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Hobbit Bilbo's Sword: All About Sting

Discover lots of fun trivia, facts and information on the Hobbit Bilbo's sword. Bilbo Baggin's little sword was called Sting. This blade also belonged to Frodo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings books and movies.

Bilbo Baggin's Hobbit sword is a real topic of fascination to me. Share my enthusiasm with this page which is packed full of fun facts. This is the most magical Middle Earth weapon which features both in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J R R Tolkien.

Join me on a fascinating journey into this fantasy and discover more about this fictional blade including its origin, magical properties, owners, naming and history. There's so much more to Bilbo's sword than you could ever imagine.

Note: This post may contain affiliate links for which I can be compensated.

Hobbit Bilbo's Sword: All You Need to Know About Sting

Hobbit Bilbo's Sword: All You Need to Know About Sting Facts FAQs Weaponry Fantasy Lord of the Rings

Image Credit: Original images shared by kellepics and OpenClipart-Vectors on Pixabay with a CC License

If you're going to dress up as either Bilbo Baggins or Frodo for Halloween or cosplay, it's worth learning a bit about one of the key costume accessories which is the sword called Sting. It was used by both of these key characters in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

Sting had more than one owner and it certainly did not just belong to the unlikely hero Bilbo. You'll discover who is did belong to as well as many more interesting and fun bits of trivia. So come test out your knowledge too.

1: Description of Bilbo's Sword Along With Estimated Dimensions

BILBO BAGGINS™ With The Ring Poster

BILBO BAGGINS™ With The Ring Poster by thehobbit

"Bilbo took a knife in a leather sheath. It would have made only a tiny pocket knife for a troll, but it was as good as a short sword for the hobbit." ~ The Hobbit

What did the Sword Sting Look Like? By the standards of Humans or Elves, the sword belonging to Bilbo Baggins was actually a knife or a dagger. However, because of his smaller sizing, it made a perfect short sword for Bilbo and other fellow Hobbit creatures.

Sting had been forged in the Elven city of Gondolin (according to the wise Elrond, Lord of the Elven outpost, Rivendell) and, like many blades which were fashioned by the Elves, it contained some very powerful and magical properties which I will describe further on.

What I Imagine the Sword to Look Like

The king's two daggers, from tomb of poster
The king's two daggers, from tomb of poster by bridgemanimages

Appearance of Sting: Tolkien does not really describe this sword other than to remark that it was a knife contained in a leather sheath.

Perhaps we can deduce more from what the writer left out of the sword's description, particularly as Mr Baggin's discovers it along with the wizard Gandalf and the Hobbit dwarf, Thorin. Gandalf and Thorin took the full size swords Glamdring and Orcrist which are described as having beautiful scabbards (sheaths) and jeweled hilts.

From what the author didn't say, I suspect Bilbo's Sword was really a knife that was much plainer in appearance and perhaps only consisted of a simple handle and blade.

Size of Sting Sword and Dimensions: We know that Bilbo wore this weapon inside his breeches which are knee-length trousers or pants.

Allowing for the normal Hobbit creature sizing (approx 2-4 feet) as described by Tolkien in the prologue to The Lord of the Rings, then the dagger must only have been about 8-10 inches long.

Did Sting have an inscription? In the movie version of The Lord of the Rings, Sting has an inscription across the blade and cross guard: Maegnas aen estar nín - dagnir in yngyl im. The translation of the inscription is: "Sting is my name, I am the Spider's bane."

This inscription does not exist in the original books by J R R Tolkien. In other words that part was made up by the movie productions. You can buy the version of the sword without the fictional rune if you opt for Bilbo's replica of the sword instead of Frodo's.

2. The Magical Properties of Bilbo's Sword Sting

The Company and Elves of Mirkwood Poster
The Company and Elves of Mirkwood Poster by thehobbit

Sting could detect the presence of Goblins as Bilbo discovered in his Hobbit adventures and it glowed blue in The Lord of the Rings whenever Orcs were nearby. In The Hobbit, the faint glow from Sting helped Bilbo find his way through the Misty Mountains when he was separated from his Dwarven companions and found himself alone and scared.

The magical blade must have been resistant to rust because it would have been thousands of years old when Bilbo discovered it yet was as sharp as a new sword in battle.

It seems that Sting specifically had unique powers over the great giant spiders and their strong cobwebs which were difficult to cut through with non-magical blades.

Both Bilbo and Frodo Baggins encountered giant types of spiders on their adventures and Sting was of a great help against this type of foe. You'll discover many more facts and trivia on this item below.

" ... for being the work of Elvish smiths in the Elder Days these swords shone with a cold light, if any Orcs were near at hand." ~ The Fellowship of the Ring

"He drew out Sting: it flashed and glittered like a blue flame; and then slowly faded again and grew dull." ~ The Fellowship of the Ring

3. Why does Bilbo Name his Sword Sting?

BILBO™ with sword Poster
BILBO™ with sword Poster by thehobbit

Bilbo did not give a name to his sword until he was first forced to use it in his Hobbit adventure. During Bilbo's journey to find the Dragon, Smaug, along with the company of 13 dwarves, they traveled through the forest called Mirkwood.

It was in the forest of Mirkwood that Bilbo and the dwarves were set upon by some great, giant spiders. Bilbo used his sword to free himself of the vast cobweb which he was bound in and then he had to use the blade to slay one of the spiders.

Using his sword was a real turning point for Bilbo who had never really embraced going along with the adventure. Suddenly he transformed from someone who let the wizard Gandalf get him and his company out of scrapes into a confident hero in his own right.

Bilbo's character now felt it was time to award a name to his sword. Perhaps he called the sword sting because that is what he felt it inflicted to the spiders or to anyone who tried to hurt him.

Remember too that Bilbo had also been "stung" himself by many hurtful words and actions by the dwarves who did not believe he could actually help them. So Sting may have had a duel meaning to it. Words can sting just as much and sometimes more as, once heard, we can never rid ourselves of them.

"The spider evidently was not used to things that carried such stings at their sides, or it would have hurried away quicker. Bilbo came at it before it could disappear and stuck it with his sword right in the eyes. Then it went mad and leaped and danced and flung out its legs in horrible jerks, until he killed it with another stroke." ~ The Hobbit

"I will give you a name," he said to it, "and I shall call you Sting." Bilbo Baggins, The Hobbit

4. Key Tolkien Characters and this Weapon

FRODO™ with Sword Poster

FRODO™ with Sword Poster by lordoftherings

How Bilbo Acquired Sting: In The Hobbit Bilbo and his company of dwarves were captured by a trio of Trolls. Luckily Gandalf came to their timely rescue.

Bilbo found the key to the Troll's cave which contained many treasures. One of the treasures that Bilbo found was an Elven dagger which was actually more like a short sword for him due to his small size compared with the Elvish makers.

At the same time, the wizard Gandalf the Grey took the Elven sword 'Glamdring' while Thorin Oakenshield the dwarf took the sword 'Orcrist' from the troll hoard.

You can read more on the other swords on: Wiki's List of Middle Earth Weaponry

"Bilbo took a knife in a leather sheath. It would have made only a tiny pocket knife for a troll, but it was as good as a short sword for the hobbit." ~ The Hobbit

How Frodo came to have this Sword: In The Fellowship of the Ring, Bilbo passes over his sword, Sting, to his younger cousin and adopted heir, Frodo Baggins. Bilbo is aware that his time is coming to an end and he hopes that Frodo will make use of the magical blade on his journey to Mordor.

Bilbo also gave Frodo his chain mail shirt which Bilbo had found in his Hobbit adventures in Smaug the dragon's hoard of treasure. The chain mail shirt was very precious because it was made from Mithril or dwarven silver. Mithril was a metal mined by dwarves and which Gandalf said was a hundred times more valuable than gold.

"He took from the box a small sword in an old shabby leathern scabbard. Then he drew it, and its polished and well-tended blade glittered suddenly, cold and bright. 'This is Sting,' he said, and thrust it with little effort deep into a wooden beam. 'Take it, if you like. I shan't want it again, I expect.'" ~ Bilbo Baggins, The Fellowship of the Ring

The Creature Gollum (Smeagol) and the Sword: The creature Gollum first came into contact with this weapon when he met Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit.

Although Bilbo did not actually threaten Gollum with the blade, the creature was uneasy about it because he was aware of its magical powers and the fact that it was forged in Gondolin. Gollum disliked it intensely and called it a nassty little sword.

Frodo did threaten Gollum with the blade after the creature attacked his friend and companion Sam. Just threatening Gollum helped to subdue and tame him enough to keep Frodo and Sam from harm.

Frodo had a choice to use the sword on Gollum just as Bilbo had many years before but decided not to harm Gollum. Fate meant that Gollum indeed had a part to play in the One Ring's future just as Gandalf the wise wizard predicted.

"A sword, a blade which came out of Gondolin!" ~ Gollum, The Hobbit

"Let go! Gollum," he said. "This is Sting. You have seen it before once upon a time. Let go, or you'll feel it this time! I'll cut your throat." ~ Frodo, The Fellowship of the Ring

Was Sting ever really Samwise Gamgee's Sword? Samwise Gamgee who accompanied his Master Frodo on the dangerous journey to Mordor, had to borrow Sting when Frodo was paralyzed by the great spider called Shelob.

Sam didn't slay the spider but he did manage to wound it enough that it retreated. Sam kept Sting as Frodo was captured by Orcs from the Tower of Cirith Ungol and it aided him in his rescue of Mr. Frodo.

It's symbolic that Sam used Sting against Shelob to protect himself and Frodo just as Bilbo Baggins had used the sword so many decades before to protect himself also from a giant spider. It's as if Sting was fulfilling some kind of innate destiny.

The weapon passed back and forth from Frodo to Sam a few times and perhaps, we don't know for certain, Sting ended up with Sam when Frodo left Middle Earth for the Undying Lands and passed on his possessions to Sam.

But was Samwise Gamgee ever really the owner of Sting? I don't believe so. Sam talked of taking Sting as a loan from Frodo while he was paralyzed by the giant spider, Shelob. And despite the sword passing back and forth from Frodo to Sam on the journey and after, Sam never felt that he actually owned the sword.

This is highly evident at the victory celebrations at the Field of Cormallen after the defeat of Sauron when Sam insisted that Frodo wear the sword. 

"But Sting I give to you. I have got an orc-blade, but I do not think it will be my part to strike any blow again." ~ Frodo Baggins, The Return of the King

"No, master! Mr. Bilbo gave it to you, and it goes with his silver coat; he would not wish anyone else to wear it now." ~ Samwise Gamgee, The Return of the King

5. Hobbit Sword Toys and Collectibles

There is a fun toy Sting sword and costume accessory with a button that you press to enable it to glow with a blue light across the length of the blade. It also has special sound effects which activate as you swing it around or play fight with it which turns it into a really fun and unique toy weapon.

This has the right styling taken from the movie versions so makes a very affordable costume accessory to complement a Bilbo or Frodo Baggins Hobbit costume for Halloween or cosplay.

I got this sword for Christmas! Yippee! Mine is the UK version which comes with a scabbard too. The sword is great fun and the batteries were already installed so you could use it right away - very important to kids big and old!

There is a button to press so you can switch on the blue light which looks very impressive in the dark. But the best thing is all the sword slashing, cutting and stabbing noises that this makes when you swing the toy through the air. So much fun.

Despite being made of plastic, the sword looks nice and thankfully cannot cause more than a few bruises because there are no sharp bits. It is a wonderful size for me as a small adult and a good size for most kids age 8 and over I think. Getting two of these is even more fun for little Hobbit inspired duels.

Ornamental Movie Replicas Designed for Display

There are two main versions of the sword, Sting, because it belonged both to Bilbo and to Frodo Baggins. The Bilbo version has no rune on it since this was a later (fictional) addition for the movies.

The Frodo version of this sword bears the inscription "Maegnas aen estar nín - dagnir in yngyl im" which is roughly translated as "Sting is my name, I am the Spider's bane."

This inscription is unique to the movie version and is not something that Tolkien ever described in the actual books.

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Articles are accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.


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