Arnor was the great Northern realm of the Númenóreans in Middle-earth, the Southern realm being that of Gondor. Home to the line of Elendil and the Dúnedain, it was the place of many deeds both great and foul. Aragorn Elessar, in whom the glory and honour of the Great Kings was restored at the end of the Third Age, was of this lineage.

Arnor: A Short History (and other assorted notes)

1. History

In the year 3220 of the Second Age, Arnor was founded by Elendil and his sons, who escaped from the downfall of Númenor "with nine ships, bearing a seedling of Nimloth, and the Seven Seeing-stones (gifts of the Eldar to their House)". Elendil took as his throne Annúminas in the North and gave the Southern realm of Gondor to his two sons Isildur and Anárion, who established the city of Osgiliath. The cities Minas Tirith and Minas Anor were to follow. Now, Arnor at the height of its greatness encompassed the whole of the lands of Eriador, which lay between the Hithaeglir and Ered Luin (the Misty Mountains and the Blue Mountains, respectively). It was divided into three kingdoms: Arthedain, Cardolan, and Rhaudaur. The most important settlements within Arnor were Mithlond(The Grey Havens) Fornost, Imladris (also known as Rivendell), and of course Annúminas. Mithlond and Imladris were not the houses of men, but rather were home to elvenkind. Círdan the Shipwright dwelt at Mithlond, while Elrond was the lord of the Last Homely House, Imladris. Fornost, its full title being Fornost Erain, or "Norbury of the Kings"1 was the chief fortress of Arnor, while the High King dwelt in Annúminas near Lake Nenuial. In later years, both Fornost and Annúminas were brought to ruin through conflict with the Witch-kingdom of Angmar as well as Sauron who was of old the servant of Melkor. In 1974 of the Third Age, the kingdom of Arnor was ended, and the Dúnedain were exiled. Although King Elessar later restored Annúminas, Fornost was abandoned permenantly. Among the losses incurred in the destruction of Arnor were the palantiri of Annúminas and Amon Sûl, which disappeared when Ardevui of Arthedain was drowned in the Ice Bay of Forochel in 1975.

Dateline

  • 3220 S.A. - Foundation of Arnor and Gondor by Elendil, Isildur and Anárion.
  • 3440 S.A. -Death of Anárion.
  • 3441 S.A. - Last Alliance of Men and Elves, the defeat of Sauron at the hand of Isildur, the slaying of Elendil.
  • 2 T.A. - Death of Isildur on the Gladden Fields.
  • 3 T.A. - Valandil son of Isildur is crowned King of Arnor.
  • 861 T.A. - Arnor is divided.
  • 1050 T.A. - The Periannath (little people, hobbits) first appear in the records of Arnor.
  • c. 1300 T.A. - The kingdom of Angmar is at the very beginnings of its formation as an enemy of Arnor.
  • 1409 T.A. - The Witch-king of Angmar invades Arnor. Fornost and Tyrn Gorthad withstand the assault, while Amon Sûl is destroyed.
  • 1900 T.A. - Arnor and Gondor reunite after a long period of estrangement.
  • 1974 T.A. - Arnor is conquered by Angmar; its peoples are killed or scattered.

2. Geography

Arnor's (and, of course, Eriador's) east and west boundaries were the Blue Mountains, which separated it from Lindon, which was called Ossiriand in ages past, and the Misty Mountains, which separated it from Rhovanion. To the north were Angmar, the Ice Bay of Forochel, the greater northern lands and the northern seas. In the South were Dunland, Rohan, and Gondor. There were many important geographical landmarks, some of which - as many as possible - I will now write about.

i. Mountains, hills, etc.

1. The Misty Mountains, or Hithaeglir. This mountain range ran from north to south, and stretched from Angmar to just past Isengard. Its most well-known mountains were Caradhras (also called Barazinbar and the Redhorn), Celebdil (Silvertine or Zarak-zigil), and Fanuidhol (Cloudyhead and Bundushathûr). Beneath the three peaks lay the Dwarf realm of Khazad-Dûm, also known as Moria and the Dwarrowdelf. On its west and east sides respectively were Imladris, the home of Elrond, and Lothlórien, realm of Lady Galadriel. Fangorn Forest clung to the southeastern end of the chain.

2. The Blue Mountains, or Ered Luin. This mountain range was certainly not quite as important or populated as the Hithaeglir, yet it stood as the western boundary of Arnor. Broken by the Gulf of Lhûn(also spelled "Lune"), it stretched from the Bay of Forochel to the river Baranduin. To the west of Ered Luin was Lindon, split by the Gulf of Lhûn into Forlindon in the north, and Harlindon in the south. The Blue Mountains were the home of Thorin Oakenshield and his followers during a period of exile, which ended with the Quest of Erebor, in which the dragon Smaug was slain, and the One Ring of Sauron the Deceiver was found by Bilbo Baggins.

3. Emyn Uial, or the Hills of Evendim. Lake Nenuial ("Lake of Twilight") and Annúminas lay nestled within the southern end of these hills, which stood to the north of what later became known as The Shire.

4. The North Downs. Fornost was built at the southern end of this range of hills, which was also north of the Shire in Eriador.

5. Emyn Meraid. Also called the Tower Hills, they lay in the west of Eriador and upon them were built Elostirion and the other White Towers. Elostirion was home of the palantir called the Elendil stone.

6. Weather Hills. These lay between the North and South downs; Amon Sûl was the southernmost.

7. The South Downs. These hills were of little import, and they lay to the north of Bree.

8. Tyrn Gorthad. Also known as the Barrowdowns, these were the great burial grounds of the Númenóreans which were later haunted by evil spirits of Angmar.

ii. Rivers, lakes, and other waters

1. The River Lhûn. With tributaries from Ered Luin and Emyn Uial, this river ran from north to south and eventally met the sea in the Gulf of Lhûn. Círdan's house, Mithlond, was built upon its banks at the beginning of the river's delta.

2. The Baranduin. Its name meant "the long gold-brown river"2. It ran from Lake Nenuial, through the lands of The Shire and Minhiriath, eventually coming to the sea by the great cape of Eryn Vord. This river was especially beloved of Shire-dwellers, who called it the Brandywine.

3. The Bruinen, Mitheithel and Gwathló rivers. Translated "Loudwater" and "Hoarwell" and "Greyflood" respectively, the the Bruinen and Mitheithel ran out of the Hithaeglir and were tributaries of the Gwathló, whose mouth was served as the harbour and shipyards of Lond Daer, founded by the Númenórean king of old, Tar-Aldarion.

4. The Glanduin. A smaller tributary of Gwathló, it ran from the Misty Mountains through the fens of Nîn-in-Eilph (also called Swanfleet).

5. Nenuial, the Lake of Twilight, Lake Evendim. The most important inland body of water in Arnor, Annúminas was built on its edge. It is said that Galadriel dwelt there for a time.

iii. Forests

1. The Old Forest. This was in Minhiriath, between the Baranduin and the Barrowdowns. Brandy Hall, home of the Brandybucks, was built on its edge, as were other homesteads such as Crickhollow.

The Trollshaws. Where Bilbo Baggins and Thorin Oakenshield's part of dwarves encountered the three trolls, as chronicled in There and Back Again: A Hobbit's Tale. The Trollshaws lay between the Last Bridge, which crossed the Hoarwell, and the Ford of Bruinen.

3. Population

While Arnor was the kingdom of Númenórean Men, there also dwelt Elves, Dwarves, Periannath, and many other, some fell, creatures. I will concentrate on Elves and the Periannath, because the Dwarves originated on the eastern side of the Hithaeglir. Here I will give a quick sketch of each people and their coming to Arnor (and greater Eriador).

i. Elves (the Firstborn)

The Firstborn awoke, and the Followers came after. When the first enemy, Morgoth, stole the Silmarilli and took them to Middle-earth, the Eldar Fëanor forsook the Blessed Realm of the Valar and gave chase. With the Edain, the Eldar peopled Middle-earth, and the races were mixed most notably in three unions: that of Beren and Luthien, Idril and Tuor, and finally Arwen and Aragorn. By the end of the Third Age, the Elves had left Middle-earth and returned to the West over the Sea. In Arnor, their two greatest houses were Mithlond and Imladris.

ii. Periannath

The Periannath (or hobbits, as they called themselves) first showed up in the record books of Arnor in 1050 of the Third Age. They were of three distinct varieties: Harfoots, Stoors, and Fallohides. Harfoots were the first of the little people to populate Eriador, followed by the Fallohides in 1150 and the Stoors in about 1630. Up until that time, the Stoors had been frequently migrating between Dunland and Wilderland to the east. Eventually, all three varieties settled chiefly in The Shire and in Bree, which were both roughly in the center of Arnor.

4. Of Rings

Two of the three Elvish Rings of Power were originally kept in Arnor: Narya and Vilya. In the beginning of the Second Age, Narya (the Ring of Fire, the Red Ring) and Vilya (the Ring of Air, the Blue Ring) were kept by Círdan and Gil-Galad. Yet eventually they passed hands. In the Third Age, Vilya was given to by Gil-Galad before his death to Elrond. Narya was given to Olórin, also known as Gandalf and Mithrandir, for

Círdan saw further and deeper than any other in Middle-earth, and Mithrandir at the Grey Havens, knowing whence he had come and whither he would return. 'Take this ring, Master,' he said, 'for your labours will be heavy; but it will support you in the weariness that you have taken upon yourself. For this is the Ring of Fire, and with it you may rekindle hearts in a world that grows chill. But as for me, my heart is with the Sea, and I will dwell by the grey shores until the last ship sails. I will await you.'3

Of course, Gandalf's secret remained hidden until the very end of the War of the Ring, when Frodo, Bilbo and others were gathered at the Grey Havens for the final parting. At that time, Gandalf openly bore Narya on his hand; however, during the stand on the Bridge of Khazad-Dûm, he betrayed some hint of gift he had been given, rebuking the Balrog, saying: "I am a servant of the secret fire".


Footnotes

  1. Tolkien, J.R.R. Unfinished Tales. 439.
  2. Tolkien 422.
  3. Tolkien, J.R.R. The Return of the King. 457.

***Aside from the specific quotes I included in this writeup, all information was taken from Appendices A and B of The Return of the King as well as Unfinished Tales. Maps were also consulted until I got sick of flipping the books over!***

Sources:
Tolkien, J.R.R. Unfinished Tales. Christopher Tolkien (Ed.) London: Unwin Paperbacks, 1980.
Tolkien, J.R.R. The Return of the King. 1955; London: Unwin Paperbacks, 1987.

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