Rivendell Beornings Mirkwood

Men of the Vales of Anduin

“…it is said that for many generations the men of his line had the power of taking bear's shape, and some were grim men and bad, but most were in heart like Beorn, if less in size and strength.”

- The Hobbit

In the middle of Mirkwood and The Hithaeglir (Misty Mountains) along the banks of the Anduin to the north of the Old Forest Road resides a rustic tribe of Northmen, widely known as The Beornings.

The Beornings share the same ancestry with the other Northmen of Rhovanion, The Men of Dale and Esgaroth, The Woodmen in the western eaves of Mirkwood and The Eotheod who would later become the Rohirrim. These few but powerful men are descended from the Edain of the First Age who did not undertake the journey into Beleriand, instead they lingered on, and dwelt in the hills of the Misty Mountains.

This all changed when the foul servants of Morgoth came down from the North and infested the mountain ranges and slayed any free men they could find. Though the ancestors of the Beornings fought fiercely with the mountain orcs, they were gradually outnumbered and forced to abandon their mountain homes. Instead they settled in the wide lands between the Mountains and Greenwood the Great. Forgetting not of their former homes and the orcs who deprived them of it.

For centuries these grim and quiet men lived a life of uncertainty and uneasy vigilance, always wary of attacks from the Mountains or the Forest. Until the events that unfolded in TA2941 with the Quest of Erebor, after the events of the Battle of the Five Armies, most of the Mountain Orcs had been destroyed, Beorn then invited men from far and wide to his land. Together with these men Beorn founded The Beornings and became their first chieftain, most of the Beornings were the surviving kinsfolk of Beorn, while the others came from several villages of bold Woodmen and peoples related to the Rohirrim. With these new hosts of men, the population of the Beornings grew, until they were enough to finally drive out the Goblins of the High Pass and the surrounding lands and reclaim what they have lost.

At the end of the Third Age, The Beornings guarded the High Pass and Old Ford, and lived around the Carrock, keeping them safe for passing travelers but charging high tolls. No orc or wolf dared to enter their lands as long as they were there, at least not until the War of the Ring. Sauron’s forces from Dol Guldur not only attacked Lothlorien and The Woodland Realm, but also gave battle with the Beornings, setting their homes aflame. But in the end, the Beornings prevailed and were given the wide lands between The Woodland Realm and East Lorien together with The Woodmen by Thranduil and Celeborn.

The Beornings have a famous affinity with animals, which they foster and keep in their homes more as friends than as pets or livestock. Beorn, the former chief of the Beornings, was known to speak with animals and understand their own speech - many of his descendants have fostered this talent.

This uncommon ability is supplanted by a greater gift; Beorn could change into the shape of a bear. This skill has been passed down through the generations, such that most if not all of the Beornings can muster the change. Most do so only in great need or at festivals that come with the changing of the seasons and phases of the moon. No stranger has ever witnessed the transformation. It is uncertain whether the Beorning women have this ability, but they share the robust physicality of the Beornings.

Most of the Beornings live apart, in separate houses of extended family, each with their own stables and pastures. Most of the Beorning men have the ability to shape change, though it is rarely used. There are a few bad apples in the barrel - they live away from the others on the west shore of the Anduin, in the lower hills of the mountains. Some are more bear than man, and have forgotten the art of speech or other human graces.

The Beornings do not eat animals, but live in the main on cream, honey from their Bee pastures and crops that they cultivate themselves in their rich gardens.

The Woodmen

"In spite of the dangers of this far land bold men had of late been making their way back into it from the South, cutting down trees, and building themselves places to live in among the more pleasant woods in the valleys and along the river shores. There were many of them, and they were brave and well-armed, and even the Wargs dared not attack them if there were many together, or in the bright day."

- The Hobbit

Another branch of Northmen that lived together with the Beornings of the Anduin Vales, around the northern side of the eaves of Mirkwood, were the Woodmen.

These men are also descendants of the Edain or their kin who had never crossed into Beleriand and have lived at the borders of Greenwood the Great ever since the First Age. They were perhaps, akin to the Woodmen of the Haladin living in the woods of Brethil for their customs were similar. They first went into history during TA 2, where they attempted to rescue Isildur's outnumbered Arnorians from the Mountain Orcs at the Disaster of the Gladden Fields. However they arrived too late to save Isildur or his men, save one. They ambushed and routed the surviving orcs away from the Fields, who would have otherwise defiled the bodies of the fallen. It might be possible that they too aided the Last Alliance in the War.

They were also involved with numerous clashes with the Orcs, Wainriders, Balcoth and Easterlings throughout the Third Age. They also took part in the revolt planned together with the other Northmen and Gondor to oust the Wainriders from Wilderland during TA 1899, which succeeded, although they had sustained heavy losses. Wargs have often harried their villages and homes. And it became worse when Dol Guldur was founded by the Necromancer (Sauron) in TA 1050, evil creatures drawn by Sauron's malevolent influence such as Spiders and others more foul, began infesting the forest turning it into a place of dread, until only the bravest and strongest clans of men were able to survive in Mirkwood. Most of the Woodmen then either merged with the Eotheod or simply died out. Fortunately Gandalf entered Dol Guldur and Sauron retreated to Mordor, thus beginning the Watchful Peace, when the Woodmen were able to live in relative safety and expand their numbers.

During the Quest of Erebor, Sauron had since moved back to Dol Guldur, fortunately at the same time, the Woodmen were journeying further north along the western edge of Mirkwood, until they had settled at the southwestern end of the Old Forest Road. They were now more of them and war-hardened enough to deal with the goblins and Wargs, so that none dared to attack them when they were many together or in sunlight. Luckily for them, Bilbo, Gandalf and the dwarves had interrupted a massive raid plotted by the Wargs and goblins, who would have killed most of the Woodmen in the nearest villages and enslaved the survivers. After the Battle of the Five Armies, most of these woodsmen removed to either Bard at Dale with many men of Esgaroth and the Celduin or to Beorn to form the Beornings together with Beorn's kin, greatly expanding the population of both refounded cultures. Some remained, however and guarded the western side Old Forest Road, although they too aknowledged the rule of Beorn.

During the War of the Ring, Sauron's forces of Dol Guldur made war not only on the Southern Realms, but all the Northern Realms too. The Woodmen of Mirkwood were not excluded from this however, and soon found themselves joining the largest battle fought in Mirkwood, otherwise known as the Battle under the Trees. With the aid of the Wood Elves of Thranduil and the Beornings, they were able to drive away the forces of Sauron. After the War, they together with the Beornings were given all the wide lands on either side of the Old Forest Road in the middle of both The Woodland Realm and the newly founded East Lorien.

The Woodmen were middle-men, much alike with all other Northmen save one attribute, they were highly exceptional hunters and forest fighters. Though labeled as 'primitive' compared to the more 'civilised' men such as the Gondorians, they were still greatly revered for their knowledge of the wood. Able to track and ambush even the most wary of Mirkwood's beasts, these wood-crafty men were unmatched by all, save the Dunedain of Eriador. An association with Radagast (their ally, teacher and herb-loremaster) and their strong healing traditions have also kept their kind healthy and their population growing. The Woodmen are also allied with Thranduil's people and maintain a brisk trade with the Woodland Realm.

The Woodmen lived in the western eaves of the forest in the area south of the Old Forest Road, near Rosgobel the home of Radagast the Brown. The woodmen lived in several communities in wooden villages, fenced and protected by large wooden walls or stockades, which are able to keep out most orcs and Wargs. The Woodmen keep little in the way of livestock and cultivate small clearings of vegetables. They rely on the wild fruits, roots and beasts of the forest for their food.