Eregion was a region in Eriador, west of the Misty Mountains (S. Hithaeglir), between the rivers Glanduin to the south and Bruinen to the north. Settled in the Second Age (ca. 750 S.A.) by the Gwaith-i-Mírdain, it was situated in the woodland below the West Gate of Moria (Khazad-dûm).
Its chief city was Ost-en-Edhel. However that city was razed and the entire region laid to waste in 1679 S.A. during the war between the Elves and Sauron, after the forging of the Rings of Power.
Most of Eregion was a highland tundra, and never settled, however in the middle of the land near to the Glanduin around Nîn-in-Eilph the Noldor, lead by Galadriel and Celeborn, established the city Ost-en-Edhil. The ring smiths of Gondolin, including Celebrimbor settled there where their crafts rose to even greater heights, and trade relations flourished with the dwarven city of Dwarrowdelf in Moria.
Their crafts grew, and under the tutelage of Sauron, in his guise as "Annatar" (S. "Lord of Gifts"), they forged the Rings of Power. However, Celebrimbor became wary of Sauron, but realising his deceit too late, Sauron attacked Eregion in 1697 S.A. Whilst the dwarves of Moria shut themselves in, the Noldor of Eregion fought a losing battle. Sauron quickly worked his way through Enedwaith and Minhiriath, "seizing Tharbad and pushed his way into Eregion with relative ease"(2). Ost-en-Edhel may have been under siege for as long as a year, but eventually Elrond's attempts to reinforce Eregion failed and he and his forces were forced to retreat north to the vale of Imladris. Boxed in by Sauron's troops, he and the other Noldor could but look on as Eregion was sacked. Sauron, his jealous will bent on destruction, even went as far to send armies east into the Misty Mountains to root out even the last of the free peoples there.
However, this is where the Dark Lord made a mistake. His forces had become spread far too thinly. With his armies all over Cardolan and Rhudaur, the remaining free peoples were able to flee to Gil-galad in Lindon, or to Elrond's encampment at Imladris (to become Rivendell). "The two regions were thus strengthened by Sauron's advancing campaign."(2) Sauron's attentions turned to the east and south, leaving Eregion behind as desolate, and instead coming into contact with the Numenorean colonies along the southern coasts of Middle-Earth (which had been growing since 1200 S.A.). Thus the playing field for the Downfall of Numenor, and eventually the Last Alliance of Elves and Men was set. Had Sauron not overextended his power base, or instead vanquished the Numenorean settlers before the height of their aggressive colonisation of Middle-Earth in 1800 ("about the year 1800 the Numenoreans began establishing fortresses, levying tribute from local peoples, and conquering occupied lands. Numenor became a rival power with which Sauron had to contend"(2)), Numenor's destruction and the death of most of its folks may have possibly been averted.
At any rate, Sauron's armies in northern Eriador were defeated when a great army came to the rescue from the West. His forces were driven further south-east to Tharbad after the battle of the Sarn Ford, where his forces were then caught in a pincer by Admiral Ciryatur's ships at the old Numenorean haven of Lond Daer. Completely routed, he "only just escaped escaped with a small bodyguard to the Dagorlad, west of the Ash Mountains", setting the end game of the Second Age in motion. "The army that besieged Imladris was caught between Elrond and Gil-Galad and was thus destroyed. Eriador was hence cleared of the enemy in 1701, though it lay largely in ruins."(3)
After the sack of Eregion, all that remained really was a desolate land sparsely populated by misty bogs, marshes, cliffs, and of living things bare holly trees. The Noldor had planted these freely to mark the borders of their realms, and it is for this reason that the area continued to be known in the Third Age as "Hollin"(1).
- See Etym.: root ERÉK- "thorn": ercho "to prick"; erch "a prickle"; ereg, eregdos "holly-tree" (pl. erig). The Doriathin derivatives of this root bear a greater resemblance to the word: regorn "holly tree" (pl. regin; g.pl. region). The Westron/Common Speech name for the land was "Hollin"; the entire region being so-called due to the token of the Elves, holly. – LR:356.
- Annals of Arda article "War of the Elves and Sauron".
- The Annals of Arda, at http://www.annalsofarda.dk/
- Martinez, Michael, The Sauron Strategies: One war to win them all, except..., at http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/tolkien/82849
- Tolkien, J.R.R., The Lost Road and other writings (HarperCollins 1993 pbk. ed.) ("LR")
- TolkienWiki, at http://www.thetolkienwiki.org/wiki.cgi?Eregion
- Tyler, J.E.A., The Complete Tolkien Companion (Pan 2002 pbk. ed.)