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In The Fellowship of the Ring, after saving the hobbits from some nasty misadventure in the Barrow-downs (Hobbits never listen), Tom Bombadil lets a big treasure lie outside, to be freely taken by 'finders, birds, beasts. Elves or Men, and all kindly creatures' and hence break the associated curse.

He himself chooses one brooch for his wife and makes some cryptic reference to its previous owner:

He chose for himself from the pile a brooch set with blue stones, many-shaded like flax-flowers or the wings of blue butterflies. He looked long at it, as if stirred by some memory, shaking his head, and saying at last: 'Here is a pretty toy for Tom and for his lady! Fair was she who long ago wore this on her shoulder. Goldberry shall wear it now, and we will not forget her!'

Do we known what lady he was referring to?

Her fairness leads me to believe it could be Lùthien, but I did not find any other elements to support this guess yet, and many other ancient elven ladies such as Idril could match this criteria as well.

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She wasn't necessarily elvish either. IIRC, the hobbits got blades from the Northern Kingdoms, so my guess would be nobility there. – Kevin Jan 7 '14 at 18:56
@Kevin I would like to think it was Morwen's, but the submersion of the Beleriand make it rather unlikely... – Eureka Jan 7 '14 at 21:31
After some more search and considering that "the surviving Dúnedain retreated into the Barrow-downs and the Old Forest, which lay on their northern borders.", some exiled Dúnedain lady seems the more likely suspect: It would also explain how both Goldberry and Tom ("we") would have met her. – Eureka Jan 7 '14 at 22:08
Could it just be a meta-physical statement? Some fair woman wore this before and by Goldberry continuing to wear it, they will remember the past and history, providing a connection to an age gone. – Wayne Weibel Jan 10 '14 at 22:08
@WayneWeibel It could, hence the "seems", the key is to know when to stop grasping at straws ^^ – Eureka Jan 10 '14 at 22:13
up vote 19 down vote accepted

The most we know is from LotR Appendix A:

It is said that the mounds of Tyrn Gorthad, as the Barrowdowns were called of old, are very ancient, and that many were built in the days of the old world of the First Age by the forefathers of the Edain, before they crossed the Blue Mountains into Beleriand, of which Lindon is all that now remains. Those hills were therefore revered by the Dunedain after their return; and there many of their lords and Kings were buried. (Some say that the mound in which the Ring-bearer was imprisoned had been the grave of the last prince of Cardolan, who fell in the war of 1409.)

Since the brooch was found in the horde within the barrow, this opens up at least 4 possibilities:

  1. It belonged to somebody from the First Age, from before the Edain crossed to Beleriand. Since there are virtually no recorded names from that time, we can't say who for certain.
  2. It belonged to a relative of the last prince of Cardolan (but note the "some say" in the given quote: it's by no means certain that the barrow was that of the last prince).
  3. It belonged to one of the other Dunedain for whom the barrows were subsequently used.
  4. It belonged to someone else; a random traveller or other person who's brooch was added to the horde, perhaps.

Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be any better indication in any of Tolkien's writings.

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Some say that the mound in which the Ringbearer was imprisoned had been the grave of the last prince of Cardolan, who fell in the war of 1409.

Source: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King - Appendix A

Cardolan was one of the three kingdoms that the Northern Kingdom of Arnor split into after Eärnur died.

One guesses that it was the prince's wife/mistress/concubine. I haven't found anything more definitive in the source material.

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I don't think it was a habit in feudal societies to bury concubines with noblemen? – DVK-in-exile Jan 7 '14 at 20:15
@DVK - Middle-earth - especially the Numenorean colonies - is more of an ancient society, where it definitely was common. More so given the First Age history of the Barrow Downs. – user8719 Jan 7 '14 at 22:45

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