BARROW-WIGHTS (THE LORD OF THE RINGS)
The Lord of the Rings
The Barrow-wights were shape-shifting beings of darkness, similar in circumstance to Wraiths, who dwelt in dark places of Eriador such as the Barrow-downs.
The characteristic of shape-shifter gave Barrow-wights the ability to reanimate whatever life-form they wished. The ones which attacked the four Hobbits reanimated the corpses of the Kings of the Barrows. Most often the Barrow-wight came on the unwary traveller in the guise of a dark phantom whose eyes were luminous and cold. The voice of the figure was at once horrible and hypnotic; its skeletal hand had a touch like ice and a grip like the iron jaws of a trap. Once under the spell, the victim had no will of his own. In this way the Barrow-wights drew the living into the tombs of the downs. A dismal choir of tortured souls could be heard inside the Barrow as, in the green half-light, the Barrow-wight laid his victim on a stone altar and bound him in chains of gold. He draped him in pale cloth and precious jewelry of the ancient dead, and with a sacrificial sword ended them.
East of the Brandywine River beyond the Old Forest were the Barrow-downs, the most ancient burial ground of men in Middle-earth. There were no trees nor water there, but only grass and turf covering dome-shaped hills that were crowned with monoliths and great rings of bone-white stone. These hills were the burial mounds that were made in the First Age of the Sun for the Kings of Men. For many ages the Barrow-downs were sacred and revered, until out of the Kingdom of Angmar many terrible and tortured spirits fled across Middle-earth, desperately searching to hide from the ravening light of the Sun. Demons whose bodies had been destroyed looked for other bodies in which their evil spirits could dwell. And so it was that the Barrow-downs became a haunted and terrible place. The demons became Barrow-wights, the Undead who animated the bones and jeweled armor of the ancient Kings of Men who had lived in the First Age of the Sun.
In the darkness they were powerful spirits and they could be held at bay only with the spell of strong incantations, such as Tom Bombadil’s song. However, normally they could be destroyed only by exposure to light, the entity they hated and feared the most. The Barrow-wights were lost and tortured spirits, and their last chance to remain upon Earth depended on the dark security of burial vaults. Once the stone chamber was broken open, light would pour in on the Barrow-wights and they would fade like mist before the sun and be gone forever.
The Barrow-wights began appearing in the Barrow-downs after the Dúnedain of Cardolan succumbed to the ravages of the Great Plague. They were put there by sorcerers of Angmar who corrupted the souls of the inhabitants of the Barrow-downs. The sorcerers were sent by the Witch-king of Angmar who wished to keep the Dúnedain away from there.
On September 28 of 3018 Frodo Baggins and his companions, Sam Gamgee, Merry, and Pippin while passing through the Barrow-downs were captured one by one by the Barrow-wights, and trapped in what was believed to be the cairn of the last prince of Cardolan.
There they were almost slain by a wight; three of the Hobbits had been lain in a barrow filled with a strange green light and were dressed in white robes and wore jewels and gold and had a sword across their necks. The wight had finished an incantation, and was preparing to finish them off when Frodo summoned up the courage to slice off its hand; he then called upon Tom Bombadil when the wight extinguished the dim light in the cavern. Bombadil performed some kind of exorcism on the barrow, through the rare power of his singing, which caused the wight to flee with a shriek; he then gave the hobbits swords and then spread out the gold and treasures from the barrow on the grass, so that the barrow’s spell was broken and no Wight could make habitat there.