Historical Background

 Historical Notes

The gruesome method of execution feared by Faramir in "Burden of Guilt" and which Dervorin was sentenced to in "Web of Treason" was an actual method used in Britain between 1241 and 1820.

To read more click below, but be warned, the information is not for the squeamish.


Hanging was the official method of execution in the British Isles until it was abolished in 1964.

Tolkien does state that certain offences are punished by death in Middle-earth. However, he gives us no indication of the method used.

For example

For I am commanded to slay all whom I find in this land without the leave of the Lord of Gondor.


And the King said to Beregond: ‘Beregond, by your sword blood was spilled in the Hallows, where that is forbidden. Also you left your post without leave of Lord or of Captain. For these things, of old, death was the penalty. Now therefore I must pronounce your doom.

Silk shirts and Arrows

I learned about silk shirts proving some protection from arrows by watching a documentary about Genghis Khan on BBC TV.

The programme explained that the Mongul warriors were especially hard to overcome because if shot with arrows, they did not suffer such devasting injuries as their opononents as long as no vital organ was hit.

I quote here from the website of EduNet connect

"The Mongol army was based on lightly armoured horse archers. Under a quilted jacket or water-proofed leather jerkin, Mongol warriors wore a silk shirt. Even if an arrow penetrated their armour, unlike other cloth, the silk shirt would not tear but would wrap around the arrow head. This made it easier to remove the arrow and reduced the chance of infection. With cotton, wool or other cloth, bits of torn material would be driven into a wound making a dangerous infection likely."


Further information can be found at

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