Barrow Downs question

Bruce N H

Member
Hi all, and Prof. Olsen,

A quick question on the Barrow Downs, after listening to episode 38 of Exploring LotR (the episode that was cut short). When they come to the top of the hill and see a misleading view, you compared it to the bald hill in the Old Forest, and suggest that they were led there intentionally, which I'd never thought of before and it's an intriguing thought. But it raised a question for me. In the Old Forest their trail is dictated by the gaps between the trees, and the trees under the influence of Old Man Willow move around to direct their path towards him. In the Downs, their trail is dictated by the shape of the land - they "wound along the floor of the hollow, and round the green feet of a steep hill into another deeper and broader valley". Then they see a long valley headed northwards, and this is where they head after the mist falls. If we are making the analogy to the way they were herded through the Old Forest, does this suggest that the wights could control and move around the hills themselves?

BTW, one other quick thought - the description of the Downs seems pretty ominous if you're a hobbit, but it sounds like a perfect home if you're a rabbit.

Bruce / Bricktales
 

Tungol

Member
A quick question on the Barrow Downs, after listening to episode 38 of Exploring LotR (the episode that was cut short). When they come to the top of the hill and see a misleading view, you compared it to the bald hill in the Old Forest, and suggest that they were led there intentionally, which I'd never thought of before and it's an intriguing thought. But it raised a question for me. In the Old Forest their trail is dictated by the gaps between the trees, and the trees under the influence of Old Man Willow move around to direct their path towards him. In the Downs, their trail is dictated by the shape of the land - they "wound along the floor of the hollow, and round the green feet of a steep hill into another deeper and broader valley". Then they see a long valley headed northwards, and this is where they head after the mist falls. If we are making the analogy to the way they were herded through the Old Forest, does this suggest that the wights could control and move around the hills themselves?
If I see a similarity with the bald hill episode, it's with the haze that surrounds the hobbits. In particular these lines: "a shadow now lay round the edge of sight, a dark haze above which the upper sky was like a blue cap, hot and heavy." and "Certainly the distances had now all become hazy and deceptive, but there could be no doubt the Downs were coming to an end."

The haze misdirects and deceives the hobbits, in an even more obvious way than on the bald hill, where it just blocked their view of where they wanted to go.

So, I think the more pertinent question is, where does this haze come from, and is it connected with the earlier one in the Old Forest? My guess is that they are not directly connected, but that Tolkien used haze/mist as a manifestation of the malevolence of the landscape, so to speak. The Withywindle Valley and The Barrow Downs are both places that have been corrupted and fallen (for different reasons).
 
Last edited:
Top