The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien
Dates
The only known member of this family, Tom Pickthorn, was slain in early III 3019
Race
Division
Culture
Settlements
Associated with the opposite side of the Bree-hill from Bree itself
Meaning
Probably 'thorn-spike'1

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  • Updated 4 July 2015
  • This entry is complete

Pickthorn Family

A family of the Bree-land

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It was common in the Bree-land, especially among Men, for families to take their names from plants, and the Pickthorns were among these. The sole recorded member of the family was Tom Pickthorn, who was slain during the War of the Ring. He was described as coming from the other side of the Bree-hill from Bree itself, though whether this meant that all the Pickthorns lived in that area is unclear. Tom, at least, was small of stature, as was common among the stocky Bree-landers. This implies that the Pickthorns likely share their descent from the ancient Men of the Mountains who lived in the far south many thousands of years before the settlement of Bree.


Notes

1

It may seem natural to interpret 'Pickthorn' as meaning something like 'a person who picks thorns'. In English names, however, the element 'pick' commonly originates from Old English píc, meaning a sharp point or spike.

'Pickthorn' is name of a tiny village in Shropshire, England, and this real use of the name is indeed derived from Old English píc, and means 'place of the thorn-spikes'. In fact, the hamlet of Pickthorn is only some forty miles from Tolkien's childhood home of Sarehole, so it is not entirely inconceivable that it was the ultimate inspiration of the Pickthorn family of Bree.

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