The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien
Dates
Made during the Years of the Trees. At least two1 survived into the Fourth Age
Origins
Made by Fëanor
Other Names

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  • Updated 4 January 2013
  • This entry is complete

Seeing-stones

A name for the Palantíri

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Years of the Trees First Age Second Age Third Age Fourth Age and Beyond
The original locations of the Seeing-stones
The original locations of the seven Seeing-stones of Middle-earth.

The powerful orbs known as the palantíri made in ancient days by the Elves in Aman, and indeed said to have been the work of Fëanor himself. In appearance they were dark, perfectly smooth globes of various capabilities and sizes; some were small and portable, others so huge that they could not be lifted by a Man.

The Elves gave certain of these stones to the Númenóreans, and seven of these Númenórean stones were rescued from the Downfall of that island by Elendil and his sons. So these seven were brought to Middle-earth, and the Dúnedain set them up at distant points in their lands: at Amon Sûl, Elostirion and Annúminas in the north, and at Osgiliath, Orthanc, Minas Anor and Minas Ithil in the south. The chief stone of the north was that of Amon Sûl, lost with Arvedui in the cold northern seas. The greatest of the southern stones stood beneath the Dome of Stars in Osgiliath, and was lost during the Kin-strife.

During the Third Age, three of the stones were known to have been lost (Arvedui also had the Stone of Annúminas with him when he was lost at sea). The Ithil-stone was captured by Sauron and almost certainly destroyed in the Downfall of Barad-dûr, and the palantír of Elostirion in the Tower Hills was taken back into the West on the Ring-bearers' White Ship. At the beginning of the Fourth Age, then, there were just two Seeing-stones left in Middle-earth, the Anor-stone and the Orthanc-stone.

The Seeing-stones of Middle-earth were not the only palantíri to exist. Many remained with the Elves in Aman, including the so-called Masterstone held in the Tower of Avallónë on Tol Eressëa. Indeed, it was said that, before the stone was removed from the Tower Hills, it could be used to look along the Straight Road to the Undying Lands themselves.


Notes

1

It is conceivable that a third Stone, the Ithil-stone, also survived into the Fourth Age. See the entry for Palantíri for a discussion on this point.

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