Mathoms lost in frozen lands
It is soon time for another hobbit historical field trip!
About the historical field trips
We are planning another hobbit historical field trip out of bounds. The historical field trips are hobbit-centric roleplaying events held on the LOTRO Laurelin server, where we go visit places of hobbit interest. Most of these events happen in The Shire, but sometimes we venture outside of the bounds too, on multi-day journeys.
Previous trips include the Grand Journey Home to Enedwaith in 2015, and the trip to the fields of Fornost in 2017. Yer can see teaser videos of those trips at the bottom of this post.
To set up the coming field trip, below is the story that was told during the mathom tale tea on February 16 2020.
Want to get involved somehow? Please add yer thoughts below, using the comment system. We haven’t set a time for it yet, so we’ll spend some time planning the venture still.
The grandest mathom
I want to tell yer the tale about a grand lost mathom. To do that, I once again need to talk about the old northern city of Fornost. Some of yer were with us when we went on a field trip there a few years ago. For the others, allow me a little background about the city.
Fornost was an important city in the old northern kingdom of Arnor, ruled by menfolk. Once strong and mighty, Arnor eventually declined after years of war and internal struggle. More than two thousand years ago, the kingdom split into three realms: Arthedain, Cardolan and Rhudaur.
At that time, Fornost became the capital of Arthedain. For more than eleven hundred years, the menfolk kings of Arthedain ruled the northern lands from Fornost.
It was one of these kings that granted The Shire to us hobbits. Fourteen hundred years ago, two hobbits called Marcho and Blanco lived in the Bree-lands, which in those days were part of Arthedain. However, they had seen a fertile, lovely farmland to the west, completely uninhabited. Thus, they approached the king and asked to settle there. And the king agreed.
Why did he do so? Why did he give up the most fertile farmland in all his realm to two adventurous hobbits? This was a direct result of the decline of the king’s power. Ever since the northern kingdom split, there had been struggle and strife in the north. The continued in-fighting, combined with times of famine and disease, made the population shrink. Thus, huge areas of Arthedain was uninhabited, its infrastructure crumbling, its roads disappearing in forests and marshland.
So also in The Shire. When Marcho and Blanco approached the king, The Shire was overgrown and untended, only occasionally used for hunting. So, the king allowed hobbits to settle there, but he had three conditions: First, hobbits should acknowledge his Lordship. Second, they should maintain the roads within the Shire. And finally, they should aid the king’s messengers. Hobbits agreed to do this, and therefore considered themselves subjects of the king and part of the kingdom.
Now then, about the fate of Fornost…
When Marcho and Blanco headed for The Shire, Arthedain was already engaged in a centuries-long, dreadful war with another realm. In the land of Angmar, hordes of orcs, trolls and wargs were sent into the world to kill the men of the north. The Lord of Angmar was an evil sorcerer, and he had sworn to destroy the northern kingdom. He went to war against the three Arnorian realms, making Rhudaur his vassal state and crushing the realm of Cardolan. Some say this war is why we hobbits long ago left our original homelands, crossed the Misty Mountains and settled near Bree.
In the end, only the realm of Arthedain remained. The last northern king was called Arvedui. He held back the assaults over the years, but his strength dwindled and his resolve weakened. When Angmar started its last offensive against Fornost, king Arvedui saw no other option but to flee. He abandoned the city, and the Lord of Angmar took Fornost as his own capital.
He did not stay there long, though. The following year, thousands of men and elves retook the city in a mighty battle. This included a company of hobbit archers from The Shire, who traveled north towards Fornost to join the battle. Them were grand heroes, those hobbits. However, they never returned to The Shire again.
Why so? What happened to them? Well, there is a theory, little known to hobbits these days. One that relates to the founding of the Shire, and the fate of the last northern king, Arvedui.
When Angmar conquered Fornost, king Arvedui and his most trusted guards fled west. With orcs and wargs nipping at their heels, they managed to cross the river Lune. In their packs, they carried the heirlooms, papers and treaties of the northern kingdom. Weary and injured, the king and his company spent some time recovering in old dwarven mines in the Blue Mountains. Hunger led them to travel further north.
Eventually them reached the frosty lands called Forochel. The cold wastes sapped the warmth from their bodies, and their horses perished one by one. Upon reaching the very ends of the world, an icy coastline far north of here, they met a tribe living in snowy villages. And there they spent their time before managing to send news south of their fate.
The elves of the Grey Havens pitied the lost king, and them sent a ship north to bring him back to safety. The ship was never heard from again and the fate of king Arvedui is unknown. Some believe that the king boarded the ship, but that it met with a terrible accident. And so, the king’s ship might drift around in the icy waters of the north even to this day.
What then of the hobbit archers? Some fell during the battle. We believe that most survived, though. And that once the battle was over, they continued on another mission. To recover the agreement granting the Shire to us hobbits. Not finding the deed in the remaining Fornost archives, I believe they chose to go on. They followed in king Arvedui’s footsteps to the north. And there ends all signs of them so far…
One of these days, we just might have to go look for them. To discover their fate. To recover the grandest mathom of them all, the deed to the Shire.
Would yer care to help us do this?
Videos of previous field trips
Teaser of the 2015 “Grand Journey Home”, from The Shire to Maur Tulhau (the Stoor hobbit village) in Enedwaith
Teaser of the 2017 hobbit field trip to Fornost.