In the Fellowship of the Ring prologue we see the Numenoreans in their signature armor, and then later in LOTR we see Doriathian-type armour from the first age worn by the Gondorians of the third age. So I was wondering are they elven made or ripped off from elvish armour styles?


The armour portrayed in the movies is absolutely unconnected with what Tolkien actually wrote about, so you can't infer anything from them.

Doriathrin armour was actually Dwarf-made, and was mail, not plate, as we learn in the Silmarillion:

Thingol's armouries were stored with axes and with spears and swords, and tall helms, and long coats of bright mail; for the hauberks of the Dwarves were so fashioned that they rusted not but shone ever as if they were new-burnished.

The armour of the Noldor was also mail:

And Ulmo declared to Turgon of what kind and stature should be the helm and mail and sword that he left behind.


But Fingolfin gleamed beneath it as a star; for his mail was overlaid with silver, and his blue shield was set with crystals; and he drew his sword Ringil, that glittered like ice.


Turgon had opened the leaguer of Gondolin, and was come with an army ten thousand strong, with bright mail and long swords and spears like a forest.


...the Gondolindrim were strong and clad in mail, and their ranks shone like a river of steel in the sun.

There's nothing about Númenorean or Third Age armour in the Silmarillion, but there is in Lord of the Rings, and once again we learn that it's mail all the way:

Leading the line there came walking a big thick-limbed horse, and on it sat a man of wide shoulders and huge girth, but old and grey-bearded, yet mail-clad and black-helmed and bearing a long heavy spear.


...the sons of Elrond, that few could tell them apart: dark-haired, grey-eyed, and their faces elven-fair, clad alike in bright mail beneath cloaks of silver-grey.


Tirelessly he strode from Citadel to Gate, from north to south about the wall; and with him went the Prince of Dol Amroth in his shining mail. For he and his knights still held themselves like lords in whom the race of Númenor ran true.

As for whether the style is original or borrowed, since everybody in Middle-earth wears mail armour, we can say with absolute certainty that everybody's armour has been influenced by the Dwarves, since Dwarves invented mail, as we learn in the Silmarillion:

Their smithcraft indeed the Sindar soon learned of them; yet in the tempering of steel alone of all crafts the Dwarves were never outmatched even by the Noldor, and in the making of mail of linked rings, which was first contrived by the smiths of Belegost, their work had no rival.

There's nothing more to say about specific armour styles and decorative motifs, since this is something that Tolkien really didn't provide detail about.

  • Where does your first LOTR quote ("Leading the line ...") come from? I don't recognize it. Exact chapter isn't required; plot point will do. – Matt Gutting Dec 5 '14 at 11:53
  • And does Unfinished Tales provide anything further? – Matt Gutting Dec 5 '14 at 11:54
  • @MattGutting - "Leading the line..." is the arrival of Forlong the Fat in RotK. – user8719 Dec 5 '14 at 12:23
  • @MattGutting - the most pertinent in UT is probably the description of Isildur in the Disaster of the Gladden Fields: "his mail, helm, shield and great sword (but nothing else) had been found on the bank not far above the Gladden Fields". There's nothing else that doesn't just repeat the info I've already given. – user8719 Dec 5 '14 at 12:26
  • I am afraid you are mistaken about the use of the word "mail" in the English language, Darth Satan, and have not indicated that Tolkien shared your use. As noted by the OED, quoting: Armour made of metal rings or plates joined together flexibly: a coat of mail [as modifier]: he had a mail shirt Note the first example given in More example sentences: Each Corinthian soldier wore a simple coat of chain mail beneath a set of light plate mail, complete with a helm that was adorned with a small plume of pure white fur. – Lexible Dec 13 '14 at 19:16

Once again, it is a question of Jackson's derivative work being mistaken for the real thing.

The Edain of Numenor were hugely technologically advanced over other men. They had been taught much by the Eldar who visited often from Tol Eressea and by the Vala themselves through various heralds and maia. In some very early writing about Numenor it is even said they had flying machines! Given how it is known Tolkien felt about flying from his letters this is unusual to say the least. Nonetheless when the exiles were freshly returned to middle-earth they were at least on a par with the dwarves and pursuing an entirely different, much more blatantly martial path than the current state of the elvish art.

It is a totally different setting, but remember Tolkien intended Numenor to be a cogent retelling of the Atlantis story. Think in our world how advanced Atlantean science is to supposed to be in pseudohistory and conspiracy theories - this is how advanced Numenor was over the rest of Human civilization.

Think how they managed to construct Orthanc and the lowest wall of Minas Tirith from a strange, black glassy material that even the Ents could not harm. Their armour then and weapons would have been similarly advanced - it is mentioned for instance they made immensely powerful bows from hollow steel that could float on water. Numenor was also the only other place in middle earth where Mithril could be found so it no doubt also played a part in their technology as well.

Their metals, their alloys, their whole science; everything about Numenor was advanced and superior - a very real attempt by the Valar to give humans a setting and security and wealth of knowledge which would allow them to rise to a similar level of strength and enlightenment as the Eldar in their noontide during the Chaining of Melkor.

Perhaps the real 'tell' is Numenor was so vastly strong that even Sauron at the absolute pinnacle of his second-age power could not defeat them in battle. He also considered the Dunedain of Numenor so important to control that he allowed himself to be captured and made hostage to attempt to - successfully - corrupt their minds.

Certain heirlooms dating back to the Three Houses in Beleriand were definitely made by the high-technology of other races. For instance Narsil itself was made by Telchar in Nogrod and Elwe's sword Aranruth that was passed down to the King of Numenor was no doubt made during the frequent visits of Dwarves from Nogrod and Belegost to Menegroth. However these would be kept not - only - because of their innate quality but because of the historical value. By the time of the Downfall I am sure Dunedain weapon-smiths could have made swords of equal technological accomplishment and probably did during the intensely nationalistic and Sauron-corrupted period of 'The Kings Men'.

So. No. I do not think the Exiles needed the Elves to forge their armour for them. Even shipwrecked, cut off, no doubt mentally traumatized and with their home lost for ever they were more than capable of making their own!!!

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