Tall ships and tall kings Three times three, What brought they from the foundered land Over the flowing sea? Seven stars and seven stones And one white tree.
The seven stones were also known as the Palantíri and they were used by the Númenóreans to communicate across vast distances. It is said that the stones were kept at Minas Ithil, Osgiliath, Minas Tirith, Orthanc, Amon Sûl, Annúminas and the Tower Hills.
After the fall of the north kingdom knowledge of those stones faded from mortal minds and the sight of the stewards of Gondor was dimmed in the north.
They were solid spheres appearing when at rest to be made of solid glass or crystal deep black in hue. At smallest they were about a foot in diameter, but some, certainly the stones of Amon Sûl and Osgiliath were much larger and could not be lifted by one man. They were very heavy and unbreakable by any violence then controlled by men.
Alone the palantíri could only "see:" they did not transmit sound. Ungoverned by a directing mind they were wayward and their visions (apparently at least) haphazard.
After the fall of Minas Ithil to the forces of Sauron the knowledge of that palantír was also lost to the forces of good.
See also: "Unfinished Tales" by JRRT.
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