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


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  • Updated 18 October 2003
  • Updates planned: 3

Red Arrow

The summons of Gondor

An arrow sent as a symbol of desperate need from Gondor to its northern allies, the Rohirrim. Its flights were black and its barbs were made of steel, and it took its name from a mark of red painted on the arrow's tip. The origins of the tradition of the Red Arrow are obscure, but it seems to date back to the time of Borondir, who rode north from Gondor to summon aid from the ancestors of the Rohirrim, the Éothéod, in III 2509. Borondir was one of six messengers, the only one of the six to escape the orc-arrows of Dol Guldur, and the black feathers of the Red Arrow perhaps commemorate this feat by representing the arrows of the Orcs.

The Red Arrow was only sent north in the most perilous of circumstances. Though Gondor had been battling their foes for many years before the War of the Ring began in earnest, the Arrow had not been used to summon help from Rohan at any time during Théoden's reign. With the Siege of Gondor fast approaching, Denethor sent the Arrow at last with a messenger named Hirgon. Théoden answered the summons, and brought his Riders to Gondor's aid in the great Battle of the Pelennor Fields.

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