Minor places in Arda

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The stories of J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium contain references to numerous places. Some of these are described below.


(Q. "blessed") An island in the Great Lake, the home of the Valar in the middle of Arda. The precursor to Valinor. It was at the place where the light of the Two Lamps mingled. Almaren was attacked and damaged by Melkor, and the Valar moved far to the West, to Valinor. According to some traditions, the island of Almaren survived the attack, and was the same island as Tol Eressëa.
(Q. 'outside Aman') The northern coastlands of Aman, north of Valinor, that lay outside the mountain-fence of the Pelóri. It was deserted, mountainous and frozen (arguably, tundra). To the north lay the Helcaraxë which (in the First Age) joined it with Middle-earth, and this was the way Melkor, and later the Noldor took after their Exile.
In this area was Hanstovánen, the location where the Noldor stopped on their journey and heard Mandos's Prophecy of the North, pronouncing Doom on the Noldor for the Kinslaying and rebellion, and warning that if they proceeded they would not recover the Silmarils; moreover that they all will be slain or tormented by grief. This is where Finarfin and many of his people turned back and returned to Tirion, where Finarfin continued to rule the Noldor who remained in Aman.
The easternmost city on Tol Eressëa and the Haven of the Eldar. It was founded either by the Teleri during their long stay there, before they left the island for Alqualondë, or more probably by the Elves returning from Middle-earth after the War of Wrath. In any case, it became the chief dwelling of the Noldor and Sindar, as they were not allowed or unwilling to resettle in Valinor.
The city became the symbol of the Blessed Realm to Men, as before on cloudless days one could see the tower of Avallónë from the Meneltarma in Númenor. After the fall of Númenor and the changing of the world, Avallónë became the port of arrival for ships taking the Straight Road. It is said that the Master Stone of the palantíri was placed in Avallónë, and that Elendil often looked that way desiring to see the Lost West.
Tolkien was apparently evoking the island of Avalon in the legend of King Arthur, although the form Avallónë literally means "near Valinor" in Quenya; compare this with Atalantë, the name of Númenor evoking Atlantis. Moreover, in Tolkien's writings originally Avallon was a later name for the island of Tol Eressëa, not for the haven.
The dark strip of land between the Pelóri Mountains and the Great Sea, lying to the south of the Bay of Eldamar. It was the home of Ungoliant before she went to Middle-earth with Melkor during the events of The Silmarillion.
Avathar, being eaten away by the sea, was narrower than Araman, a similar region lying to the north of the Bay of Eldamar. But Avathar was a darker land; indeed it is accounted that there "the shadows were deepest and thickest in the world".[1] This is the source of its name, which means 'Shadows' in ancient Quenya.[2]


Bay of Eldamar
The Bay of Eldamar was the greatest bay in Aman, the continent west of Middle-earth. It was probably quite large, as Tol Eressëa was inside it and was a fairly large island. It is named after Eldamar, the eastern part of Aman, which means "Elvenhome" in Quenya. When the Noldor and Vanyar came to Aman, they landed in this bay. Later when the Teleri came, Ossë begged Ulmo to set Tol Eressëa in the Bay of Eldamar, and Ulmo (or with Uin the great Right Whale[3]) did this. But when the Noldor longed to see their kin again, Manwë commanded Ossë to teach the Teleri the art of ship-making, and grudgingly he did so.
In Roverandom the water-body is briefly visited by the titular protagonist, and is referred to as "the great Bay of Fairyland".[4]


Cottage of Lost Play
The home of Lindo and Vairë in Kortirion, in Tol Eressëa. It is a place of joy and mirth in which Elves live of old and also there gather some of the exiled Elves that choose to return to Valinor and other Dark Elves that come for the first time to Aman. Also, here came such of the Men that trod Olórë Mallë, the Path of Dreams (these usually belonged to the fathers of the Fathers of Men). The Cottage of Lost Play is where Eriol is received and it is there that he learns of the Elves and their world, of the Valar and of the stories of old.
The land where the Quendi or Elves awoke. It means in Quenya 'water (nén) of awakening (cuivië)' and it is said to have been on the shore of a large gulf in the inland Sea of Helcar in the far east of Middle-earth. The Awakening of the Elves took place in ancient times, during the Years of the Trees. Cuiviénen has been destroyed (perhaps by natural forces) since then.
The first Sundering of the Elves took place when the Eldar departed from Cuiviénen to Valinor, leaving behind the Avari. It is unknown how long the Avari remained in Cuiviénen during the First Age, but it is certain that the Sea of Helcar ceased to exist after the War of Wrath, for "to Cuiviénen there is no returning".


Dark Land
A continent south of Middle-earth. Not much is known about this continent except that it was formed during the Siege of Utumno, when Middle-earth was broken up into the last remnants of the Northland and Midland (which became Middle-earth proper) and the Southland (which became the Dark Land). It is called the Dark Land due to the fact that Ungoliant, a giant spider who ate light and excreted darkness went to live there soon after the beginning of the First Age,[5] thus making the land too dark ever to be lightened. One of two things could have happened to Ungoliant in the Dark Land: either she succumbed to lack of prey and ate herself,[6] or was killed by Eärendil on one of his many voyages.[7] It is also known that the southern part of the Dark Land was as cold as the far north of Middle-earth due to its proximity to the Chasm of Ilmen.[8] The Dark Land was visited by Númenórean sailors in the Second Age and was known as the Nether Darkness.[9]
Door of Night
A guarded portal in the distant West of the World, through which Morgoth was cast after his defeat in the War of Wrath. Its origins are unclear: according to some accounts, it was made by the Valar as a passage for the Sun, which would return into the World through the Gates of Morning in the east. According to others, though, it was made expressly as a gateway through which to expel Morgoth. The Door of Night was guarded by Eärendil, bearing his Silmaril aloft in his shining ship Vingilot which he used to journey through the "oceans of heaven (...) into the starless voids".


Eastern Sea
The ocean on the eastern side of the continent of Middle-earth.[10] The vast regions of Rhûn and Harad had shores on the Eastern Sea. On the far (i.e. eastern) side of the Eastern Sea lay the Land of the Sun.
The sea was visited by Númenórean sailors in the Second Age.[11] The Númenóreans in their calendar reckoned the 24-hour day as beginning when the sun rose out of the Eastern Sea.[12]
In the world of Middle-earth, the Eastern Sea represents a mythical view of the Indian Ocean, which itself was formerly known as the Eastern Sea.


Fen of Serech
The Fen of Serech was a marshy area on the north of Beleriand near the source of the mighty River Sirion. The Fen played an important role in many ancient battles both as a strategic barrier and a defensive tool. Most notably, it provided Turgon with an escape route back to Gondolin in the Nírnaeth Arnoediad. While Húrin and Huor made a stand on the edge of the marsh, Turgon was able to lose the enemy within the Fen and proceed south, thus ensuring that Gondolin would not yet be discovered.
The stronghold of Fëanor and his sons in the north of Valinor, built after the banishment of Fëanor from Tirion. A great number of the Noldor, including their king Finwë, went with Fëanor into exile.
It was also home to the treasury of Fëanor where he kept the Silmarils, and the place where Melkor slew Finwë and took the Silmarils, the three of which were never together in the hands of the elves again. It was a great fortress and armoury. It was one of the few places in Valinor that housed military equipment.


Gates of Morning
According to early versions of the legendarium, a magic portal upon the easternmost confines of Imbar, where the Sun issued from each morning after passing through the Void. The conception was supposedly discarded later, but a reference survives into the published Silmarillion.

Great Gulf

The Great Gulf divided Beleriand and the other northern parts of Middle-earth from the unknown south during the First Age.
The Great Gulf was created after the destruction of the Two Lamps by Melkor and in the following war, when the Valar widened the great sea Belegaer. The Gulf started at the southern end of Beleriand, and from there flowed east all the way to where later was south Gondor, where a narrow strip of land separated it from the Sea of Helcar. North of the Great Gulf lay the lands of Beleriand and Eriador, south of it lay those lands which later would be known as Far Harad.
After the War of Wrath at the end of the First Age, the Great Gulf drained the Sea of Helcar and effectively disappeared itself, because much of Middle-earth was drowned. Only its eastern end remained, and became known as the Bay of Belfalas.


Also called the Helcaracsë or the Grinding Ice, this was the icy strait between the lands of Aman and Middle-earth.[13] Its exact nature is unclear, but it seems to have been broken and shifting pack ice covering the northernmost parts of the Great Sea Belegaer.
Helcaraxë is first recorded as having been crossed by Melkor and Ungoliant after the darkening of the Trees, then later by Fingolfin and his people. Fingolfin's people suffered great loss on the journey. One of the victims was Elenwë, wife of Turgon. One of the survivors was Galadriel, who lived in Middle-Earth until The War of The Ring.
The land where Men awoke. Its name (Hildor+ien) means 'Land of the Followers', a reference to the name Hildor (Followers) given to Men by Elves. It is said to have been in the far east of Middle-earth. Tolkien mentioned in a footnote that "Men awoke in Mesopotamia", this may hint at the possibility that Hildorien corresponded to the area of Mesopotamia or the region equated to it on his earliest sketches of Arda.
According to legends of the Edain, Morgoth visited Men in Hildórien and converted them away from Eru Ilúvatar, and Men were made mortal in divine punishment. However this was merely a trait bestowed upon men by Eru and not out of punishment. To escape the evil of Morgoth and his followers, the Atanatári were the first to flee Hildórien, travelling west to arrive eventually in Beleriand.


The halls on the summit of Taniquetil in the Pelóri mountains from which Manwë and Varda oversaw the goings on in Arda.
Iron Mountains
Also called the Ered Engrin, these were a range of immense mountains in the north of Middle-earth that were damaged and partially broken in the War of Wrath. Morgoth's fortress of Angband was located under Thangorodrim, a part of the Iron Mountains that overlooked the great plain of Ard-galen towards Dorthonion and central Beleriand in the south.


see Land of the Sun


Land of the Sun
Also called the Sun-Lands, this is an empty land where the Sun rises at dawn. It lay to the east of Middle-earth, on the far side of the Eastern Sea. Nothing is known of its geography except that there was a curve-shaped mountain range called the Wall of the Sun that corresponds to the Pelóri Mountains of Aman to the far west. The highest peak of the Wall of the Sun is Kalormë, which is an eastern counterpart to Taniquetil. The Gates of Morning, through which the Sun enters Arda are situated here.
In the Ambarkanta, this region is called the Dark land of the Sun.
The term should not be confused with "Sunlands", the Hobbit name for Harad (as seen in The Two Towers), nor with "Sunlending", the Rohirrim name for Anórien.
In the game Middle-earth Role Playing by Iron Crown Enterprises, a broken Quenya name for the land—Romenor (Easternesse)—was invented.
The name Kalormë may be a nod from Tolkien to fellow author C. S. Lewis, whose countries of Narnia and Calormen are situated on an east coast. External reference: http://tolkiengateway.net/wiki/Kalormë It wouldn't be the only nod between the two Inklings (see Númenor#Other Literature).


Maglor's Gap
A low-lying region between the Blue Mountains and Himring just south of Lothlann. This space was the largest gap in the northernmost mountains of Beleriand.
The place where the Valar gathered to hold their councils. It was outside the golden western gates of Valmar. Also known as the Ring of Doom.


The Orocarni was a mountain range in the far east. The Orocarni roughly followed the line of the Red Mountains which had been made by the Valar before Arda was marred and the symmetry was lost in the wars against Melkor. On the western slopes of the Orocarni grew a massive forest known as the Wild Wood, and near a great waterfall of a river that flowed into the Inland Sea of Helcar the bay of Cuiviénen lay, where the Elves woke. At their northern edge the Orocarni connected with the Ered Engrin, forming a situation much as the Ered Luin in the far west. The locations of the four Dwarven clans who lived in the East are unknown; they might or might not have resided in the Orocarni. The distance between their mansions in the East and the Misty Mountains, specifically Gundabad, was said to be as great or greater than that of Gundabad's distance from the Blue Mountains in the West.[14]
Olórë Mallë
The Olórë Mallë (Quenya "Path of Dreams") was a magical path created by the Vala Lórien that linked the Undying Lands of Aman and the mortal realms of Middle-earth.[15] Only Elves could consciously use it to journey to Middle-earth and back home, as Men could only use it in their dreams to journey to the Cottage of Lost Play on Tol Eressëa, hence the name "Path of Dreams."[16] It had many overhanging hedges and plenty of glow worms, and its soft and smooth nature meant that it was impossible to become tired while walking on it.[17] It is not known whether or not the Olórë Mallë was destroyed after Arda was made round. See also the Straight Road.


Pelóri Mountains
The great mountain range of Aman. The range, which runs virtually the whole length of Aman near its east coast, separates Aman's large inland plains of Valinor from the shorelands on the Great Sea: Eldamar and the wastelands of Araman and Avathar.
Pelóri means 'the fencing or defensive heights'; the mountains were raised by the Valar to protect their new dwellings when they moved to Aman from their original dwellings in Almaren. The range was also called the Mountains of Aman and the Mountains of Defence.[18]
Taniquetil is the highest of these mountains and is home to the throne of Manwë. It was said to be the highest mountain in the world; perhaps at least as tall as Mount Everest (6+ miles). Taniquetil stands in the middle of the range. The highest mountain in the southern parts of the range is Hyarmentir.
The only known pass through the Pelóri was the Calacirya, which linked Valinor and Eldamar. Located on the north side of Taniquetil, the pass was guarded by the city of Tirion.
The Halls of Mandos were apparently in the northern foothills of this mountain range.
Following Melkor's destruction of the Two Trees of Valinor and assault on Tilion, the Valar made the Pelóri even higher "to sheer and dreadful heights, east, north and south. Their outer sides were dark and smooth, without foothold or ledge, and they fell in great precipices with faces hard as glass, and rose up to towers crowned with white ice."[19]


Sea of Helcar
The Sea of Helcar (also Helkar) was a great inland sea which existed in Middle-earth in the First Age. Prior to the sea's existence, the Valar had created the Two Lamps; Illuin (the northern Lamp) had been situated atop the mountain-pillar Helcar. Due to Melkor's deceit the Two Lamps and their pillars were destroyed, and inland seas formed in their places. The northern sea was named the Sea of Helcar after the tower on which Illuin had stood.
The awakening of the Elves was in Cuiviénen, the land on an eastern gulf of the Sea of Helcar. During their Great Journey the Elves passed to the north of the Sea of Helcar and through Wilderland on their way to Beleriand. After the War of Wrath at the end of the First Age, the Sea of Helcar was drained through the Great Gulf and disappeared.
Christopher Tolkien and others have speculated that the Sea of Rhûn might "...be identified with the Sea of Helkar, vastly shrunken" (The War of the Jewels, pg. 174). In The Peoples of Middle-earth there are references to the Sea of Rhûn existing in the First Age, but no indication as to whether it should be equated with the Sea of Helcar or not.
The Sea of Helcar should not be confused with the Helcaraxë.
Sea of Ringil
The Sea of Ringil was a great inland sea which existed in the south of Middle-earth during the First Age. Prior to the sea's existence, the Valar had created the Two Lamps; Ormal (the southern Lamp) had been situated atop the mountain-pillar Ringil. Due to Melkor's deceit the Two Lamps and their pillars were destroyed, and inland seas formed in their places. The southern sea was named the Sea of Ringil after the tower on which Ormal had stood.
Eventually, during the Battle of the Powers in which Utumno was destroyed by the Valar, the titanic forces of the age-long battle itself caused the Sea of Ringil to extend to the northeast and southwest, forming a new and larger sea which cut across southern Middle-earth, linking Belegaer to the Eastern Sea (the latter separating Middle-earth and the Lands of the Sun). In this process, the southernmost portion of Middle-earth was sundered from the mainland and became Hyarmenor or the Dark/South Land.[20]
Ormal's pillar shared its name (and general shape) with Fingolfin's sword, but there was no narrative connection.
Straight Road
The route that leaves the Earth's curvature and moves through sky and space to reach the land of Aman. It is so-called because it follows the old path across Belegaer from before the Akallabêth when the Flat World was made Round. It is only kept open to Elves, who are allowed to sail to it on their ships by a special grace of the Valar. A ship departing on the Straight Road, when observed from the shore, would slowly become smaller to sight until it disappeared in a point, and not drop behind the horizon. The Straight Road contains some kind of ethereal sea the ships of the Eldar can sail over through space to Valinor.
It is noted in earlier writings by Tolkien that some mortals besides those carried on Elven ships like Frodo Baggins and Bilbo Baggins can also find this route in a Bermuda Triangle-like instance (like Ælfwine/Eriol from The Book of Lost Tales).


The tallest mountain in Arda in the Undying Lands and is part of the Pelóri Mountains on the shores of Valinor. On its peak rests Ilmarin, the palaces of the King and Queen of Valar. The name means "high white peak", although the Vanyar, who live on the Mountain, call it Oiolossë which means "snow ever-white". By the Sindar it is called Amon Uilos. The mountain holds the same place in Arda as Mount Olympus holds in Greek mythology[21]
Tolkien's painting of Taniquetil, also entitled 'Halls of Manwë', appears on the cover of J. R. R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator.
This was a group of three volcanic mountains in the Iron Mountains in the far north of Middle-earth during the First Age. The highest peaks of Middle-earth, they were raised by Morgoth, who delved his fortress of Angband beneath them, and far back into the Iron Mountains. Thangorodrim ("The Mountains of Oppression" or, literally, "oppression mountain group", pronounced [θaŋɡɔˈrɔdrim]) was said to have been the piles of slag from Morgoth's furnaces and rubble from the delving of Angband, but at the same time the mountains were solid enough to form sheer precipices; Maedhros was nailed to a cliff of Thangorodrim, and Húrin imprisoned on a high terrace. The tops of Thangorodrim perpetually smoked, and sometimes spewed forth lava. The three peaks of Thangorodrim functioned as furnaces for Morgoth's great smithies deep in Angband. For a time the Eagles lived on Thangorodrim, but at some time during the First Age they moved to the Crissaegrim near Gondolin. At the base of the south face of the middle peak was the Great Gate of Angband, a deep canyon leading into the mountain, lined with towers and forts. There were also a number of secret gates scattered around the sides of the mountain group, from which Morgoth's hosts could issue forth and surprise their foes. Along with Beleriand and the entire west of Middle-earth, Thangorodrim was destroyed in the War of the Valar at the end of the First Age when Ancalagon the Black crashed upon them as he died.
The triple-peaked shape of Thangorodrim also appears in two other Middle-earth mountains: Gundabad and Thrihyrne.


Also known as Udûn (Sindarin: "hell"), this was the first fortress of Melkor in the far north of Middle-earth. The name Utumno contains the Quenya element tum or tumbo ("deep valley under or among hills").[22] Utumno was delved by Melkor after his return following his first expulsion from Arda. The Valar had by this time created the Two Lamps, and Utumno was built around Valian Year 3400 under the Ered Engrin, where the light of the Two Lamps, Illuin and Ormal, was very dim.
Tolkien was not entirely consistent about the location of Utumno, but it was always placed in northern Middle-earth, in or behind the Ered Engrin (the Iron Mountains north of Beleriand). One of Tolkien's sketch maps from the Ambarkanta shows Utumno (with the earlier spelling "Utumna") north of the Ered Engrin, toward the western end of the mountain chain.[23]:249 Early and late texts (reflected in The Silmarillion) distinguish between Morgoth's first fortress Utumno and his later fortress Angband, the latter built beneath the western Ered Engrin, thereby creating the peaks of Thangorodrim above its entrance.[24] But Tolkien's unfinished index for The Lord of the Rings describes Udûn in terms similar to Angband,[25] reflecting a period in the development of the mythology that describes only a single fortress.[23]:259–260
Utumno was the base of Morgoth's operations for 1149 Valian Years. From there he assaulted the Two Lamps and began corrupting Arda. It was also here that the first captured Elves were taken, and breeding of the Orcs began. Giant spiders and other creatures also gathered or were bred there. Among Melkor's servants were the Balrogs; in the Third Age, Gandalf would address the Balrog of Moria as "Flame of Udûn!", using the Sindarin variant of the name of the fortress.
Utumno was laid waste during the Battle of the Powers in the Years of the Trees, Valian Year 1099, in the War that the Valar began against Melkor for the sake of the Elves. Melkor was chained and dragged as a captive to Valinor. Utumno was besieged and destroyed, although not all sections were totally destroyed.
The name Udûn was later applied to the valley in north-west Mordor, shown on the map of Gondor, Rohan, and Mordor included with The Return of the King.


Walls of Night
The extraordinary walls that surrounded Arda in ancient times, beyond Ekkaia, the Encircling Sea. In the west and east of the World, Ekkaia was wide, and the Walls were a great distance from land. In the north and south, however, the Encircling Sea was much narrower. This was how Melkor returned into the World during the Years of the Lamps of the Valar, coming secretly over the Walls of Night into the north of Arda, and building there his fortress of Utumno beyond the knowledge of the Valar.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Tolkien, J. R. R. (1977), Christopher Tolkien, ed., The Silmarillion, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, Ch. 8 "Of the Darkening of Valinor", p. 73, ISBN 0-395-25730-1 
  2. ^ Tolkien, J. R. R. (1993), Christopher Tolkien, ed., Morgoth's Ring, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, The Later Quenta Silmarillion, p. 284, ISBN 0-395-68092-1 
  3. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien. 1983. The Book of Lost Tales, Part One: Part One. Retrieved on December 18. 2014
  4. ^ J. R. R. Tolkien (2013), ed. Christina Scull & Wayne G. Hammond, Roverandom, Harper Collins, ch. 4 p. 145; ISBN 978-0-00-752328-3
  5. ^ The Book of Lost Tales Part 2, J.R.R. Tolkien
  6. ^ The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien
  7. ^ The Book of Lost Tales Part 2, J.R.R. Tolkien
  8. ^ The Ambarkanta, J.R.R. Tolkien
  9. ^ The Silmarillion, Akallabêth, J.R.R. Tolkien, p. 263.
  10. ^ J. R. R. Tolkien (1986), The Shaping of Middle-earth, George Allen & Unwin, part 5 'The Ambarkanta', p. 239, 'East Sea' on Maps IV & V (pp. 249-251); ISBN 0-04-823279-3
  11. ^ J. R. R. Tolkien (1977), The Silmarillion, George Allen & Unwin, 'Akallabêth' p. 263; ISBN 0 04 823139 8
  12. ^ J. R. R. Tolkien (1955), The Return of the King, 2nd edition (1966), George Allen & Unwin, Appendix D, p. 386; ISBN 0 04 823047 2
  13. ^ The Silmarillion, index entry for Helcaraxë.
  14. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "Of Dwarves and Men"
  15. ^ The Book of Lost Tales Part 1 J.R.R. Tolkien
  16. ^ The Book of Lost Tales Part 1 J.R.R. Tolkien
  17. ^ The Book of Lost Tales Part 1
  18. ^ J. R. R. Tolkien (1977), The Silmarillion, George Allen & Unwin, ch. 1 p. 37 & Index p. 346; ISBN 0 04 823139 8
  19. ^ J. R. R. Tolkien (1977), The Silmarillion, George Allen & Unwin, ch. 11 p. 102; ISBN 0 04 823139 8
  20. ^ Christopher Tolkien, 1986. The Shaping of Middle-earth, p.258, Harper Collins Publishers
  21. ^ David Day (1991), Tolkien:The Illustrated Encyclopedia, Mitchell Beazley Publishers, Pages 116. ISBN 0-85533-924-1.
  22. ^ The Lost Road and Other Writings, History of Middle Earth vol. V, "The Etymologies", entry for TUB, p. 394.
  23. ^ a b The Shaping of Middle-earth, The History of Middle Earth, Vol. IV.
  24. ^ The Silmarillion, p. 47, 81.
  25. ^ Hammond and Scull, The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, p. 297.