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Flag of Dol Amroth
|J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium location|
|Type||Fortified city, seat of the Princes of Dol Amroth|
|Ruler||Princes of Dol Amroth|
|First appearance||The Return of the King|
|Location||Gondor, on the Bay of Belfalas|
In J. R. R. Tolkien 's (fictional) legendarium, Dol Amroth was a hill along the coast of Gondor, on a peninsula on the Bay of Belfalas; and also the city that grew up there, mainly in the Third Age as the seat of the principality of the same name. The Prince of Dol Amroth was one of the principal subjects of Gondor. In The Lord of the Rings, Prince Imrahil is the Prince of Dol Amroth, a supporting character in the book's third volume, The Return of the King.
Dol Amroth lay to the south of the mouth of the River Morthond. Elves had lived in the surrounding area for a long time. Although Tolkien writes that Nandorin Elves came down the Anduin as early as the First Age, it is only in the Second Age that Elves are mentioned specifically near Dol Amroth. In one account, a haven and a small Elvish settlement were founded by refugees from Beleriand at Edhellond ("Elf Harbour"), upriver from the river's mouth. Other accounts say that Nandorin Elves accompanied Galadriel from Lórien to this region after the defeat of Sauron in Eriador in the middle of the Second Age, or that Amroth ruled among the Nandorin Elves here in the Second Age. Elves continued to live here well into the Third Age, until the last ship departed from Edhellond for the Undying Lands in T.A. 1981.
The sea near Edhellond witnessed one of the tragic tales of Lórien: Amroth, King of Lórien from the beginning of the Third Age, left his realm behind in T.A. 1981 in search of his beloved Nimrodel, who had fled from the horror unleashed by the Dwarves in Moria. He waited for her at Edhellond, for their final voyage together into the West. But Nimrodel, who loved Middle-earth as much as she did Amroth, failed to join him. When the ship was blown prematurely out to sea, he jumped overboard in a futile attempt to reach the shore to search for her, and drowned in the bay.
The Hill of Amroth
The term Dol Amroth (signifying "the Hill of Amroth" in Tolkien's invented Sindarin language) referred originally to a hill along the northern shore of the Bay of Belfalas. It stood on a peninsula jutting westward into the bay, enclosing a smaller bay (Cobas Haven) to the north, into which the Morthond flowed.
It is not clear how the hill acquired the name of Amroth. Stories recounted of Amroth in Unfinished Tales indicate that he lived at some time during the Second Age somewhere in this area (one account says specifically at Dol Amroth). The name may also commemorate his drowning in the bay; but Unfinished Tales tells of an "Adrahil of Dol Amroth" who lived somewhat before that time.
The city and principality of Dol Amroth
The Faithful from Númenor began colonising the coast near Dol Amroth at the end of the Second Age shortly before Númenor was destroyed, and this area was noted for the number of men of Númenórean blood, and for the number who still spoke the Elvish tongue. By the time of The Lord of the Rings at the end of the Third Age, a city had grown up around the Hill of Amroth, and had become the seat of a principality. Dol Amroth is in fact the only known principality within Gondor (until the creation of Faramir as Prince of Ithilien at the end of the book), and its prince was an important subject of the kingdom. In The Return of the King, Imrahil, Prince of Dol Amroth, played a major part in the defence of Minas Tirith, and became the effective lord of Gondor during the incapacity of the stewards Denethor and Faramir. The line of Dol Amroth was linked by marriage both to the Stewards of Gondor and to the Kings of Rohan: Imrahil was uncle to Boromir and Faramir; a kinsman of Théoden; and the father of Éomer's wife Lothíriel.
The swan knights of Dol Amroth whom Imrahil led to Minas Tirith formed the largest contingent coming from the hinterland to the defence of the city. They marched under a banner "silver upon blue", bearing "a white ship like a swan upon blue water".
Although The Lord of the Rings never takes the reader to Dol Amroth, some glimpses are provided. Prince Imrahil dwelt "in the great fief of Belfalas . . . in his castle of Dol Amroth by the sea, and he was of high blood, and his folk also, tall men and proud with sea-grey eyes." We learn of the city's protective sea-walls. The whimsical poem "The Man in the Moon Came Down Too Soon" in The Adventures of Tom Bombadil tells how the Man in the Moon fell one night into "the windy Bay of Bel"; his fall is marked by the tolling of a bell in the Seaward Tower (Tirith Aear) of Dol Amroth; and he recovers at an inn in the city.
The boundaries of the principality are nowhere given, but in addition to Dol Amroth itself, the prince ruled Belfalas (the coast extending eastward) and presumably the area to the east on the map labelled Dor-en-Ernil ("the land of the prince").
The origin of the line
Tolkien gives two differing accounts of the origin of Imrahil's line, both in Unfinished Tales.
In the earlier account, the line was founded, according to "the tradition of [the] house", by Imrazôr the Númenórean and the Elven-lady Mithrellas, one of Nimrodel's Silvan companions. Imrazôr lived in Belfalas around T.A. 2000 and had two children: a boy Galador and a girl Gilmith. Shortly thereafter Mithrellas is said to have vanished in the night. Galador, according to this tradition, became the first Lord of Dol Amroth.
Although this account does not appear explicitly in The Lord of the Rings, it figures in the perception of Imrahil by the people of Minas Tirith: "Belike the old tales speak well; there is Elvish blood in the veins of that folk, for the people of Nimrodel dwelt in that land once long ago", as well as in the accolade from Legolas upon meeting Imrahil: "It is long since the people of Nimrodel left the woodlands of Lórien, and yet still one may see that not all sailed from Amroth's haven west over water." Tolkien began in fact to work out a genealogical table linking Galador with Imrahil, but he abandoned it after getting little farther than assigning dates to the mostly blank spaces in between.
The second account belongs, according to Christopher Tolkien to the late writings, undertaken well after the publication of The Lord of the Rings, when Tolkien turned to exploring the early history of Gondor and Rohan. Here Tolkien says that the title of "Prince" was given to the line of Dol Amroth by Elendil himself; this was the family that had led the original Númenórean colonisation. The Adrahil of Dol Amroth who fought with Calimehtar against the Wainriders in T.A. 1944 (predating both Imrazôr and the death of Amroth) probably also belongs to this version. Christopher adds to the note that while it is not impossible to forge some consistency between the two versions, they likely represent two independent accounts of the origin of the house.
In popular culture
Assassins of Dol Amroth, published in 1987, is an expansion set for the Middle-earth Role Playing game. Dol Amroth and its inhabitants have inspired artists like Ted Nasmith (for the Middle-earth Collectible Card Game) and Anke Eißmann.
Dol Amroth is referenced in the name of a rock spire in the Cascade Mountains. It was named so by Dean Wilson, Robert A. Wilson and Allen A. Smith who traversed the area west of Mount Buckindy in 1972 and applied a number of names from The Lord of the Rings to local peaks.
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- Unfinished Tales, "Galadriel and Celeborn", p. 240.
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- The table is reproduced in The History of Middle-earth, Vol XII, "The Heirs of Elendil", pp. 222-23.
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- "Imrahil tends to his nephew". Anke Eißmann. Retrieved 20 August 2012.
- Beckey, Fred W. (2003). Cascade Alpine Guide: Climbing and High Routes, Stevens Pass to Rainy Pass. The Mountaineers Books. p. 287. ISBN 9780898868388.
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