The Ithil-Stone ~ Sauron’s Palantír
“At first the globe was dark, black as jet,
with the moonlight gleaming on its surface. Then there came a faint glow and stir in the heart of it,
and it held his eyes, so that now he could not look away.”
LOTR: TTT B3 C11
This page written and edited by our Dark Historian Grievous
The Seven Seeing Stones of Númenor were powerful relics, placed at various locations in Arnor and Gondor. The Ithil-Stone was one of these, placed in the topmost chamber of the Tower of the Moon in Minas Ithil. Along with the Palantír of Minas Anór, the Ithil-Stone was controlled by the Palantír of Osgiliath, the greatest of the seven. Many of the Palantíri were focused on specific regions, and the Ithil-Stone often looked west, keeping watch over Ithilien and the lands of Gondor. The Ithil-Stone was available only to the lords of Minas Ithil.
When Minas Ithil was captured by the Nazgûl, the Ithil-Stone was captured, for the Gondorian defenders had no means of destroying it. What befell it after that is not known for certain. It is believed that the Witch-King tried to control it; yet he could not, as he was not of the line of Elendil, and so could only use it to watch the empty plain of Gorgoroth within. Regardless, the Ithil-Stone was kept hidden, until Sauron returned to Mordor and took up residence once more in Barad-dûr. Then the Witch-King sent the Ithil-Stone to him, and Sauron used the stone for his own purposes.
For though the Ithil-Stone was fixed on the West, Sauron was able to use this for his own purposes, and to spy on his enemies. But Sauron went beyond this. The Kings of Gondor had used the Stones to keep watch over their kingdom, and to communicate; but the will of Sauron was stronger than that of any man. Sauron broke the Palantír away from the control of the Osgiliath-Stone, and used it to watch over all the lands of Middle-Earth. None could escape the Eye of Sauron.
It was with the Ithil-Stone that Sauron ensnared Saruman, and he used it to link the Orthanc-Stone to his own. Sauron tried, as well, to ensnare Denethor, Steward of Gondor, yet Denethor would not succumb to Sauron’s lures. Nonetheless, Sauron gained control over the Palantír of Minas Tirith, and when Denethor would use it he would see only the insurmountable power of Mordor, leading him to despair. It is unknown what the fate of the Ithil-Stone ultimately was. It is likely that it was destroyed in the collapse of Barad-dûr, but none can tell for certain.
It should be noted that it is likely that the dreaded Eye of Sauron was a metaphor for the Ithil-Stone. It is widely known that after the destruction of his initial body Sauron’s form became terrible to behold, and that his eyes burned with a deadly flame that few could withstand to gaze at. It was this that led the Eye to be the symbol of Mordor: for even before his first fall few could withstand his gaze. When Sauron returned before the War of the Ring, it was said by some that he had taken the form of a great Eye, wreathed in flame and perched between the iron pinnacles of Barad-dûr. This was likely untrue; but if such an Eye existed atop the Dark Tower, it is possible that it was a manifestation of the power of the Ithil-Stone. For Sauron used this stone to see all in Middle-Earth, so that none could plot against him unseen.