While they were typically Northrons in many respects, the Lake-men or Lake-folk (N. Rhov. "Vatningi") differed from their kin in their greater emphasis on commerce. They had enjoyed a close association with the Dúnedain of Arnor and thus developed relatively sophisticated urban living habits. In the first, second, and third centuries of the Third Age, soon after the Dale-folk, the second major wave of Lake-folk came to the Long Lake.
The earlier migration had founded Londaroth, Esgaroth, and the smaller towns of the Long Lake (S."Annen") and River Running valleys (S."Nan Celduin" ); the second wave settled further south than their brethren, making their homes on hilltops in the East Bight amongst scattered Horse Lord clans.
Men of the Lake, Men of the Long Lake
The towns of the Nan Annen and the Nan Celduin were led by a Master (Old Rh. “Fravia” later “Meistari”)) responsible for maintaining tolls, governing trade, and settling disputes. The Master was elected by the Atathinga (No. “Council of fathers”, later "Attathing") composed of all male citizens “in good standing”. The Baurgs (No. “Forts, Hilltop Settlements”; later "Borgir") retained a more loose clan structure and were governed by a hereditary “Thiu" (Thegen) or chief of the major clan. The Thiu was advised in matters both military and mercantile by a council of the lesser clan leaders (No. “Eldrithing”). Aithafravias (No. “Associations", later Edhfreirs), guilds of merchants and craftspeople, played an important role in politics in all the Lake-men settlements. In the Nan Annen and Nan Celduin, there was little unity beyond each individual town government, and a general feeling of friendly competition existed among nearby settlements.
A loose confederacy did exist among some of the Baurgs, but the “head” of such a confederacy operated less as an overlord than as a “first among equals".
Lake-folk lineage was traced through the father, and couples generally settled with the husband's family, though exceptions of convenience did occur. Marriage occurred freely outside of the clan or tribe (within an Aithafravia, for example) and was sometimes used to seal important commercial agreements.
Lake-folk settlements were built on fortified terraced hilltops surrounded by earthen ramparts that were capped with wooden palisades. Nan Annen and Nan Celduin Lake-folk might improvise such defenses when the environment permitted (witness Esgaroth itself). Since trade played such an important role in the townsfolks lives, settlements were, as a rule, located upon a well traveled estuaries or roads. Esgaroth, Kotstow, Londaroth, Myrrborg, Kaupaborg, and Thorsigsborg all exemplified this emphasis on accessibility.
All males age fourteen and older received training in weaponry and rudimentary tactics in addition to beginning a seven-year apprenticeship in the calling of their choice — usually the choice of their father or mother's brother. Every able-bodied male was expected to serve in the fardi (old Rh.. “Town Levy” later "Ferdh") during times of emergency, and many made soldiering their profession by joining the Gadrauhts (No. “Standing Town Guard", later "Drottnir"). The fardi was drilled for two days every month by the Vardugadrauht (No. later "Vordurdrottin") and his Karlas (No. “Freemen”). Fardi members were familiar with the use of a spear (8'), composite bow, and broadsword or hand axe.
The currency was varied. Esgaroth minted the ¼ ounce mál (No. “size”), worth half of a copperling, as well as the more important ¼ ounce miot (No. “Measure”), which was worth one silver piece and used as a standard throughout the Nan Annen and Nan Celduin.
Because of their cosmopolitan lifestyle, Lake-folk spoke an early Northron (Foradanin) form of Westron closely related to the Rhovanian dialect Gramiska; many words were borrowed directly from Gramiska and the old Rhovanian dialect Aivathiudiska (No. “Tongue of the Horse-folk”). In later times the northern dialect of Dale and Esgaroth developed into a separate northern Rhovanian dialect sometimes known as Delsk or Dalursk.
Although the Lake-folk were more mixed than other Northron Groups, blond hair and blue or green eyes were especially common. Lake-folk were tall, the men averaging 6'0", the women 5'5". Although they were not particularly hairy, the men usually sported well-trimmed beards. Their medium-length britches or (for women) short shifts with leggings, tunics, and cloaks were made of linen, wool, or a combination of the two (linsey-woolsey); they were worn with stitched soft leather shoes. Each member of the Gadrauhts owned a chain or scale mail shirt and a reinforced leather pot helm; wealthier individuals might possess a full-length hauberk and an open helm with an embellished nose guard.
Extended families resided in the typical Northron langahusa or langurhus (Rh. “Long-houses") made of wood or, more rarely, stone. The buildings had several rooms; their roofs were of woven or thatched grass over a light wood or twig frame and possessed a smoke-hole. Most also had a storage loft. The few high windows were generally shuttered and the walls insulated with earth. The floors were sunk 2-4' into the ground, so had to enter by a ramp or stairs. In Esgaroth, most buildings were one- or two-story structures with high roofs and stone chimneys. Many craftspeople conducted their business in the front room of their dwelling; some abodes had split doors or large windows equipped with a shutter that dropped to form a shelf for displaying wares.
The Lake-folk diet was mixed, with heavy leavened or unleavened breads providing most of the bulk. Fresh-water fish were consumed in abundance in the Nan Annen and Nan Celduin, along with wild or domestic fowl, game, and dairy products (milk and cheese) from domesticated goats. Beer, mead, and imported wine (usually spiced or watered down) served as a drink.
Religions of the Lake-town region were typical of Northron culture, centering on sects based on the land and sources of subsistence. Fiskkunia (Old Rh. “The Cult of the Fish" later "Fiskurkind) — a variant of the Cult of the Growing (Old Rh. “Alankunia") — concerned with the waters of the Long Lake and the River Running, predominated in the north. After the arrival of the Dragon Smaug also a Cult of the Fire (Rh. "Furrkind") emerged.
Lake-Men of Renown
See also: Category:Lake-man