In the years of the Second Age before the Númenóreans settled in Middle-earth, these tribal Hill-men inhabited the lands west and south of the Misty Mountains, as far down as the valleys surrounding the White Mountains.
Wary of the men who came out of the west, they came to fear and hate them. They were hunted and persecuted in such numbers that they had dwindled by the start of the Third Age. At this time they had come to congregate in the valleys of the White Mountains and the grassy plains of Dunland, which lay west of the Misty Mountains between Moria and Isengard; a few went north, and became the ancestors of the Men of Bree. Dunland then became the area most populated by these men, who came to be called Dunlendings.
When Eorl and his people were granted Calenardhon --- Rohan, as it would later be known --- in TA 2510, they drove the Wild Men from their new lands, earning their bitter hatred and enmity. The Wild Men were also driven from the White Mountains by the Men of Gondor. During the next five hundred years these shorter, dark-haired warriors made frequent attacks upon the outlying settlements of Rohan, exacting revenge upon the usurpers, whom they called "straw-heads" because of the high number of blond warriors among them.
As a consequence, Rohan maintained patrols and garrisons to the west of the Fords of Isen to try to limit the number of raids, although these patrols had virtually disappeared under Wormtongue's stewardship, to the point where Saruman's forces could make incursions almost at will.
Yet not everyone sided against the Wild Men. At some point near the end of the thirtieth century of the Third Age, Saruman made contact with them and swayed them to his side by playing on their resentment and hatred of those who had taken what was theirs.
Saruman welcomed to Orthanc a large warband of these Dunlendings. Saruman evidently convinced them that they could reclaim what had been taken, and during the early part of TA 3019, a fearsome raiding force comprising Dunlendings and Orcs (especially Uruk-hai) left Isengard and began ravaging the western settlements of Rohan. Previous attacks by Orcs had killed many Rohirrim at the Fords of Isen, so there were no warriors to defend against the surprise attack.
Many people of Rohan were killed in these attacks, but the raiders never made it across the country to Edoras; it is fair to assume that they encountered one or more Éoreds, companies of mounted warriors, who would have been patrolling the interior. After the defeat of Isengard at the Battle of the Hornburg, the Rohirrim spared the surviving Dunlendings and used them as workmen to repair the broken walls of the Hornburg.
The Rohirrim's mercy surprised the Dunlendings, as Saruman had convinced them the Rohirrim would slaughter them all if given the chance. When Gandalf, Frodo Baggins, Sam Gamgee, Merry Brandybuck, and Pippin Took were traveling through Dunland on their way back towards the Shire, the Dunlendings in that area hid from them. After the War of the Ring, the Dunlendings sent ambassadors to the court of King Aragorn, thus finally beginning peace and diplomacy between Gondor and Rohan and Dunlending realms.
The Dunlending hill-folk were used to living in harsh conditions, often seen in leather garb and fur cloaks. They may have been related to the Snowmen of Forochel in the north. They were a tough, hardy people, big and powerful with long, unkempt hair and beards. The Dunlendings, because they lived in the hilly and forested area of Dunland, most likely hunted, foraged, and fished for food, with agriculture being a lesser form of food production.
They are once described as using cavalry, at the Fords of Isen. Their typical weaponry is not specified.
Portrayal in adaptations
The Lord of the Rings films
In Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, the men of Dunland are portrayed as a tribe of vile men who accept Saruman's offer to serve Sauron, by aiding him destroy the kingdoms of Men. They band together with Isengard Orcs and start raiding the villages of Rohan. In the extended version of The Two Towers, the Dunlending chieftain is seen making a blood oath to Saruman in the wizard's tower of Orthanc.
The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II
The Dunlendings (named Wildmen of Dunland) are summonable units of Isengard or of the Goblin faction, from a 10-point power.
The Lord of the Rings Online
|Foreign Language||Translated name|
|Italian||Uomini del Dunland|
|Serbian||Дунлендингс (Cyrillic) Dunlendings (Latin)|
|Uzbek||Дунлендингс (Cyrillic) Dunlendings (Latin)|
The People of Middle-earth