In the RotK movie, Gandalf and Merry light up the beacons of Gondor. These beacons have been built atop each peak of the White Mountains. Mysteriously, when one beacon is lit another also becomes lit as if by magic.

What's the underlying technology here? How do these beacons work?

  • Can someone please add the link of the specific YouTube video to support the question ? Jul 23, 2020 at 7:42
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    You don’t need a clip of each scene in every question, and you can do so yourself if you want to Have it.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Jul 23, 2020 at 7:58
  • Gandalf and Pippin.
    – Annatar
    Aug 10, 2020 at 13:47
  • In the movie you can see the people moving and lighting the beacons. They would just have camped there and watched for the other one to light, then light theirs, and so on. Apr 27, 2021 at 16:31

1 Answer 1


No magic. In the relevant scene, you can see two of the beacons close up being lit:

  1. There's a bowl of oil and a lamp above the first one. Pour the oil onto the wood pile, and light it with the lamp.

  2. A person with a lit torch holds the torch to the second one.

The technology is "fire". Each beacon is staffed by watchers (two in each of the cases we see), whose responsibility includes looking for beacons along the chain being lit and lighting theirs in response.


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