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The Scrolls of Middle-earth : III. Motivation for Making the Scrolls
Reading the Epic Tales in Original Form

III. Motivation for Making the Scrolls

...The child unties the thong, peels back the enclosing
leather, unrolls the scroll to reveal the story
and a stunning painting of ancient
Middle-Earth all the while
breathlessly sighing

It is the look of wonder in their eyes that makes a not-to-be-forgotten experience for the reader and a moment-of-grace for the teacher who has created the learning event. What other motivation can there be?

I made the two scrolls, Tuor and His Coming to Gondolin and The Fall of Gondolin in the fall of 1999. It was the realization of several forces ranging back 20 years or so. I first thought of making scrolls while I was employed as a 6th grade elementary teacher in 1980. Roman history was part of the curriculum and a set of scrolls would greatly enhance the children's learning experience. Unfortunately, I am not an artist nor calligrapher so I could not figure out a way to make scrolls without a lot of monkish copying. I did not have the time nor the patience, though I did have a set of great Latin language primer books for material. I also thought that someday I would make a room in my house for a library and one part would contain scrolls. I imagined the wonder of strolling through the ancient Alexandrian library spending days reading the scrolls in its collections. An experience I might be able to re-create in my own house - someday.

Fall of Gondolin

by John Howe
Years later in 1993, the notion of scrolls occurred again to me. I was looking at my copy of Tolkien's World, Paintings of Middle-earth. I saw this picture by Mr. John Howe of the Fall of Gondolin and thought that a scroll of the ancient tales of Gondolin - with great artwork like this - would be "quewel"! Personal computers were available, but the IBM compatibles did not have the desktop publishing features of the Macs. So I placed the idea in storage again.

In 1999 another motivating force brought the scroll idea to the forefront again. My wife's cousin home-schools her children and asked for some curriculum aids for The Hobbit. I had once been a school teacher, so I should be able to drum up some interesting tools to excite the kids. I did generate several ideas as shown in the list below. However, a discussion of the non-scroll items will have to wait for another time.

  • Scrolls of First Age epics from Elrond's library.
  • Scrabble tiles of Elvish and Dwarvish characters.
  • A "Rosetta Stone" of Dwarvish, Elvish, and English text.
  • Thror's map that reveals the moon-runes under "moon-light".

By 1999 even the IBM compatible PCs had desktop publishing software, scanners, and decent color printers with near photographic quality. If you can not afford to own these tools then Kinkos or your local copy center provides access for a fee. That is where I scanned the material for the first scroll. Though when I was done, the cost was enough for me to have purchased a scanner outright. So do some cost planning before you plunge into a project like this.

I perused The Hobbit contemplating the type of learning aids to make. I recalled the scroll idea for the Gondolin tales when I read these lines from Elrond's consultation about the troll swords.

"...[Elrond] looked at the swords they had brought from the troll's lair,
and he said: 'These are not troll-make. They are old swords, very old
swords of the High Elves of the West, my kin. They were made in Gondolin
for the Goblin-wars...' "

The final whack upside my head was Mr. Ted Nasmith's picture of Tuor Overlooking Gondolin. I was dumbstruck by the grandeur of the scene with the detail of the city and the mountain-scape. I just had to find a way to make a scroll of Gondolin.
Tuor Gazes on Gondolin

by Ted Nasmith

NEXT: Determining Content of the Tuor Stories

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Scrolls of Middle-earth
Table of Contents
I. Remembering Elrond's Library
II. Description of the Scroll
III. Motivation for Making the Scrolls
IV. Determining Content of the Tuor Stories
V. Determining Content of the Beren & Luthien Tale
VI. Planning Additional Scrolls
VII. Special Thanks to the Professional Artists
VIII. Conclusion


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