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Things of Middle-earth

Anglachel

Type: Weapons

Meaning: Iron of the Flaming Star

Other Names:
Mormegil 'Black Sword'
The Black Thorn of Brethil

After it was reforged:
Gurthang 'Iron of Death'

Description:

A sword forged of meteoric iron by the Sindarin smith, Eöl of Nan Elmoth; wielded by Beleg Cúthalion and then by Túrin Turambar:
'I ask then for a sword of worth,' said Beleg; 'for the Orcs come now too thick and close for a bow only, and such blade as I have is no match for their armour.'

'Choose from all that I have,' said Thingol, 'save only Aranrúth, my own.'

Then Beleg chose Anglachel; and that was a sword of great worth, and it was so named because it was made of iron that fell from heaven as a blazing star; 1 it would cleave all earth-delved iron. One other sword only in Middle-earth was like to it. That sword does not enter into this tale, though it was made of the same ore by the same smith; and that smith was Eöl the Dark Elf.... He gave Anglachel to Thingol as fee, which he begrudged, for leave to dwell in Nan Elmoth; but its mate Anguirel he kept....

But as Thingol turned the hilt of Anglachel towards Beleg, Melian looked at the blade; and she said: 'There is malice in this sword. The dark heart of the smith still dwells in it. It will not love the hand it serves; neither will it abide with you long.'

The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Ch 21, Of Túrin Turambar

Beleg... went back to the north marches.... Then in Dimbar the Orcs were driven back, and Anglachel rejoiced to be unsheathed....

The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Ch 21, Of Túrin Turambar

Thus was Bar-en-Danwedh betrayed, for the Orcs came upon it by night at unawares, guided by Mîm. There many of Túrin's company were slain....

And... when all was silent again Mîm crept out of the shadows of his house; and... stood beside the dead men on the hill-top. But... by one his gaze was returned, and he looked in the eyes of Beleg the Elf. Then with hatred long-stored Mîm stepped up to Beleg, and drew forth the sword Anglachel that lay beneath the body of one that had fallen beside him; but Beleg stumbling up seized back the sword and thrust it at the Dwarf, and Mîm in terror fled wailing from the hill-top.

The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Ch 21, Of Túrin Turambar

[They] found Túrin fettered hand and foot and tied to a withered tree; and... he was senseless in a sleep of great weariness. But Beleg and Gwindor cut the bonds that held him, and lifting him they carried him out of the dell.... Beleg drew his sword Anglachel, and with it he cut the fetters that bound Túrin; but fate was that day more strong, for the blade slipped as he cut the shackles, and Túrin's foot was pricked. Then he was aroused into a sudden wakefulness of rage and fear, and seeing one bending over him with naked blade he leapt up with a great cry, believing that Orcs were come again to torment him; and grappling with him in the darkness he seized Anglachel, and slew Beleg Cúthalion thinking him a foe....

Then Gwindor roused Túrin...; and together they laid Beleg in a shallow grave, and placed beside him Belthronding his great bow.... But the dread sword Anglachel Gwindor took, saying that it were better that it should take vengeance on the servants of Morgoth than lie useless in the earth....

The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Ch 21, Of Túrin Turambar

Gwindor gave the sword Anglachel into his hands, and Túrin knew that it was heavy and strong and had great power; but its blade was black and dull and its edges blunt. Then Gwindor said: 'This is a strange blade, and unlike any that I have seen in Middle-earth. It mourns for Beleg even as you do.'

The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Ch 21, Of Túrin Turambar

The sword Anglachel was forged anew for [Túrin] by cunning smiths of Nargothrond, and though ever black its edges shone with pale fire; and he named it Gurthang, Iron of Death. So great was his prowess and skill in warfare on the confines of the Guarded Plain that he himself became known as Mormegil, the Black Sword....

The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Ch 21, Of Túrin Turambar

Glaurung issued from the gaping doors, and lay... between Túrin and the bridge....

Then Túrin sprang about..., and the edges of Gurthang shone as with flame; but Glaurung withheld his blast, and opened wide his serpent-eyes and gazed upon Túrin. Without fear Túrin looked into them as he raised up the sword; and straightway he fell under the binding spell of the lidless eyes of the dragon, and was halted moveless....

And while he was yet held by the eyes of the dragon in torment of mind..., the Orcs drove away the herded captives, and they passed nigh to Túrin and crossed over the bridge. Among them was Finduilas, and she cried out to Túrin as she went; but not until her cries and the wailing of the captives was lost upon the northward road did Glaurung release Túrin....

But Túrin drawing back his sword stabbed at the dragon's eyes; and Glaurung coiling back swiftly towered above him, and said: 'Nay! At least thou art valiant.... And they lie who say that we of our part do not honour the valour of foes. See now! I offer thee freedom.... Get thee gone!....'

The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Ch 21, Of Túrin Turambar

[The] Orc-host that led the captives of Nargothrond... had... cruelly slain their prisoners, and Finduilas... died, saying at the last: 'Tell the Mormegil that Finduilas is here.' Therefore they had laid her in a mound..., and named it Haudh-en-Elleth....

Túrin bade them lead him thither, and there he fell down into a darkness of grief.... Then Dorlas by his black sword, the fame whereof had come even into the deeps of Brethil, and by his quest of the King's daughter, knew that this Wildman was indeed the Mormegil of Nargothrond....

The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Ch 21, Of Túrin Turambar


Etymology
anga  'iron', Sindarin ang, in Angainor, Angband, Anghabar, Anglachel, Angrist, Angrod, Anguirel, Gurthang; angren 'of iron' in Angrenost, plural engrin in Ered Engrin.

The Silmarillion, Appendix: Elements in Quenya and Sindarin Names

lhach 'leaping flame' in Dagor Bragollach, and probably in Anglachel (the sword made by Eöl of meteoric iron).

Ibid.


Notes
1An extraordinary example of an ancient dagger made in India of meteoric iron can be found at the Smithsonion Institution's Freer Gallery of Asian Art:

Early pre-Mughal Sultanate period (ca. 1206-1526) works on view include... [several] Mughal luxury objects, including a knife made for the Emperor Jahangir out of meteoric iron and decorated with gold inlay....

From Arts of the Indian Subcontinent and the Himalayas, at the Freer Gallery of the Smithsonion Institution

A meteoric iron knife.
A meteoric iron knife of Mughal India, 1621, from the Smithsonion's Freer Gallery.
"At dawn a tremendous noise arose in the east. It was so terrifying that it nearly frightened the inhabitants out of their skins. Then, in the midst of tumultuous noise, something bright fell to the earth from above...."

From the Jahangirnama (1605-24)

Thus did Emperor Jahangir describe a meteor that landed within his kingdom in April 1621. His fascination with unusual natural events — and his power to harness their aura — is revealed by this dagger's blade, forged from the glittering meteorite. Jahangir further noted that the blade "cut beautifully, as well as the very best swords."

From A Known Meteor Iron Blade - from 1600!, by Darrell Markewitz

Contributors:
Dim Genesis, 6Jun03
Lyllyn 1Dec04
Elena Tiriel 5Dec04, 11Oct10

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