Work Header

Rock and Hawk

Chapter Text

Here is a symbol in which
Many high tragic thoughts
Watch their own eyes.

  This grey rock, standing tall
On the headland, where the seawind
Lets no tree grow,

  Earth-quake-proved, and signatured
By ages of storms: on its peak
A falcon has perched.

 —Robinson Jeffers

 * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * 

Loneliness never troubled her, so long as she could hear the sea.  Which was as well, for her kin had little love for the waves.  As a boy, her brother had often woken her, crying out of nightmares where a towering wave drowned the world.  So when she saw him striding down from the dunes, she knew things were going ill, somewhere.

Setting her basket of winkles and dulse on her hip, skirt still kilted to the knee, she came up across the strand—a crescent of shell-white sand fingered by dark, water-worn stone—and met him where the wrack drew its ragged border 'twixt land and tide.  "Welcome, Halladan."

"And well met, Saelon."  A smile briefly eased the weary grimness of his long face.  "You look well."

"You look worried," she replied bluntly.  "I doubt you came all these leagues simply to visit.  Come, let's get you a bite and a draught, then you can tell me what brought you."

His smile twitched and his grey eyes narrowed.  "Yes, niben naneth," he answered, twitting her with his meekness even as he relieved her of the basket.  As they crested the dunes, trading shifting sand for the firm turf of the machair, he observed, "I haven't seen Gaernath.  Has he thrown himself into the sea to escape your tongue?"

She snorted at his childishness.  Jabbing an elbow into his ribs, she was gratified by his wuf of surprise and lost breath.  "I should be so lucky.  No, the lad's up away," pointing towards the northern headland, its craggy green gilded by blooming whin, "with the sheep."  Struck by an unwelcome thought, she glanced sidelong at her brother.  "Is he needed at home?"

"No."  Yet his voice was hesitant, drawing out the word, and his face had recaptured its stern reserve.

Side-by-side in silence, they passed his rough-coated roan mare, which keenly cropped the lush herbage of the dune-sheltered lea, then took the narrow track that followed the burn.  Up they went to the foot of the stranded sea-cliff, testament to the wrath that had drowned fabled Beleriand and, later, Anadûnê.  In a sheltered cove far above the reach of any lesser sea were the sand-floored caves she had taken for her home.  Here the air was still and warm, rich with the scent of the may and rowan that grew thickly along the wide shelf at the base of the cliff, sonorous with the flight of her bees.  Taking back the basket, she set it down beside the spring-carved and -fed basin and nodded towards the nearby bench.  "Sit, and rest as you may."

"As I may," he echoed wryly, gazing out over the unbroken expanse of ocean, but leaned back against the sun-warmed stone and stretched his long legs before him.  The dooryard geese took offense and, beaks uptilted, paced into the kitchen garden to gabble-gossip amongst themselves about the interloper.

Saelon held her tongue.  Ducking under the low lintel of the wattle-framed doorway, into the stone-roofed dusk of the smaller cave, she automatically cast a glance at the banked peat fire smouldering on the central hearthstone, then passed to the handy ledge and took down the drinking horn.  The stoup of heather ale from atop the kist; the last of the morning bannocks, with clotted cream and honey: she need not be ashamed of the hospitality she could offer her kin when they did journey to see her.  She would need to grind more flour with a third mouth to feed, but that could wait until the winkles were in the pot.

He took filled horn and laden plate from her with reverent grace.  "Thank you, lady."

His formality only made her wonder the more what had brought him.  He must think she would take it very ill to be so courteous with her, but it would be rude to press him while he ate.  She contented herself with a gracious bow of her head.  "Pardon me, brother, while I see to supper preparations."

It was the kind of empty nothing his wife Núneth might have said to avoid an unpleasantness, but hopefully he was used to it by now and anxiety would not spoil his meal.  She picked up the basket and headed for the burn, to rinse the winkles and dulse—they would make a hearty stew for the three of them if she added some pounded dried cuddies, nettle and sourock and lovage and ramps—and weigh the possibilities for conflict.

He might have come to fetch Gaernath.  That would be vexing, sure, but if his father wanted him, the lad was not hers to command.  It was good of her cousin to let his second son spend so many months so far from his family.  It was good for Gaernath, too.  He did not like his new stepmother, and wandering the hills with the sheep gave him time to come to terms with his changed life.  His wits weren't quick, but he was steady for his years and would make a good sort of man, if given a measure of quiet.  Without him, she would lose sheep; she would have to dig the garden herself . . . though there needn't be so large a garden; there would be fewer hares in the pot of an evening.  A bother, yes, but a bearable one.  Surely her brother didn't think her so dependent on the lad for help or company, not after all the years she had done for herself.

A death in the family?  No, Halladan looked grave, not mournful; and apart from him, she had already lost those who were dear to her.  One brother to strife between kin; another to the same wasting fever that had taken a sister and their mother; Emerwen, a cousin closer than sister who never came home from the moor; their father brought back on a bier after an ill-fated hunt for a malicious boar.  Between her and her surviving, elder sister, there was little love, and Halladan's children, born after she had left the steading for this shore, were names and faces seen but once a year at Yule.  Her brother insisted she return for the holiday, that she not estrange herself completely from her kin, and he rode over to escort her.  To safeguard her on the road, he invariably said; to prevent her from staying comfortably at home, she as invariably contradicted.

Saelon trailed her hands in the cold, swift-flowing water, letting it carry some of her bitterness away.  There was no help for it: she was who she was, and they were who they were, and they did not understand her.  Her thoughts soared above theirs like a falcon over a flight of ravens; her candor slashed and scarred them; her silences disturbed them, almost as much as the sough of the sea.  Closing her eyes, she listened to the distant murmur of surf beneath the chuckle of the burn in its stony bed, and was soothed.  She fretted too much.  It would be better to return to her brother and hear his tale than to distress herself with possibilities.

"I wish," he said as she drew near, gazing wistfully up from the horn, "you would teach Núneth to brew your heather ale."

"I did try," she pointed out, setting down her basket.  Stepping inside to get the pot, so she could fill it at the basin, she added, "Repeatedly."

Halladan grimaced at the memories.  "Perhaps you might have better luck with my girl?"

"You'll send Rian to me?"

His face steeled itself.  "I want you to come home, sister."

The iron of the pot was unmoved by the clenching of her hands.  "Why?"  There was no point in saying this was her home.  He, and the others, could not or would not accept it.  Her resistance wounded him.  She saw it, and his pain wounded her.  But they were old wounds, so often broken open that the passion had long since been retted and stripped, twisted and woven into the bittersweet fabric of the past.

He set the horn down and knotted his sinewy hands together.  "Saelon, please—things are abroad, in the mountains.  Not wolves; not bears.  Beasts are found . . . not only dead, but broken and torn.  And," eyes bleak with the memory of horror, "sometimes their herders, too."


"Drust, from Orleg's steading, and Brandir of Rasgarth."

No kin of theirs, but Brandir she remembered: ruddy of face, hair as black as his cattle, his voice deep yet sweet when raised in song.  He would have stood against whatever attacked his beloved kine.  A shudder passed through her as she remembered the dark tales whispered around the hearth when the little ones were asleep, after Emerwen's disappearance: stories of ancient evil and undying malice, of creatures twisted out of their nature and of stark monsters.  Reaching out to finger the hallowed rowan blossom, she murmured, "Evil from us . . . but Rasgarth is ten leagues from here.  What creature would come so far?"

"Drust was on Hithbrae, six leagues from Rasgarth.  Aniel says there were at least two, larger than a man, going often on two feet, perhaps booted."

Aniel could tell one hind from another by their slot at the edge of a tarn.  If he did not know whether the fell things went barefoot or booted, they must be uncanny.  "That is ill, brother.  Yet why should they come so far for my small flock, when the hills hold cattle and deer aplenty?"

Halladan's eyes were grim under his dark brows, determined that she should not reason herself out of compliance.  "How can we know mere hunger drives such things?  They are evil, and ranging far."

"Evil things shun the sea," she pointed out.

"Can you be sure?" he demanded, scowling at her complacence.  "You risk too much, here alone, with only the lad."

"Yet you rode here alone, over the hills these things haunt, to fetch me?"

"That's different," Halladan replied, but his tone was defensive.

"Yes, it is," she declared.  "You are a husband and a father; the head of our kin and lord of Srathen Brethil.  You put yourself needlessly at risk, when so many depend on you?"

"While you would be no great loss?"

She shrugged.  "You all live well enough without me."

"How can you say so?" he cried, voice rough with anger.

"Easily, given the twenty leagues between us."

He sat staring at her as if she were a stranger.  Turning from him, she set the pot in the basin to fill under the fall of the spring, unmoved.  For she was a stranger to them, as much as if she had married one of their people from far to the east and gone to live among the ruins of their ancient pride.  Yet that he would have understood.  It was natural for a woman to join her husband's folk.  But she had no husband, and so they felt they could still claim her.  Twenty leagues and twenty years had not been enough to loosen their clutch.

Halladan remained silent as she went in, built up the fire with peats, and set the pot onto its tripod, but she felt his gaze on her, sharp as a hawk's.  He had moved to the end of the bench, a dark silhouette framed by the doorway, chin in hands and elbows on knees.  She remembered him sitting so on a great rock overlooking their mother's grave as she was lowered into the ground, a gawky lad trying to come to terms with a cruel world.

He would have to find his own way through, as she had.  She busied herself with supper, taking the grinding cloth and a triple measure of corn from the meal kist.  Spreading the cloth beside the hearth, she set the quern in the middle and poured a handful of grain into the hole in the upper stone.  The slow circular arm-sweep and grumble of the stones calmed her, as the circle of pale flour rose around the edges of the quern.  Looking up through the door, however, she saw him still perched on the bench, like a brooding eagle.  Thinking, in his laborious way, of how he could convince her.  "Why don't you go out after the lad?" she asked, taking pity on him.  "I'm sure he would be glad of the company of a man for a change."

After a long pause, Halladan unfolded himself.  "I expect you're right," he said stiffly.

They looked at each other: he standing tall on the bright green turf, she sitting on the grey-flagged floor in shadow.  "Tell him about the danger," she said.  "If these creatures prey on the herds, he runs the greater risk.  I will not hold him here should he choose to go . . . and there would be two of you on the mountain tracks."

Her brother nodded, then turned and strode away.

So she had peace again, for a while, and all that seethed was the stew.

They returned, man and boy, as the day dimmed towards gloaming, the long gentle twilight of late Lothron.  She heard them long before she saw them—Gaernath's reedy voice babbling as joyously as a spring freshet, Halladan's unexpected laughter, the measured clop of hooves.  Halladan was leading his mare and the lanky, copper-haired lad her dapple pony.  They veered away at the top of the slope, turning toward the larger cave.  Closed off with hurdles, it served as stable and fold for her beasts.  Walking out to look down on the machair, she saw the flock gathered in the near angle and the collie lounging, tongue lolling but alert, beyond them.

By the time Halladan and Gaernath joined her, faces and hands still damp from washing in the burn, she had laid the board: bowls of steaming stew, a platter of bannocks still warm from the griddle, new cheese and butter and honey, ale for the elders and whey for the lad.  As they ate, they talked over the doings of the folk in Srathen Brethil, and Saelon laughed till she wept at Halladan's tale of Hunthor's pied ram tangled in Urwen's new linen.

Leaving them with the last of the ale, she walked slowly down to the machair, milk pail on her arm.  It was one of those perfect spring evenings when the world was fresh and fragrant, its jewel-like colors mellowed as the stars began to bloom overhead in a field of deepest blue.  The small tearing sounds of the grazing sheep and the low sough of the sea beyond the dunes bespoke peace and content . . . .  It was hard not to resent Halladan for breaking in upon it with his rumors of fear.

A wet nose prodded her hand, and she stroked the collie's rough black head, as much to soothe herself as praise the dog.  When she had finished milking the ewes, she gave him the bit of honeyed bannock she'd saved for his treat.  Though it was dark enough that she heard the thump of his tail more than saw it, she had walked the track day and night for a score of years, and easily made her way back to the cliff caves.

Within the rampart of rowan and may, their blossom silver-grey in the starlight, the voices were low and grave.  When she came into the yard, Halladan and Gaernath glanced over, alert; anxious.  She took the covered pail to her pantry, leaving the cream to rise, then busied herself with clearing the board, refusing to be drawn into their fear, thinking rather of what she might serve them tomorrow.  If she set the bere to soak before bed, she could give them a pottage, perhaps with the last of the sloes—

"Aunt," Gaernath began timidly, and she wondered if he were more in awe of her or frightened by Halladan's news, "your brother has told me of the creatures preying on the herds in the hills, and," he seemed to take his courage in his hands, "that you do not choose to return home with him for safety."  An admirable statement of the case; Saelon looked the lad in the face expectantly, to see where he meant to go next.  He seemed daunted by her gaze, but finally managed, "Why not?"

There was hope for the boy yet.  Without looking at Halladan, she replied frankly, "Because I do not believe the danger here is greater than the danger there."

Gaernath considered that, and Saelon left him to it, taking the cheese and butter to their box in the burn and rinsing the bowls in the dark water.  When she returned, she asked, "What do you choose to do?"

"Aunt?"  He looked puzzled and uneasy.

"You are nearly a man, Gaernath.  Soon you will need to make your own decisions, and stand by the consequences.  Just because I choose to stay doesn't mean you must as well."  Taking her shawl from where she had draped it across the may in the heat of the day, she wrapped it around her shoulders, for it had grown chilly as true night finally fell.  "What do you think your father would wish you to do?"

Halladan sat silent, a dark shape whose eyes glimmered, shifting between her and the lad.  Watching to see if she sought to press him one way or another; to see how he would answer.

The boy took time for thought, sobered by the offer of responsibility.  "I think," he finally replied, "my father would not like me to leave my kinwoman alone, if danger was about."

"Very likely," Saelon agreed, with a wry smile.  "Others, though, also have claims on you.  What of your brothers and sisters?"

Again he carefully weighed his answer.  "Mais will care for them, if anything happens to Father."

"True.  Now for a more difficult choice.  If you and I stay, Halladan will ride back alone, through those hills that are so dangerous."

"Oh," he murmured.

"You needn't decide until the morrow," she assured him.  "Or later still, if Halladan decides to stay a while."

"I mustn't," her brother murmured promptly.  "I need to return, in case matters have worsened.  If the weather holds and I leave at dawn, perhaps I will make it home before full night."

She was on the verge of pointing out that would leave him precious little time for sleep, the nights being so short, then recalled that he would probably sleep ill in any case, so near the waves.  "You will have to travel alone then," she told him, shifting the subject to less fraught ground.  "The lad cannot go at such a pace, for all his lightness of foot, and neither can my old garron."

Gaernath looked from one to the other, half-perplexed, half-vexed.  "No, I can't," he admitted reluctantly, but sounding rather as if he'd like to try.

"Then you have until dawn to decide whether to protect your kinswoman, or your lord," Saelon said bluntly.  "In case you should choose your lord, you best get to bed, for you will need your strength for the journey.  Have you fed the collie?"

Stricken with guilt, the lad jumped up.  "I forgot!  Forgive me, Aunt."

"It's the collie who is hungry, not me.  Ask his forgiveness.  And you can sleep with the horses tonight, to whet your wits and rouse early.  I won't be shaking you in your blankets, while Halladan waits."

Halladan shook his head.  "Is she always so harsh, or is she merely trying to drive you away?"

"Harsh?" Gaernath repeated, sounding both surprised and scornful.  "You should share a roof with my father's new lady."

As the lad trotted off to tend to his belated chores, Saelon laid a hand on her brother's shoulder.  "If you will be off so early, you best turn in now."

Placing his hand over hers and pressing it, he asked plaintively, "You will not change your mind?"

She sighed.  "If you give me cause, Halladan.  I will be watchful, but I see no reason to be fearful."

"Mother should have named you Emeldir, as Father wished."

"Would you have me brave, or wise?" she chaffed.

"Both, if you insist on staying at your love's side, so far from your kin.  He is cold, sister, and terrible."

She could hear the echo of those old nightmares in his voice, and wondered if they would visit him tonight.  Dropping a kiss on his dark hair, she softly countered, "And so are you, brother, to those you have earned your wrath."

He shook his head in resignation and stood.  "Show me a bed, so I can get what rest I may."

Saelon gave him hers, good deep heather against weariness, and lit a rushlight at the hearth.  There was much that needed doing before she might seek a bed, though Gaernath's was at hand.

* † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † *

 She started awake at the muffled clop of hooves on the turf outside: a single beast; not her dapple.  She had dozed off beside the hearth, where she had sat down to wait out the last dark hour before dawn.  Drawing her shawl more tightly around her against the sapping chill of night's deathgrip, she glanced over at her bed; but Halladan, too, had only just woken, staring in momentary bewilderment at the unfamiliar place.  Rising, she stepped to the door.

"Have I kept Halladan waiting?" Gaernath asked mildly, hitching the saddled roan to the nearest rowan.

Saelon laughed.  "Would you like to come and shake him from his blankets?"

"Did either of you selkies sleep at all?" Halladan grumbled, having slept too much for quickness and too little for restoration.  He ran his fingers through his tousled hair, as if trying to rouse his wits.  "Gaernath—you aren't coming?"

"No, sir," the lad told him gravely.  "If I go and Saelon stays, people will think I am a still a child, running home to ada when frightened.  I will stay, and look after her."

"Indeed?" she challenged, arching an eyebrow.

"Should she be mistaken about the danger," Gaernath added in a rush that very nearly destroyed his maiden dignity.

Halladan shook his head at the pair of them and walked out.

"I thank you for your care, kinsman," Saelon told Gaernath, honoring him with formality, "but you are sure?  Once Halladan has left, you cannot easily change your mind."

He stroked the mare's neck thoughtfully, then nodded.  "I am sure.  There is something about this place . . . .  I do not know if it is the sea, or the rowan, or some lingering influence of the Fair Folk—" his face turned towards the high headland where stones lay in a tumbled ring, the footings, perhaps, of a tower far older than the ruins of Arnor "—but it is hard to imagine evil coming here."  Cocking his head, curious and puzzled, he asked, "Halladan cannot feel that?"

"Halladan and I are descended from the kings of Arthedain, and the blood of Númenor is strong in us," she explained.  "It has brought me a love for the sea, but he is haunted by dreams of the terrible waves that drowned Akallabêth deep.  There is no comfort for him in sight or hearing of the shore."

"Is that why no one else lives here, along the coast?"

"No.  Few now have enough Dúnedain blood for the sea to speak to them so clearly," Saelon sighed.  "No other Men live here because, rightly speaking, we are trespassers.  West of the Lhûn, we are in Lindon, Elven lands.  Yet few of them are left, either, and none have objected to our steadings in the Ered Luin.  I am merely the first who has dared to dwell west of the mountains."

"Have you seen any of the Fair Folk?"  Gaernath's voice was hushed, wondering yet uneasy.

"So, can I hope to break my fast before I go?" Halladan demanded, striding back up from the burn in the grey glim of coming day.  From the look of him, he had ducked his head in the burn.

Stooping, Saelon picked up a small sack from the pile of oddments by the doorway and threw it to him.  "You can eat as you go, if you choose."

"Mmhm," Halladan smiled, weighing it in his hand.  "Roasted hazelnuts?  And still warm."

"And here is the last of the smoked salmon."  She passed him a bulging wallet.  "They will keep you on the road for a long day, but no more.  Let hunger be your spur over the final leagues, and reach home before dark."

"I will do my best," he promised.

"This—" she handed him another wallet "—is linarich, and this—" another, "—carrageen for Urwen, who will know what to do with them.  There are also bags of centaury and stonecrop for her as well.  Please give these pouches of lovage to your lady and my sister, with my blessings."

"Will you be sending your spring clip home with me as well?" Halladan asked dryly.  "Twenty leagues over the mountains is arduous enough, without burdens."

"Burdens," Saelon snorted.  The dried seaweeds and herbs weighed no more than the food she had given him for the road.  "You had best be gone, then, before I find more to lade you with."

Gaernath took the bags and bundles from Halladan and began stowing them in his saddlebags, as Halladan checked his mount and tack.  Satisfied, he clapped the lad on the shoulder.  "Thanks, kinsman.  Look after my sister, if she will let you, and after yourself as well."

"Yes, sir."

"And you," Halladan said, pointing his finger at her.


He sighed, and stepped over to kiss her hair.  "Be careful."

"Always, brother."  Clasping his hands, she told him, "Go safe."

She and Gaernath stood shoulder to shoulder, watching as he rode down the track, across the machair, and towards the glow that heralded the sun's rise.  She held up her hand in farewell as Halladan turned to look towards the cliffs, and then he disappeared into the folds of the land like an otter among the round-backed swells of the sea.

 * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † *

Author's Notes

If the English West Midlands, past and pre-Wars-present, were the underlying foundation for Tolkien's Shire, the setting for this story is deeply rooted in the West Highland coast of Scotland.  That dramatic landscape and its little-known antiquities have provided major flavors in my "pot of soup" as I consider what may have happened to some of the scattered remnants of the Dunedain of Arnor.  As Tolkien used philology to ground his Subcreation, I have used archaeology; yet while I love the raw materials, I have not been a slave to them.

For those interested in connecting this storyline with other events in Middle Earth, the action takes place during the mid-29th century of the Third Age, some decades after the Battle of Azanulbizar (T.A. 2799) but before The Fell Winter (T.A. 2911).

Since many of the commonplaces of the West Highland coast may be alien to Southrons or our kin (in blood or spirit) across the seas, I have glossed some words below.  As Tolkien taught me, words have their own unique flavors, which contribute to character and setting in subtle yet powerful ways.  Translations may serve as a bridge, but they are no substitute for a people's own view of their world.

* † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † *

Chapter 1

Winkles (periwinkles; Littorina littorea); marine snails prized for food, traditionally cooked in soup or stewed in porridge.

Dulse (Palmaria palmata): edible seaweed, cooked as soup or eaten raw; also used medicinally.

Wrack: dried seaweed, or a particular variety of brown seaweed (Fucus sp.).

Niben naneth: Sindarin, "small mother."

Machair: Gaelic, coastal plain.

Whin (also gorse or furze, Ulex europaeus): spiny evergreen shrub with bright yellow flowers in May and June.

Lea: fallow land, meadow.

Burn: Scots, small stream.

Cove: recess or small valley in the side of a mountain or between cliffs.

Rowan (Sorbus aucuparia): small tree with white flowers in May and June, and bright red berries from late summer; although the berries are often eaten, damaging a rowan is taboo, since they are considered a potent protection against evil.

May (also hawthorn or whitethorn, Crataegus monogyna): small thorny tree used for hedges with strongly scented white flowers in May and June.

Wattle: interwoven branches and poles used for a wide variety of constructions, such as walls and fences.

Stoup: Scots, narrow-mouthed pail or bucket.

Heather ale: ale flavored with heather flowers and bog myrtle (Myrica gale); one of the elements of Highland culture banned after the '45 (the Highland Jacobite rising in support of Bonnie Prince Charlie).  Robert Louis Stevenson's poem about the legend of Pictish heather ale has interesting resonances with Tolkien's story of Mîm the Petty Dwarf—see also Kipling's "A Pict Song" for the folklore view of Picts as a "little" people.  However, there's a problem with the legend: women would have brewed the ale!

Kist: Scots, chest.

Bannock: Scots, unleavened bread or cake baked on a flat stone or griddle.  Here is a beremeal bannock, like those Saelon makes.

Cuddy (also saithe, Pollachius virens): fish related to pollack and cod, easily caught with a handline from rocky shores.

Nettle (Urtica dioica): best known for its stinging leaves, this plant was also used as a potherb when young, for fiber, and medicinally.

Sourock (also sorrel, Rumex acetosa): potherb and salad plant, also used medicinally and for dyeing.

Lovage (Ligusticum scoticum): celery-like potherb and salad plant.

Ramps (also rampsons or wild garlic, Allium ursinum): potherb, also used medicinally.

Retted: part of the process of making linen, where flax is rotted in water to loosen the fiber.  See "flax" in the Dûnhebaid Dictionary.

Slot: track of an animal.

Tarn: small mountain lake or pool.

Srathen Brethil: compound; Scots Gaelic srath, "strath, valley" (compare Sindarin rath, riverbed) and Sindarin en-brethil, "of the birches."  A glen in the eastern foothills of the Blue Mountains and the westernmost settlement of the Dúnedain, founded by refugees from the fall of Arthedain.

Corn: grain, in this case barley.

Quern: grinding stones for hand-milling grain; in this case, a rotary quern.

Hurdle: panel of wattle, used for a wide variety of purposes, especially to pen livestock.

Bere (hulled six-row barley, Hordeum distichon): the dominant grain in the Highlands until the medieval period.

Pottage: thick porridge.

Sloe (also blackthorn, Prunus spinosa): small thorny tree used for hedges with white flowers March through May; sour fruit used for flavoring and preserves, the flavor is also improved by drying; tough wood valued for making clubs and walking sticks (most notably the Irish shillelagh).  As whitethorn is considered a benignant tree, blackthorn is considered malignant.

Garron: Gaelic, small sturdy packhorse.

Rushlight: in this case, an oil lamp whose wick is a dried rush; also rush-wicked candles.

Selkies: the Seal-Folk; skin-changers, like Beorn.

Ada: Sindarin, "daddy."

Hazel (Corylus avallana): a small tree best known for its nuts (a staple of the Mesolithic diet in northwestern Europe), although its wood was also considered the best for hurdles and shepherd's crooks.

Linarich (sea lettuce, Ulva lactuca; or Monostroma grevillei): thin green seaweed used medicinally when dried.

Carrageen (Chondrus crispus): red-purple seaweed used as a thickening agent and as food for invalids.

Centuary (Centaurium erythraea): medicinal herb.

Stonecrop (biting stonecrop, also wall pepper; Sedum acre): medicinal herb.