We recently got an estimate on how far Sting can detect enemies, which got me wondering if that would be a constant distance regardless of the environment.

Is there any material or magic that is known to reduce or disable Sting's ability to detect orcs and goblins?

  • There's a joke here that ends with this link, but I can't quite get it.
    – Darren
    Jul 12, 2017 at 15:22
  • 1
    Has there been any confirmation as to how it detects the enemies? Without confirmation as to how, you can't know how to block or partially inhibit it.
    – Flater
    Jul 12, 2017 at 15:22
  • We don't know anything about how far, how it does, when it doesn't detect it's enemies. Tolkien did not care for explaining how every little detail worked. He cared for creating a mythology.
    – Edlothiad
    Jul 12, 2017 at 15:28

3 Answers 3


Not that we know of and any answer claiming it does is pure speculation.

Tolkien did not care for going into strenuous details about certain aspects of his Legendarium, such as the economies of his cities, how certain magics worked, and included in this is how Sting works. He had little care for certain things and left them out. This goes the same with other questions that may be asked, such as the infamous one from GRRM "What was Aragorn's tax policy?". We don't know, because Tolkien felt it didn't effect his mythology not to know.

  • One could reduce its detection ability to zero by melting it down. Jul 28, 2023 at 17:20

Yes, there were multiple ways to "shroud" things.

Some where physical and some were magical. These are shown throughout the Legendarium from things like telepathic communication to the effects of different kinds of magic, of which Sting was one. The fact that shrouding was possible was attested by J.R.R. Tolkien in "Unfinished Tales" in the chapter "The Palantiri."

A few obvious physical things were time and distance (sometimes shorter distances did the trick, sometimes longer). Tolkien mentions there was a metal or crystal alloy that could be used to encase a palantir and thus 'shroud' it.

That the secrets of how to forge Rings of Power were lost had to include the fact that not only were they not recorded, their forging was shrouded from palantiri, as well.

Things that were capable of shrouding a palantir could also be used to shroud the presence or orcs from the magical abilities of Sting.

  • 1
    Do you have any textual backup to your conclusion in the last line that palantir blocking material also block Sting's senses? Downvoted until this is provided. Sep 18, 2018 at 15:44


Since it's detection ability is wholly dependent on somebody being able to see it, it follows that covering the blade is sufficient to block this, and that the material used to cover it need not be magical, just opaque enough to prevent the light from coming through. A simple scabbard or sheath will do the job.

'Why?' said Frodo. 'Are enemies at hand?'
'Let us see what Sting may show,' answered Aragorn.
Frodo then drew the elf-blade from its sheath.

(My emphasis)

  • 3
    I'm certain this is because the scabbard blocks the light from gleaming.
    – Edlothiad
    Jul 12, 2017 at 16:17
  • 2
    Doesn't prevent Sting from detecting Orcs, but it does stop it from letting anybody else know. Jul 12, 2017 at 16:25
  • I thought this was funny, oh ya, merge your accounts!!!! :angry face:
    – Edlothiad
    Jul 12, 2017 at 17:08

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