02 February 2008

Rune Generator

Glamdring in Feanorian Elvish

The Rune Generator is an online tool that translates text into Hobbit Runes (the Old English runes found on Thorin's map, for example); Moria Dwarf Runes (such as the kind found on Balin's tomb); and Feanorian Elvish (above, below).

Glamdring and Orcrist are the swords that Gandalf and Thorin (respectively) claim for their own after the incident with the trolls.

"These look like good blades," said the wizard, half drawing them and looking at them curiously. "They were not made by any troll, nor by any smith among men in these parts and days; but when we can read the runes on them, we shall know more about them." (Chapter two, "Roast Mutton")

I've always wondered about that, since Gandalf later demonstrated that he could read Feanorian and Moria Dwarf runes as easily as anything else. We have to wait until the troop is in in Rivendell, when Elrond reads the sword-runes with ease:

Elrond knew all about runes of every kind. That day he looked at the swords they had brought from the trolls' lair and he said: "These are not troll-make. They are old swords, very old swords of the High Elves of the West, my kin. They were made in Gondolin for the Goblin-wars. They must have come from a dragon's hoard or goblin plunder , for dragons and goblins destroyed that city many ages ago. This, Thorin, the runes name Orcrist, the Goblin-cleaver in the ancient tongue of Gondolin; it was a famous blade. This, Gandalf, was Glamdring, Foe-hammer that the king of Gondolin once wore." (Chapter three, "A Short Rest")

Did Gondolin have a secret alphabet that, except for Elrond, was forgotten and lost when the city fell? Or - and I like this theory much better - is Gandalf just being coy with Bilbo and the dwarves and even Elrond? It would fit with Gandalf's history of withholding information and playing games to further his own ends. Because even the goblins apparently know the true nature of the swords, which they call Beater and Biter.

Orcrist in Feanorian Elvish

1 comment:

Patrick said...


From what I can see, Tolkien originally had this concept of runes used in Gondolin which were different from standard Cirth(http://www.geocities.com/athens/parthenon/9902/runegond.html). However, these never made it to the texts themselves, save for that one reference in The Hobbit.