Who Was the Original Owner of Orcrist?
By DanielLB and DarkJackal
After some speculating on TheOneRing.net forums about the history of Orcrist, forum member DanielLB wrote a brief summary of the candidates for the original owner of the sword. I’ve made some slight edits and additions, but the majority are his words:
Beginning with the history of both Glamdring and Orcrist: We know that these swords, which the goblins named Beater and Biter respectively, were “mates” as stated in Fellowship of the Ring. Elrond reveals their origin in The Hobbit:
“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. Keep them well!”
The most prominent individuals of Gondolin in the First Age at the time of the Goblin-wars included:
King Turgon (The House of the King) – wielded Glamdring
Assuming Turgon did not carry two large blades, the “mate” of Glamdring was likely borne by another high ranking lord of Gondolin. Therefore, Orcrist could have been in the possession of one of the other ten Leaders of the Houses of Gondolin.
[Note: Some may equate “mate” with “twin”, but there is nothing in the text to prove the two swords looked exactly alike. Alternatively, it could be interpreted that they were created either by the same smith, or by different smiths, but around the same time, or simply that they stayed in close proximity to each other over the centuries. The goblins of the Third Age had an unpleasant tale or two about Beater and Biter, but unless their collective memory goes back all the way to the First Age, we can assume the swords were in use together more recently.]
Glorfindel (House of the Golden Flower)
During the Battle of Gondolin, Glorfindel was pulled into an abyss far outside the walls of the city by a balrog, but only after he had mortally stabbed the creature. His body was recovered and laid to rest by the eagle Thorondor, but unless the eagle also recovered his weapon (and not buried it with him), we may assume it was lost.
Salgant (House of the Harp)
He was the leader of the House of musicians. Salgant died in the Fall of Gondolin, but is known more for his treachery than his valor, and it is unlikely he wielded Orcrist.
“Behind them came the host of the Harp … They were dight with tassels of silver and tassels of gold, and a harp of silver shone in their blazonry upon a field of black.” (Book of Lost Tales II)
Although there are other leaders of the Houses who fought bravely at the Battle of Gondolin, if we assume their weapon of choice (that which Tolkien made a note of) was the only one they bore, then we can quickly rule out a number of the candidates: Continue reading