The Disaster of the Gladden Fields happened in the 2nd year of the Third Age. The Istari come about 998 years after that. In Year 2851, Saruman begins to search near the Gladden Fields for the One Ring. That's more than 2800 years after Isildur died.

No trace of his body was ever found by Elves or Men.

Unfinished Tales - Part III, Chapter I: The Disaster of the Gladden Fields

Saruman was neither: he was a Maia. Did he find Isildur's bones while searching for the Ring? He sure did find the chain that Isildur wore; upon which was strung the One Ring before he died.

One was a small case of gold, attached to a fine chain; it was empty, and bore no letter or token, but beyond all doubt it had once borne the Ring about Isildur's neck.

Unfinished Tales - Part III, Chapter I: The Disaster of the Gladden Fields

So, what happened to Isildur's body(skeleton, actually)?

Is there any canonical statement that Saruman or any other non-Elf or non-Man had found Isildur's body?

  • 3
    I think the line about elves and men means he was never found. I suspect he got carried downstream into the sea. Apr 30, 2017 at 10:26
  • I suggest you reconsider creating the unfinished-tales tag. We already have the tolkiens-legendarium tag that encompasses all of the related lore; if you create unfinished-tales as well, it'll have to be appended to all eligible questions, which'll be a drag. Of course, if you think you can argue and defend the need for this tag, you can always write a post on Science Fiction & Fantasy Meta. Apr 30, 2017 at 12:33
  • Ah okay. You can reject my request of adding Unfinished Tales under the Legendarium Tag, then. Thanks!
    – Voronwé
    Apr 30, 2017 at 12:34
  • 1
    That said, you could possibly make a case for making unfinished-tales a synonym for tolkiens-legendarium - that way the former will be automatically replaced with the latter, and both will be searchable. Apr 30, 2017 at 12:54
  • 1
    @Bellerophon That's what you want us to think, eh? May 1, 2017 at 16:09

2 Answers 2


We don't know, but some believed that Saruman did discover his remains.

But King Elessar, when he was crowned in Gondor, began the re-ordering of his realm, and one of his first tasks was the restoration of Orthanc, where he proposed to set up again the palantir recovered from Saruman. Then all the secrets of the tower were searched. Many things of worth were found, jewels and heirlooms of Eorl, filched from Edoras by the agency of Wormtongue during King Thĕoden's decline, and other such things, more ancient and beautiful, from mounds and tombs far and wide. Saruman in his degradation had become not a dragon but a jackdaw. At last behind a hidden door that they could not have found or opened had not Elessar had the aid of Gimli the Dwarf a steel closet was revealed. Maybe it had been intended to receive the Ring; but it was almost bare. In a casket on a high shelf two things were laid. One was a small case of gold, attached to a fine chain; it was empty, and bore no letter or token, but beyond all doubt it had once borne the Ring about Isildur's neck. Next to it lay a treasure without price, long mourned as lost for ever: the Elendilmir itself, the white star of Elvish crystal upon a fillet of mithril that had descended from Silmarien to Elendil, and had been taken by him as the token of royalty in the North Kingdom. Every king and the chieftains that followed them in Arnor had borne the Elendilmir down even to Elessar himself; but though it was a jewel of great beauty, made by Elven-smiths in Imladris for Valandil Isildur's son, it had not the ancientry nor potency of the one that had been lost when Isildur fled into the dark and came back no more. (Unfinished Tales)

Since these were among Isildur's personal effects, it was suspected that Saruman had found his remains, taken the treasures, and dishonored his bones.

When men considered this secret hoard more closely, they were dismayed. For it seemed to them that these things, and certainly the Elendilmir, could not have been found, unless they had been upon Isildur's body when he sank; but if that had been in deep water of strong flow they would in time have been swept far away. Therefore Isildur must have fallen not into the deep stream but into shallow water, no more than shoulder-high. Why then, though an Age had passed, were there no traces of his bones? Had Saruman found them, and scorned them - burned them with dishonour in one of his furnaces? If that were so, it was a shameful deed; but not his worst. (Unfinished Tales)

As far as I know, these are the only reference to his remains.

Personally I find it very doubtful human remains would have lasted that long sitting at the bottom of a swampy river, but I suppose I must defer to the judgement of the Wise who would not have been afraid that Saruman found the remains if that was a possibility.

  • Thank you for this answer. That last passage sent chills up my spine. Bloody disgraceful.
    – brain56
    Nov 22, 2019 at 1:00

I think the orcs captured his body and Sauron gave him a Ring of Power so he became a Nazgul, but Talion released him.

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    Welcome to SciFi.SE! Can you explain why you believe this? Is there any evidence from the books that backs up your theory?
    – F1Krazy
    Nov 21, 2019 at 9:44
  • @F1Krazy: that’s what happened in the shadow of war video game. While Shadow of Mordor did an excellent job of writing a new story in established canon, Shadow of War threw it all out and took enormous liberties.
    – Shamshiel
    Nov 21, 2019 at 22:25

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