The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien
Dates
Race
Culture
Family
Settlements
Associated with the Northfarthing of the Shire, and perhaps with the town of Long Cleeve1
Meaning
Named for an ancient sound-making device2
Title of

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  • Updated 10 May 2020
  • Updates planned: 1

Bullroarer

Title of Bandobras Took

Isumbras
Took III

Ferumbras
Took II

The Bullroarer
(Bandobras Took)
The North-took family,
and other descendants

The title given to Bandobras Took, the nearest thing in Hobbit history to a great warrior. Tall enough to ride a horse, the Bullroarer was most famous for his rout of the Goblins at the Battle of Greenfields.


Notes

1

As the son of Thain Isumbras III, Bandobras was presumably raised in the Tookland, in the Shire's Westfarthing. Our few references to his life, however, consistently place him in the Northfarthing. Not only did he fight the Battle of Greenfields there, but he also established the North-took family. All this seems to imply that Bandobras removed from the Tookland and established himself in the Northfarthing. His descendants the North-tooks were associated with Long Cleeve, so we might reasonably take it that this was where Bandobras settled.

2

While the name 'Bullroarer' is clearly meant to communicate a sense of ferocity and vigour, it has a more concrete origin than that might imply. In his notes for translators, Tolkien explains that he was inspired to use the name by a kind of instrument that made a roaring sound (though when he came to confirm its existence in his dictionaries, he was unable to locate the term).

Tolkien was right; there is indeed an instrument known as a 'bullroarer'. A shaped wooden panel is fixed to the end of a cord, and when whirled in a circle this makes a loud humming, roaring sound that can be used to communicate over enormous distances.

Does Bandobras' nickname suggest that the Hobbits used 'bullroaring' devices like this? Though bullroarers are perhaps most strongly associated with Australian Aboriginal cultures, versions were in fact invented independently by peoples all over the World, so the idea of the Hobbits having their own version is not inherently preposterous. If Hobbits ever did use instruments like this, they were presumably no more than a historical curiosity by the end of the Third Age (when sending a message by the Quick Post would have be rather more convenient).

Indexes:

About this entry:

  • Updated 10 May 2020
  • Updates planned: 1

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