by, Dan Smith, with special thanks to Arden Smith and Doug Pearson.
Decades ago, when J. R. R. Tolkien wrote his fantasy book series; "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings", he described races of Elves, Dwarves and Men possessing a rich history, language and culture. Early in their history they devised alphabets for writing their languages. One of the earliest was written with pens or brushes. It was called the Tengwar. The Tengwar were a very flexible writing system that was easily adapted by the many different races of Middle-earth for use with their languages. The only shortcoming of the Tengwar was that it was difficult to be used for inscribing onto metal, stone or wood.
During the First Age, Elvish craftsmen in Beleriand began developing an informal alphabet for use with their Sindarin language. This alphabet became known as the Cirth (meaning: "runes"). The Cirth letters were almost entirely made from straight lines that could be easily engraved onto hard surfaces. The Elves used the Cirth exclusively for carved inscriptions. The Cirth alphabet in Middle-earth fulfills the same role as Germanic, Norse and Anglo-Saxon runes in our history.
"The Hobbit" by J. R. R. Tolkien
"The Lord of the Rings" by J. R. R. Tolkien
Volume III, "The Return of the King", Appendix E
"The History of Middle-earth" edited by Christopher Tolkien
Volume VII, "The Treason of Isengard", Appendix on Runes
Example: "The Hobbit" - Troll Hoard Sword inscriptions
Example: "The Lord of the Rings" - Title Page - upper inscription
Example: "The Lord of the Rings" - Balin's Tomb - upper inscription
Example: "The Lord of the Rings" - Balin's Tomb - lower inscription
A complete list of all published text written by Tolkien in cirth can be found at the Mellonath Daeron Index of Certh Specimina (DCS) web site.
Cirth fonts are available for most personal computer platforms. The Cirth font used through-out this Web page is available from the Cirth Fonts for Windows page listed below.
Tengwar Fonts for Windows
Cirth Fonts for Macintosh
Cirth Fonts for TEX
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Last updated: November 2, 1999
Copyright © 1995-1999 Daniel Steven Smith
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