reaching new heights

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reaching new heights

Post by Elthir on Mon Sep 26, 2011 9:57 pm

Here's some (of my) ideas on relative tallness with respect to the period of the War of the Ring (the Numenoreans will have dwindled from 1150 TA when 'halfling' was coined). Please quibble if you like! I haven't set them all in stone for myself. I think there was an old thread on the subject in the archives, but again I don't think I can add to that thread -- bumping it here -- so I started this one.

Good guys and bad guys

Hobbits: between 3 and 4 feet (Bullroarer and other notable hobbits excepted)

Dwarves: about 4 feet high at least (JRRT, late note)

Lesser orcs (snaga-types): 3.5 feet to 4.5 feet

Uruks: 4.5 to 5.5 feet and above -- that is, say a 5 foot 8 to 5 foot 10 inch Uruk being exceptionally huge for an orc (the 'huge' Orc-chieftain in Moria was almost 'man-high')

Gandalf: '... even bent must have been at least 5 ft. 6... Which would make him a short man even in modern England, especially with the reduction of a bent back.' (JRRT, late note)

Men in general, and Goblin-men or 'half-orcs': around 5 feet 10 to 6 feet, or 'man-high' (but not according to the measure of the Dunedain and the Men of old)

Men of high Numenorean lineage (includes Boromir): 6 feet 4 or 'man-high' according to the measure of the Dunedain and the Men of old. Includes Galadriel as well, and arguably Celeborn too.


The Rohirrim: '... were generally shorter, for in their far-off ancestry they had been mingled with men of broader and heavier build. Éomer was said to have been tall, of like height with Aragorn; but he with other descendants of King Thengel were taller than the norm of Rohan, deriving this characteristic (together in some cases with darker hair) from Morwen, Thengel's wife, a lady of Gondor of high Númenórean descent.' (Unfinished Tales)

I assume this means shorter than man-high according to the measure of the Dunedain -- but also I note what is said here of Éomer compared to text published years before: 'Éomer was like his fathers before him; but Éowyn was slender and tall, with a grace and pride that came to her out of the South from Morwen of Lossarnach, whom the Rohirrim had called Steelsheen.' (Appendix A) Éomer was Éomund's son of course, and Morwen's blood is traced through Théodwyn. I think 'his fathers before him' refers to Éomund's line (noting too that Théodwyn's father is Thengel, Morwen's husband). And seemingly in comparison -- interestingly, with mention of her physique -- it is rather Éowyn who gets noted traits from Morwen.


Aragorn: at least 6 foot 6 (noted by JRRT in reaction to an illustration)

Eldarin men: no less than 6 foot 6, and taller for some kings and leaders (noted by JRRT in reaction to an illustration)

Eldarin women: seldom less than 6 feet (noted by JRRT in reaction to an illustration)

Thingol, Turgon, and Argon seem be the tallest of the Children of Eru, despite that the Numenoreans, at their peak, were very tall of course. Maedros is nick-named the Tall, as well as Elendil -- but for Elendil there appears to be two variant (IMO) late descriptions regarding just how tall he was.





For the Eldar I chose a late note where Tolkien reacts to an illustration made by Pauline Baynes -- over another late description in Of Dwarves And Men where the Eldar appear to be generally taller. I have no real evidence as to which text came after the other, so my choice is rather based on my opinion: that I think one description better allows for more of Tolkien's late statements to fit together.

Compared to the height of Eldarin men noted above, for example, Of Dwarves and Men notes that: 'They were called 'Halflings'; but this refers to the normal height of Men of Numenorean descent and of the Eldar (especially those of Noldorin descent), which appears to have been about seven of our feet.'
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Re: reaching new heights

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Mon Sep 26, 2011 10:28 pm

Excellent research Elthir as always. I find nothing to quibble with there as it all pretty much matches up to my own visual idea when reading the books of the reletive heights of the races.

It also highlights some of the many things PJ got wrong in the films- no small orcs for example (making the bit where Frodo and Sam get captured a bit silly). And in particular Ian Mckellan's Gandalf who never moved right as Gandalf for me and is one of the few things I don't ike about his performance- there isn't enough of the bent back about him- I actually prefer the Bakshi depiction of Gandalfs body language more where he is much more bent and reliant on his staff.

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Re: reaching new heights

Post by Ringdrotten on Mon Sep 26, 2011 11:06 pm

"Gandalf: '... even bent must have been at least 5 ft. 6... Which would make him a short man even in modern England, especially with the reduction of a bent back.' (JRRT, late note)"

I thought Gandalf was much taller than 5 ft 6?

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Re: reaching new heights

Post by Elthir on Tue Sep 27, 2011 2:48 am

Pettytyrant101 wrote: (...) I actually prefer the Bakshi depiction of Gandalfs body language more where he is much more bent and reliant on his staff.

Thanks Petty (if I may be so bold as to drop the tyrant101), and here I agree.

As for Gandalf being short-ish I think it sort of goes with The Hobbit, where (first edition) he was referred to as a 'little old man' at one point, and although the 'little' part was revised in 1966 (for whatever reason), it seems Gandalf was notably shorter than the Dunadan.
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Re: reaching new heights

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Tue Sep 27, 2011 3:44 am

Petty is just fine by me Elthir. Very Happy

I always think of Frodo's poetic lament for Gandalf when I think of how he appears-I'm sure its got a line somewhere like "a back bent beneath its load" or something and "an old man who leant upon a crooked staff"- or words to that affect.

- I did a comparison in adapting LotR between Bakshi and PJ on the Lord of the Rings thread if your interested Elthir.

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Re: reaching new heights

Post by chris63 on Tue Sep 27, 2011 3:57 am

Wasnt Theoden nearly 7ft , i'm sure i read it somewhere.
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Re: reaching new heights

Post by Elthir on Tue Sep 27, 2011 5:19 am

Pettytyrant101 wrote: (...) I did a comparison in adapting LotR between Bakshi and PJ on the Lord of the Rings thread if your interested Elthir.

I'll ckeck it out again if I have time (I read some of it). It's been a long time since I saw the Bakshi film -- saw it in the theater!

chris63 wrote: Wasnt Theoden nearly 7ft , i'm sure i read it somewhere.

I don't recall that; maybe you're thinking of Elendil?

In one text Elendil is well over 7 feet (!) although in another late text he seems to be 'only' 7 feet and matched by Isildur, considering: [Aragorn] '... direct descendant of Elendil and his son Isildur, both of whom had been seven feet tall, must nonetheless have been a very tall man…, probably at least 6 ft. 6; and Boromir, of high Númenorean lineage, not much shorter (say 6 ft. 4).'

Although some think the quote means Elendil was 'at least' 7 feet tall, for myself I don't imagine Tolkien thought of Elendil as nearing 8 feet here, as he appears to in the text on the ranga (and so on) published in Unfinished Tales.

But anyway, maybe you didn't mean Elendil, so I'll end blathering about him for now Very Happy
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Re: reaching new heights

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Tue Sep 27, 2011 2:40 pm

I dunno about Theoden being 7ft tall but it does ring a vague bell somewhere Chris about Theodens height. Is there a comment somewhere in King of the Golden Hall about Theoden having been tall but under the administrations of Wormtongue is bent almost double? Not sure....

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Re: reaching new heights

Post by Elthir on Tue Sep 27, 2011 7:20 pm

I didn't notice a reference there to any specific height, although there are references to Theoden being tall when he stood up straight. Unfinished Tales notes that Eomer and other descendants of Thengel were taller than the norm in Rohan, due to Morwen's Numenorean ancestry; thus including Theoden of course...

... but I think references to actual height are somewhat rare in the story proper, and 7 ft would outstrip even Aragorn Longshanks himself (according to late text)! and would be reaching the 'Westmen of old' at about the time Halfing was coined, or earlier.
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Re: reaching new heights

Post by chris63 on Wed Sep 28, 2011 6:49 am

Pettytyrant101 wrote:I dunno about Theoden being 7ft tall but it does ring a vague bell somewhere Chris about Theodens height. Is there a comment somewhere in King of the Golden Hall about Theoden having been tall but under the administrations of Wormtongue is bent almost double? Not sure....

On the right lines Petty, at the time i thought, gee thats tall. Most of us would be called Dwarves with all these lanky people walking about.
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Re: reaching new heights

Post by Elthir on Wed Sep 28, 2011 2:01 pm

Well, I'll go out on a limb here and say there's no reference to Theoden being 7 feet tall.

In the tale proper usually we have something like Aragorn being as tall as the Sea-kings of old, for example, which doesn't really tell us how tall he was of course, specifically. But in any case, Theoden being as tall as the Numenoreans of old just doesn't seem to fit! for a mortal in the Third Age, that would be very notable, even Morwen considered.

So I challenge anyone to cut that imaginary limb (Ent feelings must be considered) by producing the quote...

... and don't worry about cutting it, I didn't say it was a high imaginary limb Wink

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Re: reaching new heights

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Wed Sep 28, 2011 8:39 pm

Most I can find is the bit I was thinking off from 'King of the Golden Hall' : 'Slowly the old man rose to his feet, leaning heavily upon a short black staff with a handle of white bone; and now the strangers saw that, bent though he was, he was still tall and must in youth have been high and proud indeed.'

and when he stands and casts his stick away after Gandalf 'cures' him he is described as being 'tall and straight.'

Can't find anything Chris about 7ft Im afraid- can you remember if it was in the main text or from another external source?

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Re: reaching new heights

Post by Orwell on Wed Sep 28, 2011 10:36 pm

Perhaps it was the staff the was seven foot tall. I've heard staffs were about that long in Rohan. Very Happy

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Re: reaching new heights

Post by Elthir on Fri Sep 30, 2011 4:27 am

While I wait upon my tree branch (secure so far I guess) can I get some opinions about the following very early description from The Book of Lost Tales?

'Tis written that in those days the fathers of the fathers of Men were of less stature than Men now are, and the children of Elfinesse of greater growth, yet was Tuor taller than any that stood there. Indeed the Gondothlim were not bent of back as some of their unhappy kin became, labouring without rest at delving and hammering for Melko, but small were they and slender and very lithe.'

JRRT, The Book of Lost Tales, The Fall of Gondolin


It's also noted that the Noldoli that came forth to see Tuor marvelled at his stature and gaunt limbs.


So, how do folks interpret that? Can it be used to guess how tall Tuor might be, and how small the Gnomes (Noldoli) were?
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Re: reaching new heights

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Sat Oct 01, 2011 10:31 am

ok I'm going to take Men to mean all men- Numenorian decent and those like the Rohirrim or the Men of Bree so I'll give them a rough upper average height of 6 foot. So I would put Tuor somewhere between 5 and a half and six foot (favouring towards 6 foot assuming the elves were about 5'10'') and the average height for other men of his time between 5 foot and 5 and a half. (Partly basing this on the changes on height evident between modern humans and our ancestors who were considerably shorter and supposing Tolkien is alluding to a similarly distant epoch here).
As for the gnomes 'small' isn't much to go on. Small presumably by the standards of the time so I would reckon that puts them about the four foot mark.
Well thats a lot of ifs, buts, maybe and conjecture disguised as an argument. Pure guesswork but its my best stab at it based on that passage.

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Re: reaching new heights

Post by Elthir on Mon Oct 03, 2011 1:18 pm

Pettytyrant101 wrote: (...) As for the gnomes 'small' isn't much to go on. Small presumably by the standards of the time so I would reckon that puts them about the four foot mark. Well thats a lot of ifs, buts, maybe and conjecture disguised as an argument. Pure guesswork but its my best stab at it based on that passage.

So as originally conceived, Glorfindel of Gondolin, a lord of Gnomes in that city, was about 4 feet tall?

Hmm, that's pretty short (putting the Balrog he slew at about 8 feet), but I'm beginning to think the 'Elves' of the Lost Tales were notably smaller than they would later become, especially considering some old descriptions that I had forgotten, including:

Nuin's words to Tu on the stature of the sleepers in the vale of Murmenalda are curious. In A is added: 'Men were almost of a stature at first with Elves, the fairies being far greater and Men smaller than now. As the power of Men has grown the fairies have dwindled and Men waxed somewhat.' Other early statements indicate that Men and Elves were originally of very similar stature, and that the diminishing in that of the Elves was closely related to the coming of, and the dominance of, Men.

Nuin's words are therefore puzzling, especially since in A they immediately preceded the comment on the original similarity of size; for he can surely only mean that the sleepers in Murmenalda were very large by comparison with the Elves. That the sleepers were in fact children, not merely likened in some way to children, is made clear in D: 'Nuin finds the Slumbrous Dale (Murmenalda) where countless children lie'

Christopher Tolkien, The Book of Lost Tales

Nuin had said...

'(...) nor any the more when Nuin made an end of his tale, telling of all he saw there -- and methought,' said he, 'that all who slumbered there were children, yet was their stature that of the greatest of the Elves.'


The concept of the Elves and Men being of like height -- because Men were smaller 'back then' and Elves taller -- appears in the Lay of Turin, but when we get to the 'early Silmarillions' and Silmarillion-related texts of the 1930s we seem to move to simpler comparisons between Men and Elves -- that is, they are of like height, with Men somewhat taller (especially the Hadorians), but without the comparative reference to the stature of Men in earlier times versus 'now'.

Much later the Elves are imagined as either A) 6 foot 6 and taller for some leaders or B) (a somewhat different concept I think) many of the Eldar, especially the Noldor, at normally 7 feet. Thus, generally speaking, the Eldar are taller now than regular Men, especially the 'Gnomes' in the case of B, with only the Numenoreans -- at their peak -- reaching the seven foot mark as a somewhat normal occurrence.


Anyway, happy birthday in any case.
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Re: reaching new heights

Post by Elthir on Thu Nov 08, 2012 2:51 pm

At another site I just saw a film chart that gives the heights of the actors and the characters. This chart is simply referred to as Weta's chart in the thread, so I'm not sure where it hails from, but anyway it gives the following details, among others.

Weta's Chart

Bilbo: 4 feet 2 inches

Gandalf: 5 feet 11 inches
Saruman: 6 feet 7 inches
Radagast: 5 feet 4 inches

Thorin: 4 feet 10 and a half inches
Dwalin: 4 feet 11 inches
Kili: 4 feet 8 inches

The shortest Dwarves here are 4 feet 5 inches tall.


Tolkien's descriptions

Hobbits: between 3 and 4 feet (Bullroarer and other notable hobbits excepted)

Dwarves: about 4 feet high at least (JRRT, late note)

Gandalf: '... even bent must have been at least 5 ft. 6... Which would make him a short man even in modern England, especially with the reduction of a bent back.' (JRRT, late note)

Hobbits, a more detailed look

An extract from a letter apparently addressed to Tolkien's American publishers, and probably written in March or April 1938. Houghton Mifflin seem to have asked JRRT to supply drawings of hobbits for use in some future edition of The Hobbit.

(...) The feet from the ankles down, covered with brown hairy fur. Clothing: green velvet breeches; red or yellow waistcoat; brown or green jacket; gold (or brass) buttons; a dark green hood and cloak (belonging to a dwarf).

Actual size – only important if other objects are in picture – say about three feet or three feet six inches. The hobbit in the picture of the gold-hoard, Chapter XII, is of course (apart from being fat in the wrong places) enormously too large. But (as my children, at any rate, understand) he is really in a separate picture or 'plane' – being invisible to the dragon.

JRRT, letter 27

Much later, in one note dated around 1969, as I read the following anyway, JRRT ended up describing full grown males at an average of 3 foot 5 inches.

'... to this: Dwarves about 4 foot high at least. Hobbits were lighter in build, but not much shorter; their tallest men were 4 ft. but seldom taller. Though nowadays their survivors are seldom 3 feet high, in the days of the story they were taller which means that they usually exceeded 3 ft. and qualified for the name halfling. But the name halfling must have originated circa TA 1150, getting on for some 2,000 years (1868) before the War of the Ring, during which the dwindling of the Numenoreans had shown itself in stature as well as life-span. So that it referred to a height of full grown males of an average of, say, 3 ft. 5.'

That's quoted in The Reader's Guide to The Lord of the Rings, Hammond And Scull. Another contemporary note states that at the time of the story the average height of a male adult hobbit: Harfoots at 3 foot 6, Fallohides slimmer and a little taller, and Stoors broader, stouter, and a little shorter. In The Hobbit it's noted generally that 'hobbits are smaller than the bearded Dwarves'.

In one of these late notes JRRT also said that the remarks in the Prologue are unnecessarily vague regarding the height of Hobbits.
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Re: reaching new heights

Post by chris63 on Thu Nov 08, 2012 2:57 pm

Interesting. Thanks Eithir Smile

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Re: reaching new heights

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Thu Nov 08, 2012 3:38 pm

Such a shame Mckellan doesnt play Gandalf with a bent back however- a definite mistake in my view.

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Re: reaching new heights

Post by chris63 on Thu Nov 08, 2012 3:40 pm

Funny, i thought he was bent. Razz

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Re: reaching new heights

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Thu Nov 08, 2012 3:41 pm

Bent back Chris!! Mad Not brokeback, or back bent over due to, um, other activities...

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Re: reaching new heights

Post by Norc on Thu Nov 08, 2012 3:49 pm

Elthir wrote:Here's some (of my) ideas on relative tallness with respect to the period of the War of the Ring (the Numenoreans will have dwindled from 1150 TA when 'halfling' was coined). Please quibble if you like! I haven't set them all in stone for myself. I think there was an old thread on the subject in the archives, but again I don't think I can add to that thread -- bumping it here -- so I started this one.

Good guys and bad guys

Hobbits: between 3 and 4 feet (Bullroarer and other notable hobbits excepted)

Dwarves: about 4 feet high at least (JRRT, late note)

Lesser orcs (snaga-types): 3.5 feet to 4.5 feet

Uruks: 4.5 to 5.5 feet and above -- that is, say a 5 foot 8 to 5 foot 10 inch Uruk being exceptionally huge for an orc (the 'huge' Orc-chieftain in Moria was almost 'man-high')

Gandalf: '... even bent must have been at least 5 ft. 6... Which would make him a short man even in modern England, especially with the reduction of a bent back.' (JRRT, late note)

Men in general, and Goblin-men or 'half-orcs': around 5 feet 10 to 6 feet, or 'man-high' (but not according to the measure of the Dunedain and the Men of old)

Men of high Numenorean lineage (includes Boromir): 6 feet 4 or 'man-high' according to the measure of the Dunedain and the Men of old. Includes Galadriel as well, and arguably Celeborn too.


The Rohirrim: '... were generally shorter, for in their far-off ancestry they had been mingled with men of broader and heavier build. Éomer was said to have been tall, of like height with Aragorn; but he with other descendants of King Thengel were taller than the norm of Rohan, deriving this characteristic (together in some cases with darker hair) from Morwen, Thengel's wife, a lady of Gondor of high Númenórean descent.' (Unfinished Tales)

I assume this means shorter than man-high according to the measure of the Dunedain -- but also I note what is said here of Éomer compared to text published years before: 'Éomer was like his fathers before him; but Éowyn was slender and tall, with a grace and pride that came to her out of the South from Morwen of Lossarnach, whom the Rohirrim had called Steelsheen.' (Appendix A) Éomer was Éomund's son of course, and Morwen's blood is traced through Théodwyn. I think 'his fathers before him' refers to Éomund's line (noting too that Théodwyn's father is Thengel, Morwen's husband). And seemingly in comparison -- interestingly, with mention of her physique -- it is rather Éowyn who gets noted traits from Morwen.


Aragorn: at least 6 foot 6 (noted by JRRT in reaction to an illustration)

Eldarin men: no less than 6 foot 6, and taller for some kings and leaders (noted by JRRT in reaction to an illustration)

Eldarin women: seldom less than 6 feet (noted by JRRT in reaction to an illustration)

Thingol, Turgon, and Argon seem be the tallest of the Children of Eru, despite that the Numenoreans, at their peak, were very tall of course. Maedros is nick-named the Tall, as well as Elendil -- but for Elendil there appears to be two variant (IMO) late descriptions regarding just how tall he was.





For the Eldar I chose a late note where Tolkien reacts to an illustration made by Pauline Baynes -- over another late description in Of Dwarves And Men where the Eldar appear to be generally taller. I have no real evidence as to which text came after the other, so my choice is rather based on my opinion: that I think one description better allows for more of Tolkien's late statements to fit together.

Compared to the height of Eldarin men noted above, for example, Of Dwarves and Men notes that: 'They were called 'Halflings'; but this refers to the normal height of Men of Numenorean descent and of the Eldar (especially those of Noldorin descent), which appears to have been about seven of our feet.'

please put that in meters the official measuring-standard!
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Re: reaching new heights

Post by chris63 on Thu Nov 08, 2012 3:49 pm


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Re: reaching new heights

Post by Elthir on Thu Nov 08, 2012 5:42 pm

Pettytyrant101 wrote:Such a shame Mckellan doesnt play Gandalf with a bent back however- a definite mistake in my view.

Wasn't Bakshi's Gandalf bent of back... a little? Or do I misremember?

Or maybe he walked with a bit of a limp rather?


Last edited by Elthir on Thu Nov 08, 2012 5:46 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: reaching new heights

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Thu Nov 08, 2012 5:46 pm

No you remember right Elthir, he was and he hobbled too and relied quite heavily on his staff when walking.

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Pettytyrant101
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Join date : 2011-02-14
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