Evil spirits sent to dwell in the Barrow-downs by the Witch-king of Angmar during his wars with the remnant of Arnor, and who remained there long after the realm of Angmar itself had vanished from the world.
The word wight comes from Old English wiht, a word with a very broad meaning that could signify a person, a creature or even just a thing. That word in itself didn't have any particularly evil connotations, but the related Old Saxon wiht, which literally meant 'thing', could be used to also refer to demons. It may be that Tolkien had this connection to the underworld in mind when he chose to refer to the grave-spirits of the Barrow-downs as 'wights'.
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