Is the Arkenstone a Silmaril?
by AnnaEstel and various
Is the Arkenstone a Silmaril?
Ok, this is for you other nitpickers out there. I'm sure we all have an
immediately resounding response to this one, probably "NO, of course
not!!", but I beg you hear (or read?) me out on this one. It is an
interesting question. Sorry for the long windedness.
First lets look directly at the descriptions of both, as found in The
Silmarillion and The Hobbit.
Silmaril: "In the darkness.... of their own radience shown like the
stars of Varda.....they rejoiced in light and received it and gave it
back in hues more marvelous than before."
Arkenstone: "It was like a globe with a thousand facets, it shone
like silver in the firelight, like water in the sun, like snow under
the stars, like rain upon the moon." And when Bilbo finds it in the
utter darkness of Smaug's lair "there was not a gleam of light,
unless.....there was a pale white glint" and then "the same white gleam
had shone before him......it was tinged with a flickering sparkle of
many colours at the surface, reflected and splinered from the wavering
light of his torch." and "The great jewel shone before his feet of its
own inner light, and yet......it took all light that fell upon it and
changed it into then thousand sparks of white radience shot with glints
of the rainbow.
So they are described similarly. Both glow of their own inner
light, and both accept light that falls upon them and reflects it back
more incredible than ever. So on the surface at least, it seems the two
could be the same.
And now the arguments against.
Silmaril: "They returned without the Silmarils....and they knew
that those jewels could not be found or brought together again unless
the world be broken and remade."
Arkenstone: " cut and fashioned by the dwarves, who had dug it from the
heart of the mountain long ago..."
The line from the Silmarillion implies that the last two will never
be found again. The line from the Hobbit implys that the Arkenstone was
made by the dwarves in the first place.
But is that really what is implied? The Silmarillion says "not be
found or brought together again", but we already know where one is for
sure, so it it lost? I am refering of course to the one Earendil has.
So perhaps we could read this line as meaing that all three will not be
brought together again. And indeed, the one that fell into the ocean
remains unfound. And it is vaugely reasonable to think that the
Arkenstone could be the Silmaril claimed by Maedhros. He "cast himself
into a gaping chasm filled with fire, and so ended", but it never tells
us exatly where. What we do know is that by this time, Beleriand had
sunk so it MUST be somewhere in Middle Earth as it was at the time of
LOTR. Also , the world was fresh off its breaking, and we are never
really told what changes occured in the land that is left, so it is
remotely possible that Maedhros' chasm later became a part of the
Which brings us to the line from the Hobbit, that the dwarves "cut and
fashioned" the Arkenstone. Again, I don't believe this necessarily
implies that they 'created' it, any more than they 'create' the other
gems that the fashion and cut, or the metals and stone they carve and
mold for that matter. We know that at one time the Valar intended to
break the Silmarils to regain their light. If they can be broken, why
not altered? Nothing ever says that what Feanor made could not be
changed a bit without total destruction. And is it so unreasonable to
think the dwarves could do such a thing? After all, they were taught in
the deeps of time by Aule, just as Feanor was.
I don't intend to say what I believe. I can't decide, as obviously
I can argue both for and against. But I'd be curious to know if anyone
else picked up on the similarities, and what you all think.
Response from Linaewen:
You present a compelling argument here!
My suggestion is that the Arkenstone, though similar to the Silmarils,
is NOT the same as those stones. I believe the Arkenstone was fairly
large, was it not? And the Silmaril was something that was small enough
to be enclosed in a person's hand? Boy, I suppose I should check my
facts, but this is what I remember from my reading.
The material from which they were both made did come from the earth
itself, however, and there could have been a similar enough makeup to
establish an actual relationship -- but I believe the Silmarils were
unique in that they contained the light of the two trees of Valinor.
The land of Beleriand that sunk after the changing of the world is
still considerable west of the the Shire, and so even with changes in
the earth's structure I'm not sure you could make a case for the
Arkenstone being the same as Maedhros' Silmaril. And I would suggest
that wherever those stones finally ended up, they would remain there
inviolate. It is somehow fitting that one should be visible in the air
as a star, and one in the earth, and one in the sea.
Reply by AnnaEstel:
My point is that by the time Maedhros got
Silmaril, Beleriand was ALREADY gone, and he could have gone no where
else except to the lands we know.
Another thought I had was this-I don't know when in Tolkien's life he
was writing about the Silmarils and fleshing out his ideas of how he
wanted them, but if he was still developing his ideas for them while
writing the Hobbit, it could simply be that those ideas flowed into the
tale he was telling, sort of a practice run. And we are never really
give the details on exactly how large either stone is. Remember that
Bilbo concealed the Arkenstone in his pocket at one time, and his
pockets can't be that large!
Nevertheless, it is nice to think of one in each 'element', to the
ending of the world.
Response by Rogorn:
Interesting quarrying of facts. However,
think we need to link these two jewels, any more than we need to equal
Anduril with Turin's sword or Barahir's ring with any other before it.
As Linaewen has said, the Silmarils already have their fixed place in
folklore. Besides this would rob the dwarves of part of their merit, if
the Heart of the Mountain was something already made by someone else,
not mined and polished 100 per cent by them. Nice try, though.
Response by Earrme:
This is a fascinating question!
I've never considered this before so I'll need to take a little time
and do some reading. I seem to recall some information about the
Arkenstone in the appendices of Lord of the Rings. Or perhaps I am
remembering something else.
Did Smaug have the Arkenstone? I can't remember.
All I can remember is the Arkenstone being given by Bilbo to Thranduil,
then being buried with Thorin. I can't remember how it came into the
story before that. I also remember that when Carcharoth swallowed the
Silmaril (along with Beren's hand) it burned him terribly. I'm thinking
that Smaug could not have handled the Arkenstone if it was a Silmaril.
Response from suzie sheelf:
You have a pretty good argument here. As we know the last 2 Silmarils
were lost, one in the sea, and the other in the earth.
Is the Arkenstone then the Silmaril lost to the earth, dug up by the
Could it be that their love it it, also managed to cause a war?