The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien

Indexes:

About this entry:

  • Updated 27 November 2012
  • Updates planned: 2

Great Horn

Heirloom of the Stewards

A hunting horn created by Vorondil, father of Mardil the first Ruling Steward of Gondor. It was made from the horn of one of the great Kine of Araw1 that grazed the fields of Rhûn, bound and tipped with silver and engraved with writing in an ancient tongue. After Vorondil's time, it became tradition for the eldest son of the Ruling Steward to carry the Great Horn, down to the time of Boromir, heir to Denethor II. At that time the horn would have been about a thousand years old, and passed down through some twenty-seven2 generations.

Tradition said that if the Great Horn was blown within the ancient boundaries of Gondor, it would summon aid. This tradition did not help Boromir, who indeed winded the horn just within the far northern boundaries of old Gondor when he was attacked by Orcs at Parth Galen. Its sound could be heard far and wide, drowning out the roaring of the great waterfall of Rauros and even being faintly heard by Boromir's brother Faramir, far to the south. However, none of the Boromir's companions were able to reach him before he was fatally wounded, and the horn that had lasted a thousand years was broken in two by the Orcs. Eventually, the Great Horn found its way back to Minas Tirith: the halves had been laid on Boromir's funeral boat, and they were eventually recovered from Anduin and returned to his father Denethor.


Notes

1

Beyond the description 'great', we're not given many clues to the dimensions of the horn. Assuming that the Kine of Araw were comparable to the real ancient aurochs, the horn would have been about 80cm (or about 30") long and up to 20cm (about 8") across at the bell. (It's not clear how direct a comparison we can make between the Oxen of the East and the aurochs, but this gives some idea of the horn's likely size.)

2

Assuming that Mardil son of Vorondil was the first to carry the Great Horn, and that each successive Steward passed it to his heir, Boromir would have been its twenty-seventh bearer. However, it is not established for certain that Mardil began the practice, and there were two childless Stewards, so the exact number of bearers of the horn is impossible to calculate.

For acknowledgements and references, see the Disclaimer & Bibliography page.

Website services kindly sponsored by Axiom Software Ltd.

Original content © copyright Mark Fisher 2012. All rights reserved. For conditions of reuse, see the Site FAQ.