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Things of Middle-earth

Púkel-men of Dunharrow

Type: Artifacts

Other Names: watch-stones

Description:Ancient watch-stones, carved stone likenesses of a people called the Drúedain, that stood sentinel alongside the Road to Dunharrow:

At each turn of the road there were great standing stones that had been carved in the likeness of men, huge and clumsy-limbed, squatting cross-legged with their stumpy arms folded on fat bellies. Some in the wearing of the years had lost all features save the dark holes of their eyes that still stared sadly at the passers-by. The Riders hardly glanced at them. The Púkel-men they called them, and heeded them little: no power or terror was left in them; but Merry gazed at them with wonder and a feeling almost of pity, as they loomed up mournfully in the dusk. ...

Such was the dark Dunharrow, the work of long-forgotten men. Their name was lost and no song or legend remembered it. ... Here they laboured in the Dark Years, before ever a ship came to the western shores, or Gondor ... was built; and now they had vanished, and only the old Púkel-men were left, still sitting at the turnings of the road.

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 5, Ch 3, The Muster of Rohan

There sat Théoden and Éomer, and before them on the ground sat a strange squat shape of a man, gnarled as an old stone, and the hairs of his scanty beard straggled on his lumpy chin like dry moss. He was short-legged and fat-armed, thick and stumpy, and clad only with grass about his waist. Merry felt that he had seen him before somewhere, and suddenly he remembered the Púkel-men of Dunharrow. Here was one of those old images brought to life, or maybe a creature descended in true line through endless years from the models used by the forgotten craftsmen long ago. ...

'Wild men are wild, free, but not children,' he answered. 'I am great headman, Ghân-buri-Ghân.'

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 5, Ch 5, The Ride of the Rohirrim

But in Rohan the identity of the statues of Dunharrow called "Púkel-men" with the "Wild Men" of the Drúadan Forest was not recognized....

Unfinished Tales, Part 4, Ch 1, The Drúedain: Further Notes on the Drúedain

It seems that the term "Púkel-men" ... was only used in Rohan of the images of Dunharrow.

Unfinished Tales, Part 4, Ch 1, The Drúedain: Notes, Note 14


In the Guide to the Names in The Lord of the Rings (A Tolkien Compass, ed. Lobdell, p. 200) my father noted of the name Púkel-men: 'It represents Old English púcel (still surviving as puckle), one of the forms of the puk- stem (widespread in England, Wales, Ireland, Norway and Iceland) referring to a devil, or to a minor sprite such as Puck, and often applied to ugly misshapen persons.'

The War of the Ring, HoME Vol 8, Part 3, Ch 2, Book Five Begun and Abandoned: Notes, Note 15

Contributors: Elena Tiriel 22Dec04, 14Jan05

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