Tumladen is a geographically unique valley hidden inside a mountain range in Northern
Beleriand in J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-Earth. The name Tumladen means "The Wide Valley".
It is nestled in a shield-wall known as the Encircling Mountains. This valley
is famous for being the site of Gondolin - the hidden city of the Elves.
This geographic site is part of the created world, and world history, of Middle-Earth. The
stories are epic tales of Good combating Evil across several thousand years involving elves,
wizards, dwarves, humans, Goblins (Orcs), and the occasional slumming gods (Archangels).
Gondolin, its occupants, and the mythic events that occurred within its environs occurred during
the First Age of Middle-Earth. This was a time several thousand years before the events depicted
in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.
Turgon, an Elf Lord, was guided by Ulmo, Lord of Waters (Poseidon counter-part), through a secret
tunnel carved by ancient waterways into the hidden valley of Tumladen. The valley is described as
"a green jewel amid the encircling hills."1
implying an agriculturally lush environment able to sustain a city populace.
A noted cartographer, Karen Wynn Fonstad, published The Atlas of Middle-Earth
which includes a description of Tumladen as it would exist according to geographic principles.
"The Echoriath have been shown as a gigantic volcanic caldera... after
extinction a lake would have formed, similar to Oregon's Crater Lake."2
The lake is supposed to have drained away through a rift
in the surrounding walls leaving a flat plain,
a steep ravine
, a tunnel, and a dry river bed.
The best rendition of Tumladen and the glorious hidden city of Gondolin in its midst is by Mr.
Ted Nasmith. The picture shows Tuor overlooking the hidden valley as he emerges from the
ravine/rift in the steep walls after a long, dangerous journey to find Gondolin. The fine detail
showing the green lush fields surrounding the crystal white city surrounded by enormous mountains
pulls the viewer into the scene. The viewer participates in the event in a way that combines the
best of photographic realism with the emotive power of art.
Mr. Nasmith's picture of Gondolin was a primary motivator in the creation of the
Scrolls of Middle-Earth. The picture was included in the 2000 Tolkien Calendar or
may be seen at several web sites featuring his art. A Google search will produce several sites.
Look for the picture entitled "Tuor Comes To Gondolin" or something similar.
- The Silmarillion, page 239.
- The Atlas of Middle-Earth, page 22.
- Fonstad, Karen Wynn, The Atlas of Middle-Earth, revised edition, Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1991.
- Tolkien, J.R.R., The Silmarillion, edited by Christopher Tolkien, Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1977.