Things of Middle-earth
Other Names: Goblin-cleaver, Biter
Sword manufactured in Gondolin and taken as war spoil by the creatures of Morgoth in the First Age. It was found again in III 2941 by Thorin Oakenshield, who wielded it on the journey to Erebor and the Battle of Five Armies. It was buried with him after his death in that battle.
Then the stone door swung back with one big push, and they all went inside. There were bones on the floor and a nasty smell was in the air; but there was a good deal of food jumbled carelessly on shelves and on the ground, among an untidy litter of plunder, of all sorts from brass buttons to pots full of gold coins standing in a corner. There were lots of clothes, too, hanging on the walls -- too small for trolls, I am afraid they belonged to victims -- and among them were several swords of various makes, shapes, and sizes. Two caught their eyes particularly, because of their beautiful scabbards and jewelled hilts. Gandalf and Thorin each took one of these; and Bilbo took a knife in a leather sheath. ...
'These look like good blades,' said the wizard, half drawing them and looking at them curiously. 'They were not made by any troll, nor by any smith among men in these parts and days; but when we can read the runes on them, we shall know more about them.'
The Hobbit, Ch 2, Roast Mutton
Elrond knew all about runes of every kind. That day he looked at the swords they had brought from the trolls' lair, and he said: 'They are old swords, very old swords of the High Elves of the West, my kin. They were made in Gondolin for the Goblin-wars. They must have come from a dragon's hoard or goblin plunder, for dragons and goblins destroyed that city many ages ago. This, Thorin, the runes name Orcrist, the Goblin-cleaver in the ancient tongue of Gondolin; it was a famous blade.'
The Hobbit, Ch 3 A Short Rest
'He is a liar, O truly tremendous one!' said one of the drivers. 'Several of our people were struck by lightning in the cave, when we invited these creatures to come below; and they are as dead as stones. Also he has not explained this!' He held out the sword which Thorin had worn, the sword which came from the Trolls' lair.
The Great Goblin gave a truly awful howl of rage when he looked at it, and all his soldiers gnashed their teeth, clashed their shields, and stamped. They knew the sword at once. It had killed hundreds of goblins in its time, when the fair elves of Gondolin hunted them in the hills or did battle before their walls. They had called it Orcrist, Goblin-cleaver, but the goblins called it simply Biter. They hated it and hated worse any one that carried it.
The Hobbit, Ch 4 Over Hill and Under Hill
Upon his tomb the Elvenking then laid Orcrist, the elvish sword that had been taken from Thorin in captivity. It is said in songs that it gleamed ever in the dark if foes approached, and the fortress of the dwarves could not be taken by surprise.
The Hobbit, Ch 18 The Return Journey
Contributors: Dim Genesis, 06.07.03 Quotes added by Lyllyn 11.30.04