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In The Hobbit, after Thorin and company raid the troll's cave they bury the treasure they looted. It's says "they" cast lots of spells over the treasure to help hide it.

Then they brought up their ponies, and carried away the pots of gold, and buried them very secretly not far from the track by the river, putting a great many spells over them, just in case they ever had the chance to come back and recover them.

Who cast these spells? Gandalf? The dwarves?

If the dwarves, do we see them cast any other spells in the books? I mean this company and their kin. Not the dwarves that put up the secret doors, like the one at Moria.

I know we also see this when the Company finds the hidden door on the Lonely Mountain:

They beat on it, they thrust and pushed at it, they implored it to move, they spoke fragments of broken spells of opening, and nothing stirred.

But I don't know if this means they would or would not know spells of hiding (or if the hiding spells were actually effectual). Yet, I don't think it in Gandalf's character to hide something as trivial as gold for some Dwarves and a Hobbit.

  • Can you provide more complete context? A quote would be useful here. – Mat Cauthon Mar 21 '16 at 2:17
  • @Mat the quote really says little more, but I'll try to transcribe it shortly. – user31178 Mar 21 '16 at 2:17
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    I note that it doesn't say the spells worked. Personally I would imagine this was just Dwarvish superstition. (I somehow visualize Gandalf standing around patiently and politely declining to point this out.) – Harry Johnston Mar 21 '16 at 3:37
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    Yes, now that you point it out, the Dwarves did definitely have magic of sorts, didn't they. And if there was one set of spells they were going to retain after all the others were forgotten, it would probably be the spells for keeping treasure safe. :-) – Harry Johnston Mar 21 '16 at 3:56
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    @NKCampbell Yup. I mention that in the question. – user31178 Mar 21 '16 at 15:01
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My Tolkien books are in my boys' room, so I can't get to them until the morning. In the meantime, I did find the summary I quote below.

In spite of what the blogger writes, I agree that we can't rule out that the dwarves might have used magic. But I think it is worth noting that Gandalf was willing to use his magic to try to open the door. I've used bold to highlight that sentence.

If Gandalf was willing to use magic to get into the cave, why wouldn't he be willing to use magic to guard the recovered treasure? I want to reread the passage tomorrow to confirm my understanding, but if there is no contrary evidence in the book or in Tolkien's other writing, I think it's the simplest solution to think that Gandalf cast the guard spells.

The Book: After the dwarves are released from their bags, they demand to hear Bilbo's account of the troll incident. They berate him for trying to pickpocket the trolls, until Gandalf mentions that there ought to be a cave nearby that they should search for. They find it easily, but it is closed off by a large stone door. No amount of pushing, or Gandalf's magic, can open it. Bilbo finds a key that one of the trolls had dropped during their fight, and they use that to open the door. The troll's cave is full of gold, food, and weapons. Two swords catch their eyes, due to their beautiful, jewel encrusted scabbards and hilts. Thorin and Gandalf claim these for themselves, and Bilbo takes a knife. Gandalf notes that the swords were not made by men or trolls, but does not mention their elvish origin. Fili makes the decision to leave, but not before all the dwarves have taken as much food as they could. The dwarves sleep until afternoon, and then bury all the pots of gold in a secret area by the river. A great many spells are placed over the treasure to protect it - the text does not say if it's Gandalf who places the spells or not, but it's safe to assume that he is the only magic user in the Company. Thorin then asks Gandalf where he'd gone off to: the conversation plays out almost exactly as it does in the movie, only Thorin gets annoyed at Gandalf's mysterious answer and asks him to speak more clearly. Gandalf mentions that he'd visited Rivendell, and says that they will be going there in a few days time.

From The Hobbit: Book and Film Differences

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"Far over the Misty Mountains old

through dungeons deep and caverns cold

we must away, ere break of day

to seek our pale enchanted gold.

The Dwarves of yore MADE MIGHTY SPELLS

their hammers fell like ringing bells

in places deep where dark things sleep

in hollow halls beneath the fells..."

So Dwarves like Narvi and his kin made spells about 5,000 years earlier in Moria, as the OP says, and in this song Thorin and company claim that the Dwarves of Erebor MADE MIGHTY SPELLS up until 170 years earlier - within the lifetimes of Thorin, Balin,and several other members of the company, who might have MADE MIGHTY SPELLS back then and still know how to make spells.

And what does "A Long Awaited Party" in LOTR say about the toys from Erebor given as presents to the Hobbit Children about 60 years after Bilbo's journey? That they were "OBVIOUSLY MAGICAL". Seeming "OBVIOUSLY MAGICAL" to hobbits indicates that they were probably actually magical, and unless they are antiques they would have been made recently, probably to Bilbo's order, by spell-using Dwarves of Erebor.

Thus it is POSSIBLE that some or all the Dwarves in Thorin's group had some magical abilities, and treasure hiding spells seem like the type of spells Dwarves would know.

And so it is POSSIBLE that some or all of the treasure hiding spells were cast by Thorin's Dwarves.

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