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 considered to be of marvelous workmanship.
The blades were originally wrought by smiths of Arthedain during 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 T.A. 1409.
When Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin were imprisoned in the barrow of the last prince of Cardolan by a 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 on the banks of the River near Rivendell and was replaced at Rivendell by Bilbo's gift of the elvish sword Sting. Sam, Merry, and Pippin kept their swords. The Barrow-blades carried by Merry and Pippin were taken and discarded when the two hobbits were captured by Uruk-hai at Amon Hen, but Aragorn saved 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. It was enchanted with the power to harm the Witch-king of Angmar himself by a weaponsmith of Arthedain long before. When he 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 that occurred to all weapons brought into contact with the Witch-king. The sword was a long dagger for Men, and so was wielded as a sword by Hobbits.
Pippin also used his Barrow-blade to kill a hill-troll at the Battle of the Black Gate, and afterwards refers to it as "Troll's bane". He later wielded this blade during the Scouring of the Shire. Sam used his sword in the skirmish in the Chamber of Mazarbul to kill his first Orc. However he left his sword with Frodo after presuming him dead from an 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.
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 Theoden, which surprisingly is still effective against the Witch-king. It is unclear exactly how the Witch-king died in the film, seeing as the sword Merry stabbed him with was an ordinary sword and therefore, could not have broken the spell binding his undead flesh to his will. It is possible that Eowyn's final blow did not kill the Witch-king, but it simply destroyed his physical form (much like how the Bruinen river flood did in Fellowship) and that he was simply recovering during the Battle of the Black Gate and was truly destroyed when the Ring was.
Pippin gets a new sword from Denethor which could have belonged to Faramir or Boromir. Both are presumed to be correct as Pippin's clothes belonged to Faramir, but Pippin served Denethor as a replacement for Boromir. To pressure Pippin's debt he could have given him Boromir's sword. Also in the movie, Frodo's barrow-blade is not destroyed, but when the Nazgûl confront him, he simply drops it. Bilbo just gives Sting as a gift and it's unknown what happens to Frodo's. 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. The latter is more presumed as after Weathertop, Frodo's blade is never seen again.
Translations around the world
|Foreign Language||Translated name|
|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|