|Place from J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium|
|Description||Northern Númenórean realm in exile|
|Location||Northwest of Middle-earth|
|Lifespan||Founded S.A. 3320|
|Lord||Kings of Arnor; Chieftains of the Dúnedain|
|Books||The Return of the King,
Of the Rings of Power, Unfinished Tales
|Part of The Lord of the Rings|
|Sundering of the North|
Arnor is a fictional kingdom in J. R. R. Tolkien's writings. Arnor, or the Northern Kingdom, was a kingdom of the Dúnedain in the land of Eriador in Middle Earth. The name probably means "Land of the King", from Sindarin Ara- (high, kingly) + (n)dor (land). Arnor is the territory of Middle-earth associated with the High Kings of the line of Elendil, the kingship of which was restored at the crowning of Elessar (Aragorn) after the War of the Ring at the start of the Fourth Age.
At its greatest, Arnor encompassed almost the whole region of Eriador between Bruinen, Gwathló and Lhûn, and the region which would later be known as the Shire. Arnor's population included Dúnedain in western-central regions and mixed or indigenous peoples. The first capital was Annúminas near Lake Nenuial; the capital was moved to Fornost sometime after the reign of Valandil, son of Isildur.
- 1 History
- 2 Successor kingdoms
- 3 Geography
- 4 Palantíri
- 5 Literary Significance
- 6 Adaptations
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Arnor was founded at the end of the Second Age (S.A. 3320) by Elendil, whose sons Isildur and Anárion founded Gondor at the same time. The history of the two kingdoms is intertwined; both kingdoms are known as the Realms of the Dúnedain in Exile.
Before the foundation of Arnor, there was already a sizable Númenórean population living there, a result of the slow emigration of Númenóreans which had started under Tar-Meneldur and especially Tar-Aldarion. Most of them lived in the harbour of Vinyalondë, later called Lond Daer. Before the arrival of the Dúnedain, Arnor was home to Middle Men of Edain stock, and the early colonists soon interbred with the indigenous population. Arnor was originally favoured over the more southern regions (Gondor) because the Elves under Gil-galad lived in nearby Lindon. But in later days, the Númenóreans who fell under Sauron's shadow settled primarily in Umbar. Thus, Elendil arrived in an area populated by people who, unlike his contemporaries in Númenor itself, were mainly still friends with the Elves, and who retained knowledge of the Elder Days.
Arnor's second king was Isildur, who was also the King of Gondor, where he had ruled jointly with his brother until the latter's death. Isildur was killed in T.A. 2 by orcs in the Disaster of the Gladden Fields, and his three eldest sons were killed with him. Only his youngest son, Valandil, survived: being only a child at the start of the war, Valandil had remained behind in Rivendell. In T.A. 10, after several years being tutored by Lord Elrond, Valandil became the third king of Arnor.
For several centuries, Arnor's rulers styled themselves High King, following the precedent of Elendil, who ruled Arnor directly while holding suzerainty over Gondor; the rulers of Gondor, by contrast, were merely styled King. Nevertheless, Valandil and his successors never made any serious attempt to assert their overlordship; after the death of Isildur, the two realms developed as equal and independent states.
With the victory of the War of the Last Alliance, Arnor's power was apparently at its zenith. The King of Arnor held the overlordship of all the land from the Bay of Forochel to the River Poros on the southern borders of Ithilien, and from the Blue Mountains to the Mountains of Shadow. But in reality Arnor's strength had been severely depleted by the war and the Disaster of the Gladden Fields, and the northern Dúnedain never really recovered from their losses. The first few centuries of the Third Age were relatively uneventful, but it seems that Arnor's population gradually began to dwindle even in this early period.
After the death of its tenth king, Eärendur, in T.A. 861, dissension among his three sons led to the division of Arnor. The eldest son, Amlaith, claimed Kingship over all Arnor but was reduced to ruling only the region of Arthedain as his kingdom, while the other sons founded the kingdoms of Cardolan and Rhudaur. The former capital, Annúminas, became depopulated and fell into ruin. The capital of Arnor was relocated to the lesser city of Fornost Erain on the North Downs.
This division hastened the decline of the Northern Dúnedain. The three kingdoms had frequent border skirmishes over boundary disputes, but the relationship of Arthedain and Cardolan remained relatively peaceful. Rhudaur, by contrast, was unfriendly towards the two other successor states, and fought a bitter conflict with Cardolan and Arthedain over the tower of Amon Sûl and the possession of its palantír.
Around T.A. 1300 during the reign of the sixth king at Fornost, the Witch-king arose in the mountains north-east of Arnor, where he founded the evil realm of Angmar. There were gathered many evil men, orcs, and other fell creatures, with the intent of destroying the realm of Arnor while Gondor in the south was strong. It was later revealed he was the leader of the Nazgûl, who were dispersed after the first overthrow of Sauron in S.A. 3434 at the hands of the Last Alliance of Elves and Men, but survived nonetheless.
The last Kings of Rhudaur were not of Númenórean blood, but were descended of Men in the service of Angmar. Under their rule the land became a vassal of Angmar, and an enemy of Cardolan and Arthedain. Angmar annexed and terminated the kingdom in T.A. 1356. By this time no Dúnedain remained in the region, and power had been claimed by an evil chieftain of the hillmen. Constant battle with Angmar began to wear down the forces of Arthedain, while Cardolan as an independent entity came to an end shortly after the invasion by Angmar in 1409.
The Kings of Arthedain reclaimed the name of Arnor when the line of Elendil became extinct in Cardolan and Rhudaur and retook the prefix Ar(a) in token of this, but this kingdom was only a small rump of the large and powerful realm of Arnor before its division. For the next several centuries after the destruction of Amon Sûl, Arnor continued to hold back the assaults of Angmar with dwindling strength and resolve. At this time no help could be sent from Gondor as it was under attack by the Wainriders, even after a re-establishment of relations with the wedding of Arnor's King Arvedui to Gondor's King Ondoher's daughter. An attempt by Arvedui to reclaim the kingship of both Arnor and Gondor was revoked, and Arnor continued to stand alone against Angmar.
Arthedain was finally destroyed in T.A. 1974, when the Witch-king captured Fornost. The next year, in the Battle of Fornost, a coalition of Elves, forces of Gondor and the remainder of Arnor's armies routed the Witch-king's forces and destroyed Angmar. Eriador was vastly depopulated by the war, and very few people remained. The population of Arnor was mostly wiped out, but the Hobbits survived relatively unscathed in the Shire, men survived in Bree and other villages, and the Dúnedain of Arnor created new homes in the Angle south of Rivendell, where they became known as the Rangers of the North. They became an isolated, wandering people, who defended the borders of Bree and the Shire from the perils in the wild.
Aragorn as King Elessar refounded the Kingdom of Arnor as part of the Reunited Kingdom, and again made Annúminas his capital city. After the fall of Sauron, Arnor was safe again for human population, and although it remained less populated than Gondor to the south, in time Arnor became a more densely populated area again, even if it had dwindled in size due to the independence of the Shire.
Around T.A. 1300 the kingdom of Angmar appeared at Arthedain's north-eastern border. Its king, the Witch-king of Angmar, was the chief of the Ringwraiths, although this was not known to the Dúnedain at the time. Rhudaur, aided by Angmar, attacked in T.A. 1356. Argeleb I died in this conflict along the Weather Hills. When this new threat came, Cardolan placed itself under the suzerainty of Arthedain, which then began to call itself Arnor again. Cardolan repeatedly sent aid to Arthedain when needed but in T.A. 1409 Cardolan and Rhudaur were conquered by Angmar and Arthedain survived only with the help of Elvish reinforcements from Lórien and the Havens.
After 1409 Angmar's power was temporarily broken and the North Kingdom enjoyed relative peace, although its population continued to decline. Indeed the decline was so severe that in 1601 Argeleb II (r. 1589–1670) granted a large portion of Arthedain's best farmland to Hobbit migrants, as these lands had become deserted. Arthedain was not badly affected by the Great Plague, but hostilies with Angmar resumed. King Araval (r. 1813–1891) defeated Angmar in 1851, but Arthedain spent its last decades in desperate conflict with Angmar. In T.A. 1940, Arthedain under Araval's son Araphant (r. 1891–1964) formed an alliance with Gondor, but in the end neither Kingdom was able to provide military assistance to the other. The Witch-king pressed the attack on Arthedain even more vigorously, while Gondor barely survived a massive invasion of the Wainriders (T.A. 1944), leaving it temporarily unable to send substantial armies abroad. Araphant and his successor Arvedui held out against Angmar as long as they could. In T.A. 1973 Arvedui again appealed to Gondor for help, and the King of Gondor, Eärnil II (r. 1945–2043), sent a fleet north under his son Eärnur. But it was sent too late: toward the end of T.A. 1974, the Witch-king captured Fornost and overran Arthedain, and the King's sons and most of the other Dúnedain fled across the Lune. Arvedui himself fled northwards and perished in a shipwreck early in T.A. 1975, taking with him the palantíri of Annúminas and Amon Sûl. Eärnur's fleet reached Lindon after Arvedui's death. The combined might of Gondor, Lindon and Rivendell, together with soldiers from the former North-kingdom, routed Angmar's army at the Battle of Fornost.
Though the military threat of Angmar had been destroyed, the North-kingdom was ended. The long wars and a series of natural disasters had taken their toll on the population of Eriador, and the Dúnedain especially were few in number and unable to maintain a kingdom. In T.A. 1976, Aranarth, Arvedui's oldest son, took the title of Chieftain of the Dúnedain. He and his descendants led the Rangers of the North; Aragorn II was the sixteenth Chieftain until he restored the Kingdom of Arnor in T.A. 3019. The Kingdom of Arthedain had included the Shire (founded in T.A. 1601); in T.A. 1979, the Hobbits there chose a Thain to represent the royal authority.
The name Arthedain appears to be dialect Sindarin for "Realm of the Edain".
The borders of Cardolan extended from the river Baranduin (Brandywine) on the west, the river Mitheithel (Hoarwell) on the east and the river Gwathló (Greyflood) on the east and south. Its northern border paralleled the Great East Road.
After it became a kingdom, Cardolan also claimed the Weather Hills controlled by Arthedain, where the fortress of Amon Sûl (Weathertop) and its valuable palantír were located. For this reason the Weather Hills were claimed by all three kingdoms — Arthedain, Cardolan and Rhudaur. This territorial dispute continued until Rhudaur became a vassal of Angmar after the line of the Dúnedain kings failed there.
In T.A. 1050, the branch of Hobbits known as the Harfoots crossed the Misty Mountains, and settled in the South Downs in the west of Cardolan. They were joined about a century later by the Fallohides.
When the kingdom of Angmar arose in northern Eriador, Cardolan became an ally of Arthedain against the combined might of Angmar and Rhudaur. In 1356 Argeleb I of Arthedain was slain in battle with Rhudaur, now allied with Angmar. For a while Cardolan resisted Angmar, and the people became concentrated in the Tyrn Gorthad; but in 1409 a large Army from Angmar broke into Cardolan and devastated the country. Arthedain could provide little aid, as it was itself under attack. The last prince of Cardolan died in this conflict, and Cardolan was shattered. While Arthedain recovered something of its power, Cardolan did not, and the region of the Barrow-downs entered hobbit legend as a place of mystery and danger.
In 1636 the Great Plague claimed the life of the King of Gondor, and withered the White Tree. The plague spread north along the Great Road that joined the two kingdoms, and the population of Minhiriath was decimated. About this time the plague also wiped out the Dúnedain hiding in the Barrow-downs and evil spirits came to dwell there. What few folk survived could offer little aid to Arthedain in 1974, when Angmar overwhelmed the last of the kingdoms of Arnor. Until the end of the Third Age, the Dúnedain of Cardolan were only a memory, their tombs and barrows haunted by evil wights sent from Angmar; for the Rangers that wandered over the lands were descended from the people of Arthedain. Tharbad survived until it was destroyed by floods in 2912.
The name Cardolan appears to be dialect Sindarin for "Red Hill Country".
The name Rhudaur appears to be dialect Sindarin for "Eastern Forests", and indeed Rhudaur was the most easterly of the three regions in which Arnor was divided. In reality, however, its name means "Evil Wood", although Tolkien did not leave any explanation for its origin.
Rhudaur stretched from the Weather Hills with Weathertop (Amon Sûl) to the river Bruinen (Loudwater). It shared a long border with Cardolan near the Great East Road, and with Arthedain along the line of the Weather Hills.
Rhudaur also included land south of the Road between the Bruinen and Mitheithel (Hoarwell) rivers. It was called the Angle, and it is here that the first Stoor Hobbits came into Eriador around T.A. 1150.
Rhudaur's Dúnedain population was always small, and was always only a small proportion of its people. From its beginning, Rhudaur was unfriendly towards the two other successor states, and waged a long war with Cardolan over the tower of Amon Sûl and the palantír associated with the tower.
Over time, the more numerous Hillmen came to dominate the population, and one of their leaders, allied with Angmar, seized power from the Dúnedain during the 14th century. In T.A. 1356, forces of Rhudaur and Angmar slew the High King Argeleb I in battle; the Stoors who had dwelt in the Angle fled south into Dunland, or returned east over the mountains to the Vale of Anduin. Angmar annexed and terminated Rhudaur in T.A. 1409, at which point the last Dúnedain were killed or fled the region.
The Great Plague of T.A. 1636 devastated Eriador, including Rhudaur. In T.A. 1975 Angmar and its control over the region were destoyed by a combined army of Gondor and Lindon. The Witch-king fled, and the Hillmen vanished from the histories of Middle-earth. As far south as the Great East Road, Rhudaur became a troll-country; travellers along the Road generally hurried along their way and avoided the Trollshaws.
There is evidence that after the fall of Angmar at the Battle of Fornost the Angle became home to the remainder of the Dúnedain, and the Rangers of the North established several villages there, where their people lived until the resurrection of the northern Kingdom under King Elessar at the end of the Third Age. But northern Rhudaur remained wild and dangerous for the rest of that Age: Arador was slain there by hill-trolls in T.A. 2930, and his son Arathorn II fell in battle with orcs in T.A. 2933. In T.A. 2941, trolls captured the company of Thorin at the start of The Hobbit.
The Weather Hills were a barren and rocky region of hills that lay several dozen miles north-eastward of Bree. These hills served as line of defense against Angmar early in the Third Age. The Weather Hills were also the location of the watchtower atop Amon Sûl (Weathertop), which was destroyed in TA 1409.
The Barrow Downs, called Tyrn Gorthad in Sindarin, were a hilly region east of the Old Forest. The hills derived their name from the large number of barrows and catacombs they held. These hills were overrun by fell spirits sent from Angmar after the Great Plague in TA 1636.
The North Downs were a range of hills in the northern part of Eriador, east of the Hills of Evendim and north of the Weather Hills. From their northernmost point the hills ran southwest to Fornost Erain, the ancient city of the Dúnedain of the North, and the northern terminus of the North-South Road. In T.A. 1974 after the fall of Fornost, King Arvedui escaped the destruction of the city and held out upon the North Downs for a little while before being forced to flee.
Arnor's original capital of Annúminas was located on the southern shore of Lake Evendim (Nenuial in Sindarin, meaning "Lake of Twilight"). The Hills of Evendim (Emyn Uial in Sindarin, "Hills of Twilight") were a series of hills that stretched along the western shore of Lake Evendim. The Baranduin or Brandywine River rose from the lake, and a tributary of the river Lhûn arose in the hills.
The Shire was a region of gentle low lying hills in Northern Eriador inhabited by Hobbits of Middle-Earth. The Shire was a fertile and well-tilled part of Arnor, but was deserted during the waning days of Arthedain; it had served as hunting grounds for the King of Arnor. The Hobbits (who had migrated from Dunland and parts of Cardolan and Rhudaur) received permission from King Argeleb II to settle the lands. The Shire survived the wars and devastation that brought the North Kingdom to an end.
The Trollshaws were a heavily wooded region north of the Great East Road. In ancient days the Trollshaws had been inhabited by the men of Arnor and subsequently Rhudaur, who built many castles and forts among the hills.
The Tower Hills, also known as the Emyn Beraid in Sindarin, were a range of hills at the west end of Eriador several leagues past the Shire. These towers were built at the end of the Second Age by Gil-Galad for Elendil, the tallest of which was named Elostirion.
Minhiriath was a large region in south-western Eriador that encompassed all of the lands between the Brandywine and the Greyflood rivers. The region was mostly a wide-open landscape, and the only forest large enough to be mapped was Eryn Vorn along the coast of the sea. Minhiriath belonged to Cardolan after the division of Arnor, although by the end of the Third Age it was largely unpopulated.
Cities and Fortresses
Annúminas (Sindarin, "Tower of the West) was the first capital city of the kingdom of Arnor, founded late in the Second Age by Elendil the Tall. The city was situated beside Lake Nenuial and housed one of the three seeing stones of the North Kingdom. The city was abandoned and fell into ruin, and its palantír was removed to Fornost, which became the new capital. The city was rebuilt in the Fourth Age, serving as the northern capital of the Reunited Kingdom.
Fornost Erain (Sindarin "Northern-fortress of the Kings" from for(n) (north) + ost (fortress); "Norbury of the Kings" in Westron) was a city of Eriador in the north of Middle-earth. It was located at the south end of the North Downs, about 100 Númenórean miles north of Bree. After Fornost was abandoned, the site became known as Deadmen's Dike, visited only by Rangers. At the time when The Lord of the Rings is set, Fornost had been abandoned for "nearly a thousand years, and even the ruins of Kings' Norbury were covered with grass".
It is not known when Fornost was founded or exactly when the kings of Arnor moved there from Annúminas, but it is known that the kings moved to Fornost sometime before the death of King Eärendur in T.A. 861, when Arnor was divided into three kingdoms. Fornost became the capital of Arthedain, the westernmost of the three.
Fornost was first attacked by the forces of the Witch-king in 1409, when the border defence system collapsed with the storming of the Forts of the Weather Hills. However, the City was successfully defended by the young King Araphor and disaster was averted.
In T.A. 1974, Arthedain was overrun by the forces of Angmar. They captured Fornost, and King Arvedui fled into the northern wastes and was lost in the Ice Bay of Forochel in March 1975. The following summer, a fleet from Gondor led by Eärnur landed at Mithlond, fought the Witch-king of Angmar in the plains west of Fornost, and defeated his armies, although the Witch-king himself escaped.
Tower of Amon Sûl
The watchtower at Amon Sûl (Weathertop) was built sometime in the Second Age. Elendil and the Army of Arnor waited there for the forces of Gil-galad before marching to Mordor in the War of the Last Alliance. After the division of Arnor, Amon Sûl stood on the borders of all three kingdoms and was contested by each, falling under the control of Arthedain. The tower held the chief palantír of the North Kingdom, and with the rise of Angmar the neighbouring Weather Hills were fortified. In T.A. 1409 a great army came out of Angmar and the Tower was taken and burned. The tower's garrison took the palantír and retreated to Fornost.
Lond Daer was a great harbor founded at sometime during the Second Age by Númenorean explorers along the coast of Minhiriath. The harbor was the first permanent settlement of Númenorean men in Middle-earth, and it was a large foresting hub. By the time of Arnor the port fell within the borders of the Kingdom, but it fell into ruin and was abandoned.
Elostirion was the tallest and the westernmost of the three towers that formed the Emyn Beraid. The tower had been built by Gil-Galad for Elendil at the end of the Second Age, and it contained one of the three palantíri of Arnor.
When Elendil and his sons Isildur and Anárion fled the downfall of Númenor at the end of the Second Age, they carried with them seven of the many seeing-stones, or palantíri, that had been gifted to them by the Elves. Of these seven, three were kept by Elendil and brought with him to the North-kingdom. These stones were placed in Annúminas, Elostirion, and Amon Sûl, and were used to communicate in the realm, with the exception of the Elostirion stone.
The palantír of Annúminas was the stone that was placed in the first capital of Arnor on the shores of Lake Evendim. Although it was one of the lesser stones, this was the one that was most used by the Kings of Arnor when it was a unified kingdom. When Annúminas fell into ruin and the capital was removed to Fornost, the palantír was relocated as well. The stone remained in Fornost for centuries, until when the city fell in TA 1974, it was carried to safety by the fleeing King Arvedui. The palantír was lost alongside the Amon Sûl stone the next year when the ship that was sent to rescue Arvedui was lost in ice, and it remained lost at the bottom of the ice bay in Forochel.
Amon Sûl Stone
The palantír of Amon Sûl was the greatest of the three stones that resided in Arnor, and could not be lifted by a single man. The stone was placed in the great watchtower of Amon Sûl on the Weather Hills, and it a source of great contention between the three successor realms after Arnor's division. In TA 1409, Angmar broke through Arnor's defences and razed the watchtower upon Amon Sûl, but the palantír was carried back to safety at Fornost. The stone shared the same fate as the one of Annúminas when it was drowned in the ice-bay of Forochel with king Arvedui in TA 1975.
The palantír of Elostirion was unique among the stones of Middle-earth in that it only looked out upon the sea. The stone was placed in the tower by Elendil after his flight out of Númenor, and it remained safe after the fall of Arnor in the keeping of Círdan, and Elves would make pilgrimages to view the Straight Road back to the Undying Lands. The stone was carried back to the Uttermost West in TA 3022 aboard the White Ship.
Some stylistic analyses consider the ultimate importance of Arnor is to stand as a literary device contrasting the southern kingdom of Gondor. Arguing that Arnor and Gondor are representative of the classical dichotomy of light and dark, blessed and forsaken, good and evil - these analyses reference the abandonment by the heirs of Valandil and the absence of a White Tree as points of stylistic comparison to Gondor, with its fortresses and heavily populated capital city, its possession of a White Tree, and its well-equipped military and armaments.
The division of the Númenorean realms in exile also mirrors somewhat the Western and Eastern subdivision's of the Roman Empire. One empire, Byzantium, long outlasted the other and enjoyed periods of great glory, as did Gondor in Middle-earth, and just as Arnor split into smaller kingdoms, the Western Empire soon disintegrated, and whole provinces were lost to invaders such as the Gauls and the Visigoths. In both Byzantium and the Western Empire, however, not one but a succession of families ruled, and whereas the Kin-strife in Gondor was an isolated episode, in both the Eastern and Western Roman Empires, internecine fighting was a common occurrence.
In the The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II expansion pack The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II: The Rise of the Witch-King, Arnor appears as a non-playable faction in the story-driven campaign. Many of the most important events in the history of Arnor are depicted in-game, such as the death of King Argeleb I, the destruction of Amon Sûl, and the Fall of Fornost. Several of Arnor's Kings also make an in-game appearance during the campaign, such as Argeleb I, Arveleg I, and Arvedui. Although not playable in multiplayer by default, several mods exist that allow players to use the forces of Arnor in the games skirmish mode.
In the Lord of the Rings Online, the majority of the original regions (Bree-Land, the Trollshaws, the Lonelands, the Ettenmoors, the North Downs, and the Shire) all occupy what was once part of the kingdom of Arnor. A seventh region, Evendim, was also added to the game after its release which depicts the area surrounding Arnor's abandoned capital of Annúminas. In all seven of these regions, players may explore ruins of what were once fortresses and cities of Arnor including the ruins of Fornost, Annúminas, and Amon Sûl, as well as interact with many Non-Player Character's that make reference to the fallen kingdom.
In its 2007 supplement The Ruin of Arnor to The Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game, Games Workshop also released a line of miniatures that depict the forces of Arnor at different points in time, including the armies of the kingdom before its destruction, as well as the Dúnedain rangers that composed the remnants of Arnor's people.
- Kings of Arnor - A complete listing of all the kings of both Arnor and its successor kingdom of Arthedain.
- Return of the King, Appendix B, pp. 362–376
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- Tolkien, J.R.R. (2005). The Lord of the Rings 50th Anniversary Edition. Harper Collins. p. 5. ISBN 0-261-10325-3.
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