There are swords of great renowned; Glamdring, Narcil, Orcrist, Ringil, Sting and others are presented as special weapons. Beyond glowing when Orcs are near, what special properties do they possess?

  • 7
    They all have names. That's pretty special.
    – Xantec
    Mar 23, 2016 at 22:41
  • 9
    No corrosion and staying sharp for millenias seem like perfect weapon properties if gunpowder isn't available. Hardness seems extraordinary as well. Lightweightness. Arr, wanna have one of them ^.- Mar 23, 2016 at 22:47
  • 7
    Ringil is 4d20 +10 speed.
    – JK.
    Mar 23, 2016 at 22:55
  • 6
    Sting was more of a magical letter opener
    – NKCampbell
    Mar 24, 2016 at 0:16
  • 2
    There is the neat property of glowing when enemies are near. Mar 24, 2016 at 3:44

4 Answers 4


I'm not sure about all the swords. The ones the hobbitsesssss got with Tom were specifically designed to fight the ringwraiths.

In The Children of Húrin it is said that Gurthang would kill anything it cut though it could be more a matter of a prophecy than an actual magical property of the sword.

There now Glaurung lay, with jaws agape; but all his fires were burned out, and his evil eyes were closed. He was stretched out in his length, and had rolled upon one side, and the hilts of Gurthang stood in his belly. Then the heart of Turambar rose high within him, and though the Dragon still breathed he would recover his sword, which if he prized it before was now worth to him all the treasure of Nargothrond. True proved the words spoken at its forging that nothing, great or small, should live that once it had bitten.

The Children of Húrin, Chapter XVII, "The Death of Glaurung"

About the others I don't really know of other special property besides being shiny and of great nobility.

  • 4
    Gurthang also talked to Turin once as well before his death which is a pretty unique property
    – turinsbane
    Mar 30, 2016 at 15:18


We know that Sting at least is incredibly sharp, and allows the hobbit bearing it to perform feats beyond their strength.

Bilbo uses it to penetrate a large wooden beam without much effort.

‘This is Sting,’ he said, and thrust it with little effort deep into a wooden beam. ‘Take it, if you like. I shan’t want it again, I expect.’

The Lord of the Rings, "The Ring Goes South"

In the battle of the chamber of Mazarbul, Frodo is able to penetrate the thick skin of an "massive foot" (probably a cave troll) just after Boromir's attack has done nothing but notch his blade.

Boromir leaped forward and hewed at the arm with all his might; but his sword rang, glanced aside, and fell from his shaken hand. The blade was notched.

Suddenly, and to his own surprise, Frodo felt a hot wrath blaze up in his heart. ‘The Shire!’ he cried, and springing beside Boromir, he stooped, and stabbed with Sting at the hideous foot. There was a bellow, and the foot jerked back, nearly wrenching Sting from Frodo’s arm. Black drops dripped from the blade and smoked on the floor.

The Lord of the Rings, "The Bridge of Kazad-dûm"

Frodo uses it to escape Shelob's lair, just after Sam had to hack away to break one cord, he manages to easily slice through the webs with Sting.

‘That would not help us now,’ said Frodo. ‘Come! Let us see what Sting can do. It is an elven-blade. There were webs of horror in the dark ravines of Beleriand where it was forged. But you must be the guard and hold back the eyes. Here, take the star-glass. Do not be afraid. Hold it up and watch!’ Then Frodo stepped up to the great grey net, and hewed it with a wide sweeping stroke, drawing the bitter edge swiftly across a ladder of close-strung cords, and at once springing away. The blue-gleaming blade shore through them like a scythe through grass, and they leaped and writhed and then hung loose. A great rent was made.

The Lord of the Rings, "Shelob's Lair"


Andúril doesn't seem to be particularly magical, but during the later stages of the war of the ring it is contained in a magical sheath that makes it unbreakable. (Whether this is true is up for debate)

‘Here is the gift of Celeborn and Galadriel to the leader of your Company,’ she said to Aragorn, and she gave him a sheath that had been made to fit his sword. It was overlaid with a tracery of flowers and leaves wrought of silver and gold, and on it were set in elven-runes formed of many gems the name Andúril and the lineage of the sword. ‘The blade that is drawn from this sheath shall not be stained or broken even in defeat,’ she said.

The Lord of the Rings, "Farewell to Lórien"

Other swords While not explicitly "named" the Barrow-blades do seem to have some power to fight wraiths beyond the power of normal swords.

No other blade, not though mightier hands had wielded it, would have dealt that foe a wound so bitter, cleaving the undead flesh, breaking the spell that knit his unseen sinews to his will.

The Lord of the Rings, "The Battle of the Pelennor Fields"


The answer is NO, the blades you named do not have any other special properties.

Some Elvish blades have the ability top glow when Orcs are near:

for being the work of Elvish smiths in the Elder Days these swords shone with a cold light, if any Orcs were near at hand

Fellowship of the Ring Book II Chapter 4: "A Journey in the Dark"

But as far as other magical properties go, there are none.

The swords you mentioned are all very special historical artifacts that hold important places in Elvish history:


A.k.a. the Foe Hammer, originally owned by Turgon, Elven King of the secret city of Gondolin in the First Age. In the Third Age it was wielded by Gandalf. Has no other magical properties.


Was the mate of Glamdring, but the knowledge of who wielded it in the First Age seems to be lost. In the Third Age it was wielded by Thorin for a short time until he lost it in Mirkwood. Has no other magical properties.


Sting was just a simple Elvish dagger from Gondolin, but the perfect size for a hobbit to wield as if it were a short sword. It was given the name Sting by Bilbo. Has no other magical properties.

All three of these weapons were found thanks to Gandalf tricking three trolls into staying out until daylight, which caused them to be turned to stone.


A.k.a. "The Sword That Was Broken". A heirloom of the Kings of Númenor. Wielded by Elendil fighting against Sauron himself, it was broken when Elendil died. His son Isildur used the shards to cut the One Ring off the hand of Sauron. Isildur lost the ring shortly afterwards, setting the events of the LotR in motion. So it's a pretty important sword. Later it was used by Aragorn as proof of his kingship. But no other magical properties.


Fingolfin's own sword, used to fight Morgoth. Fingolfin died in this battle but with his last blow cut Morgoth in the foot, causing him to be lame from then on. Never seen again after this battle. It is said that it "bit with chilling cold", which might imply that it had a frost-like magical enhancement, but this would just be speculation. Has no other magical properties.

So no, none of the blades that you named have other special properties. But don't lose hope, there are other special blades that do:


A.k.a. Gurthang, or Iron of the Flaming Star. Made from a meteor. Melian the Maia perceived malice in it. Túrin asked the sword whether it would slay him swiftly if he cast himself on its point, and it responded at length. The only known instance of a weapon talking.


List of Middle-earth weapons and armour (Wikipedia)

Do all elven blades glow blue in the presence of orcs?

  • Extra bonus source material: me, after spending many years exploring the mines of Angband looking for Ringil (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angband_(video_game))
    – JK.
    Mar 30, 2016 at 2:48
  • 1
    In the original Quenta Silmarillion, Mandos predicted that, at the Dagor Dagorath, the black sword Gurthang would finally be the weapon to slay the returned Morgoth. However, that was based on an earlier conception of Turin in which he was resurrected as a demigod, and so it was (probably) rightly left out of the published Silmarillion.
    – Buzz
    Mar 30, 2016 at 22:12
  • I recommend not using lotr.wikia, it's not a very accurate source.
    – Edlothiad
    Feb 9, 2017 at 16:54


It's a dagger I know, but Sting was in the question so...

Beren's dagger, forged by the dwarf Telchar of Nogrod.

Originally belonging to Fëanor's son Curufin, Beren got this dagger when Curufin and his brother Celegorm were attempting to kidnap Lúthien.

Its name in Sindarin translates as Iron-Cutter, from Ang - iron and ris - to cut. (The Silmarillion, Appendix: "Elements in Quenya and Sindarin names")

...but Beren despoiled him of his gear and weapons, and took his knife, Angrist. That knife was made by Telchar of Nogrod, and hung sheathless by his side; iron it would cleave as if it were green wood.

The Silmarillion - "Of Beren and Lúthien"

Angrist was notably used to cut a Silmaril from the crown of Morgoth whilst he slept in Angband.

Then he drew forth the knife Angrist; and from the iron claws that held it he cut a Silmaril.

The Silmarillion - "Of Beren and Lúthien"

It snapped when Beren tried to remove a second, waking Morgoth.

but such was not the doom of the Silmarils. The knife Angrist snapped, and a shard of the blade flying smote the cheek of Morgoth.*

The Silmarillion - "Of Beren and Lúthien"

Angrist was abandoned in Angband as Beren fled.

The knife was said to be able to cut through iron. This is similar to the other blades with the root of Ang; Anglachel and Anguriel.

It may also be worth noting that Tolkien did originally have Angrist to be a somewhat evil blade and it snapping was the blade's doing in an attempt of mischief. I wonder if Tolkien was playing with the idea that these three blades were somehow similar...


Beren's sword, mentioned by name in The History of Middle-earth, Vol. 3: The Lays of Beleriand, III: "The Lay of Leithian"

No special properties were mentioned.


The sword created by Eöl at the same time and from the same meteor as Anglachel.

Then Beleg chose Anglachel; and that was a sword of great worth, and it was so named because it was made of iron that fell from heaven as a blazing star; it would cleave all earth-delved iron. One other sword only in Middle-earth was like to it. That sword does not enter into this tale, though it was made of the same ore by the same smith; and that smith was Eöl the Dark Elf, who took Aredhel Turgon's sister to wife. He gave Anglachel to Thingol as fee, which he begrudged, for leave to dwell in Nan Elmoth; but its mate Anguirel he kept [...]

The Silmarillion - "Of Túrin Túrambor"

There is no mention of any special properties, but can be assumed to have the same properties as Anglachel, namely cleaving all earth-delved iron, after all Eöl wasn't the kind to have kept the inferior sword.

Eöl also likely to have poured his dark heart into this sword as he did Anglachel.

But as Thingol turned the hilt of Anglachel towards Beleg, Melian looked at the blade; and she said: 'There is malice in this sword. The dark heart of the smith still dwells in it. It will not love the hand it serves; neither will it abide with you long.'

'Nonetheless I will wield it while I may,' said Beleg.

The Silmarillion - "Of Túrin Túrambor"

This would give the blade an awareness and thirst for blood as did its brother; evil deeds also followed this sword.

It was stolen by his son Maeglin, whose treachery lead to the Fall of Gondolin.

[...] but its mate Anguirel he kept, until it was stolen from him by Maeglin, his son.



The sword of Thingol, King of Doriath.

Recovered after the sack of Doriath by Elwing and passed to her descendants.

Ar-Pharazôn was the last holder of the sword who took it with him to Aman in SA 3319.

No special properties are mentioned.


Eómer's sword.

No special properties mentioned.


Théoden's sword and royal heirloom of Rohan.

No special properties mentioned.


Possibly controversial as it can be argued whether these can be classed as named or not AND they are technically daggers.

The Morgul blades do however have special properties.

Anyone stabbed with a Morgul-blade has a piece of the blade left inside them. This fragment then works towards the heart, once it reaches its target, if not healed in time, the victim becomes a wraith.

'Well, four nights and three days, to be exact. The Elves brought you from this where you lost count. We have been terribly anxious, and Sam has hardly left your side, day or night, except to run messages. Elrond is a master of healing, but the weapons of our Enemy are deadly. To tell you the truth, I had very little hope; for I suspected that there was some fragment of the blade still in the closed wound. But it could not be found until last night. Then Elrond removed a splinter. It was deeply buried. and it was working inwards.'

Frodo shuddered, remembering the cruel knife with notched blade that had vanished in Strider's hands.

'Don't be alarmed!' said Gandalf. 'It is gone now. It has been melted. And it seems that Hobbits fade very reluctantly. I have known strong warriors of the Big People who would quickly have been overcome by that splinter, which you bore for seventeen days.'

'What would they have done to me?' asked Frodo. 'What were the Riders trying to do?'

'They tried to pierce your heart with a Morgul-knife which remains in the wound. If they had succeeded, you would have become like they are, only weaker and under their command. You would have became a wraith under the dominion of the Dark Lord; and he would have tormented you for trying to keep his Ring, if any greater torment were possible than being robbed of it and seeing it on his hand.'

The Lord of The Rings - The Fellowship Of The Ring - "Many Meetings"

  • It is not a coincidence, nor is it significant, in using Ang (anga in Quenya) in the naming of weapons, as it means "iron". Though I know of no named armor, one could easily imagine a suit named something like Aglarang, to mean "glorious iron", a brilliantly polished suit of armor worn by a king. Oct 18, 2023 at 21:12

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