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Mountainmen

Mountainmen of Gondor

The folk of Lamedon were of Daen stock, although they were, in most respects, culturally integrated into the realm. They were ragged, down-to-earth, and mainly concerned about the practicalities of life. There were, however, two aspects of life which they took especially seriously: control of their flocks and control of their families. In Lamedon the sheep and goats were ear-marked to show who owned them, but the lambing season presented the opportunity to steal other people's lambs before they were marked. This was a favorite sport among the young men, and enabled them to prove their doughtiness to their elders. It led to a certain amount of quarreling between landholders, although vendettas no longer raged in Lamedon, since Gondorian law curbed the temper of the folk there.


To avoid intricate sub-divisions of the family land, the folk of Lamedon practiced an inheritance system wherein the oldest son of each family got the right to the land, employing his brothers and men from poorer families to help with the flocks in exchange for shares of the produce. A man could leave the family land with his share of the flock; but this was uncommon, since he could not keep a flock without land upon which to graze it. Few rural folk of Lamedon would be prepared to sell their sheep and do something else for a living. Prior to the time of the Ruling Stewards there was, however, a small but certain amount of emigration from Lamedon to Anfalas, where settlement was encouraged by free distribution of land plots. The inheritance system and the need for assistance with the flocks lend a very strong importance to marriages between the landholding families. Alliances of trust and of property were forged through marrying one's children to well-chosen spouses. This, however, was a perannual source of frustration to young people, who often had other things in mind than strategic pasture management. When all else failed, a maiden could elope with her beloved, whereupon the young couple was invariably chased the length of the land by the woman's brothers. The traditional resolution of these dramas was that the young couple stayed in hiding until she was pregnant, after which her father was confronted with a fait accompli and a (hopefully) acceptable bride price. He rarely refused it.

The meager soil of Lamedon made agriculture a somewhat futile pursuit, and for this reason the chief means of subsistence was animal husbandry. The shepherds of Lamedon grazed their sheep on the gentle slopes above the Ciril and drove goats to pasture in the high mountain meadows above the tree line during the summer. The produce —woolen textiles, while cheese, and mutton — was brought to market in Calembel, where merchants from the Vale of Anduin provided necessary imported goods in exchange. The landscape of Lamedon was dotted with stone cairns, which doubled as grave monuments and boundary markers between the pasture lots of different families. These lots appeared as long, parallel strips of land at right angles to the river. The private ownership of pasture land was a custom unique to Lamedon, as elsewhere in Gondor the pasture lands were commons. Awe of the dead kept the neighbors from moving the boundary markers. The unscrupulous adventurer would, however, win small gain from robbing these graves, since the folk of Lamedon tended to keep their valuables rather than commit them to the earth Their homesteads were mostly located at the "heads" of the pasture lots, that was near the river. Small huts away from the river were used by the shepherds when out with the flocks. No villages in the conventional sense of the word existed. Large, multi-family farms on the verge of villagehood however, agglomerated from time to time as a result of the unification of several pasture lots in the hands of one family. These were not common, and were best seen as headquarters of the wealthiest landowning families. Sonie of them provided lodgings for travelers on a regular basis at strategic points along the roads.

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