“It is said in songs that it gleamed ever in the dark if foes approached, and the fortress of the dwarves could not be taken by surprise.”
Forged in Gondolin early in the First Age, Orcrist, the Goblin-cleaver, was one of the oldest pieces of weaponry in Middle-earth at the end of the Third Age.
“They [goblins] came scurrying round the corner in full cry, and found Goblin-cleaver and Foe-hammer shining cold and bright…”
It was forged for the Goblin wars, and was used to slaughter hundreds of orcs during those wars. It was still widely feared by the Orcs of the Misty Mountains late in the Third Age, but it is not known how these orcs recognized a sword that had not been used since the First Age. They referred to Orcrist as ‘biter’ or ‘beater’.
Little else is known about the history of Orcrist before the Third Age. It was claimed by Thorin Oakenshield after it was found in a troll hoard on the Quest for Erebor. When in Rivendell during the pursuit the sword was shown to Elrond who identified it as the ancient sword Orcrist. Thorin kept the blade with him until it was taken by Thranduil of Mirkwood when Thorin was passing through his realm.
After Thorin’s death at the Battle of Five Armies the sword was placed on his chest and buried with him.
The appearance of Orcrist is similar to Glamdring, which was also forged in Gondolin early in the First Age. It is described as having a “beautiful scabbard and a jeweled hilt.” Like Glamdring and Sting, the blade glowed when the enemy came near. After the sword was buried with Thorin, it was used as a signal of approaching enemies.
The Lord of the Rings