Púkel man spotted in the High Fells!

High Fells 1

This is strictly non-canon but I’m going to throw it out there and receive your feedback …

You may have already noticed, upon prior viewings of The Desolation of Smaug, that in the High Fells scene (after Radagast and Gandalf emerge out of the tombs), we get a shot of a very familiar statue – a Púkel man.

To refresh the memories of some of you: remember the creepy stone statues in The Return of the King, that looked like a melting human figure?Pukel Man

In Tolkien’s Middle-earth, these statues were placed by the race of the Drúedain along the passage towards Dunharrow.

In Unfinished Tales, we learn how these “Púkel Men” could actually come to life when the people/places they were supposed to be guarding, were in danger.

Now, we all know that the concept of “The High Fells of Rhudaur” is non-existent in Tolkien’s books.

And we also read that the Púkel Men seem to have been found only around the White Mountains area (specifically, that of Dunharrow).

High Fells 2 (Pukel Man)

Then again, in this scene from The Desolation of Smaug, we can clearly see an example of one of these statues.

What are your thoughts about this?

Did you ever spot the statues before? (I only just found out a few days ago!)

Was it meant to “guard” something in that area? The (equally-non-canon) entombed Ringwraiths?High Fells 3 (Pukel Man)

If that’s so, they seem to have done a poor job!

At the same time, although not canon, it just keeps on expanding the cinematic universe of Middle-earth … which is nice (in a way)

What are your thoughts on this?

Let’s all try once again to rationalize these movies with a Peter Jackson mind … 🙂

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19 thoughts on “Púkel man spotted in the High Fells!

  1. I would chalk it up to PJ and crew throwing the hard-core “Ringers” a bone. He likes to add these neat little “Easter eggs” for the fans to find. I don’t know if it makes his damage (yeah, I said it!) to the story worse, or if it mitigates it some by tacit acknowledgment that he’s not following the book exactly. If you hear disdain or ire in my writing, it’s because I just listened to the passage about the Pukel men last night as I was listening to the ROTK on Audible (read by Rob Ingles, who I would say has the DEFINITIVE narration of the book), and I guess I’m just in a purist kind of mood. 😉

    • Hey 3cpreaching! Thanks for your input 🙂

      Don’t worry, I also sometimes feel perplexed as to why PJ had to alter or include something no necessary. At least, I’m able to differentiate between books and film – and yes Rob Inglis is fantastic!

  2. Yes, I did notice the statue (the first time I saw the film actually!), but I couldn’t remember where I had seen something like it before. Then I saw your post and had one of those “duh” moments. 🙂 The correlation between the two is fascinating, it would be interesting to hear from the art department on the matter.

  3. So I was right! Yes! I had a bet with a friend of mine (he a tolkienist too) on if it was a pukel man statue or not and now I won but I couldn’t prove it because we saw it on pay per view and there wasn’t the pause.
    Anyway thank you for this good article and for the ones before

  4. I never noticed this before, but it makes practical sense in the context of the movie I suppose. Not big on changes to lore, however, I’m pretty committed to Tolkien ‘s history.

    • I agree. Whilst I occasionally cringe at something not in-line with Tolkien, I still enjoy the films and the way they expand to an alternative universe …

  5. Hello James; I recently developed a theory as to why there would be a statue of a Púkel man in Rhudaur, if you’d be interested.

    During the Angmar Wars (T.A. 1409-1977), tribes of Hill-men lived in Rhudaur, they were recruited to join the Witch-King hordes and helped overthrow Arnor. By the Late Third Age, they had been driven out of Rhudaur and either assimilated into the Bree population or were wiped out by the vengeful survivors of Arnor. My personal theory is that they were distantly related to the Drúedain from Gondor in both blood and custom.

    This creates an interesting parallel, seeing as both Dúnedain of Gondor and Arnor shared the land with primitive tribesmen who preceded the arrivals from the Sea, the one tribe in Arnor sided with Angmar and helped seal the North-Kingdom’s fate, and the other reconciled with Gondor by aiding her Rohirrim allies in The War of the Ring. Even the name; Púkel = Old English for ‘goblin’, seems to align with the malicious connotations of men who fought alongside Orcs. This makes me theorize that the Hill-men were related to the Dunlendings, Breelanders, and Men of the White Mountains. Since these three tribes were akin to the Second House of the Edain, and it could be that undocumented tribes of Drúedain travelled alongside them. If not, perhaps the Hill-men retained the tradition of erecting watch-stones well into the Third Age. This is all strictly guesswork territory and incidental to the statues in the film, but its the best I can offer.

    • Wow, Oscar, that’s fascinating. I quickly checked the “Tale of Years” (Appendix B) in the Return of the King, and didn’t find any reference to tribes of Hill-men that lived in Rhudaur. Can you cite a source on that? I’d love to learn more about this. Thanks.

      • Try “The Return of the King”, Appendix A “The Númenorean Kings”, “Eriador, Arnor, and the Heirs of Isildur”, and also see if you can rifle through the Third Age Timeline from T.A. 1409-1974; there are references to men who lived in Rhudaur who allied themselves with the Witch King.

      • So it is! I don’t think I noticed that detail upon first reading, and certainly, it was not ready to mind recently. This makes the riddle even more complex, then, as the Wild Men of the Woods (Woses) in Gondor at the end of the Third Age (Ghan-buri-Ghan and his people) would seem to be related to the Pukel men, but claim to have been in that region before the Men of Numenor came up from “out of the sea” to live there (ROTK, “The Ride of the Rohirrim,” p. 106). It just makes me wonder even more what Tolkien had in mind regarding this elusive and mysterious people.

    • Hey Oscar, huge thanks for your comment and sharing with us your theory! 🙂

      I must say, I agree with Casey – your idea is fascinating and truly intriguing. It certainly “helps” in explaining the films inclusion of the statutes in such a place.

      Indeed, I wonder what Tolkien would have thought about this whole issue.

      Once again, many thanks 🙂

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