their already dwindling numbers.  Smaug dealt a further blow to their number and the Battle of Azanulbizar almost finished off their clan (in addition impacted all clans tremendously).  Directly after the Battle of Azanulbizar the amount of males would have likely been equal to the females, if not less.  Seeing that Dwarven females – who likely survived hidden away in their halls during the battle – only marry that one dwarf they have their heart set on, changes are quite big there were less births in the generations that followed these dramatic events.

Thorin at the Battle of Azanulbizar ® & ™ 2012 Warner Bros, Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Thorin at the Battle of Azanulbizar
® & ™ 2012 Warner Bros, Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

* Adding up what we know

Taking into account all the various factors mentioned above we can make a calculation on what the numbers of the Dwarves would have been like at the end of the Third Age – at least what Durin’s Folk is concerned.

This tells us that there were likely around 10.000 Longbeards at the end of the Third Age, the vast majority of which would have lived in the Lonely Mountain.  This number is in sharp contrast to the number that would have lived in Khazad-dûm in the mid third age, prior to the awakening of the Balrog, were we likely would have seen close to 100.000 Longbeards.

So, our calculation model seems to be very in line with Tolkien’s writings, where he says dwarven numbers were dwindling.

It is more difficult to say how many Eastern clan dwarves would have been around, however we do know that their Halls were often the target of dragons as well, in addition to all of them having suffered the same fate at Azanulbizar.  This leads me to believe their numbers were very close to that of the Longbeards, if not less.

The Firebeards and Broadbeams, who lived in the West alongside the Longbeards would likely have had fewer numbers that the Longbeards, between 1.000 and 3.000.  Unlike the Longbeards their halls were ruined at the end of the First Age.  The Dwarves of Nogrod (most likely the Firebeards) were likely the smallest of all clans due to the battle of Sarn Athrad in the First Age.

So if we add up our estimates of all 7 dwarven clans, there would have been between 50.000 and 60.000 dwarves in all of Middle Earth at the end of the Third Age.

Posted in Life & Death | 3 Comments

The Resurrection of Durin

As my regular PC is in the shop, the neo-khuzdul translations I was working on grinded to a sudden halt.  Though I had made a backup of most of the documents I was working on, some of the files are just too enormous to run on my little old backup-PC.

Hence the idea of writing another article for the blog in the meanwhile slowly took form.  Asking around for suggestions I quickly received some superb ideas concerning things people always wanted to know about the dwarves, but never had seen answered.   I believe I have received enough excellent suggestions to create many new articles in the months to come.  So thank you all for that.

There were many ideas I wanted to start researching straight away, one of them jumped out just a bit more than the others, which is the topic I want to talk about now.

Mike. wrote: “I never understood how the whole resurrection of Durin worked.  Was Durin II son of Durin the Deathless? If he was, how could Durin the Deathless have been “reborn” in Durin II, if they at one point were both alive?  Also, Tolkien says that Durin the Deathless died at the end of the First Age, living longer than any other dwarf. Yet at the same time says that Durin’s line never failed, from father to son.  Surely Durin must have seen his children die and grandchildren die, perhaps even many generations.  How did he hold his line in check from not claiming the thrown during his reign?  Looking forward to your view on my questions DS”

Thank you so much for your excellent question Mike.

Let me start with your first question: “I never understood how the whole resurrection of Durin worked.  Was Durin II son of Durin the Deathless? If he was, how could Durin the Deathless have been “reborn” in Durin II, if they at one point were both alive?

For those that don’t know exactly what you are talking about, this refers to appendix A in the appendixes of Rotk

There he lived so long that he was known far and wide as Durin the Deathless. Yet, in the end he died before the Elder Days had passed, and his tomb was in Khazad-Dûm: but his line never failed and five times an heir was born in his House so like to his Forefather that he received the name of Durin. He was indeed held by the Dwarves to be the Deathless that returned, for they have many strange tales and beliefs concerning themselves and their fate in the world.

In this quote I believe we already find the answer to your first question. In my opinion Durin II could not have been the son of Durin the Deathless.   Apart from writing “Forefather”, Tolkien writes: “the Deathless that returned”.  If both were alive at the same time he could not have “returned” at the time of the birth of Durin II, as he was still alive.  Some have suggested the possibility that the soul of Durin the Deathless would have transferred to Durin II on the night of his death, but I cannot agree with that as I find it to be contradicting to the quote above.   Now, according to me this does give us a hint when Durin II would have been born.   “…an heir was born in his House so like to his Forefather that he received the name of Durin. He was indeed held by the Dwarves to be the Deathless that returned …” This means it is very likely that the dwarves would have known the previous Durin when the heir was born, to be able to judge this likeness.  It is possible off course that statues of the previous Durin existed.  Meaning that Durin II was likely born at the start of the Second Age, as we know Durin the Deathless died at the end of the First Age, so keeping their lifetimes within one generation of each other.

Tolkien strengthens the idea that Durin II was no son of Durin the Deathless in this quote from Last Writings (HoMe XII):

“For the Dwarves asserted that the spirits of the Seven Fathers of their races were from time to time reborn in their kindreds. This was notably the case in the race of the Longbeards whose ultimate forefather was called Durin, a name which was taken at intervals by one of his descendants, but by no others but those in a direct line of descent from Durin I… Of these Durin’s the Dwarves reported that they retained memory of their former lives as Kings, as real, and yet naturally as incomplete, as if they had been consecutive years of life in one person.
How this came to pass the Elves do not know; nor would the Dwarves tell them much more of the matter. But the Elves of Valinor knew of a strange tale of Dwarvish origins, which the Noldor brought to Middle-earth, and asserted that they had learned it from Aulë himself… The Dwarves add that at that time Aulë gained them also this privilege that distinguished them from Elves and Men: that the spirit of each of the Fathers should, at the end of the long span of life allotted to Dwarves, fall asleep, but then lie in a tomb of his own body, at rest, and their its weariness and any hurts that had befallen it should be amended. Then after long years he should arise and take up his kingship again.”

For some the last line “Then after long years he should arise and take up his kinship again.” Was seen as a sign that every Durin was in fact the very same dwarf.   I don’t entirely agree with that assumption.  As the “he” in “he should arise” refers to the spirit of the Father (in this case Durin).  Tolkien states clearly that he rests in a tomb of his own body.  So the body of Durin the Deathless did not arise to walk Arda again, yet his spirit did and found a new home in the body of his own offspring.   So not a resurrection, but a  reincarnation in fact.

It is interesting to notes that this isn’t something exclusive for the Longbeards, but this gift was given to all the seven fathers.

This does make me wonder one important thing though, how did the dwarves know without a doubt that the son of the current King was indeed the spirit Durin the Deathless reborn ?

“…an heir was born in his House so like to his Forefather that he received the name of Durin.”

“Of these Durins the Dwarves reported that they retained memory of their former lives as Kings, as real, and yet naturally as incomplete, as if they had been consecutive years of life in one person.”

This would indicate that the dwarves did not give their children* an outer name at birth (*or at least those of direct Royal line).  The likeness here could have be physical, but would obviously have been spiritual.  Tolkien stated that dwarves were born with beards, perhaps the beard of the new-born was like that of Durin the Deathless – though I doubt a new-born dwarf would have had a beard alike to that of an elder dwarf (yet, perhaps that was the likeness that gave it away).  But as it was the spirit that found a new home in the young dwarf, it would be logical that the dwarves would wait for some sign of the little one to indicate it was indeed Durin the Deathless reborn.

As the dwarves have both an outer and inner name (see previous articles on this), there would have been no pressure for the father of the young dwarf-prince to give his heir an outer name, as the child already had a name used by his family (his secret inner name).  In addition to the fact dwarven children are hidden from the outside world, as their parents are highly protective of them, the inner name would suffice for years.  Until the young heir was old enough to venture out of the Halls of his father would an outer name really be of any use.   Meaning that there was plenty of time for young dwarf prince to prove that Durin the Deathless had returned within him.  As the memories of Durin the Deathless would have been as real to the young dwarf as his own, this should not have proven too much difficulty to convince the dwarves that Durin was reborn.


Turning to the second part of Mike’s question:

Also, Tolkien says that Durin the Deathless died at the end of the First Age, living longer than any other dwarf. Yet at the same time says that Durin’s line never failed, from father to son.  Surely Durin must have seen his children die and grandchildren die, perhaps even many generations.  How did he hold his line in check from not claiming the thrown during his reign?”

Most would think that Durin the Deathless would have seen many of his children and grandchildren die.

I don’t agree with that myself.  Though Tolkien mentions that no other dwarf lived longer than Durin the Deathless and that this gift of long life became less with every generation, being stronger though with those that were named Durin.  We must not forget a very important detail in this story, and that is that the Fathers (and their spouses) were laid to sleep for a very long time. During this time they obviously had no children, hence their first children were born long after they themselves were created.   So, did Durin see any of his offspring die before he himself passed away?

Well, we know that by the third age life-expectancy of the dwarves had been reduced to around 250.  Which is indeed true for the majority of the Kings mentioned in Tolkien’s overview of Durin’s Folk.  Durin the Deathless was created by Mahal many years before the awakening of the Elves.  So let’s say he was created in the year 900 of the Years of Trees.  And died at the end of the First Age, for the sake of our example here, let’s say in 567 F.A. This would fit with all of the known lore.  This would make Durin the Deathless 6316 Years old at his time of death (multiplying Valian years with 9,582).

Knowing that the children of the first generation were born after 1090 YoT (after the dwarves awake) and gently reducing the age expectancy with 3 to 9% every generation until we reach the end of the First age (when Durin the Deathless died) we notice that the next in line to be King would have been Durin’s eldest son, who himself would have likely reached the fine age of 5000 (deducted by the notion that age expectancy gradually reduced over time).   This means that Durin the Deathless would not have seen any of his children or grandchildren die.  Though his offspring was not as long lived as him, the fact that he slept for a very long time before he had children allowed him to see many generations be born and none of them die.

The children of Durin the Deathless would not have been that lucky unfortunately, as they would have seen many generations of their offspring die (as their offspring died earlier each generation).

It could be argued off course that as they were long-lived they likely had children at still an older age than dwarves in the 3rd age.  I don’t believe this would have been the case.  For three reasons:

* Tolkien mentions that the army of King Azaghâl in the Battle of Unnumbered Tears numbered 6.000 dwarves. Assuming that the majority of the male Broadbeam dwarves entered this battle, this gives us a clear view on dwarven population numbers of this period.   If it was the custom of the Kings of old to have children at an age far greater than one-hundred (which is about the dwarven custom), it would simply have been impossible to reach this number of 6.000.   To reach this number the dwarves of elder days would also have fathered many more children than was the custom by the third age. But more on that topic in a future article.

* In HoME XII a similar question is raised (How many Kings were there between Durin I and Durin IV?) and it seems Tolkien changed his mind a few times on the topic.  On a piece of paper he had first written “5”, which he later replace by “12”, and later still by “many”.  This is speculation, but perhaps it can be suggested that Tolkien also did the math and noticed that it would have taken many dozens of generations to given them the numbers he had in mind.

* When Mahal created the seven fathers they were already adult dwarves, ready to have children of their own. They slept for about 200 years of the Trees (about 1800 years in our reckoning), so for them to wait any longer still to have had children would not make any sense, nor would it make possible the dwarven numbers that are mentioned in later stories.

You also asked: “How did he hold his line in check from not claiming the thrown during his reign?”

Well, I don’t believe this would have been a problem that Durin the Deathless faced himself.  He was Mahal’s first dwarf and his son would have become the next King after all.  This problem would have arisen with his grandchildren and those that followed.  As they became old and eventually died, while the son of Durin was still alive.  After a few generations you might expect that sooner or later an heir was born that did not agree with the fact that he was not going to be King, due to the fact that his great-great-grand-daddy, the King, was still around.

I personally doubt that however, as the important thing here is that we should not compare the behaviors and succession customs of men with those of dwarves.   The succession of the Numenorean Kings saw such problems, as a result of their extended age they chose to have children at a later age (some having children still when they had passed the age of one-hundred).  This ensured they did not have too many living generations in their line, making their rule a more solid one as there were less contenders for the crown.  With the dwarves I cannot see this happen so easily as we must not forget that Mahal made the fathers (rulers of each house) and their line was practically a sacred institute. The Kings of men did not necessarily come in a straight line from the very first man that roamed the East, hence the line of the Kings of men could have been contested more easily as well.   With dwarves, challenging that “sacred institute”, would have been “not done”, as in a way it would have challenged the wisdom of Mahal himself.

I hope that answers your great question Mike, and it proves interesting reading for all.

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