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  • Updated 25 April 2015
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Badgers

Badgers are relatively large burrowing animals with generally grey coats, though their heads are distinctively striped in black and white. They delve networks of underground tunnels known as setts1, and can become ferocious when angered.2 No badger appears directly in any of the tales of Middle-earth, but they are referred to obliquely often enough to make it clear that they were well known from the Shire to Rohan.

When Frodo and his companions stayed with Tom Bombadil, among the many tales Tom told them was a story of badgers and their peculiar ways; this seems to be a reference to certain events in the poem The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, in which Tom was briefly captured by badgers, but quickly persuaded them to let him go on his way. That poem uses the old word 'brock' for a badger, and the same word can be seen in the place-name Brockenbores, 'badger-burrows', a village in the Eastfarthing of the Shire.


Notes

1

As the Company of the Ring explored Moria, Sam Gamgee exclaimed that the Dwarves must have been 'busier than badgers for five hundred years to make all this' (The Fellowship of the Ring II 4, A Journey in the Dark), a typically rustic comparison of the tunnelings of the Dwarves with the setts made by badgers.

2

At bay in the Hornburg, Théoden insists that he will not '...end here, taken like an old badger in a trap' (The Two Towers III 7, Helm's Deep). He means that, though he'll fight as fiercely as a cornered badger, his position appears to be ultimately hopeless.

See also...

Brockenbores

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About this entry:

  • Updated 25 April 2015
  • Updates planned: 1

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