White Mountains (Middle-earth)

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White Mountains
J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium location
Other name(s) Ered Nimrais
Type Mountain Range
Notable locations Dunharrow, Helm's Deep, Minas Tirith, Mount Mindolluin, the Paths of the Dead
Location Boundary between Gondor and Rohan, west of the Anduin

The White Mountains, a loose translation of the Sindarin Ered Nimrais "Whitehorn Mountains", is a fictional mountain range in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth. The mountains are named after the glaciers of their highest peaks. The range lies mostly East-West, but also has a northern section, which is separated from the main line of the Hithaeglir Misty Mountains by the Gap of Rohan. Even at the southern latitude of Gondor and Rohan, the White Mountains bear snow even in summer, suggesting they are extremely high. The range has no passes. The Paths of the Dead pass under it, but only the most courageous (or foolhardy) ever venture that route. The White Mountains form the northern boundary of Gondor and the southern boundary of Rohan except in their easternmost provinces, where Gondor's province of Anórien lies to the north of the mountains.

Its notable peaks include Irensaga "Iron Saw" and Starkhorn. Between these two lies the Dwimorberg, entrance to the Paths of the Dead. At the eastern end, the city of Minas Tirith is carved into Mindolluin mountain. The Warning beacons of Gondor are placed on top of seven peaks in the range: Amon Dîn, Eilenach, Nardol, Erelas, Min-Rimmon, Calenhad and Halifirien.

Several rivers rise in the White Mountains, among them the Adorn (a tributary of Isen), the Snowbourn and Mering Stream (tributaries of the Entwash), and, on the south side, the Erui, a tributary of Anduin, the Ringló and its tributary Ciril, which together with the Morthond all enter the Bay of Belfalas at Edhellond near Dol Amroth; the Lefnui of the Anfalas, and the Five Rivers of Lebennin.

In the Second Age, the White Mountains were populated by a people related to the Dunlendings who had been servants of Sauron. They swore allegiance to Isildur, but betrayed him and were cursed: they became known as the Dead Men of Dunharrow, of the paths Aragorn, Gimli, Legolas, and the Rangers later took. Before the Dunlendings, the White Mountains had been home to the Púkel-Men or Drúedain.


Tolkien found inspiration in the Malvern landscape[1] which he had viewed from his childhood home in Birmingham and his brother Hilary's home near Evesham.[2] He was introduced to the area by C. S. Lewis, who had brought him here to meet George Sayer, the Head of English at Malvern College. Sayer had been a student of Lewis, and became his biographer, and together with them Tolkien would walk the Malvern Hills. Recordings of Tolkien reading excerpts from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings were made in Malvern in 1952, at the home of George Sayer. The recordings were later issued on long-playing gramophone records.[3] In the liner notes for J.R.R. Tolkien Reads and Sings his The Hobbit & The Fellowship of the Ring, George Sayer wrote that Tolkien would relive the book as they walked and compared parts of the Malvern Hills to the White Mountains of Gondor.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Duriez, Colin (July 1992). The J.R.R. Tolkien handbook: a comprehensive guide to his life, writings, and world of Middle-earth. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House. p. 253. ISBN 0801030145. 
  2. ^ a b Sayer, G: J.R.R. Tolkien Reads and Sings his the Hobbit and the Fellowship of the Ring Caedmon 1979 (based on an August, 1952 recording by George Sayer)
  3. ^ Humphrey,C. 1977 Tolkien: A Biography New York: Ballantine Books. ISBN 0-04-928037-6