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Bardings, The

Meaning: The People of King Bard the Bowman

Other Names: The Men of Dale

Location(s): Dale and Laketown (Esgaroth)

Race/Species: Man

Dates: Third Age

Description:
The Bardings were the people of Dale, a town nestled at the foot of the Lonely Mountain (Erebor), under the rule of the line of Girion, Lord of Dale. They were Northern men, akin to the Rohirrim. They were named after the most famous King of Dale, Bard the Bowman, who killed Smaug the Dragon and then rebuilt the town. They were prosperous folk, great friends and allies to the Dwarves of Erebor and the Elves of Mirkwood, and kin to the Men of Laketown. They had the unusual ability to understand the language of birds.

[Said Aragorn,] "... [The] kinship [of the Rohirrim] is rather with the Bardings of Dale, and with the Beornings of the Wood, among whom may still be seen many men tall and fair, as are the Riders of Rohan..."

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 2, The Riders of Rohan

Said Glóin [father of Gimli the Dwarf], "Nowhere are there any men so friendly to us [Dwarves] as the Men of Dale. They are good folk, the Bardings."

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 1, Many Meetings

Skills
Said Thorin [Oakenshield the Dwarf], "The thrushes are good and friendly -- this is a very old bird indeed, and is maybe the last left of the ancient breed that used to live about here ... a couple of hundreds years or more ago. The Men of Dale used to have the trick of understanding their language, and used them for messengers to fly to the Men of the Lake and elsewhere."

The Hobbit, Ch 12, Inside Information

The food was mostly in the form of very thin cakes. ... Gimli ... looked at it with a doubtful eye. ... "I thought it was only a kind of cram, such as the Dale-men make for journeys in the wild," said the Dwarf.

"So it is," [the Elves of Lothlórien] answered. "But we call it lembas or waybread, and it is more strengthening than any food made by Men, and it is more pleasant than cram, by all accounts."

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 8, Farewell to Lórien

History
[Laketown] throve on the trade ... from the South [Mirkwood]... but in the great days of old, when Dale in the North was rich and prosperous, they had been wealthy and powerful...

The Hobbit, Ch 10, A Warm Welcome

2590 III - Dwarves return to Erebor; Town of Dale founded:
Said Thorin [Oakenshield, the Dwarf], "Long ago in my grandfather Thror's time our family ... came back with all their wealth and their tools to [the Lonely Mountain]. ... They grew immensely rich and famous, and my grandfather was King under the Mountain again and treated with great reverence by the mortal men, who lived to the South, and were gradually spreading up the Running River as far as the valley overshadowed by the Mountain. They built the merry town of Dale there in those days."

"Kings used to send for our smiths, and reward even the least skilful most richly. Fathers would beg us to take their sons as apprentices, and pay us handsomely, especially in food-supplies, which we never bothered to grow or find for ourselves. Altogether those were good days for us, and the poorest of us had money to spend and to lend, and leisure to make beautiful things just for the fun of it, not to speak of the most marvellous and magical toys, the like of which is not to be found in the world now-a-days. So my grandfather's halls became full of armour and jewels and carvings and cups, and the toy-market of Dale was the wonder of the North."

"Undoubtedly that was what brought the dragon."

The Hobbit, Ch 1, An Unexpected Party

[The] talk [of Thorin Oakenshield's company] turned to ... the things that Thorin and Balin remembered [being under the Lonely Mountain:] ... the necklace of Girion, Lord of Dale, made of five hundred emeralds green as grass, which he gave for the arming of his eldest son in a coat of dwarf-linked rings the like of which had never been made before, for it was wrought of pure silver to the power and strength of triple steel.

The Hobbit, Ch 12, Inside Information

2770 III - Smaug the Dragon destroys Erebor and Dale:
[Said Thorin Oakenshield,] "There was a most specially greedy, strong and wicked worm called Smaug. One day he flew up into the air and came south. ... From a good way off we saw the dragon settle on our mountain [the Lonely Mountain] in a spout of flame. Then he came down the slopes and when he reached the woods they all went up in fire. By that time all the bells were ringing in Dale and the warriors were arming. ... The river rushed up in steam and a fog fell on Dale, and in the fog the dragon came on them and destroyed most of the warriors..."

"Later he used to crawl out of the great gate and come by night to Dale, and carry away people, especially maidens, to eat, until Dale was ruined, and all the people dead or gone."

The Hobbit, Ch 1, An Unexpected Party

[Smaug the Dragon] snorted, "Revenge! ... Girion Lord of Dale is dead, and I have eaten his people like a wolf among sheep, and where are his sons' sons that dare approach me? I kill where I wish and none dare resist. I laid low the warriors of old and their like is not in the world today."

The Hobbit, Ch 12, Inside Information

2941 III - Smaug the Dragon destroys Laketown; Bard kills Smaug:
But there was still a company of archers that held their ground among the burning houses. Their captain was Bard, grim-voiced and grim-faced, whose friends ... knew his worth and courage. He was a descendant in long line of Girion, Lord of Dale, whose wife and child had escaped down the Running River from the ruin long ago. ...

"Bard is not lost!" he cried. "He dived from Esgaroth [Laketown], when the enemy was slain. I am Bard, of the line of Girion; I am the slayer of the dragon!" ...

Bard took the lead [after the attack on Laketown], and ordered things as he wished, ... he had a hard task to govern the people and direct the preparations for their protection and housing. Probably most of them would have perished in the winter ... But help came swiftly; for Bard at once had speedy messengers sent up the river to the Forest to ask the aid of the King of the Elves of the Wood... [King Thranduil], when he received the prayers of Bard, had pity, for he was the lord of a good and kindly people; ... he hastened now down the river to the Long Lake... [and a] great store of goods he sent ahead by water.

The Hobbit, Ch 14, Fire and Water

2941 III:
The Battle of the Five Armies in Dale. [The Army of Men was led by Bard the Bowman.] Death of Thorin II. Dáin of the Iron Hills becomes King under the Mountain (Dáin II).

2944 III:
Bard rebuilds Dale and becomes King.

The Return of the King, LoTR Appendix B, The Tale of Years

Glóin [father of Gimli] began then to talk of the works of his people [Dwarves of Erebor], telling Frodo about their great labours in [rebuilding] Dale ... You should see the waterways of Dale, Frodo, and the fountains, and the pools! You should see the stone-paved roads of many colours! ... Then you would see that we have not been idle."

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 1, Many Meetings

2977 III:
Bain son of Bard becomes King of Dale.

3007 III:
Brand son of Bain becomes King in Dale.

The Return of the King, LoTR Appendix B, The Tale of Years

Said Glóin [father of Gimli the Dwarf], "The grandson of Bard the Bowman rules them, Brand son of Bain son of Bard. He is a strong king, and his realm now reaches far south [of Dale] and east of Esgaroth [Laketown]."

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 1, Many Meetings

3017 III - Sauron's Messengers Threaten Erebor and Dale:
[Said Glóin,] "Then ... a messenger came to Dáin ... from Mordor: a horseman in the night... The Lord Sauron the Great, so he said, wished for our friendship. ... And he asked urgently concerning hobbits, of what kind they were, and where they dwelt. 'For Sauron knows,' said he, 'that one of these was known to you on a time.'" ...

"At this we were greatly troubled, and we gave no answer. ... 'As a small token only of your friendship Sauron asks this,' he said: 'that you should find this thief,' such was his word, 'and get from him, willing or no, a little ring, the least of rings, that once he stole. It is but a trifle that Sauron fancies, and an earnest of your good will. Find it, and three rings that the Dwarf sires possessed of old shall be returned to you, and the realm of Moria shall be yours for ever. Find only news of the thief, whether he still lives and where, and you shall have great reward and lasting friendship from the Lord. Refuse, and things will not seem so well. Do you refuse?'" ...

"Heavy have the hearts of our chieftains been since that night. We needed not the fell voice of the messenger to warn us that his words held both menace and deceit; for we knew already that the power that has re-entered Mordor has not changed, and ever it betrayed us of old. ..."

"... We discover that messengers have come also to King Brand in Dale, and that he is afraid. We fear that he may yield. Already war is gathering on his eastern borders. If we make no answer, the Enemy may move Men of his rule to assail King Brand, and Dáin also."

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 2, The Council of Elrond

17-19 March 3019 III - The Battle of Dale; Siege of Erebor begins:
At the same time as the great armies besieged Minas Tirith [in the War of the Ring] a host of the allies of Sauron that had long threatened the borders of King Brand crossed the River Carnen, and Brand was driven back to Dale. There he had the aid of the Dwarves of Erebor; and there was a great battle at the Mountain's feet. It lasted three days, but in the end both King Brand and King Dáin Ironfoot were slain, and the Easterlings had the victory. But they could not take the Gate and many, both Dwarves and Men, took refuge in Erebor, and there withstood a siege.

27 March 3019 III - Siege of Erebor is broken:
When news came of the great victories in the South, then Sauron's northern army was filled with dismay; and the besieged came forth and routed them, and the remnant fled into the East and troubled Dale no more. Then Bard II, Brand's son, became King in Dale, and Thorin III Stonehelm, Dáin's son, became King under the Mountain.

1 May 3019 III - Crowning of King Elessar:
[Dale and Erebor] sent their ambassadors to the crowning of King Elessar; and their realms remained ever after, as long as they lasted, in friendship with Gondor; and they were under the crown and protection of the King of the West.

The Return of the King, LoTR Appendix B, The Tale of Years: The Third Age

Language
East of the Misty Mountains, even far to the north, the Common Speech [Westron] was known; though there, as beside the Long Lake or in Dale, or among the Beornings and the Woodmen of the west-eaves of Mirkwood, Men also retained their own tongues in daily use.

The Peoples of Middle-Earth, HoME Vol 12, Part 1, Ch 2, The Appendix on Languages

[Before] their crossing of the [Misty] Mountains, the Hobbits spoke the same language as Men in the higher vales of the Anduin, roughly between the Carrock and the Gladden Fields. ... Now that language was nearly the same as the language of the ancestors of the Rohirrim; and it was also allied ... to the languages of Men further north and east (as in Dale and Esgaroth)...

It is thus possible to understand ... the occurrence among the western and settled Hobbits of many peculiar words not found in the Common Speech but found in the tongues of Rohan and of Dale.

An example of this is provided by the name Stoor itself. It seems originally to have meant 'big', and though no such word is found in the Common Speech, it is usual in the language of Dale. ... [Smial], in Hobbit-language the word for an inhabited hole, ... seems related to the word smygel in Rohan meaning 'a burrow', ... and to the name of the Dragon Smaug (if that is a name given to him by the northern men of Dale, as seems likely).

The Peoples of Middle-Earth, HoME Vol 12, Part 1, Ch 2, The Appendix on Languages (italicized part from an earlier draft, quoted in Note 13)

[The] Hobbits of the Shire and of Bree adhered to old-fashioned month-names, which they seem to have picked up in antiquity from the Men of the Anduin-vale; at any rate very similar names were found in Dale and in Rohan.

The Peoples of Middle-Earth, HoME Vol 12, Part 1, Ch 3, The Calendars

Contributors:
Elena Tiriel 24Jan04

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