Tracing the Nazgul Since Before the Journey Began (Day 32)

Camera: Imperial Savoy  Film: FujiChrome Provia 100D RDP (expired mid 90s)

Camera: Imperial Savoy
Film: FujiChrome Provia 100D RDP (expired mid 90s)

It’s a couple of miles to camp in the middle of the Chetwood. The next morning, they head east, and it’s still quiet and peaceful.

Thoughts on the Passage – Book I, Chapter 11 (p182, 50th Anniv. Ed.)
Once again, there’s not much at all to say about the text (about two sentences worth). So rather than be bored, let’s try to figure out where the Nazgul might be. Frodo, Strider and company, of course, have no idea, but we just might.

The date when the hobbits settled down in the Chetwood is September 30, but let’s start tracing their paths from when last all nine were together. On September 18th, the Black Riders crossed the Fords of Isen, being ordered to do so by Sauron. It was during this time that the Riders came across our squinty eyed friend of yesterday’s post. It’s also the day when Gandalf escaped from Saruman at Orthanc.) Four days later, they were in the Shire:

September 22nd, they had advanced northeast up the Greenway, reaching Sarn Ford at the southern end of the Shire. The Ford was guarded by the Rangers, but most fled in terror, while the others ran to worn Aragorn. Through the day, they held it, but at night, they were no match for the Nazgul. (Gandalf tames Shadowfax.)

September 23rd, the Witch-king and two others stay at the Ford, while the remaining six, including their leader named Khamul (he’s the only Nazgul ever given a name), enter the Shire. Those six split up, but Khamul heads to Hobbiton, just as Frodo was leaving it with Sam and Pippin.

September 24th, Khamul patrols the East Road out of the Shire, coming across the hobbits twice, but is scared away by the Elves. Meanwhile, the other five Black Riders are still in the Shire looking for “Baggins.” (Gandalf crosses the Isen.)

September 25th, the hobbits see Khamul on the hill that was the previous night’s campsite. A bit later, they hear two Nazgul calling to each other. This is Khamul and another. Those two meet up and arrive at Farmer Maggot’s house. They are also the two who arrive at the Ferry just a smidge too late. From there, they ride up to the Brandywine Bridge (though they might have also split up again). The remaining four who had been searching the Shire are now en route along the East Road.

September 26th, all six of the Nazgul meet at the Brandywine Bridge at dawn. Leaving one of their number to guard the bridge, two others head to Bree. This leaves Khamul and two others, who probably go to the Barrowdowns to meet up with the Witch-king and the remaining two. (Frodo and company are staying their first night with Bombadil.)

September 27th, the two Nazgul who went to Bree talk to Bill Ferny, and then probably head to the Barrowdowns to join the rest of their comrades. (Frodo and company spend the second night at Bombadils.)

September 28th, all Nazgul leave the Barrowdowns. Two ride for the Shire, and two ridge back to Bree. Khamul (I think) and two others ride for Crickhollow, where Fatty Bolger is staying. (Hobbits captured by Barrow-wights. Gandalf arrives at Sarn Ford.)

September 29th, the two Nazgul arrive in the Shire, while the two sent to Bree arrive at their destination (as we see in the story). Khamul and two others arrive very late at night near Crickhollow. The Witch-king and the other Nazul seem to not be mentioned anywhere for this date. (Gandalf is in Hobbiton and visits the Gaffer. Frodo and company arrive at Bree just before the two Nazgul.)

September 30, Khamul and two more to attack Crickhollow, where Fatty Bolger was staying. They scare poor Fatty away, but the hobbits of Buckland drive them off – or perhaps they now knew the Ring wasn’t at Crickhollow. Meanwhile, the two Nazgul from the Shire meet up with the Witch-king and tell him about Gandalf leaving the Shire. Also, the two from Bree report back about the strange story of the disappearing Underhill (Frodo). I believe that Khamul and the other two join with the rest, bringing together all nine Nazgul once more. (Hobbits leave Bree with Strider in the morning. Gandalf arrives shortly after.)

October 1, Nazgul, together, ride for Bree. By the 3rd, they will be at Weathertop and battle with Gandalf.

A Few Notes:

  • Cobbling this together was no easy feat. The Tale of Years from Appendix B in Lord of the Rings was little help, but it gave me a good outline. The problem was that Tolkien changed the timeline for certain events.
  • “The Hunt for the Ring” in Unfinished Tales gave some clues, but it’s also a bit vague as far as dates go.
  • In August of 1940, Tolkien worked out a rough timeline, though there were several changes that he made before publishing the final draft (and quite a bit he never published at all). In this, he labeled each of the Nazgul A – I (with A being the Witch-king and D being Khamul). This made it a bit easier, though some fudging was impossible to avoid.
  • The idea that the Nazgul met at the Barrow-downs is, I think, correct. In the original draft, they meet at Dol Amrath, but that’s much too far away to work. Also, that the Witch-king and friend go missing on the 29th is troubling. I feel like I’m not getting something.

About the Photo
This one should be pretty obvious. It’s from a collection of clever road signs in Adrian and Amarillo, Texas. (flickr)

Thoughts on the Exercising
I have a slightly used left calf that I’ll be putting up for sale on Ebay. But other than that, I feel pretty great. Today’s workout was done while watching Kevin Smith talk about the Hobbit movie. Oh well.


  • Miles today: 5
  • Miles thus far: 150
  • 64 miles to Weathertop
  • 310 miles to Rivendell
  • 1,629 miles to Mt. Doom

Today’s stopping place: A bit past the camp in Chetwood. (map)

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4 thoughts on “Tracing the Nazgul Since Before the Journey Began (Day 32)

  1. Hi! SJ led me over here, and I just wanted to say that I love this idea and the posts you’ve written. Looking forward to reading about the rest of your journey.

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