|Place from J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium|
|Location||in Beleriand east of Doriath and southeast of the River Celon|
|Lord||Home of Eöl,
in the Realm of Thingol
In the fiction of J. R. R. Tolkien, Nan Elmoth was the forest in Beleriand east of Doriath and southeast of the River Celon. In Tolkien's legendarium it is the archetype for all the other enchanted forests such as the Old Forest, Mirkwood, Lothlórien and Fangorn.
History in the Tales
Melian and Thingol courted one another in Nan Elmoth before they founded the realm of Doriath. It was an enchanted wood at the east end of the east-west valley that ran between the northern edge of the forests of Doriath and the mountains of Ered Gorgoroth. During the time Thingol and Melian were there the trees grew to be the tallest and darkest in Beleriand, blocking the sun entirely from the forest floor. Eöl the Dark Elf and famed elven smith dwelt there. Nan Elmoth was held to be part of Doriath, therefore Eöl paid Thingol with the sentient, magic, black sword Anglachel as a fee for keeping it as his fief and holding it free of the enemy. Eöl had, for most of the First Age, a nearly exclusive trade agreement with the Dwarves of East Beleriand. Eöl kept his dwelling and smithy in the midst of the wood near the pool of Gladuial. In a darker echo of Melian's enchantment of Thingol, Eöl also enchants Aredhel when she enters the wood. This enchantment is described as an ensnarement. Eöl and Aredhel have a son, Maeglin, who is much involved in the tales of great city of Gondolin.
Characteristics and topography
Nan Elmoth (the name in Sindarin, or Doriathrin Elvish, means: Valley of the Starry Pool ) is the first forest in the interior history that has many of the themes afterwards seen in Doriath, the Old Forest, and Fangorn Forest. All share the characteristic of a confusing maze whose pathways actively shift and draw on or obstruct those who have entered. In most cases, the maze is controlled by some agent such as Eöl, Melian, Old Man Willow, or the Ents. The underlying topography of the valley can be discerned on the First Silmarillion Map in History of Middle-earth Vol. IV, where the lowest elevation line is numbered 5 changed from 4 and the elevations to either side are 6 to the north, the plateau of Himlad, and 7 south the raised plain of the Estolad, indicating sharp rises to the valley walls. The Dwarf Roads and tracks leading to Doriath from Ered Luin run along those heights to either side of Nan Elmoth. The area is covered in some detail in History of Middle-earth, Vol. XI, pp. 316–339. Eöl's dwelling is near Gladuial (Sindarin from earlier Gnomish for Pool of the Wood later, Twilight Wood; no doubt reflecting the Starry Pool above).
- New York Times Book Review, The Hobbit, by Anne T. Eaton, March 13, 1938, "After the dwarves and Bilbo have passed ...over the Misty Mountains and through forests that suggest those of William Morris's prose romances." (emphasis added)
- Lobdell, Jared . A Tolkien Compass. La Salle, IL: Open Court. ISBN 0-87548-316-X. p. 84, "only look at The Lord of the Rings for the briefest of times to catch a vision of ancient forests, of trees like men walking, of leaves and sunlight, and of deep shadows.".
- Tolkien in the land of Arthur: the Old Forest episode from The Lord of the Rings. Mythopoeic Society, 2006. An article discussing the significance of forests in Tolkien's work, in particular, the Old Forest with comparisons to other myths and romances.
- The Central Role of Nature in Tolkien’s Christian Myth, Christy Di Frances, 2003. Discussion of forests and trees and their significance in Christianity and Tolkien.
- Nan Elmoth at the Encyclopedia of Arda