I recently read that the description of the Golden Hall I am familiar with might be incomplete.

In The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Book Three, Chapter 6, "the King of the Golden Hall" there are descriptions of Edoras, the village where the King of Rohan resides, and of Meduseld, the Golden Hall which is his residence.

Legolas looked at Edoras from a distance and described it to his companions:

...Within there rise the roofs of houses; and in the midst, set upon a green terrace, there stands a lofty hall of men. And it seems to my eyes that it is thatched with gold. The light of it shines far over the land. Golden, too, are the posts of its doors...

I don't know if the thatched roof is supposed to be golden colored straw or actual gold. Straw thatching is millions of times more common, but some real buildings have had golden or gilded roofs and domes.

When they enter the hall:

...The hall was long and wide and filled with shadows and half lights; mighty pillars upheld its lofty roof. But here and there bright sunbeams fell in glimmering shafts from the eastern windows high under the deep eaves. Through the louvre in the roof, above the thin wisps of issuing smoke, the sky showed pale and blue. As their eyes changed, the travelers perceived that the floor was paved with stones of many hues, branching runes and strange devices intertwined beneath their feet. They saw now that the pillars were richly carved, gleaming dully with gold and half-seen colours. Many woven cloths were hung upon the walls, and over their wide spaces marched figures of ancient legend, some dim with years, some darkl-7ing in the shade. But upon one form the sunlight fell: a young man upon a white horse. He was blowing a great horn, and his yellow hair was flying in the wind. The horse's head was lifted, and its nostrils were wide and red as it neighed, smelling battle afar. Foaming water, green and white, rushed and curled about its knees.

'Behold Eorl the Young!' Said Aragorn. 'Thus he rode out of the North to the Battle of the Field of Celebrant.'

Now the four companions went forward, past the clear wood-fire burning upon the long heath in the midst of the hall. Then they halted. At the far end of the house, beyond the heath and facing north toward the doors, was a dais with three steps; and in the middle of the dais was a great gilded chair.

And I think that there are later mentions of other rooms within the building or in buildings attached to or near to the hall.

These quotes are from my 1966 Ballantine Books copy.

This question:

Any significant textual differences between the 1954-5 Lord of the Rings and later editions?

Has a comment with a link to an article:


It says:

This paper was first read at the launch of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the first appearance of The Lord of the Rings, organized by the Società Tolkieniana Italiana at European Parliament, Rome, on Monday 19th January.

So it should date to about 2004 or 2005.

On page 5 it says:

Through the last ten years, corrections have continued, most notably the discover that several lines had disappeared from the description of Theoden's hall. As an archaeologist, I had been puzzled by the description as I read it, since it seemed to depart somewhat from the excavated remains on which it was clearly based.

Any edition of The Two Towers that included the missing lines mentioned would have been published in or after 1994/95, and thus decades after my copy.

So what are those extra lines and how do they change the description of Meduseld? Can anyone quote them?

1 Answer 1


The extra lines are from the original draft and seem to have been accidentally omitted when the "fair copy" was made, but have never appeared in any published edition of the book.

When presenting the original drafting material for "The King of the Golden Hall" in The Treason of Isengard, Christopher noted a few lines which only appeared in the original draft, describing the Hall right before the characters enter, .

...Up the green terrace went a stair of stone, high and broad, and on either side of the topmost step were stone-hewn seats. There sat other guards, with drawn swords laid upon their knees. Their golden hair was braided on their shoulders; the sun was blazoned upon their green shields, their long corslets were burnished bright, and when they rose taller they seemed than mortal men.

Before Theoden's hall there was a portico, with pillars made of mighty trees hewn in the upland forests and carved with interlacing figures gilded and painted. The doors also were of wood, carven in the likeness of many beasts and birds with jewelled eyes and golden claws.

‘There are the doors before you,’ said the guide. ‘I must return now to my duty at the gate. Farewell! And may the Lord of the Mark be gracious to you!’...
Reconstructed passage, using The Treason of Isengard and A Reader's Companion for the content and placement of the omitted lines, respectively. Omitted lines in bold.

Christopher Tolkien commented on this that he thought the omission of these lines from the published book was probably a mistake.

It is curious that in the 'fair copy' manuscript, and thence in the final text, there is no description at all of the exterior of the house, and I think that it may have got lost in the complexities of redrafting and reordering of the material.
The Treason of Isengard, page 444

When working on the 2004 edition of The Lord of the Rings, the question arose about reinserting these lines, but Christopher Tolkien said that he was not confident on the omission having been a mistake, and so they were left out and still remain out.

But in discussions of emendations to make to the edition of 2004 Christopher Tolkien felt that it was only his guess that the passage was lost rather than deliberately omitted, and although a good guess it is a guess nonetheless. The text therefore was left as it was.
The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, page 400

Hammond and Scull go on to note that these lines do fit with some surviving Anglo-Saxon buildings.

Most of the Anglo-Saxon decorative carving that survives is in stone, not wood, but several examples of carved wooden doorways and doors from eleventh- to thirteenth-century stave churches can be seen in Norway, especially in the University Museum of National Antiquities in Oslo. Both Anglo-Saxon and Viking examples use interlacing figures in various styles, and may well have been painted when new.
The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, page 400-1

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