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Author Topic: Producers of Elven Ruins/Buildings???  (Read 563 times)

Offline Ethelred the Almost Ready

  • scientist
  • Posts: 376
Producers of Elven Ruins/Buildings???
« on: March 12, 2018, 06:44:34 AM »
What sort of buildings would the elves in the First Age (Silmarillion) have had?  The general feeling is Tolkiens world is mainly set in the Dark Ages but the elves were far more advanced than men.  Would they have made buildings more in the style of the 12th or 13th centuries or something completely different?
Who makes terrain/ruins/buildings suitable for Tolkien elves?

Offline Severian

  • scientist
  • Posts: 321
Re: Producers of Elven Ruins/Buildings???
« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2018, 07:53:11 PM »
Now, there's a question...

I had a quick look through Tolkien: artist & illustrator and all there is of the first age in building terms (apart from the cave palaces of Nargothrond and Menegroth) are a couple of distant views of Gondolin. Nothing very architecturally revealing, though - (very) high towers and circling walls. There are several pictures of Rivendell, showing the Last Homely House looking like a cross between a Roman villa and a Swiss chalet. But even if it began as a refuge for a remnant of the Noldor, I don't think it's really admissible as evidence for how their buildings might have looked in the first age... There are a few pictures of houses with low domes, too, which Tolkien seems to have liked (or found easy to draw!) but not all of them are explicitly Elvish buildings.

There may be something useful in the Unfinished Tales, though, perhaps in Tuor and his Coming to Gondolin, but I've not had time to look yet. And I suspect there could be occasional descriptions in the much earlier material - Book of Lost Tales, primarily - but it's an open question whether that really counts as evidence for Tolkien's mature concepts.

I'll look about a bit more if I have a moment later but I suspect the answer will be "go with whatever you personally like or think works". I'd probably avoid high medieval traceried windows and the like myself, but that's because I don't like my high elves too fussy. You might have a look through an illustrated history of architecture, or something of that sort, and go with whatever you think looks best. The oddments of buildings in the Alan Lee illustrations to the Children of Hurin have a sort of Romanesque feel, which seems to work.

Another question of course is what type of buildings - domestic, or military? Noldorin fortifications could be quite something, I think...

Obviously what's available commercially will be dependent on what style you go with. I'd probably browse the Hirst Arts range and have a go at making my own, but I'm a bit odd like that.

Sorry, these are just some random thoughts - feel free to ignore!

Offline waitwhat

  • bookworm
  • Posts: 50
Re: Producers of Elven Ruins/Buildings???
« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2018, 10:08:00 PM »
Now, there's a question...

And a helluva answer. /applaud

Offline area23

  • mastermind
  • Posts: 1060
    • area23
Re: Producers of Elven Ruins/Buildings???
« Reply #3 on: March 12, 2018, 10:20:15 PM »
I'm living in an area in southern Italy where there are several Frederick II 13th century castles. Some have an appealing simmetry, most notably the Castel del Monte. I immagine it taller with pointy roofs on each tower for elvish architecture.
(Note this castle was also inspiration for Eco's the Name of the Rose)

Offline Ethelred the Almost Ready

  • scientist
  • Posts: 376
Re: Producers of Elven Ruins/Buildings???
« Reply #4 on: March 14, 2018, 05:36:24 AM »
And a helluva answer. /applaud

Yes, a very good answer.  I cannot remember Tolkien ever describing buildings of the First Age, but then Tolkien seldom describes anything in great detail (if any detail at all).
I think the elves would build elegant, but not flashy buildings. 

That Italian castle would certainly do the job.

What do you think of these as ruins?
https://www.fantasy-stones.com/shop/ruins/

They are made of plaster.  Will they survive being used for gaming?

Offline Severian

  • scientist
  • Posts: 321
Re: Producers of Elven Ruins/Buildings???
« Reply #5 on: March 14, 2018, 06:20:38 PM »
Glad my rambling thoughts were interesting (to someone other then me!).

Those plaster ruins look good - I think the ones called Fionn and Daena would fit my notion of elven buildings best, but they're all good - though I don't really care for the towers.

How robust they would be depends a bit on the sort of plaster they're cast with. I use some stuff called Keramin to make Hirst Arts blocks, and it's a good deal less fragile than standard plaster of paris. Since these are made for gaming, you'd hope they'd use something fairly solid...

I had a look in Tuor, btw, and as well as a detailed description of the seven gates of Gondolin, (probably not much use as a guide to standard buildings, but fun) there's an interesting description of Turgon's abandoned hall at Vinyamar, "eldest of all the works of stone that the Noldor built in the lands of their exile". It's incidental to the action rather than a set-piece description, but there are some hints. So, we have "the coping of its walls" and "the great shingles of its roofs", and overall "the old hall and its high and windy courts" set on a terrace, with a west door with a "mighty lintel" at the top of "wide stairs". Beyond the door, there is a "high-pillared hall" with "at the eastern end a high seat upon a dais". There is a paved floor, and "pillared aisles". There is also "a high window under the western gable".

So far, I suppose, so generic; but I think it's clear that what Tolkien imagined was a fairly conventional early medieval hall, albeit on a grand scale (with internal pillars and aisles) and in stone rather than wood, rather than anything more elaborate in its plan at least. Perhaps something a bit like a late Roman basilica (like the one in Trier, say) might be the closest analogy? I'll let you know if I come across anything else that might be helpful.

Looking forward to seeing where you go with this.

Offline Ethelred the Almost Ready

  • scientist
  • Posts: 376
Re: Producers of Elven Ruins/Buildings???
« Reply #6 on: March 14, 2018, 06:44:33 PM »
Funny, I had just skimmed through that chapter about Tuor but I was looking for a couple of comments about elven shields, so I missed the description of the hall.

It's interesting that the elves are more primitive in their buildings than I would have thought.