List of Middle-earth roads
This is a list of roads mentioned by name in J. R. R. Tolkien's stories of Middle-earth. Many roads in Middle-earth were dirt tracks, but paving was also used and in some cases stone causeways were built.
Ancient Dwarf Roads
Great East Road
The Great East Road (also known as the East Road, the East-West Road or the Great Road) was an ancient Dwarven route passing from western Beleriand, over the Ered Luin, across Eriador, and to the Misty Mountains. Travellers could cross the Misty Mountains by using the High Pass, and continue their journey through Rhovanion (Wilderland) to the distant dwarven lands in the East by using the Old Forest Road. The Great East Road passed through lands that would become Arnor, the northern kingdom of Men, and later, the Shire of the Hobbits.
The Great East Road was originally laid by the Dwarves during the First Age before the first rising of the Sun, probably during the last Age of Stars. It is assumed that the Great East Road was built as a western extension of the Old Forest Road, which ran from the Iron Hills through Rhovanion and ended at the Misty Mountains near the High Pass. The Great East Road gave the Dwarves a route across Eriador to the Ered Luin, and then on into Doriath in Beleriand. The westernmost parts of the road were built to facilitate the passage of companies of dwarf craftsmen (and later, their armed escort) across eastern Beleriand, before the sack of Doriath by the dwarves of Nogrod ended their trade.
At the end of the First Age, the War of Wrath destroyed Beleriand and most of it fell into the sea, taking the western part of the Great East Road with it. Once the longest road in Middle-earth, the now shorter Great East Road would lose that title to the North-South Road. In the new geography of the region, the Great East Road would now stretch from the Grey Havens in the west to the vicinity of the newly founded Rivendell in the east, on the western side of the Misty Mountains.
When the Númenórean realm in exile of Arnor was founded, the Arnorians took over the maintenance of the Great East Road, and built several fortresses on or near it (including Weathertop), and expanded or created bridges over the rivers Baranduin and Mitheithel. After Arnor was divided in T.A. 861, the Great East Road formed the boundary between two of its successor states, Cardolan and Arthedain. In T.A. 1601, the Shire was founded and the Hobbits were tasked with maintaining the middle section of the Great East Road.
While it was once a major thoroughfare of Arnor, when the last remnants of the northern kingdom fell in T.A. 1974, travel on the road declined. By the end of the Third Age, only the portion of the Great East Road within the Shire was well used while the rest carried only a few wanderers and the occasional band of Dwarves.
Old Forest Road
The Old Forest Road (also known as Dwarf Road or Men-i-Naugrim) is the main route through the great forest originally known as Greenwood the Great and latterly as Mirkwood. The Old Forest Road originally ran from the Iron Hills through Rhovanion and ended at the Misty Mountains near the High Pass. Where the Road crossed the Great River, there was originally a stone bridge, but by the later years of the Third Age the bridge had been lost and the river was crossed by the Old Ford. From there, a traveller following the Road east would cross some miles of open country before plunging into the depths of the forest. The Road then ran directly east from one side of the forest to the other, covering more than two hundred miles beneath the canopy of trees before it emerged by the banks of the River Running.
Of the origins of the Road we know little for certain. We can be sure that it existed before the end of the Second Age, because a record exists of the stone bridge being specially strengthened to carry the armies of the Last Alliance of Elves and Men. A strong clue to its origins is presented in its Sindarin language name, Men-i-Naugrim, meaning 'Dwarf-road'. The Dwarves had a tradition of road-building dating back to before the First Age, and it seems that they must have built the Forest Road to carry traffic between their western and eastern clans. It's particularly notable that the old bridge over the Anduin at the Road's western end lay almost exactly halfway between the ancient Dwarvish meeting-place at Gundabad to the north, and Durin's mansions of Khazad-dûm to the south. It is assumed that the western end of the road had been built by the dwarves of Khazad-dûm in the Misty Mountains. Khazad-dûm's inhabitants, the Longbeard dwarves, continued to grow in power and influence, and their trading needs meant that the road from the Iron Hills that travelled through Mirkwood to their gates became widely known.
By the middle of the Third Age, several Dwarf kingdoms had fallen and travel on the Forest Road dwindled. By the end of the Third Age, the Old Forest Road had become overgrown and portions of the road east of Mirkwood had become impassable.
North-South Road - The longest road in J. R. R. Tolkien's fictional realm of Middle-earth. It ran from the lost realm of Arnor in the north to the city of Minas Tirith in the south. Before the breaking of Beleriand in the War of Wrath, the Great East Road was the longest road in Middle-earth. After Beleriand sank beneath the waves, the Old South Road had supplanted it. In the early Third Age, the road served as the main linkage between Gondor and Arnor. The road was the lifeline between the two kingdoms, and existed well throughout Tolkien's legendarium.
The road began at Fornost Erain, Norbury of the Kings, the ancient capital of Arnor. From there the road ran 100 Númenórean miles south to the ancient crossroads of the Great East Road at Bree. Below Bree, the road became known as the Greenway as it had become overgrown with grass due to its waning use in the Third Age. The road passed through the Andrath and met with the road out of the Southfarthing from Sarn Ford. It then ran southeast through the desolate wastes of Minhiriath to the ruined city of Tharbad on the Gwathló. At Tharbad the road crossed the Greyflood along a series of causeways and a massive stone bridge over the river. From Tharbad, the road continued southeast through the deserted land of Enedwaith and entered Dunland just west of the Misty Mountains. In southern Dunland, the road turned due east and crossed the Fords of Isen, where it entered the Gap of Rohan between the Ered Nimrais and Hithaeglir. Upon crossing the River Isen, the road entered the Kingdom of Rohan and became known as the West Road. The road then travelled eastward and a little south, skirting the northern foothills of the Ered Nimrais on its way to Edoras and then to the Mering Stream, where the road entered the Kingdom of Gondor. In Gondor the road continued to the end of the Ered Nimrais to Minas Tirith. From Minas Tirith the road turned due east to Osgiliath where it once crossed the river Anduin via a great stone bridge. From Osgiliath, the road continued across Ithilien and ended at Minas Ithil, which by the end of the Third Age had become known as Minas Morgul. By the end of the War of the Ring, there were plans in place by King Elessar to restore the ancient royal road.
The road is specifically mentioned in The Lord of the Rings, when describing shipments of pipe-weed from the Shire's Southfarthing to Isengard. Saruman's ruffians also used the road to reach the Shire, as did he and Gríma Wormtongue just before the Battle of Bywater.
Boromir is also mentioned as having used the road, travelling from Minas Tirith to Rivendell. He lost his horse at Tharbad's broken bridge. The Nazgûl also used the road when they travelled north in search of the One Ring.
Part of the North-South Road, between Bree (at the junction of the Great East Road) and the southern end of Andrath, was known as the Greenway because, at the end of the Third Age, it was little used and had become covered with grass.
Old South Road
Old South Road - A Third Age name for the section of the North-South Road from approximately Tharbad southwards. Most of this route had ceased to exist by the time of The Lord of the Rings, with only remnants of the causeways still extant in the fens of Minhiriath. The same term was also used to describe a road in Beleriand in the First Age which ran from the Pass of Sirion, past Doriath, and down to Nargothrond.
- Great West Road - An old road of the kingdom of Gondor passing along the northern end of the Ered Nimrais from Minas Tirith to the Fords of Isen.
- Harad Road - The long road that ran southward through Ithilien, crossing the Poros at its Fords, and then out across South Gondor to the ford across the Harnen and beyond to the far lands of Harad. This was the road that was used by the Southron forces of Sauron during the War of the Ring to reach Ithilien and the Pelennor Fields to partake in the Siege of Minas Tirith.
- Orc-road - A term used for the road from Angband to Tol Sirion used by the Orcs in the First Age.
- Bywater Road - Runs from the Great East Road through Bywater and Hobbiton in the Westfarthing. Location of the last battle of the War of the Ring, the Battle of Bywater
- Rivers of Middle-earth
- Straight Road, the path by which Elven ships travel to Aman
- The Lost Road and Other Writings
- The Road Goes Ever On
- The Road to Middle-earth
- Tolkien, J. R. R. (1980), Christopher Tolkien, ed., Unfinished Tales, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, Disaster of the Gladden Fields, ISBN 0-395-29917-9
- Tolkien, J. R. R. (1955), The Return of the King, The Lord of the Rings, Boston: Houghton Mifflin (published 1987), Minas Tirith, ISBN 0-395-08256-0
- Tolkien, J.R.R. "The West of Middle Earth at the End of the Third Age". In Christopher Tolkien. Unfinished Tales (2nd ed.). Harper Collins.
- Tolkien, J. R. R. (1986), Christopher Tolkien, ed., The Shaping of Middle-earth, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, The Earliest 'Silmarillion', ISBN 0-395-42501-8
- Tolkien, J. R. R. (1984), Christopher Tolkien, ed., The Book of Lost Tales 1, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, The Hiding of Valinor, ISBN 0-395-35439-0
- Tolkien, J. R. R. (1955), The Return of the King, The Lord of the Rings, Boston: Houghton Mifflin (published 1987), Mount Doom, ISBN 0-395-08256-0
- The Return of the King, Book II, P. 272, isbn=0-7887-8984-8
- Unfinished Tales, p. 348, isbn=0-395-29917-9
- Robert Foster's The Complete Guide to Middle-earth ISBN 0-345-32436-6
- Greg & Tim Hildebrandt's Tolkien's World from A-Z:The Complete Reference Guide to Middle-earth ISBN 0-7394-3297-4
- Karen Fonstad's Atlas of Middle-earth
- John Howe & Brian Sibley's The Guide to Tolkien's Middle-earth ISBN 0-06-105506-9
- The Adventures of Tom Bombadil also mentions the road.