Cormalaiqua: The Ring of Barahir

Or: whatever happened to my ring :}

By Irmo-(Valar) fka Felagund-(V)
April 4, 2000

Tolkien Encyclopedia > Objects > Jewels & Jewelry > Ring of Barahir


(…)green jewels gleamed there that the Noldor had devised in Valinor. For this ring was like to twin serpents, whose eyes were emeralds, and their heads met beneath a crown of golden flowers, that the one upheld and the other devoured; that was the badge of Finarfin and his house.”
(SIL, 195)

    In the Silmarillion we can read how Finrod pledged his troth to Barahir and his kin, thanking Barahir for his aid in the Dagor Bragollach. And Felagund gave to Barahir the ring of his house as a token of his Oath. The ring was then taken from Barahir by the orcs that killed him. But Beren avenged his father and retrieved the ring. When Beren was threatened by the elves of Nargothrond, he showed his ring to Felagund and told him about his trials. Felagund then set out to assist Beren in his quest, as is told in the "Lay of Leithian". And Felagund was slain in Tol-in-Gaurhoth.
    After this the Silmarillion speaks no more of the fate of the green ring. But in the Lord of the Rings that ring reappears in the Appendix (A): Of the ring of King Arvedui of Arthedain “it is said that it was none other than the ring which Felagund of Nargothrond gave to Barahir”.(LOTR 1018)

    So somehow this ring has silently survived all the perils of the end of the first Era, the whole of the second Era, and the first two milennia of the Third Era!
    Conjecturing from probability and necessity we may assume that this was thus accomplished:

First Era:

    The ring was passed in direct line from Beren to Dior to Elwing, and thus saved from the downfall of Doriath. And then from Elwing to Elros, thus saved from the drowning of Beleriand and brought to Númenor.

Second Era:

    In Númenor the ring passed in direct line from Elros Tar-Minyatur to Vardamir to Tar-Amandil to Tar-Elendil. But King Elendil gave the ring to his eldest daughter Silmariën, who was not allowed to succeed him on the throne. And the ring then passed from Silmariën to her son Valandil, first of the lords of Andúnië. And it was kept in that House of the Faithful, eventually being passed by Amandil to his son Elendil. And the ring went with Elendil on the ships that escaped the Akkalabêth.

Third Era:

    Then the ring was passed, again in direct line, from Elendil to Isildur to the Northern Line of the Kings in Arnor: from Valandil to eventually Eärendur. And in these days it rested in Annúminas. But then it moved to Fornost, to the Kings of Arthedain, and was passed from Amlaith, eldest son of Eärendur through thirteen successions to  – at last – King Arvedui.

    We can now take up the story from there as it is told in the Appendices to The Lord of the Rings. For the ring did not sink – as did two of the palantíri – with Arvedui Last King in the cold sea off the Cape of Forochel. Thankful for the help he received from them, Arvedui gave the ring of Barahir to the Lossoth (snowmen) of Forochel before he left. And from the Lossoth the ring was later ransomed by the Dúnedain and it was kept safe at Rivendell, where from Arahael son of Aranarth son of Arvedui all the chieftains of the Dúnedain were fostered.
And thus it came that eventually when Elrond told Aragorn son of Arathorn (who had been the fifteenth of the chieftains of the Dúnedain) of his true name and lineage, he gave him the heirlooms of his house and spoke:
    “Here is the ring of Barahir, the token of our kinship from afar; and here also are the shards of Narsil. With these you may yet do great deeds”. (LOTR 1032)
    What happened thereafter to Barahir’s ring we only learn from the Tale of Years (LOTR Appendix B). For in the year 2980 in the land of Lorien Aragorn gives the ring to Arwen Undómiel. And thus they were betrothed, looking west and east upon the hill of Cerin Amroth.
    We can but guess the fate of the ring as it entered the Fourth Era. For it is not mentioned amongst the ornaments that were passed to Eldarion. Maybe yet the ring was kept as a token of the lineage of the house Telcontar. But in my heart I think the ring went with Arwen as she retired to Cerin Amroth,  resting undisturbed in her green grave.
    For throughout the Eras the green ring has not been a ring of power, but a token of the friendship and troth between the Faithful Houses of the Eldar and the Faithful Houses of the Edain. And with the passing of Arwen Evenstar in Middle Earth even that song came to an end.

References: The Silmarillion, The Lord of the Rings
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