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Minas Tirith Forums » History of Middle-earth » Why did Isildur bring the Stone of Erech to ME?
Author Topic: Why did Isildur bring the Stone of Erech to ME?
Roll of Honor Miz Lobelia
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We all know the story of the Oathbreakers and how Aragorn called them to the Stone of Erech to fulfil the vow they made to Isildur 3000 odd years before. What I want to know is what was the significance of this stone prior to the oathbreaking and am placing the topic here rather than the LOTR forum in hope of eliciting information I may have missed in HoME. From ROTK, 'The Passing of the Grey Company':
quote:
For upon the top stood a black stone, round as a great globe, the height of a man, though its half was buried in the ground. Unearthly it looked, as though it had fallen from the sky, as some believed; but those who remembered still the lore of Westernesse told that it had been brought out of the ruin of Númenor and there set by Isildur at his landing.
Soooo.....

1. If this thing is the height of a man it is at least 5 1/2 - 6 feet in diameter and depending upon whether the "height of a man" refers to the entire stone or the part above ground, possibly 12.

2. Isildur set the stone far inland, not on the shore.

Surely this must have some great significance to be worth carting on a ship, taking up space and weight he could have used for, say, his record collection. Being the shape of a globe it would have been extremely awkward to stow securely. And, either the fall of Numenor generated one heck of a tidal wave (but there are no stories of the coast of the Bay of Belfalas being swamped by it to that extent) or Isildur went to a heck of a lot of trouble to cart that thing to the headwaters of the Blackroot. Plus, the fact that the King of the Mountains wore allegiance to Isildur on it implies a prior significance. But what was it?

Any insights from HoME would be greatly appreciated. If there are no other mentions of it, I would love to hear your speculations!

[ 01-29-2003, 09:55 PM: Message edited by: Miz Lobelia ]

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Roll of Honor Miz Lobelia
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No response? Come on, Fingolfin, Maerbenn, you guys know EVERYTHING! I really do want to know what made that stone worth hauling all the way from Numenor to ME. Surely not simply to provide a spooky prop for a remote descendant!
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Roll of Honor Ecthelion of the Fountain
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sorry lobelia i cant answer your question, but as it was the height of a man out of the round (man-high was 6 foot 4 in Numenor terms) the the stone would be indeed HUGE and HEAVY

area is 4(pi)r^2 so 4((3.14159)(3.166)^2 or 126 square feet, and i found that stone weighs 120 pounds per square foot (not sure about this) but assuming its true to find the wieght we multiply 126x120 and we find that the stone of erech weighs nigh on 15,000 pounds! and 1 kilo wieghs 2.20 pounds, or a little over 6800 kilos

note the math has a 1 in 4 chance of being right, so theis thing had to be terribly important to bring from the west, and it was brought by people fleeing for their lives!!! so its importance must have been off the chart

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Halion
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Warming up a bit here...

From The Silmarillion, 'Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age':
quote:
Many treasures and great heirlooms of virtue and wonder the Exiles had brought from Númenor ...


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Reali
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Ships needs burden(stones) to balance sailing and and keep the ship steady. So perhaps the stone of Erech worked for this purpose also. Anyway it was one hell of a job to carry it around []
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Nash Rómerandir
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It is indeed an intersting question which I never fully studied... There seems to be unfortunately not much info on that matter but...
Okay, [] let me try and sort things out:
quote:
From The Silmarillion, Of the Rings of Power:
These [Minas Anor, Minas Ithil and Osgiliath] were the chief dwellings of the Númenóreans in Gondor, but other works marvellous and strong they built in the land in the days of their power, at the Argonath, and at Aglarond, and at Erech; and in the circle of Angrenost, which Men called Isengard, they made the Pinnacle of Orthanc of unbreakable stone.

So it seems the Stone of Erech was indeed a deed of some importance to be listed alongside Argonath or Orthanc...
quote:
From The Return of the King, The Passing of the Grey Company:
For at Erech there stands yet a black stone that was brought, it was said, from Númenor by Isildur; and it was set upon a hill, and upon it the King of the Mountains swore allegiance to him in the beginning of the realm of Gondor. But when Sauron returned and grew in might again, Isildur summoned the Men of the Mountains to fulfil their oath, and they would not: for they had worshipped Sauron in the Dark Years.

The stone was thus set there to symbolise the allegiance of the Men of the Mountains... The Númenoreans used to 'create' big things (such as Argonath) either to show their power or to symbolise treaties (etc.). In The War of the Ring it is said that the Stone of Erech "established the bounds of Gondor."

That's all that can be found in the 'finished' work... Now, let's see how the idea of this stone was develloped:
quote:
From HoME VIII, The War of the Ring ,Minas Tirith:
[Aragorn says he defied Sauron by using the Palantir]
And then I learned much. For one thing, that there are yet other Stones. One is at Erech and that is where we are going. [Struck out: At the Stone of Erech Men shall...be seen.]' Halbarad bears this message:
Out of the mountain shall they come their tryst keeping; at the Stone of Erech their horn shall blow, when hope is dead and the kings are sleeping and darkness lies on the world below: Three lords shall come from the three kindreds from the North at need by the paths of the dead elflord, dwarflord, and lord forwandred, and one shall wear a crown on head.
And that is an old rhyme of Gondor which none have understood; but I think I perceive somewhat of its sense now. To the Stone of Erech by the paths of the Dead!' he said rising. 'Who will come with me?'

It seems that JRRT first wanted the stone of Erech to be a palantir. But then, later in the same text:
quote:
This was a black stone, according to legend brought from Numenor, set up to mark the meeting place of Isildur and Anarion with the last king of the dark men of the Mountains, who swore allegiance to the sons of Elendil [...] The stone was enclosed in a now ruined ring-wall and beside it the Gondorians had anciently erected a tower, and there had been kept one of the palantiri. [...] The tower and ring-wall on the Hill of Erech, and the palantir, have now disappeared.
The stone now becomes another type of stone, the one we are used to. But later still JRRT seemed to have wanted the stone to be from Valinor anyway:
quote:
It looked as if it had fallen from the sky, but it was brought out of the West, we were told.
Thus, if I interpret well the 'capitalized W' of 'West', the stone maybe first came from Valinor (explaining somehow was it was 'saved'from the drowning), and was set there to mark the boundary/allegiance... That's all there is to know! I've checked every books for references to the 'stone of Erech' but there is nothing more (that I could find)...

BTW, if the stone comes from Valinor, it might be 'lighter than it seems' anyway... []

Hope this helps! If it doesn't tell why Isildur brought it... We know more about it now []

Just a last quote for info:
quote:
From Letter #297:
I may mention [one] case where I was not, at the time of making use of them, aware of 'borrowing', but where it is probable, but by no means certain, that the names were nonetheless 'echoes'. Erech, the place where Isildur set the covenant-stone. This of course fits the style of the predominantly Sindarin nomenclature of Gondor (or it would not have been used), as it would do historically, even if it was, as it is now convenient to suppose, actually a pre-Númenórean name of long-forgotten meaning. Since naturally, as one interested in antiquity and notably in the history of languages and 'writing', I knew and had read a good deal about Mesopotamia, I must have known Erech the name of that most ancient city. Nonetheless at the time of writing L.R. Book V chs. II and IX (originally a continuous narrative, but divided for obvious constructional reasons) and devising a legend to provide for the separation of Aragorn from Gandalf, and his disappearance and unexpected return, I was probably more influenced by the important element ER (in Elvish) = 'one, single, alone'. In any case the fact that Erech is a famous name is of no importance to The L.R. and no connexions in my mind or intention between Mesopotamia and the Númenóreans or their predecessors can be deduced.

Found that interesting...

EDIT: spelling

[ 01-31-2003, 09:30 AM: Message edited by: Nash Balrog ]

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From: Cuiviénen (well, people call this place France) | Registered: Dec 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Roll of Honor Miz Lobelia
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Thanks, Nash Balrog! That was a lot of research! Too bad there isn't any more in the HoME. So in terms of the development of the story the globe shape would be a holdover from its earlier incarnation (insaxation?) as a palantir.

So I guess we are down to speculations. If it did originally come from Valinor, it would make sense that it might be worth the trouble of transporting. After all, Isildur is famous for having stolen the last fruit of the White Tree from practically under the noses of Ar-Pharazon and Sauron. I wondered at one point if it came from the Meneltarma, but Ar-Pharazon would have been watching for anyone going up there and it is anyway inconsistent with what we know of the practice of "Eru-ism" in Numenor. And, once again, there is the problem of moving it! Maybe the elves brought it to Andunië as a symbol of friendship and so the Lords of Andunië took it with them to plant in their new land to symbolise their continued friendship with the elves and faithfulness to the Valar. If so they planted it awfully far inland.

Any other speculations?

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Roll of Honor Ecthelion of the Fountain
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maybe it was made by feanor, maybe it was a realtime globe of Ea
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Nash Rómerandir
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I just had a thought about it...

The globe might have represented the allegiance of the númenoreans to Valinor...

Then when Isildur brought it to ME, he used it to represent the allegiance of the man of the mountains to Gondor...

Thus each time someone breaks the oath he made on the stone, he is doomed...

Maybe that is the actual power of the stone... To make it impossible for someone to break the oath he made.

This is so close to the 'doom of the Noldor', who could not break the Oath Fëanor made, that I can't help thinking Fëanor must be the creator of the stone...

[ 02-05-2003, 06:26 AM: Message edited by: Nash Rómerandir ]

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Roll of Honor Miz Lobelia
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Now there's a thought. That would explain why it was worth the transportation. In that case, too, it might be that it originally stood at Andúnië and was moved by Amandil when he withdrew to Rómenna. Prehaps he even kept it on a ship out at sea to keep it from being destroyed or desecrated by Ar-Pharazôn and Sauron and so that ship naturally left with the fleet of Elendil and his sons.

So why would Isildur plant it so far inland when he arrived on ME?

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Nash Rómerandir
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quote:
So why would Isildur plant it so far inland when he arrived on ME?
Well, to keep it from being submerged one day?...

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The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown. - H.P. Lovecraft

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Orofacion of the Vanyar
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Perhaps the location of the stone is symbolic of where the oath took place. Like a landmark.
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Snöwdog
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If the stone was a treasure from Valinor, or some other highly valued stone that was worth packing to Middle Earth, one has to be in awe of the necessary strength to move it and set it on a hill of Erech. Good info in this thread!
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