Stone of Erech
A large black stone on the top of the hill of Erech, which was half buried in the ground. It was said to have been brought to Gondor by Isildur after the Downfall of Númenor. There the King of the Mountains swore allegiance to Isildur in the beginning of the realm of Gondor, but lateron broke his oath and was cursed by Isildur to never rest until the oath was fulfilled. During the War of the Ring the Men of the Mountains where summoned once again by Aragorn and eventually fulfilled their oath.
The description of the Stone of Erech resembles in a way that of a Palantír:
|For upon the top stood a black stone, round as a great globe, the height of a man, though its half was buried in the ground. Unearthly it looked, as though it had fallen from the sky, as some believed; but those who remembered still the lore of Westernesse told that it had been brought out of the ruin of Númenor and there set by Isildur at his landing.|
|The Return of the King - The Passing of the Grey Company|
And indeed, from the first drafts (HoMeVIII pp 300-311) it can be gathered that the Stone of Erech was indeed a Palantír. But in later texts (ibid. p.397) the black Stone of Erech, which was according to legend brought from Númenor, was not a Palantír, but a Palantír was preserved in a tower at Erech. In the final version the tower and the Palantír are abandoned and the black stone remains somewhat mysterious.
Even though Tolkien mentions that the stone had been brought from Númenor this raises some questions. A globe with the radius 'the height of a man' would weigh at least some 60 tons (assuming a specific weight of 2.6 of 'lighter' minerals) but possibly up to 100 tons and more (if we assume a heavier material). As a comparison: the average weight of the stones for the Cheops-pyramid (accdg to Lehner 1997) is about 2.5 tons with the heaviest pieces weighing some 50-80 tons. Considering the necessary efforts and difficulties which arise for the transportation and handling of such heavy pieces, especially over long distances, I wonder if this would have been possible at all under the given circumstances for the Elendili at their departure from Númenor, and - if so - why this is not mentioned elsewhere in the legendarium, esp. the Akallabêth. Bringing a piece of 60 - or more - tons from somewhere in Númenor to the shore and eventually aboard a ship is not an easy task at all and all but impossible if it has to be kept a secret. Furthermore such a piece can quite easily cause the ship's sinking if it starts to move due to heavy winds and seas. The next problem arises when the globe has to be brought to Erech and atop the hill. -- ChW
See also: Oathbreakers, /Speculations
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