One question we might ask ourselves when embarking on a critical study of Tolkien’s work and the LOTRO world is “are we just reading too much into a story & graphics of a game? ” Christopher Tolkien argued for the authenticity of such analysis: “Such inquiries are in no way illegitimate in principle; they arise from an acceptance of the imagined world as an object of contemplation or study valid as many other objects of contemplation or study in the all too unimaginary world.”
The towns, landscapes, ruins, pillars, architecture, and all the scenery designed by Turbine/Standing Stone Games, as magnificent as are the sunsets. It holds many aspects depicted by the lore created by J.R.R. Tolkien, as well as expanded upon and made real other aspects not specifically mentioned by the developers of the Lord of the Rings Online game. Much history and lore can be surmised, either canon to Tolkien himself or created uniquely for the intentions of adding story to the game.
The intentions of these Chronicles, as a compendium to my Live streams on the official LOTRO stream on Twitch, is to explore the created world of LOTRO Middle-earth, area by area with the viewers, and to ponder the mysteries behind them. Much of this is hidden in the graphic inscriptions on the walls, pillars, and other structures in the world, or in the lore and stories depicted by quests and deeds, that many times reflect the very same lore as found in the writings of Tolkien.
This series began in Bree-land, mostly inhabited by the Race of Man, starting in the green area of Archet Dale.
Archet Dale is an area within Bree-land in the central region.
This secluded and serene vale is most known for being the Starter Area for new Hobbit and Race of Man characters, and then it turns out that the calmness is just superficial. Recently a large band of brigands, calling themselves the Blackwolds, have set camp in some old ruins at the eastern outskirts; these villains have bigger and more evil plans.
The town of Archet is located north-east of Bree, just north of Combe, and is the starting location for new hobbits and man characters. This is where we began our Tour of Lore.
At the time, during the introduction quests, Archet was a thriving and busy place. However, when the brigands began the Assault on Archet this was all scattered and burnt to ashes and many residents lost their lives. Now Jon Brackenbrook is in charge of its restoration while commanding its defense.
In the time after the fall of Arnor and the defeat of Angmar by the host of Gondor, few men remained in the north. Those who remained loyal to the old kings banded together under the first Chieftain of the Dúnedain and became the forebears of the Rangers who walk these lands today, or so it is rumored.
In those days there were still evil Men and worse who walked these lands and there was a battle few Men alive today remember. Though the Dúnedain were victorious, their numbers dwindled. The cairn you have found is most likely the resting place of the men who died in that battle, built hurriedly and in secret.
Archet is Old English meaning Forest’s Edge and indeed that is the case. Archet is a small hamlet in Bree-land lying to the northeast of Bree-town, nestled at the edge of the Chetwood. The town and its outlying lands are inhabited by farmers and other rustic folk, who have little use for the bustle of big town life. A few hobbits dwell here, but the inhabitants are predominantly Big Folk.
Little is said of Archet in Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” other than a brief description of its locations and an allusion to troubles with “robbers” in the region. This makes a perfect background for locating the Starter Area for new hobbit and man characters to this town:The lack of any real authority and the peaceful nature of Archet’s people have recently drawn the attentions of a band of brigands known as the Blackwolds, though rumor has it that the Blackwolds have much darker goals than terrifying common folk and farmers. To counter this threat, a retired sellsword by the name of Captain Brackenbrook has begun organizing the townsfolk into a makeshift garrison to repel the advances of the brigands.
In this town, it is the first place we are introduced to Heraldry. (Left) Adorned in grey “isen” and brown “brune”, a brown quarterly shield in the middle “fess” of the chest, it would appear to have two counter gold “or” symbols, but what the symbols are, it is hard to make out. They also have some sort of gold cresting above it. Based on the hover text of the individuals, this appears to be the “Arms” of the Free People. That even though Brockenbrook formed them into a militia, they still donned the heraldry of the FreePs.
It would also appear that there is a different arms for the Woman (right). While them mean are grey and brown with gold, with symbols on the top left and bottom right of their quarterly field, the women are donned with green “vert” and brown “brune” with the same symbols, but on the top right and bottom left.
Banners & Flags
Thus far, other then the heraldry found on the number of guards and respective militia, no banners or any sort of flags are found in Archet, or even Archet Dale.
The Ruins in the Dale, first evidense of the unforgotten North Kingdom of Arnor
Bronwe’s Folly is an ancient ruin located in the Archet Dale area. Little lore remains from the days of the North Kingdom, but it is said that these ruins are all that remain of a Cardolan lord’s failed attempt to hold back the wrath of Angmar’s.
This ruin is the first time we get a look at the old North Kingdom Architecture. It appears to have five tiers of platforms, with the fifth being around minor tower of sort most likely used as a look out point.
This is also where we get our first glimpse at the symbols that will be come common in depictions of the North Kingdom and other aspects of Middle-earth and LOTRO depiction.
We first see the Seven pointed star (left) that is known to be one of the symbols representing the North Kingdoms. It is commonly found alone when it appears large on the ground titles and on podiums and raised areas.
You can also see the combined pattern of the star cluster on large ground areas showing a large central star with 6 other stars around it, still giving us the 7 seven pointed stars together (right)
Another symbol we first saw was the depicting of a Trident, either large surrounded by the 7 stars, (right) or on the archways (left). It begs to wonder what this trident represent. I am one to consider that the single shafts represents the Kingdom of Arnor, while the 3 forms represents the 3 kingdoms shattered from the original tracing their roots back to the original.
Through out the Dale we see other remnants of the old North Kingdom. We see the walls bordering the cliffs of the dale, and a number of towers that could have at one point joined to form a circling wall to protect this valley.
But, you do not really get a glimpse as to the history and lore of the area until you visit the Blackwold Roost. This ruined fortress is located in the eastern area of Archet Dale. Once it was an abode of the Men of Arnor, now these ruins host an unruly mob of outlaws calling themselves the Blackwolds.
Here we continue to see the now common symbols representing the Old Kingdom. You see a more clearly representation of the Trident and 7 stars. It is hard to tell if the Trident is represent Arnor, or the fragmented 3 kingdoms. Though lore states these ruins were built during Arnor to fight against Angmar. If it is not the 3 fragmented kingdoms, it still remains a mystery of its origin or meaning.
As our first glimpse into the Dunedain, as part of the History of the Dunedain deed, here we encounter an old, yet well maintained Cairn. The cairn is rather unlike many that the Men of old built, but you recalled a tale of an old battle.
[Deed Text] The cairn is rather unlike many that the Men of old built, but you recalled a tale of an old battle…
From Lore: In the time after the fall of Arnor and the defeat of Angmar by the host of Gondor, few men remained in the north. Those who remained loyal to the old kings banded together under the first Chieftain of the Dúnedain and became the forebears of the Rangers who walk these lands today, or so it is rumored.
In those days there were still evil Men and worse who walked these lands and there was a battle few Men alive today remember. Though the Dúnedain were victorious, their numbers dwindled. The cairn you have found is most likely the resting place of the men who died in that battle, built hurriedly and in secret
Next week: A Tour of Lore – Part 1.2 – Bree-land | Combe