Dúnedain Settlements OUTSIDE the Angle?

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Dúnedain Settlements OUTSIDE the Angle?

Post by Manveruon »

Quick question:
So we know the Dúnedain settled largely in the Angle, near-ish to the Trollshaws and Rivendell - but did they settle ONLY in the Angle? Or might there have been some other Dúnedain settlements elsewhere in Eriador during the late 3rd Age?
Apologies if this has been answered elsewhere, but there are admittedly a LOT of topics regarding questions sort of adjacent to this, so I figured it would be easier to just ask directly to see if the forum at large has a consensus on this detail.

(Yes, this has to do with my ongoing persona-building, and for my purposes it would be super helpful if they answer was “yes, there likely were some Dúnedain settlements outside the Angle, just not as many.” Ideally, the possibility that there may have been some Dúnedain living somewhere near the Chetwood, or the Weather Hills, or just the general vicinity of the Breelands would be excellent - but if not I may need to readjust a few things with my persona’s backstory going forward.)
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Re: Dúnedain Settlements OUTSIDE the Angle?

Post by Cimrandir »

Well, I've just spent my evening doing research into this question for you Manv and I'm afraid a simple answer would be as you fear - we just don't know. Tolkien was far more concerned with Elves and Hobbits than the Dúnedain and just didn't write that much background on them. But I'm going to go ahead and list some things we do know and see if we can't draw out some logical conclusions.

1. The Rangers need supplies. Full-time rangering does not leave much time for farming, raising animals, blacksmithing, weaving or any of the other million tasks that makes for a boring story (for some. I'd love more day-to-day life in fantasy) but is crucial to actually surviving.

2. The Rangers are described as "errant' and "wanderers". This is generally incompatible with Point 2 on a larger scale such as the Rangers might need. They might be able to trade for or buy armor or spears but Rangering isn't exactly a lucrative career.

3. The Rangers were close to the Shire. Saruman and his spies found the Rangers a tough nut to crack and Aragorn mentions that not a day's march away are foes that would freeze poor Butterbur's heart. In addition, it seems they maintained a guard on the Brandywine at Sarn Ford. It's hard to tell whether this was a continuously operated guard throughout the years or merely a part of the increased watch called for by Gandalf in T.A. 3001. I'm tempted to say the latter given the general low profile of the Rangers and how not many folks knew of them and their mission. But then again, the Greenway was mostly abandoned after the fall of Arnor so who knows?

4. The Rangers have very little day-to-day interaction with the people they guard. Aragorn describes their work as "thankless" and that Butterbur says "The Rangers have all gone away, folk tell me. I don't think we've rightly understood till now what they did for us." No known Dúnedain neighbors at least.

5. However, there is inter-marrying into non-Dúnedain families. At least some form of sustained contact was needed to develop those kinds of relationships.

So where does this leave you?

Somehow I have trouble believing that the whole of Dúnedain culture revolved around the Rangers. What I think we're seeing here is a limited viewpoint from the perspective of the Hobbits and Aragorn. The hobbits only interacted with the Rangers and Aragorn is the Chieftain and is thus much more concerned with the mission of the Rangers. The day-to-day life just doesn't get the spotlight. There probably was quite a few settlements of Dúnedain that were just kinda doing their thing and just didn't get mentioned.

Now going back to the Rangers, I think there has to be some form of Dúnedain settlement close by to the Shire and Bree. The Angle is just too far to maintain a constant vigilance as described and to keep up their supplies. Maybe not large but perhaps a handful of families that the Rangers could go to for support if they needed it? I doubt they would have carted their wounded all the way back to the Angle at the very least. Fighting orcs and bandits tend to leave one bloody and there's only so much your fellow Ranger can do in the wilderness. Not to mention weapon upkeep, hot meals, and other things they might need.

Furthermore, there had to be some sort of settlement nearby to Sarn Ford. However long they had been guarding it, T.A. 3001 to 3018 is still seventeen years and I can’t imagine they were just roughing it in tents the whole time they were there. There had to be somewhere for them to go in my opinion.

So basically, we have no concrete idea if there were settlements outside of the Angle but it seems to me on the whole that logically there had to be at least something. I think that's as good a starting point for your persona as any.

Incidentally, there might be one other angle (pun halfway intended) you could maybe follow-up on. I've written before about my personal theory that there were two forms of Rangers. One a full-time "professional" Ranger and the other a part-time "militia" Ranger that would cycle in and out as needed while tending to their crops and livestock. Both of these sorts of Rangers would need to be supported by small to medium settlements. I won't rehash that here but I will add on that I'm coming around to the idea of a secondary group of wandering Dúnedain as a nomadic sub-group of Dúnedain. There's simply too many references by the Professor to the Dúnedain being wanderers to fully discount the nomadic culture idea.

So my on-going theory is that while there was the main settlements in the Angle, there is perhaps a secondary group of nomadic Dúnedain much like the Roma or Mincéirí of Ireland. The question in my mind is why though. Why would a culture split in such a fashion and how would cultural cohesion be maintained? They all swear loyalty to Aragorn at the least. I can only chalk this up to one of those quirks of culture that one must be part of the social group to understand.

Perhaps your persona could be from a nomadic band of Dúnedain traveling through Eriador? Perhaps making stops near Bree and the other villages?
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Re: Dúnedain Settlements OUTSIDE the Angle?

Post by ForgeCorvus »

I've always assumed that the Dunedain were basically two interdependent groups, I think of them as Steaders and Wanderers.

Steaders are those who live in small settlements or semi-fortified homesteads scattered over the Angle and other areas that all commonly patrolled. They offer respite and resupply to the Wanderers and guard the immediate area as well as having families..... These are the more numerous of the tribe*.

Wanderers are the (admittedly unpaid) 'professional warriors' they perform the long patrols and travel between steadings, part of their function is to train the youth all of whom will go on long patrols as part of the apprenticeship.

Some of the younglings will stay as Wanderers but most will settle down to Steading either 'back home' with their parents or on a different Steading with a suitable spouse.

In short, all Wanderers grew up on a Steading and received their initial training there from older members of the tribe. Later training is given as part of a travelling patrol (even if its only master and apprentice pairing) and therefore have an interest in protecting the Steadings (as well as those peoples who live near) and all Steaders have been Wanderers (if only for a short while) and know how important sharing resources with those who wander is.

*I'm using the word "tribe" because "race" has the wrong connotations nowadays..... Even though race is the word that JRRT would of probably used for a single distinct genetic grouping of humans
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