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  • Updated 20 June 2016
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Tenders of the sick in Minas Tirith

The name given to the lore-masters that preserved the knowledge and practice of leechcraft1 within the walls of Minas Tirith. Though much of their lore had been lost through the long years of the Third Age, they were nonetheless highly skilled at their work, capable of healing both wounds and illnesses. Much of the wisdom of the Healers appears to have been preserved in ancient rhymes, but by the time of the War of the Ring, the meaning behind some of these rhymes had faded and been forgotten.

The preserve of the Healers was a group of buildings known as the Houses of Healing, which were set within their own gardens and trees high in Minas Tirith, against the southern wall of the sixth of that city's seven circles. Most important among the Healers within the Houses was one appointed to the role of Warden, who was himself a Healer. Also important among the Healers was the herb-master, who studied the lore of the many herbs held within the Houses and used by the Healers in their work.

During the dark days of the War of the Ring it fell to the Healers to save the lives of those wounded in battle, especially the great Battle of the Pelennor Fields before Minas Tirith itself. Among their most famous charges at this time were the Steward Faramir (who had been struck by a noxious dart), as well as the Lady Éowyn and the Hobbit Meriadoc Brandybuck, who were both grievously hurt in their slaying of the Witch-king. All of these were victims of the darkness the healers had named the Black Shadow, but curing that evil malady proved beyond their capabilities. Fortunately, Aragorn had healing talents and knowledge beyond even that of the herb-master of the Healers, and using the plant known as athelas or kingsfoil that he was able to save all three lives.



'Leechcraft' is an old word used by Tolkien for the work of the Healers, coming ultimately from Old English læce, meaning a physician or healer. Historically these healers used certain blood-sucking water creatures in their work, which only later acquired the name 'leeches' through this connection. As used of the Healers of Minas Tirith, then, 'leechcraft' simply refers to their arts of healing, and has no direct connection to leeches of the blood-sucking kind.

See also...

Houses of Healing

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