There seems1 to have been a historical tradition in Rohan for the women of that people to fight beside the men, though by the later years of the Third Age this tradition - if it existed at all - had been relegated to history. These female warriors were known as shieldmaidens, and Éowyn of Rohan claimed to follow this heritage. It's not clear how 'official' this title was; though Éowyn used it of herself on several occasions, there is no record of any other such shieldmaidens existing at the time of the War of the Ring. After her victory over the Lord of the Nazgûl in the Battle of the Pelennor, Éowyn herself abandoned the title to become a healer, thus apparently bringing the tradition of the shieldmaidens of Rohan to an end.
There is no direct reference to the shieldmaiden tradition in canonical sources, but earlier versions of the text (reproduced in volume 8 of The History of Middle-earth) do allude to it. There we have a reference to the women of Rohan fighting against an invasion of Easterlings during the reign of Eorl's grandson (named there as Brego, but following later versions this would be Aldor). This invasion would have been about four hundred years before Éowyn's time.
For acknowledgements and references, see the Disclaimer & Bibliography page.
Website services kindly sponsored by Axiom Software Ltd.
Original content © copyright Mark Fisher 2013-2014. All rights reserved. For conditions of reuse, see the Site FAQ.