Tolkien of Lord of the Rings fame, was fascinated by the origins of the English, their culture and history in the days before their migration to the British Isles. Furthermore some argue that his collection of books are no more than an attempt to rediscover the ancient Britons. How did the English come to forget their ancient stories? For four hundred years after their settlement of Britain the English had retained their pagan traditions, passing on the stories and songs of their Baltic homeland even as they built a new life amidst the ruins of another civilization. But when King Alfred turned their attention toward Church learning and the study of Latin authors, the English began to forget their own oral traditions
Focusing especially on the Angles, he and others identified the island of Zealand, where Copenhagen today is situated, as the ancient center of English life. Tolkien believed that Zealand was once the site of the cult of Nerthus, the fertility goddess connected with the Angles by the first-century Roman historian Tacitus.
A key element in the traditions is of the High King Ing and his mysterious arrival on a boat from over the western ocean. In ‘King Sheave’, composed in the 1930s, Tolkien envisaged this figure of ancient English myth reaching the Atlantic shore after escaping the destruction of Númenor – the imaginary island realm at the center of Tolkien’s conception of the ‘Second Age’ of Middle-earth. As he worked on The Lord of the Rings in later years, Tolkien worked up this idea of Ing into the figure of Elendil, the king who came from over the sea to found the realms of Arnor and Gondor, the father of Isildur and ancestor of Aragorn.
If you want an authentic image of what Tolkien was imagining when his characters crossed the sea, look no further that the magnificent Sea Stallion Print from the Viking Ship Museum available in our Authentic Nordic collection.
Aragorn was from CopenhagenSubscribe to newsletter