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Slain soon after New Year III 3019
Apparently lived in Bree itself2
The meaning of Mat is uncertain3


About this entry:

  • Updated 26 January 2024
  • This entry is complete

Mat Heathertoes

One of the Men of Bree

There is some slight uncertainty about the details of Mat Heathertoes' identity, but he appears to have been one of the Big Folk who lived in the town of Bree in the later years of the Third Age. Of his life before the War of the Ring we know almost nothing, except that he was evidently acquainted with Barliman Butterbur, who spoke well of him. Mat Heathertoes became involved in the fighting that erupted in Bree after New Year III 3021, when bandits and thieves travelling up from the south began trouble in the town. He was among the five casualties (three Men and two Hobbits) that Butterbur later reported to Gandalf.



From the way that Barliman Butterbur reported his death, it seems unavoidable that Mat Heathertoes must have been one of the Big Folk (and indeed, Heathertoes is specifically given as a family name used among Men). It is slightly odd, then, that the names Mat and Heathertoes are also separately discussed as names used by Hobbits, rather than by Men. (In Appendix F to The Lord of the Rings, Mat is an abbreviation of the Hobbit-name Matta, and in Tolkien's guide for translators he explains Heathertoes as a name given by Men to Hobbits.) Since Mat Heathertoes' identity as a Man is not realistically in question, it seems that both of these names must have been shared in Bree by the Big Folk and the Little Folk alike.


When Barliman Butterbur listed the names of those killed in the fighting at Bree, for three of the victims he explains where in the Bree-land, outside of Bree itself, they had lived. For Mat Heathertoes (and another Man, Rowlie Appledore), he merely gives their names, but doesn't place them elsewhere in the Bree-land. Though hardly conclusive, this would seem to imply that the two Men were from the village of Bree itself.


In Appendix F II to The Lord of the Rings, Mat is given as a 'real' (that is, untranslated) Hobbit-name, representing a shortening of Matta (or earlier Mattalic in the drafts from volume XII of the The History of Middle-earth). Though described as a Hobbit-name in those sources, given that Mat Heathertoes seems to have been a Man, we would have to assume that Mat was actually a more general Westron name used by Hobbits and Men alike.

See also...

Heathertoes Family


About this entry:

  • Updated 26 January 2024
  • This entry is complete

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