War of the Rohirrim: who is Helm Hammerhand?

Who is Helm Hammerhand in War of the Rohirrim? The new Lord of the Rings movie is set to star a legendary king of Rohan, so let's find out more about him

War of the Rohirrim: Helm Hammerhand explained - Eomer in Lord of the Rings

Who is Helm Hammerhand? If you’ve seen the Lord of the Rings movies, the name ‘Helm Hammerhand’ probably rings a bell, or more accurately, a horn. That’s because in the Battle of Helm’s Deep, King Theoden makes reference to the ‘horn of Helm Hammerhand’.

Now, Helm Hammerhand is set to be a main character in the new Lord of the Rings anime movie; The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim. What we know about Helm Hammerhand is derived from Tolkien’s Appendix A: Annals of the Kings and Rulers, II: The House of Eorl, which can be found at the end of the Lord of the Rings book.

But if you haven’t read Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings books, and perhaps even if you have, there’s likely to be a lot that you don’t know about the legendary king of Rohan. Fear not, Eorlingas, we’re here to demystify Helm Hammerhand so that you can be completely in the know by the time War of the Rohirrim rolls around.

Who is Helm Hammerhand?

Helm Hammerhand was the legendary 9th king of Rohan, and one of the greatest kings of Men in the history of Middle-earth. The son of Prince Gram, he was born in the year 2691 of in the Third Age, several hundred years before the War of the Ring, and the destruction of the One Ring. He was given the name ‘Hammerhand’ because he possessed a great, powerful strength as was renowned for his inclination to fight his opponents with his bare hands.

Helm Hammerhand’s time as a prince of Rohan, and someone who was next in line to the throne after his father, was marked by a bitter conflict with the Dunlendings, who were the savage Men who occupied the borders of Rohan. This progressed into all-out conflict between the two forces, with the Dunlendings using the ex-Gondorian fortress of Isengard (which Saruman would later take charge of) as their stronghold from which they could attack Rohan. Upon his father’s death, Helm Hammerhand ascended to the throne and became the 9th king of Rohan at the age of 50.

War of the Rohirrim: Helm Hammerhand explained - Helm Hammerhand concept art for War of the Rohirrim

Helm Hammerhand’s reign as king

Like his father before him, Helm Hammerhand’s time as the king of Rohan was defined by conflict with the Dunlendings. The first major escalation in this conflict was when the powerful and influential Dunlending lord, named Freca, attempted to coerce Helm into arranging a marriage between Helm’s daughter Hèra, and Freca’s son Wulf the Dunlending. Helm Hammerhand refused to be intimidated by Freca’s demand, and he killed Freca with a single, enormous punch. Ouch.

Four years after Freca’s death, his son Wulf and the Dunlendings marched on Rohan aided by forces from the Easterlings, and the Corsairs of Umbar. Wulf and his army defeated the forces of Rohan, and Helm withdrew his people to the mountainside fortress which would later be known as Helm’s Deep. There, the people of Rohan led by Helm withstood a long siege.

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After the death of his son and other Rohan royals, Helm Hammerhand eventually died in a battle outside of Helm’s Deep. He was found frozen, with his eyes still open, still prepared to fight. His nephew, Fréaláf Hildeson became the 10th king of Rohan, and it was he who would go on to defeat the Dunlendings and reclaim Rohan’s territory.

Did Helm Hammerhand become a Nazgûl?

Helm Hammerhand did not become one of the nine Nazgûl. In fact, the dates don’t align and Sauron had been initially destroyed by Isildur long before Helm Hammerhand was born, meaning that Sauron could not have gifted Helm Hammerhand one of the magic rings of power.

However, the reason why there could be some confusion is because in the video game Middle-earth: Shadow of War, Helm Hammerhand was one of the Nazgûl after receiving a ring of power from Sauron and Celebrimbor. But, as we’ve said, this isn’t canon and will not be how events are presented in the new Lord of the Rings movie, War of the Rohirrim.

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What is the horn of Helm Hammerhand?

The horn of Helm Hammerhand was a horn that belonged to the king, which he had with him during the Dunlending siege on Helm’s Deep. It is recorded that Helm would blow the horn before he would leave the fortress to attack the enemy, and so knowing that its noise came to signify his attacks, the enemies would fear the sound of the horn.

After Helm Hammerhand’s death, the horn remained in Helm’s Deep. It was, famously, blown during the final defence of Helm’s Deep while it was under siege from Isengard before Théoden and his riders pushed through the hordes of Orcs to meet Éomer and Gandalf.

Who plays Helm Hammerhand in War of the Rohirrim?

In War of the Rohirrim Helm Hammerhand will be voiced by the imperious Brian Cox, best known for his recent performance in the critically acclaimed drama series Succession. He has also starred in the epic action movie Braveheart, as well as Fantastic Mr. Fox, and Churchill.

For more on Middle-earth, check out our guide to Rings of Power season 2, as well as other characters like Éowyn the shieldmaiden of Roahn, Morgoth, Elrond, and Durin.