English landmarks that inspired important scenes in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and Hobbit books were revealed
They have inspired four award-winning books, blockbuster films and a worldwide fan base. But many of the main scenes in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and Hobbit are based in little-known places in the British countryside.
Expert John Garth spent years following in the footsteps of the esteemed author and carefully studying influences on him in the 20th century before revealing the hidden sites.
Saruman’s terrifying tower in Isengard, he argues, derives its roots from the Faringdon Folly in Berkshire, which sparked an epic planning row in the 1930s.
He suggests that the beautiful Elven Forests are mixed with the romantic woods surrounding Warwick Castle, which the author visited with his future wife Edith Pratt.
And the moment when the black riders are swept away by raging waters is based on the Cole Greet weir, near Birmingham, where several people were dragged along during his youth.
The Faringdon Folly in Berkshire inspired Saruman’s Tower, said expert John Garth. Tolkien is said to have known about the building near Oxford, which had led to a huge planning queue
The River Cole near Birmingham formed the basis for the scene where black riders are swept away by a torrent of raging water. It is known to suddenly burst its banks
The peaceful forests surrounding Warwick Castle are said to have inspired Tolkien for the Elven Forests. He visited them regularly with his wife Edith Pratt
“I’ve focused on the places that inspired Tolkein, and while that may seem like a trivial topic, I hope I’ve brought some rigor to it,” said Garth The observer.
“I’m fascinated by how the creative process works and finding those moments of creative revelation for a genius like Tolkein.”
His research on the author’s books, The Worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien: The Places that Inspired Middle-earth, will be published next month by Frances Lincoln in nine languages.
Built on a hill that was used as a defensive site in both Civil Wars and World War II, the Faringdon Folly faced significant local opposition.
When the financier Lord Berners was asked by a planning subcommittee why he wanted the tower, he should have replied, “The big point of the tower is that it will be totally useless.”
Despite the local mud throw, planning permission was eventually granted, but with the understanding that it could tower no more than three feet above the surrounding trees.
Garth claims that the quarrel outside Oxford Tolkien would have been known and quickly made its way into Middle-earth fiction, culminating in two rival towers.
“Faringdon Folly is not a complete physical model for Orthanc,” he said. “It is the controversy surrounding the building that has been filtered into Tolkein’s writings and can be traced all the way back to the scene where Gandalf is being held captive in the Tower of Saruman.”
He also connected Rivendell to the Latuterbruunen Valley in Switzerland, with a village surrounded by snow-capped mountains
Perhaps his most important discovery is the earthworks of Dorset’s Maiden Castle, which he connects with the Barrow Downs
Shown is the River Cole in winter, partially covered in ice and snow-speckled banks
The Elven Forests also link to the forests surrounding Warwick and Warwick Castle, he argues, known to Tolkien, along with a scenic Alpine location.
Tolkien married his partner Edith in the immaculate Roman Catholic Church of St Mary in the city. And his chief biographer Humphrey Carpenter also noted that the author discovered “Warwick, its trees, its hills and its castle as a place of remarkable beauty.”
Previous studies have suggested that the Rivendell and Elven forests are connected to Latuterbruunen, a valley in Switzerland where a quaint village sits amid snow-capped mountains.
Tolkien recognized the link in 1950 and wrote to his son, “From Rivendell to the other side of the Misty Mountains is the journey … including the glissdale along the slippery stones into the pine forest … based on my adventures in Switzerland in 1911 . “
Perhaps Garth’s most important discovery is the large earthworks at Maiden Castle in Dorset, which he says are now best known as the atmospheric Barrow-Downs.
A former battle site, it is a location used by Tolkien where swords and spears collide again.
A year before Tolkien wrote this passage, Garth argued, his great digs at the castle had been written in a newspaper column by his friend REM Wheeler, meaning he was probably aware of the work as well.
According to previous research, the hills of Malvern are intended as a source of inspiration for the border between Rohan and Gondor
Roman ruins in Lydney Park, Gloucestershire contributed to the inspiration for Hobbiton. Tolkien was invited to dig with them, and they were carved near a hill two feet high and four feet wide holes cut into it. Folklore says they were once inhabited by a race of small people
Previous research has suggested that a number of other sites in Britain are also related to the imagined Middle Earth.
Matthew Lyons connected the border between Rohan and Gondor, known as the White Mountains, with the fog-soaked highlands of the Malvern Hills near the England-Wales border.
He often visited them in the 1930s, he said Country file, arrived on the early train from Oxford and spent the day there.
Hobbit holes are also believed to be based on two-foot-high and four-foot-wide holes cut in the side of Camp Hill near Lydney Park, Gloucestershire, where he underwent an archaeological dig at nearby Roman ruins. Local folklore claims that the holes were once inhabited by a race of small people.
WAS THE INSPIRATION OF THESE BRAIDED ROMAN RING TOLKIEN FOR HOBBIT?
A ‘cursed’ Roman ring excavated by a farmer would have been the inspiration for JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit.
The piece of gold jewelry, known as the Ring of Silvian, was discovered in 1785 near the Roman city of Silchester, Hampshire.
The celebrated author was called in to investigate the incredible story of the ring’s past just two years before his famous novel was published.
A ‘cursed’ Roman ring excavated by a farmer would have been the inspiration for JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit. The gold jewel was discovered near the Roman city of Silchester, Hampshire, in 1785
It is thought to have been excavated by a farmer who plowed his field near the Roman city in the 18th century.
Historians believe that the large 12-gram gold ring once belonged to a Roman named Silvian, but he pronounced a curse on it after it was stolen.
It is so large that it only fits on the finger of a gloved hand. It has a Latin inscription that reads’ Senicianus lives well in God ‘.
JRR Tolkien, who was a professor at Oxford University with expertise in Anglo-Saxon history, is said to have been inspired by the story when he started working on The Hobbit.
JRR Tolkien is said to have taken his inspiration from the story of the Cursed Ring in his novel The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy that followed. This image shows a still from the 2002 film adaptation of The Fellowship Of The Ring
The book, with a ring in the center of the plot, was published in 1937 and was well received by critics.
The novel, which was made into a movie in 2012, was the precursor to the Lord of the Ring trilogy.
After the ring was discovered in a field, it is said to have been sold to the Chute family who owned The Vyne, a 16th-century country house outside Sherborne St John near Basingstoke in Hampshire.
It then passed into the hands of The National Trust when the property was bequeathed by the ultimate owner.
It took several decades for the farmer to find the curse on a tablet in Lydney, Gloucestershire, over 100 miles away.
The Ring of Silvian was stolen and cursed. The One Ring from the Lord of The Rings, shown here in a mock-up, exerts a powerful pull and curses every wearer who kills to obtain it to become a grotesque creature
The victim, Silvianus, knew the responsible thief and called the god Nodens to strike him.
The great archaeologist Sir Mortimer Wheeler, the director of later excavations at Lydney, realized the connection between the ring and the curse tablet and in 1929 asked JRR Tolkien to work on the etymology of the name Nodens.
The tablet said: “To the god Nodens: Silvian has lost his ring and promises half of his value to Nodens.
“Among those called Senecian, let no one enjoy health until he returns it to the temple of Nodens.”
Senicianus apparently only got as far as the field in Silchester when he left the ring.