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Author: Dreamflower
Title: Standing Stones
Rating: G
Theme: Upon the Hearth
Elements: "a sudden tree or standing stone"
Summary: Bilbo and young Frodo come across an astonishing sight in the Northfarthing.
Word Count: 1,055

Standing Stones


"Uncle Bilbo, what are they?" Frodo asked, his eyes wide in astonishment. He had been enjoying this camping trip with Bilbo, their first since Frodo had come to live at Bag End permanently. They had trekked up to the wild moors of the Northfarthing, and now they had come across this incredible sight.

There they were, stones taller even than Gandalf, much taller, twenty or more, arranged in a circle. A few had fallen over, and some of them had another large flat stone laid across the tops in pairs, giving the appearance of a rectangular doorway. The widest and highest one had a hole bored in the center of the stone lintel and faced directly east as they came upon it.

Bilbo went forward, his neck craned up, his eyes bright with curiosity. "I read of these! They are called 'menhir' or 'standing stones'. Ferumbold Took described them in his book about the Bullroarer. Bandobras and his people made camp near here after routing the goblins from the Shire. I had no idea we were anywhere near the place!"

"Where did they come from? Who put them here?"

"I don't know, Frodo. Ferumbold speculated that they might have been built by Elves, but after having seen Rivendell, I doubt that. The works of Elves endure, unless destroyed by some calamity. These stones are old and worn and falling into ruin. I suspect they were put here by Men, perhaps from the time of the Kings or even earlier, though I have no idea what they were built for!"

"How do you suppose they built them?" Frodo could not shake the sense of awe they struck in him. He could not imagine hobbits ever making such a thing; such a feat, such a strange feat!

Bilbo stepped forward and placed one hand on the nearest of the stones. "If my eyes do not deceive me, they are made of good Scary granite. Yet Scary is many leagues from here! I cannot imagine how such immense stones could have been carried so far!" He stepped between the stones and into the circle, and Frodo followed him.

"I don't get a feeling of evil," said Bilbo, "just of incredible age."

"Why evil?"

Bilbo shrugged. "The Brandybucks say there are such stones near the mounds of the barrow-wights."

Frodo nodded. "Yes, I recall that." Tales of the barrow-wights were told to frighten young hobbits at the Harvest festival. He remembered when he was just a young fry, huddling in delightful terror as his older cousins told such tales in the night as they huddled by the bonfire. Aunt Esme had not approved of tales about the barrow-wights, but that had never stopped them.

The two hobbits made a quiet circuit of the circle. Many of the stones seemed to lean and loom over them, but there was never the sensation that they might fall over-- they seemed remarkably solid and well-planted in the earth.

They were silent, for it seemed a place made for silence, and when they returned to the place from which they had started, they went out between the stones through which they had entered.

"A most remarkable experience," said Bilbo, looking back. "I wish we could learn more about how they were built."

"And why," said Frodo, "I would so like to know why..."

"We'll make our camp near here," said Bilbo. "It's late in the afternoon, and somehow I don't wish to leave this place just yet. But tomorrow we shall go to the Greenfields and see the battlefield."

"I think it is near teatime," said Frodo. This pronouncement was punctuated by a distinct gurgle in his middle. The tween blushed and Bilbo laughed.

"My parents always said they could tell time by the rumble of my stomach when I was a tween-- clearly you also have this remarkably useful ability."

With quiet efficiency the two set up their camp and built their fire. They had no tent-- Bilbo preferred to sleep beneath the stars, and truth be told, so did Frodo. Frodo went to a nearby stream to fill their little teakettle, and by the time he returned the fire was crackling cheerily. Bilbo had gathered a couple of long green sticks to serve as toasting forks, and they made a nice meal of bread and sausages. Then Bilbo threw together the ingredients for a stew into a covered pot and placed it among the embers for their supper.

They talked quietly for a while. Bilbo was hoping to get back to Hobbiton in plenty of time to plan their Birthday Party, and discussed their guest list. Frodo was looking forward to the Brandybucks coming-- he had not seen Merry since they had all been at the Great Smials for Midsummer. Then Bilbo drew out his small journal, one that he carried with him during his travels, and began to write. Frodo did the same with his sketchbook, and began a drawing of the stones, but both of them gave up their efforts as the light began to dim, and the sky grew purple.

Bilbo called Frodo to come and enjoy the stew, and he told a few stories of his Adventure as they ate. The sky grew darker, and the fire began to die down to mere embers.

Suddenly Frodo gave a cry! "Look, Uncle!" he pointed at the Stones.

Bilbo turned in alarm, but then gave a gasp of astonishment. There, perfectly framed by the hole above the entry stones shone Eärendil, seeming all the brighter for being surrounded by the stone. The two hobbits stood and stared until gradually the star had risen too high to see through the hole.

"Amazing!" Frodo whispered. "Do you think they did it on purpose?"

"I can't say that I know it, lad, but somehow I am certain of it all the same." And he put his arm around Frodo's shoulders, and they stared at the stars until they were weary and ready for sleep.

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
engarian
Jul. 27th, 2012 01:30 pm (UTC)
I love the mental imagery of Earendil's star shining through the hole in the stone. Stones, standing or fallen, carry messages and magic and you managed to harness some of that within your words.

- Erulisse (one L)
dreamflower02
Jul. 27th, 2012 09:45 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm so glad you liked it! I wanted to convey the ancientness and mystery of such things.
shirebound
Jul. 27th, 2012 01:44 pm (UTC)
What a special moment for these two to share! I can picture it perfectly.

(Did you mean to leave the two "[[??]]" in the text?)
dreamflower02
Jul. 27th, 2012 09:47 pm (UTC)
*eep!*facepalm*

I meant to insert the name of a certain hobbit I used in another fic-- and never got to it!

*scurries to edit*

(Oh-- and glad you liked!)
lindahoyland
Jul. 28th, 2012 01:07 am (UTC)
I liked this very much. Nice to think there is a Hobbit version of Stonehenge!
dreamflower02
Jul. 29th, 2012 10:43 am (UTC)
It had not occurred to me that such was in the Shire until this challenge, and then the idea just jumped out at me.

My notion is that it pre-dates the presence of the Dunedain, and reflects the earliest Men in Middle-earth-- who built it to commemorate the first appearances of Earendil in the sky. Of course there are no written records-- so it will remain a mystery to the hobbits, just as Stonehenge remains a mystery to the people of today.
blslarner
Jul. 29th, 2012 03:35 am (UTC)
We know that there was a stone circle between the Old Forest and the Barrow-downs and that the four Travellers fell asleep there and awoke to disorienting fog, so I'm not surprised to see a version of Stonehenge within the Shire.

We got to visit Stonehenge, and as my husband was blind he and I were allowed to enter the circle and actually touch the stones. What memories this brought back! And in "Stonehenge Decoded" they speak of how stars, sun, and moon all may be referenced by their relationship to various stones. Observatory, calendar, ritual center, and even last resting place for apparently important individuals, Stonehenge was so many things.

Beautifully described, and brings back the awe we felt on our visit.
dreamflower02
Jul. 29th, 2012 10:48 am (UTC)
Yep. It was the presence of those Standing Stones near the barrows that made me think there could be some in the Northfarthing as well!
I figure they pre-date even the kingdom of the North, and were there before the Dunedain.

How neat that you have been to Stonehenge! That's marevelous! I am glad that the story evoked that memory for you!
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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