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This article is about a place in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium. For other uses, see Rivendell (disambiguation).
Place from J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium
Rivendell illustration.jpg
J. R. R. Tolkien's painting of Rivendell
Other names Imladris
Last Homely House East of the Sea
Description Refuge of the Elves
Hidden Refuge
Location Eriador: South of Rhudaur and West of the Misty Mountains
Founder Elrond
Lord Elrond

Rivendell is an Elven outpost in Middle-earth, a fictional realm created by J. R. R. Tolkien. It was established and ruled by Elrond Half-elven in the Second Age of Middle-earth (four or five thousand years before the events of The Lord of the Rings), and was protected by the powers of its lord and his elven ring Vilya. In addition to Elrond and his family, notable Elves who lived there included Glorfindel and Erestor.

Rivendell is a direct translation or calque of the Sindarin name Imladris, both meaning "deep valley of the cleft".


Rivendell is also called "Imladris" in Sindarin and "Karningul" in Westron. The name Rivendell is formed by two English elements: "riven" (split, cloven) and "dell" (valley), making the whole word purport "deeply cloven valley". It is also referred to as The Last Homely House West of the Mountains, alluding to the wilderland that lies beyond the Misty Mountains.


Rivendell was located at the edge of a narrow gorge of the river Bruinen (one of the main approaches to Rivendell comes from a nearby ford of Bruinen), but well hidden in the moorlands and foothills of the Hithaeglir or Misty Mountains. Contrary to the map of western Middle-earth published in The Lord of the Rings, the Great East Road did not lead to (or through) Rivendell: Rivendell was maintained as a hidden valley[1] away from the road to the High Pass.[2]

The climate was cool-temperate and semi-continental with moderately warm summers, fairly snowy — but not frigid — winters and moderate precipitation. Seasons were more pronounced than in areas further west, such as the Shire, but less extreme than the places east of the Misty Mountains. Like Hobbiton, it is located at about the same latitude as Tolkien's hometown Oxford.[3]


Rivendell was founded in the Second Age 1697 when a force sent by Gil-galad from Lindon and led by Elrond rescued the refugees of Eregion from Sauron's army and was driven into the hills of Rhudaur. Sauron's forces subsequently laid siege to the refuge for three years until a relief army sent by Gil-galad attacked the besieging force in conjunction with the defenders and annihilated it. Rivendell was next attacked in the fourteenth century of the Third Age when the armies of the Witch-king of Angmar attacked the refuge. After some years they were driven off when reinforcements were sent from Lothlórien.

In The Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins stopped off at Rivendell with the dwarves on the way to the Lonely Mountain and also on the way back to the Shire with Gandalf.

In The Lord of the Rings, Frodo Baggins and his Hobbit companions journeyed to Rivendell, where they met with Bilbo, who had retired there after his 111th birthday, spending his time on his memoirs, There and Back Again. Several other Elves, Dwarves and Men also arrived at Rivendell on separate errands; at the Council of Elrond they learned that all of their errands were related to the fate of the One Ring, and they should decide what to do about it. In the end, it was the Hobbits who influenced the decision.

Elrond lived in Rivendell with his family — his wife Celebrían, their sons Elladan and Elrohir and their daughter Arwen. Elrond also fostered the young Aragorn, who dwelt with them in secret until adulthood. However, Celebrían was captured and tormented by Orcs, and received a poisoned wound. Her sons rescued her; but her experiences under the orcs left her so traumatized that eventually she left Middle-earth for Valinor. Arwen lived with her maternal grandparents Galadriel and Celeborn in their realm of Lórien for a time, but moved back to Rivendell; she eventually left Rivendell to become Aragorn's queen after he was crowned king of Gondor.

Following the destruction of the One Ring at the end of the Third Age, Elrond's ring lost its power and he tired of Middle-earth. Thus at the beginning of the Fourth Age Elrond, and many of his household, left Rivendell to sail for Valinor from the Grey Havens. Though its people were diminished, Rivendell was maintained, for a while, by Elladan and Elrohir. They were later joined by Celeborn, who had left Lórien within a few years of Galadriel's departure with Elrond's party. It is not known when Rivendell was finally abandoned, but shortly before he died in the FA 120 Aragorn said to Arwen that "none now walk" in the garden of Elrond.


The physical appearance of the valley of Rivendell may be based upon the Lauterbrunnental in Switzerland, where J. R. R. Tolkien had hiked in 1911. [4] The homes, including the waterfalls flowing beneath them, bear a striking similarity to Beatenberg which is located in the same region. In Peter Jackson's movie The Fellowship of the Ring, the filming location for Rivendell was Kaitoke Regional Park in Upper Hutt, New Zealand, though the extensive array of waterfalls was added with CGI.


In the period of counterculture in the Western World of the 1960s and 1970s, a commune called Maos Lyst (Mao's Delight) was founded in Denmark in 1968, its inhabitants replacing their surnames with Kløvedal, Danish for Rivendell, inspired by Tolkien's Elven outpost.[5] Several of them later became well-known cultural personalities in the country.

The Canadian progressive rock band Rush memorializes Rivendell in the song "Rivendell" on their second studio album Fly By Night. The song focuses on the tranquility and seemingly endless time a weary traveler could find there.

The Austrian folk band Rivendell takes the material for their lyrics almost entirely from Tolkien's books.

A Californian manufacturer of bicycles, Rivendell Bicycle Works, also uses the name, inspired by the book and a United States backpacking supply company founded in the 1970s called Rivendell Mountain Works. They take many of the names of their bicycle models from Tolkien.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ J. R. R. Tolkien (1937), The Hobbit, George Allen & Unwin, 4th edition (1978), ch.3 p.47; ISBN 0-04-823147-9.
  2. ^ J. R. R. Tolkien (1937), The Hobbit, George Allen & Unwin, 4th edition (1978), ch.18 p.248 to ch.19 p.249 [Bilbo returns over the High Pass road and enters Rivendell from the south]; ISBN 0-04-823147-9.
  3. ^ Carpenter, Humphrey, ed. (1981), The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, #294 p. 376, ISBN 0-395-31555-7 
  4. ^ Rivendell in Switzerland. scv.bu.edu. Retrieved on July 10, 2007.
  5. ^ http://www.dr.dk/skole/Historie/1960erne/Ungdomsliv/Kollektiverne/Eksperimenterne.htm
  6. ^ www.rivbike.com

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