The Barrow-blades had long, leaf-shaped blades, which were damasked with serpent-forms in red and gold. Fiery stones were set on the strange, yet light and strong, metal. The blades often gleamed and were considered to be of marvelous workmanship.
The blades were originally wrought by smiths of Arthedain in the middle of the Third Age as daggers for use in the wars with Angmar. They were buried in a barrow in Tyrn Gorthad along with the last prince of Cardolan, who fell in battle with Angmar in TA 1409.
When Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin were imprisoned by a Barrow-wight, Tom Bombadil destroyed the Wight and found the four daggers for the hobbits among the stored treasure. He briefly told the hobbits of the origin of the blades.
Frodo's sword broke in the confrontation with the Nazgûl at the Ford of Bruinen near Rivendell and was replaced at Rivendell by Bilbo's gift of the Elvish sword Sting. Sam, Merry, and Pippin kept their swords. The blades carried by Merry and Pippin were taken and discarded when the two hobbits were captured by Uruk-hai at Amon Hen, but Aragorn found them and they were returned when they were reunited at Isengard. Merry's Barrow-blade played a major role in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, having been enchanted with the power to harm the Witch-king of Angmar himself by a weaponsmith of Arthedain long before. When Merry stabbed the Witch-king in the knee with it, it distracted the Nazgûl and broke the spell that enabled the Witch-king to move, allowing Eowyn to kill him by driving her sword into his unseen head, thus fulfilling the prophecy of Glorfindel that "not by the hand of man shall he fall." Merry's Barrow-blade then burned away, a fate of any weapon that touched the Witch-king.
Sam used his sword in the skirmish in the Chamber of Mazarbul in Moria to kill his first Orc. However, he left his sword with Frodo after presuming him dead from the encounter with Shelob, and it was later taken from Frodo's body by Shagrat and delivered to Barad-dûr with Frodo's Mithril shirt. Both were later recovered from the Mouth of Sauron by Gandalf, who returned them to Frodo and Sam. Pippin used his Barrow-blade to kill a hill-troll at the Battle of the Black Gate, and afterwards called the sword a "troll's bane". He later wielded it in the Scouring of the Shire.
Portrayal in adaptations
The Lord of the Rings film trilogy
In the The Fellowship of the Ring, Aragorn, not Tom Bombadil, gives the hobbits the barrow-blades. Also, Merry and Pippin never get their barrow-blades back from the Orcs and it is presumed that their swords were left in the Orc skeleton pile. Merry gets a new sword from Théoden, which surprisingly is still effective against the Witch-king.
Frodo's barrow-blade is not destroyed in the films; when the Nazgûl confront him on Weathertop, he simply drops it. Bilbo gives Sting to him as a gift at Rivendell, and it is unknown what had happened to Frodo's barrow-blade. As Frodo or anyone else did not take it with him when they started the Quest of the Ring, it either stayed in Rivendell or was left on Weathertop, where it was last shown.
|Foreign Language||Translated name|
|Italian||Lame dei Tumuli (Barrow-blades)
Lame dell'Ovesturia (Daggers of Westernesse)
|Spanish||Espada de los Túmulos|
|Barrow-blades • Sting|
|Durin's Axe • Orcrist|
|Grond • Grond (Warhammer) • Morgul-knife|
|Aeglos • Anglachel • Anguirel • Angrist • Aranrúth • Belthronding • Dailir • Glamdring • Orcrist • Ringil|
|Andúril • Black Arrow • Dagmor • Dramborleg • Gúthwinë • Gurthang • Herugrim • Narsil • Red Arrow|