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Topic: The Beacons... Rohan/Gondor Signal Corps

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Hobbit youth - Rank 2
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Date: Aug 2, 2010
The Beacons... Rohan/Gondor Signal Corps

For some reason I keep thinking about the signal corps... those fellows who kept watch on lonely mountain tops through night and day, rain and snow, year-in year-out... waiting for the signal fires. Think about it. There were at least ten of them, from Minas Tirith to Edoras (anybody got an exact count?) Some were manned by Gondorans and some by Rohirrim... but this was a communications network that had to be constantly manned and was probably the only official bureaucracy jointly administered by Rohan and Gondor.

Okay... so in order for the Beacon fires to work properly, several conditions must be fulfilled:

1: A signal fire of dry wood must be laid, protected from the elements, and must be instantly ignitable. This means constant tampering with the kindling, a perpetually burning ignition torch, and a suitable vessel of accelerant constantly at hand.

2: One person must CONSTANTLY be staring directly at the beacon they're waiting for, 24/7 not looking away for more than two seconds while on watch. Since nobody can maintain that level of vigilance for more than an hour or two at a time, that means it takes at least two people at each terminal point and at least FOUR PEOPLE at each intermediate point, spelling each other around the clock.

3: Some of those mountaintops were very difficult places... steep climbs... harsh climate, very primitive camping. So you can probably not expect a team to stay on top more than 48 or 72 hours at a time before they are relieved... so the base camp somewhere below would need to have relief teams coming in frequently, ferrying supplies to the high camp in order to support the summit teams.

4: the entire infrastructure of the system would be almost mind-boggling... hundreds of people altogether, kept in place for hundreds of years... and then finally it's used to summon the Rohirrim to Minas Tirith! Generations of Watchers might work tirelessly their entire lives and never see the beacons lit. Yet up they go, year after year, sitting on that high place staring and staring... hoping never to see... yet hoping that if it is to be that it will be on their watch.

And the system worked! The message was delivered quickly and flawlessly, nopbody broke the chain.

Frankly... I think those guys deserve a medal! It was a tough job and they did it well. If any one person in that entire chain had messed up or fallen asleep the whole effort would have been in vain.

All hail the signal corps! (raising a glass)

Will



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Will Whitfoot
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I'll put my take on each of those points.

1. The signal fire kindling would be prepared and put somewhere out of the rain. The signal fire itself could have a roof, like some did in the films, to protect it somewhat from the elements. The torch would not need to be perpetually ignited. I am sure they knew how to start fires without taking too long!

2. I think you're over exaggerating the vigilance required. A glance every minute or so at the signal fire they are supposed to view is more than sufficient. They don't need to be spot-on with the timing down to the last second.

3. I would think they would have a minor camp near the top and a major one at the base. A group of four men could take it in turns and swap every two or three days. After a few weeks, maybe months, they could go back to the nearby village they lived in and four other men could take over.

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Rohirrim of Edoras - Rank 4
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Still, I have also considered the sacrifice of time and the faithfulness needed to be trusted with the signal fire watch. After watching the American series ( I don't know if it was shown internationally) Mt. Everest, I am amazed that anyone in their right mind would leave their comfortable existance ( in comparison everything is comfortable) and trek miles into the barren, cruel ice just to say they had summited a mountain. We can't survive there because we aren't supposed to (in my humble opinion) yet the Sherpas do nicely there. It would take a major commitment and dedication like no other in order to give up home and family to watch a peak in the distance for a distress signal, as stated, without fruitition. Braving the constant cold and crucially low oxygen levels is not for the faint of heart. The preperations needed to be Johny on the spot not withstanding, the physical trial is more than my sea-level loving mind can fathom.
Also with my glass raised--


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Hobbit youth - Rank 2
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Date: Aug 5, 2010
----------------------------
       'What is that?' cried Pippin suddenly, clutching at Gandalf's cloak. 'Look! Fire, red fire! Are there dragons in this land? Look, there is another!'
       For answer Gandalf cried aloud to his horse. 'On, Shadowfax! We must
hasten. Time is short. See! The beacons of Gondor are alight, calling for
aid. War is kindled. See, there is the fire on Amon Din, and flame on
Eilenach; and there they go speeding west: Nardol, Erelas, Min-Rimmon,
Calenhad, and the Halifirien on the borders of Rohan.'
------------------------------

So there's six just on the Gondor side... with the last on the border of Rohan. "...there they go, speeding west..." either Gandalf is dragging this sentence out over a period of ten or fifteen minutes.... or those beacons were lit quickly. This bit was captured faithfully by Peter Jackson... delays of only a bare few seconds between the lighting of the beacons.

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If the camp entrance, and where the men generally sit or lie down, is faced in the direction of the beacon they need to watch out for, which it surely would be, then it would probably catch their eye without them having to "CONSTANTLY be staring directly at the beacon they're waiting for, 24/7 not looking away for more than two seconds while on watch", which I found a tad of an exaggeration.wink.gif

However it would certainly be a tedious occupation, I agree.

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Utúlie'n  aurë!  Aiya  Eldalië  ar  Atanatári,  utúlie'n  aurë! 
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Lord Elrond of Rivendell - Rank 9
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My friends,
I have been on a detail which demanded vigilance for a specific signal.
It was a radio signal and response time was a matter to avoid deadly force.
The shifts were long ... 6 hours ... and the penalties for leaving your post or sleeping on duty were very severe  including court-martial, loss of rank, and prison time. Nothing compared to an enemy surprise attack ... which could mean death for your fellows and yourself.
Believe me one found ways to keep alert and officer's surprise inspections were a common event.

So ... given the theme of a fantasy medieval military structure I am sure that punishments for dereliction of duty  could be really severe ... ie. losing body parts  ... I don't think the beacon fires being constantly watched and maintained as that far from any military norm ... it is going on in each of our home countries as you read this ... and has been going on in some places for centuries.

Just sitting there with my ear glued to a speaker headphone kept my heart beating faster and I WAS exhausted when my detail/tour was over.
My anxiety kept me vigilant
. (And lots of coffee)

But what do I know?
I'm a bear.
I hibernate.
smile Bear


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Fundin, Lord of Moria - Rank 5
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Noticed this on the web (didn't read it all)

http://scienceblogs.com/dotphysics/2010/07/how_fast_is_the_beacon_of_gond.php


I vouch for none of it but thought it might interest in this thread. 

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Samwise Gamgee - rank 9
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I could not read through all of that article.

For starters, it is roughly 200 miles from Minas Tirith to Edoras, not 450. Perhaps he corrected this later on in the article.

Anyway, my impression was that the film merely skipped all of the minutes in between each beacon lighting for audience purposes. After all, it took many hours from the first to the last to be lit, therefore each beacon would have taken many minutes to be fully lit. It is just the film glossed over that for obvious viewing purposes.

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Hobbit youth - Rank 2
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Great find Galin! Unfortunately the author was no LOTR buff and so didn't bother to get his facts straight... but his analysis of the problems of the system was spot on... estimating 14 hours for the full relay at a distance of 450 miles. That would be closer to 7 hours at the corrected distance of 200 miles. So yeah, he's assuming a bit of response time and ignition time, but probably a reasonable idea.

Thanks for the input Bear... nothing like being "on the spot" to know what it feels like. It would have been a lonely vigil up on those mountaintops... waiting... waiting.

So yeah... I'll concede that it might have taken longer in truth than the way it was portrayed either in book or film. But I still think those guys need a medal. I'm thinking the image is a simplified truncated pyramid, representing the shape of the signal fire set-up... with iconic flames... maybe a space to put how many years of service and with a ring of spaces around the rim representing the individual signal stations, so a dot would be punched in each one showing that you'd done service there. People could glance at your badge and see how many different stations you'd served at. I'd think that you might have one particular "home" station... but that everybody would rotate through the more difficult ones.

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Will,
I like the idea of a medal for the watchers ... not sure about years of service ... watching at some places would be like a ski lodge ... with pretty maidens all in a row ... (forgive my sexist babble)  ...  maybe a patch for the  outfit ... and medals for defending the watch post in combat?  I like the pyramid of fire idea too.  Maybe the reverse could have which nation they served under (or Steward or King)
Just a thought ...
Bear


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Hobbit youth - Rank 2
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I also want to do a service medal for Farmir's Ithilien Brigade. It would need to be something quite simple and elegant... perhaps a feather and leaf... symbolizing the fletched arrow shaft and the secrets hidden by the leaves... hmmm....

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Faramir's father would not give a medal lightly or have one fashioned, that is for sure. It would have to mean something to Faramir, himself and I'm volunteering him to submit ideas for the design of the medal of Ithilien. Don't forget that he was the student of not only a warring Stewart of the city but also of Gandalf the wizard, to say the least. Detail and humility with meaning will be neccessary for that one.

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Lord Elrond of Rivendell - Rank 9
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Lady lomoduin,
I agree.
But I think Will Whitfoot has a great idea as to the awarding of medals.

We all have our favorite characters ... in many cases a lot more than one favorite character ...

Perhaps the creation and awarding of the medals would be a way to honor those whose heroism we admire ...

What do you and Will think?

Bear


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Tom Bombadil
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Sort of like a Advancement of rank or a recommendation in our Armed Services.

Bear, I didn't know you were in the Signal Corps or even served in the army! Thanks for serving my friend and all those of you who have kept our Middle-earth safe.

I think we need to confer with The One, our own Eru. who would you want to award those to? Do we have anybody who is a Rohir? The only one I know, is our beloved Iomoduin.

Would anybody be in the mood to maybe do an RPG on this? It would not be easy, although we could weave sub-plots around as in remembering the things they do when not on guard duty. And then we could have an award ceremony at he end of the RPG and give out those medals.

Any takers?

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Hobbit youth - Rank 2
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Actually I am thinking fourth age here... service pins commissioned and awarded by Elessar to the garrison AFTER the restoration of the throne of Gondor, and after the true value of Faramir's character and efforts are seen and acknowledged. Actually... quite a few of my pieces are fourth age. Chiefest among them is the Daler of New Dale... a large silver coin issued to comemmorate the 100th anniversary of DOS (Death of Smaug). Engraved by Greg Franck-Weiby. Reverse shows the restored town square of New Dale with Erebor in the background. Most will recognize the scene as the most famousest bowshot in ME history... the Black Arrow. Also note the bare patch in the hollow of the left breast of the vile worm. The rim and modernist perspective style clearly shows this to be a fourth age piece. I sometimes donate a copper or bronze version of this as a prize to archery competitions at Renaissance festivals etc.

-- Edited by Will Whitfoot on Thursday 12th of August 2010 04:14:41 PM

-- Edited by Will Whitfoot on Friday 20th of August 2010 02:39:32 AM

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Will,
I really like this.
A beautiful creation.
I think Beorn would like it too.
Bear


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Rohirrim of Edoras - Rank 4
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The RPG this is really not my style and on top of that I don't think I can dedicate the time to it. I would love to read along though. I love the commemorative coin Master Whitfoot. It's perfect!

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Another similar piece from Nu Dal (New Dale) of the same period is this silver Raven Penny, featuring a very famous old bird. I'll let you work out the runes. (they're standard Angerthas) newdaleraven01.jpg

-- Edited by Will Whitfoot on Friday 20th of August 2010 02:39:50 AM

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Samwise Gamgee - rank 9
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Very nice coins Will, how many have you made in total?

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Hobbit youth - Rank 2
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Glad you like them! How many in total?? Hmmm... completely different die designs? Including off-metals? If only counting unique dies then the total ME types is probably 65 or 70. But some were made in various metals as a matter of course. The Leaf of Hollin for instance... coins in the shape of a holly leaf used back in the second age in commerce between the elves of Hollin and dwarves of Khazadh-dhum. They were made in four metals representing the seasons... , green anodized niobium for spring, gold brass for summer, brown toned copper for fall, and sterling silver for winter. But it's the same dies for all four, so is that one type or four?

So... anybody decipher any inscriptions yet? The tengwar may be tricky because Greg actually modified the tengwar table that Tolkien drew and created a syllabary rather than an alphabet... so you write sounds instead of letters. But when we use Angerthas runes it's the straight deal... spellings may appear oddly though. For instance... on the iron "Eye" coins used by orcs and goblins for their nefarious purchases of rotgut liquor and small live animals, the word "OBEY" is written by three Angerthas characters  "OBA" So you have to sound out the letters  "Oh, Bee, Ay" to figure out it means "obey". We do a lot of shortenings of that sort, which are real-life commonplace sorts of inscriptions on medieval coins. (Not much room on a coin... gotta write as consisely as possible.)

But here we've gone off topic... the idea was about the Rohan/Gondor signal corps. So one further thought on that... there would often be foul weather up in those mountains, conceivably so bad that signal fires would be invisible at the distances involved. So there would have to be a backup system of runners. So for instance, you're on one of the stations and see a signal fire... you light your beacon and wait to see the next one light up. But there is a huge snowstorm in the middle airs between you and them, and even though your fire burns for two hours, there is never a break and they have not seen your signal. What do you do? I would think there must be some time limit beyond which a runner would be sent down hill to the base station, whence another is likely sent to the neighboring base station on the next mountain. And so on as necessary until the beacon chain can be resumed. So it's not all sitting around, you've got to keep in shape and able to run 20 miles or better. And they probably do tests of the system from time to time just to keep the training and morale up.

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When I saw the beacon system in the movie, I thought it was cool, but not very realistic because of the variability of clear viewing - and it's not just storms. I've been in the mountains here in the states (up to 9000ft), and in the Alps. I can tell you that you cannot see the neighboring ranges in the morning. There's fog and low lying cloud formations. I mean you've got these huge mountains just a few miles distant and you cannot see them. Towards midday it clears then towards evening it starts to cloud over again.

A system of runners would be a must.



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Lord Elrond of Rivendell - Rank 9
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Saba,
I agree. But I would add redundant systems.  Beacons, runners, fireworks, and maybe even an audio system of horns or bells.
After all these beacons aren't calling folks to lunch!  I mean it is a call to armed defense for pete's sake.


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Hobbit youth - Rank 2
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Just imagine how powerful the seeing stones of Numenor would be in this context.....

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Will Whitfoot
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Bear, redundant is good when lives are at stake. We could add a heavy metal band with amps cranked up to max at the beacon points, but them boys will need voltage and that wasn't invented yet. hmm.gif 

Actually, I like your fireworks suggestion (assuming Gandalf didn't have flares). The deal would be to calculate the farthest distance at which fireworks could be seen, then place firework stations accordingly.  Ahh, but that wouldn't work getting across those darn mountains. -- It also begs the question if the book-Gandalf had fireworks like his film counterpart.

Upon reflection, the beacon system backed up by relay horsemen would probably be the best. I would think the men at these lonely outposts would over time have the waxing and waning of the mountain cloud cover to as near a science as weather allows. An experienced beacon man should be able to guess fairly acurately if the clouds blanketing the range would lift in a reasonable amount of time to set the signal or not. If the clouds appear dug in for the day, a rider needs to be dispatched.  Like you Bear, I'd dispatch him either way because having to wait upon the clouds fancy while knowing that hostile ranks were on the move would make me crazy to be doing something.  

And a large horn - like the one at the Hornburg - would be nice too.

Seeing stones would be the best. What happened to those after the war?


-- Edited by Saba on Thursday 19th of August 2010 12:16:55 AM

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Rohirrim of Edoras - Rank 4
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There was a messaging system in place as well. If I remember correctly, and my memory is tired to say the least, Gondor sent the 'red' arrow to Rohan as well. (I will research tomorrow after work) Also, who is Greg and why in all of Arda would he muck with Tokien's take on things to create a "Tolkien" based artifact? I don't mean to be rude or un-hospitaple but I can't imagine rewriting the works we love so much and spend so much time trying to master to fit our own purpose or need.

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Hobbit youth - Rank 2
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lomoduin wrote:

Also, who is Greg and why in all of Arda would he muck with Tokien's take on things to create a "Tolkien" based artifact? I don't mean to be rude or un-hospitaple but I can't imagine rewriting the works we love so much and spend so much time trying to master to fit our own purpose or need.




There was no rewriting of the works. The writings of the professor are regarded as canon. Everything we did was researched as thoroughly as possible and merely fills in gaps the professor left behind.

Greg is my friend, a master engraver, a medieval coin expert, and a Tolkien linguist. He was the most knowledgeable person I could find for help when I decided to create some Middle Earth coinage. Actually... he contacted me after he saw some of my first amateurish efforts and offered his expertise to help make them more authentic both designwise and linguistically.

 



-- Edited by Will Whitfoot on Friday 20th of August 2010 02:38:23 AM

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Saba,
I think you will love this.
The Thain's Book yields a description of the Palantiri and a description and history of each individual stone.
So here you go ...


The Palantiri were Seeing-stones that could be used the gather information and communicate over great distances. Seven stones were brought to Middle-earth and they were used to help govern the far-flung realms of Gondor and Arnor. But over time many of the palantiri were lost and one fell into the hands of Sauron, who used it to spread deceit and despair among those who opposed him.
The palantiri were perfectly spherical with smooth, unmarked surfaces. They varied in size: the smallest were about a foot in diameter while the largest were too big to be picked up by one person. The palantiri were deep black in color when not in use and were made of an unbreakable glass or crystal substance. It was believed that they could only be destroyed by intense heat.
A palantir could be used to see distant places and events. A person looking into a palantir might see random, blurry images of far-away scenes. But if a viewer had a strong will, the palantir could be directed to show specific things. One could even zoom in to see small details.
A palantir could see through walls or other obstacles as long as there was sufficient light on the other side. The palantiri were also said to be able to show past events, though how such scenes could be retrieved is unclear. It may be that the images were those retained by the stones over years of viewing.
A palantir could also be used to communicate with another palantir. The palantiri did not transmit sound. Two people would communicate by thought via the stones and would hear one another's voices inside their heads. The palantiri were intended to be used to transfer only thoughts that were consciously and willingly shared, but someone with a dominant will could force another to reveal more than intended. In the long history of the palantiri, only Sauron is known to have misused the stones in this way.
Only two palantiri could connect at a time. A third palantir trying to contact an already occupied stone would find it blank. The exception among the palantiri in Middle-earth was the Stone of Osgiliath, which could survey all of the other palantiri at once.
The palantiri responded best when used by an heir of Elendil or an authorized deputy; others would find the stones difficult to control. The optimum viewing position was about three feet away from the palantir in order to see the largest, clearest images. A palantir also had to be properly oriented. Each face of the palantir looked in a specific direction; therefore to see westward one would look into the eastern face of the stone and so on.
The palantiri were polarized and the axis from the top pole to the bottom pole had to point to the center of the earth.
The palantiri were made in the Undying Lands in ancient times by Feanor, the great craftsman of the Elves who also made the Silmarils. It is not known how many palantiri were originally made. At least one palantir remained in the Undying Lands - the Master-stone in the Tower of Avallone on Tol Eressea.
In the late Second Age when Sauron gained influence over Numenor, the Elves gave seven palantiri to Amandil, the leader of those who remained Faithful. Amandil's son Elendil rescued the Seven Stones from the Downfall of Numenor and brought them to Middle-earth.
The seven palantiri were distributed throughout the realms of Gondor and Arnor in the year 3320 of the Second Age. Elendil took three of the stones north to Arnor and placed them in Annuminas, the Tower of Amon Sul, and Elostirion in the Tower Hills. Elendil's sons Anarion and Isildur each took two of the palantiri and set them around Gondor in Minas Anor, Orthanc, Minas Ithil, and Osgiliath.
The palantiri were kept in guarded rooms in high towers. They were originally placed on round, black marble tables with depressions in the surfaces to fit the stones. Only the King and those authorized by the King were permitted to use them. Wardens were appointed by the King to guard each stone and to survey them periodically in order to give and gather news. But over time the Kingdoms of Gondor and Arnor began to decline. Several of the palantiri were lost and the others fell into disuse and were eventually forgotten by all but a few.

Here follows an account of each of the Seven Stones:

The Stone of Osgiliath:
The Stone of Osgiliath was the chief and master of the seven palantiri in Middle-earth. It was one of the largest stones. The Stone of Osgiliath could survey all of the other palantiri and could "eavesdrop" on a communication between two other stones. It was kept in the Dome of Stars in Osgiliath. The Stone of Osgiliath was lost in the waters of the Anduin when the Dome of Stars was destroyed during the civil war of the Kin-strife in 1437 of the Third Age.


The Stone of Amon Sul:
The Stone of Amon Sul was the primary palantir in the North-kingdom of Arnor and the one that was used most in communication with Gondor. It was also one of the largest stones. The palantir was kept in the Tower on the hill called Amon Sul, or Weathertop. After the North-kingdom was divided into Arthedain, Cardolan, and Rhudaur, the Stone of Amon Sul became a source of contention among the three kingdoms. Arthedain retained possession of the Tower and Stone of Amon Sul, but Cardolan and Rhudaur contested this claim because Arthedain also had both of the other palantiri of the North-kingdom.

In 1409, the Tower of Amon Sul was destroyed by the forces of the Witch-king of Angmar. The Stone of Amon Sul was saved and taken to Fornost. It remained there until 1974 when the Witch-king captured Fornost. Again, the Stone of Amon Sul was rescued and taken north by King Arvedui along with the Stone of Annuminas. But in 1975, Arvedui boarded a ship in the Icebay of Forochel and was lost at sea in a storm along with the two palantiri.


The Stone of Annuminas:

The Stone of Annuminas was kept in the capital of the North-kingdom and it was the palantir used by the King. At first, the capital was Annuminas, but the Kings later relocated to Fornost and the Stone of Annuminas was moved there. After the breakup of the North-kingdom, the Stone of Annuminas was in the possession of Arthedain. When the Witch-king captured Fornost in 1974, the Stone of Annuminas and the Stone of Amon Sul were saved by King Arvedui, but both palantiri were lost at sea when Arvedui's ship sank in a storm on the Icebay of Forochel in 1975.


The Elendil Stone:
The Elendil Stone was kept in the tower of Elostirion in the Tower Hills. This palantir could not be used to communicate with the others but instead looked only west across the Sea. Elendil used the palantir from time to time to see Tol Eressea in the Undying Lands where the Master-stone was kept in the Tower of Avallone.

After the fall of the North-kingdom, the Elendil Stone was guarded by Cirdan and the Elves of Lindon. High-elves sometimes made pilgrimages to the Tower Hills to see the Undying Lands in the Elendil Stone. The Chieftains of the Dunedain were by right the lawful masters of the Elendil Stone, but apparently it was not used again by Men.*

On September 29, 3021, Cirdan put the Elendil Stone on the ship carrying the Ring-bearers away from Middle-earth, and the palantir was returned to the Undying Lands from whence it came.

Note:
Christopher Tolkien in Unfinished Tales states: "it is not known whether any of [the Dunedain], including Aragorn, ever looked into [the Elendil-stone]." But J.R.R. Tolkien wrote in The Road Goes Ever On: "After the fall of Elendil the High-Elves took back this Stone into their own care, and it was not destroyed, nor again used by Men." Tolkien also notes that the Elves who sing a hymn to Elbereth at Rivendell use the term palan-díriel - meaning "gazing afar" - indicating that these Elves had just returned from looking in the Elendil-stone.


The Ithil-stone:
The Ithil-stone was the palantir used by Isildur in his stronghold of Minas Ithil on the borders of Mordor. It was most closely in accord with the Anor-stone kept by Isildur's brother Anarion in Minas Anor across the river.

In the year 2002 of the Third Age, Minas Ithil was captured by the Lord of the Nazgul and was renamed Minas Morgul. It is believed that the Nazgul found the Ithil-stone and that it was moved to the Dark Tower for the use of Sauron, who returned to Mordor in 2942. At the time, however, the people of Gondor did not know what had become of the Ithil-stone. Some may have thought that the defenders of Minas Ithil destroyed the palantir so it could not be captured, though given the indestructible nature of the palantiri this was unlikely. Others no doubt realized that the Ithil-stone might be in the hands of the Enemy, but it was thought that there was no danger so long as Sauron could not contact the other two remaining usable palantiri - the Anor-stone and the Orthanc-stone. Thus these palantiri were not used for many years and were largely forgotten.

But in the years leading up to the War of the Ring, Sauron used the Ithil-stone against the holders of the other two palantiri. To Denethor - the Steward of Gondor in possession of the Anor-stone - Sauron showed images of the vast forces of Mordor that were poised to strike Gondor, causing Denethor to despair that Sauron could never be defeated. Saruman, who had the Orthanc-stone, was dominated by the superior will of Sauron and became a traitor.

On the night of March 5, 3019, Sauron looked into the Ithil-stone and saw the Hobbit Pippin Took, who was using the Orthanc-stone. Sauron mistakenly believed that Pippin was the Ring-bearer being held captive by Saruman. The next morning Sauron again used the Ithil-stone and was confronted by Aragorn, who revealed that he was Isildur's heir and that Narsil - the sword that had cut the Ring from Sauron's hand - had been reforged. Sauron felt fear and doubt, causing him to strike prematurely against Gondor and distracting him from the progress of the Ring-bearer toward Mount Doom.

After the Ring was destroyed on March 25, Sauron's realm fell into ruin. It is not known what became of the Ithil-stone, but it is thought that it may have been destroyed in the intense heat following the eruption of Mount Doom.


The Anor-stone:
The Anor-stone was held in Anarion's stronghold of Minas Anor on the western shore of the Anduin. It was most closely in accord with the Ithil-stone. After the fall of Minas Ithil in 2002, the Anor-stone was no longer used because it was feared that the Enemy might be in possession of the Ithil-stone. Minas Anor was renamed Minas Tirith, the Tower of Guard.

The Anor-stone became a closely guarded secret of the Stewards of Gondor. It was kept in the upper chamber of the Tower of Ecthelion on the highest level of Minas Tirith. The palantir was never again mentioned publicly or written about in public records, though the Stewards kept their own archives about the lore of the palantiri.

Denethor was the first Steward to dare to use the Anor-stone. When he began to do so is not certain, but it seems that it may have been immediately upon assuming the Stewardship in 2984. Denethor wanted to learn information to help Gondor as the threat from Mordor grew, but he was also motivated by jealousy of Thorongil, a captain who had been favored by Denethor's father Ecthelion. Denethor had apparently determined that Thorongil was none other than Aragorn, the heir to the throne of Gondor. Denethor wanted to surpass Thorongil and his friend Gandalf in knowledge and he also wanted to learn what they were doing.

Denethor was strong-willed and confident in his powers, and as the rightful user of the palantir he was able to control and direct its visions for a time. He became aware of many things happening in Gondor and throughout Middle-earth. But eventually Denethor came in contact with the Ithil-stone held by Sauron. It required great strength to maintain control of the Anor-stone and keep Sauron from wrenching its gaze to the Ithil-stone. Denethor was able to do so at first, but the effort drained him and he appeared to age prematurely.

Sauron was never able to dominate Denethor's will, but in the end he led Denethor to despair by revealing the full strength of the forces of Mordor and showing him only selected images in order to convince Denethor that defeat was inevitable. After the death of Denethor's beloved son Boromir, Denethor's spirit was weakened, and when it appeared that his only surviving son Faramir had been mortally wounded, Denethor succumbed to despair.

On the night of March 13, 3019, Denethor went to the top of the Tower of Ecthelion and looked into the palantir. Sauron showed him a fleet of Corsairs' ships sailing up the Anduin from the south, and Denethor believed that end was coming for Minas Tirith. He did not know that in truth the ships were under the command of Aragorn who was coming to the aid of Minas Tirith. Denethor may also have seen the Ring-bearer imprisoned in the Tower of Cirith Ungol and concluded that Sauron had the Ring, not realizing that Sam Gamgee had taken the Ring before Frodo was captured.

On March 15, Denethor tried to burn himself and Faramir alive on a funeral pyre. Faramir was rescued, but Denethor burned to death holding the Anor-stone in his hands. Afterwards it was said that unless one had great strength of will to direct the palantir, it would only show Denethor's burning hands.


The Orthanc-stone:
The Orthanc-stone was placed in the impregnable Tower of Orthanc in the stronghold of Isengard on the western edge of Gondor. But the population in that area declined and in 2510 the land was given to the Rohirrim. Isengard remained a stronghold of Gondor, but the guard there became lax and the Orthanc-stone was unused.

In 2759, Saruman offered to take up residence in Isengard and maintain and repair its defenses. Beren, the Steward of Gondor, agreed. It is not known whether Beren took the Orthanc-stone into consideration in doing so, but he may have believed that the palantir would be safest in the hands of one of the Wise. Saruman knew that there was a palantir in Orthanc, for he had studied the archives of Minas Tirith. The Orthanc-stone was one of his primary reasons for moving to Isengard.

Saruman began to use the Orthanc-stone around the year 3000. At first he may have been able to control it and see far-off places and events, but he soon came into contact with the Ithil-stone and fell under Sauron's sway. Saruman's integrity had already been weakened by the abandonment of his moral principles in his quest to obtain power for himself, and he was thus vulnerable to domination by the superior will of Sauron. Before long, Saruman felt compelled to report to Sauron via the palantir. Saruman became a traitor to the White Council and to the free peoples of Middle-earth whom he was supposed to help in their struggle against Sauron.

After Saruman's forces were defeated at the Battle of Helm's Deep and Isengard was destroyed by the Ents, Gandalf and King Theoden of Rohan came to Orthanc to parley with Saruman on March 5, 3019. Saruman's lackey Grima Wormtongue threw the Orthanc-stone down from the tower and it was picked up by Pippin Took.

Gandalf took the palantir away from the Hobbit, but Pippin could not stop thinking about it. That night as they camped at Dol Baran, Pippin retrieved the palantir from Gandalf as the Wizard slept and looked into the stone. He was confronted by Sauron, who mistook him for the Ring-bearer and assumed he was being held captive by Saruman in Orthanc.

Aragorn then claimed the Orthanc-stone as the heir of Elendil and the rightful master of the palantiri. On March 6, he revealed himself to Sauron in the Orthanc-stone and showed him that Narsil - the sword that had cut the Ring from Sauron's hand - had been reforged. Then Aragorn was able to wrench control of the Orthanc-stone away from Sauron and he saw that the Corsairs posed a danger to Minas Tirith from the south. He chose to take the Paths of the Dead and was able to capture the Corsairs' ships and come in time to the Battle of the Pelennor Fields. Sauron was filled with fear and doubt after his confrontation with Aragorn and he was distracted as the Ring-bearer made his way toward Mount Doom.

After the War of the Ring, Aragorn, King Elessar, used the Orthanc-stone to survey his realm and his servants from afar, and it is said that he reinstated it in the tower of Orthanc.
(Thank you to "The Thain's Book" ~ http://www.tuckborough.net/)

So there we go.  Another one of those pieces of  "historical trivia" that brings Middle~earth alive.
Thanks for asking the question!



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Date: Aug 19, 2010



-- Edited by lomoduin on Thursday 19th of August 2010 08:53:22 PM

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Your right Bear, this is vastly interesting and somewhat confusing.  

So the Tower of Amon Sul (Weathertop) once housed one of the stones. Weathertop was destroyed by the witch king. Ok .. the next time I watch LoTR, I'll know a little more.  

Sounds like Denethor and Theodan had similar problems, both robbed of will and fight only Denethor's wimpyness was caused by looking into the palantir. The film really didn't make that clear -- you just thought the guy was a total wet noodle - and a jerk.  

If I were Aragorn after the war, I'd want to round up as many of the palantiri as possible - they seem to cause a great deal of trouble when in evil hands. I realize the stones that were lost at sea are no doubt gone for good, but the Ithil stone may still be around as well as the Osgiliath stone - after all the Anduin is a river which is not at vast as a sea. Aragorn, if I understand the above text correctly, has possesion of the Orthanc and the Anor stones, and that dude is also in possession of a strong will. If I were him, I'd try to use my stones (figurative and literal) to search for the others.



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Saba,
I agree. Those stones are not things to let loose in the hands of amatuers or rookies.
I think Aragorn did use his stones (figurative and literal) to pull the North Kingdom and South Kingdom together.
And he demanded the Orthanc stone from Gandalf ... and Gandalf gave it to him immediately ...
Here is the set up and the quote;
Wormtongue unwittingly has thrown the Orthanc-Stone out the Isengard tower in an attempt to wound or kill Gandalf. Pippin picks it up. Gandalf retrieves it from him immediately.
When the company of wizard, men, and hobbits beds down for the night Pippin, (the curious little rascal) steals the stone from Gandalf and peers into the stone ... while gazing he is snared by Sauron who has another of the stones ... in pain he cries out and Gandalf covers the stone breaking the connection.
Gandalf interrogates Pippin and finds the damage minimal and thinks Pippin will recover.
He returns to Aragorn, Theoden, and their company who have the covered stone in their midst.
And here is where Aragorn, and not for the first time, shows he has stones .... (figuratively and literally) ...


"With that Gandalf returned to the others, who were still standing by the Orthanc-stone in troubled thought. 'Peril comes in the night when least expected,' he said. 'We have had a narrow escape!'

'How is the hobbit, Pippin?' asked Aragorn.

'I think all will be well now,'
answered Gandalf. 'He was not held long, and hobbits have an amazing power of recovery. The memory, or the horror of it, will probably fade quickly. Too quickly, perhaps. Will you, Aragorn, take the Orthanc-stone and guard it? It is a dangerous charge.'

'Dangerous indeed, but not to all,' said Aragorn. 'There is one who may claim it by right. For this assuredly is the palantír of Orthanc from the treasury of Elendil, set here by the Kings of Gondor. Now my hour draws near. I will take it.'

Gandalf looked at Aragorn, and then, to the surprise of the others, he lifted the covered Stone, and bowed as he presented it.

'Receive it, lord!' he said: 'in earnest of other things that shall be given back. But if I may counsel you in the use of your own, do not use it - yet! Be wary!'

'When have I been hasty or unwary, who have waited and prepared for so many long years?' said Aragorn.

'Never yet. Do not then stumble at the end of the road,' answered Gandalf. 'But at the least keep this thing secret. You, and all others that stand here! The hobbit, Peregrin, above all should not know where it is bestowed. The evil fit may come on him again. For alas! he has handled it and looked in it, as should never have happened. He ought never to have touched it in Isengard, and there I should have been quicker. But my mind was bent on Saruman, and I did not at once guess the nature of the Stone. Then I was weary, and as I lay pondering it, sleep overcame me. Now I know!'

'Yes, there can be no doubt,' said Aragorn. 'At last we know the link' between Isengard and Mordor, and how it worked. Much is explained.'
'Strange powers have our enemies, and strange weaknesses!'
said Théoden. 'But it has long been said: oft evil will shall evil mar.'

'That many times is seen,' said Gandalf. 'But at this time we have been strangely fortunate. Maybe, I have been saved by this hobbit from a grave blunder. I had considered whether or not to probe this Stone myself to find its uses. Had I done so, I should have been revealed to him myself. I am not ready for such a trial, if indeed I shall ever be so: But even if I found the power to withdraw myself, it would be disastrous for him to see me, yet - until the hour comes when secrecy will avail no longer.'

'That hour is now come, I think,' said Aragorn.

'Not yet,' said Gandalf. 'There remains a short while of doubt which we must use. The Enemy, it is clear, thought that the Stone was in Orthanc - why should he not? And that therefore the hobbit was captive there, driven to look in the glass for his torment by Saruman. That dark mind will be filled now with the voice and face of the hobbit and with expectation: it may take some time before he learns his error. We must snatch that time. We have been too leisurely. We must move ..."

(The Lord Of The Rings, Two Towers, Book Three, Chapter XI ~ "The Palantir", pg. 595)

Denethor has been made mentally unbalanced by Sauron through the palantir because he could only see what Sauron let him see and because the palantir works directly on the mind ... not just through speech.


They were such a powerful tool ... for good or evil


-- Edited by Bear on Friday 27th of August 2010 01:46:53 AM

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