Meeting in Middle-earth at Oxonmoot

Author: Casey Gale       

Tolkien gathering

Oxonmoot — a gathering of J.R.R. Tolkien enthusiasts — meets annually in Oxford, England. (Illustration/Carmen Segovia)

Since 1974, a group has been gathering for a conference centered around all things elves, dragons, wizards, and hobbits. While that description might sound like Comic Con to those unfamiliar with the fictional world of Middle-earth, this is Oxonmoot, the annual celebration of renowned author J.R.R. Tolkien’s works, including The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Every year, the Tolkien Society — an educational charity, literary society, and international fan club — hosts Tolkien scholars, fans, students, and members from around the world at the University of Oxford. The event is always held around Sept. 22, to celebrate the shared birthday of Tolkien characters Bilbo and Frodo Baggins.

Talking Tolkien
Though the 40-year-old event celebrates some works of fiction that are now more than 80 years old, it continues to grow in popularity. Approximately 300 attendees gathered at this year’s event, making it the largest-ever Oxonmoot to date.

Oxonmoot participants can have their fill of more than just presentations. They can stuff themselves during traditional hobbit mealtimes — like second breakfast, elevenses, lunch, and afternoon tea — and by participating in a “Hobbit Bake-Off.”

Visiting Another Land
In addition to participating in sessions and food-related activities, attendees can join reading circles and take quizzes, get crafty in workshops that teach skills like dwarven beard-making, and check out an art exhibition inspired by the works of Tolkien.

Keepers of the Flame
Attendees can also explore the Dealers’ Room, where Tolkien-related books, costumes, and jewelry are sold — though luckily, no mystical rings are distributed at the event. (As CliffsNotes might explain, the possession and control of magical objects, like rings, is a recurring conflict in Tolkien’s works.)

Oxonmoot takes a somber turn as it winds down. Each event concludes with “Enyalië” — meaning “memory” or “recalling” in the Elvish language Tolkien crafted for his novels — a ceremony of remembrance at Tolkien’s gravesite in Oxford.