Dunedain: A Historical Look
Who exactly are the Dunedain? Avid fans know that in his time, Aragorn was the chieftain of them, and know they are secretive rangers of the North, but how and why did they become that way? To answer these questions, and more, one must study the History of the Dunedain.
After the men of Westernesse came from over the sea, they set up two different seats of power. One, to the North, was set up in a region known as Eriador, and became known as Arnor. The other was set up in the South and was known as Gondor. There were two Kings, one in each seat. The Rangers were mainly inhabitants of the Northern Kingdom, though they did venture out to other regions on errands for the King. Arnor divided into three different jurisdictions due to discrepancies amongst the then King’s sons. Most of these problems were over property rights to the Weather Hills and the lands East of Bree, which contained Amon Sul (known as Weathertop) and its tower. These new regions were Arthedain, Rhudaur, and Cardolan. The Dunedain then acted as the rangers of these new regions, instead of Arnor as a whole.
In 1409 a great host of enemies came from Angmar and surrounded the then fortified Weathertop. The Dunedain were defeated, and King Arveleg was slain. The Tower of Amon Sul, which was house to the chief Palantir of the North, was burned and raised. The Palantir was however, saved and carried back to Fornost in the armies retreat. The Dunedain who remained to defend Rhudaur were slain, or they fled to the West. After Arveleg’s son, Araphor, and Círdan, the elvish Shipwright, repelled enemies out of Fornost and the Northern Downs, faithful remnants of Cardolan’s Dunedain held the land of Tyrn Gorthad (now known as the Barrowdowns) or took refuge in the forest behind it. The 1409 attack on Weathertop marked the fall of the land of Rhudaur to Angmar and it’s Witch-king.
During the reign of Argeleb II, a horrible plague came into Eriador from the Southeast. Most of the people of this land perished. The plague, however, lessened in intensity as it passed to the North, leaving the land of Arthedain little affected by the virus. The Dunedain of Cardolan faltered, and evil beings from Angmar and Rhudaur entered the deserted mounds and dwelt there. These beings are now known as the Barrow-wights.
In 1974, the power of Angmar rose once again and attacked Arthedain before the end of winter. The Witch-king’s forces captured Fornost and drove most of the remaining Dunedain over the Lune river, including the sons of the then King, Arvedui.
Arvedui held out until the last on the North Downs, and then fled to the North with his remaining guard and their horses. Arvedui and company hid in abandoned, dwarven mines under the Blue Mountains for a long time. Arvedui, driven by hunger, eventually came out of the mountains and asked for help from the Lossoth, who were the snow people of Forochel. The Lossoth took pity on the starving men, and gave to them shelter and food. Círdan heard from Arvedui’s son, Aranath, of the King’s flight northward, and sent a ship to Forochel for him. The ship arrived, but the Lossoth’s Chief was uneasy and tried to persuade Arvedui and his men to wait until summer to leave. Arvedui decided against this counsel, but gave the Chief the ring of Barahir out of gratitude. The ship of Círdan had not yet reached open sea when a great snowstorm drove the ship back unto the ice and piled more ice up against it. Círdan’s seamen were defenseless against the ice, which crushed the ship’s hull and caused the ship to flounder. The death of Arvedui marked the end of the Northern Kingdom, and the scattering of the Dunedain.
It was not until after the Dunedain became a scattered and secretive people that a chieftain of the Dunedain was decided. Before the time of Great Peace, after the fall of Sauron, there were sixteen chieftains. The very first chieftain was none other than Aranath, Arvedui’s elder son. Aranath became chieftain in 2106. Arahael then became the second chieftain in 2177. Aranuir was the third chieftain starting in 2247, followed by the fourth chief, Aravir, in 2319. Aragorn the first was the fifth chieftain in 2327, until he was slain by wolves in Eriador. He was then followed by the sixth chieftain, Araglas, in 2455. The seventh chieftain was Arahad in 2523. The eighth chief was Aragost in 2588. The ninth chieftain was Aravorn in 2654. The tenth chief, Arahad II in 2719, then followed Aravorn. The eleventh chief was Arassuil in 2784, which was followed by Arathorn I, the twelfth chieftain in 2848. Arathorn suffered a premature death of unknown causes, and was followed in office by the thirteenth chieftain, Argonui, in 2912. Argonui was then followed by the fourteenth chief, Arador, who came into office in 2930, but was slain by hill trolls in the coldfells north of Rivendell. Then, Arathorn the second was made chieftain in 2933, only to be slain by orcs. His office then passed down to the sixteenth chieftain, Aragorn II in FA 120. Aragorn II then went on to become King Elessar and brought about the period of Great Peace, and repopulated the North Kingdom.
~All information from Appendix A in Return of the King~