Place from J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium
Other names North-kingdom
Description Northern Númenórean realm in exile
Location Northwest of Middle-earth
Lifespan Founded S.A. 3320[1]
Founder Elendil
Lord Kings of Arnor; Chieftains of the Dúnedain
Books The Return of the King,
Of the Rings of Power, Unfinished Tales
Part of The Lord of the Rings
Sundering of the North
Arthedain • Cardolan • Rhudaur
Annúminas • Fornost • Tharbad
Weathertop • Bree • The Shire
Minhiriath • Tower of Amon Sûl
Important Kings
Elendil the Faithful • Isildur
Eärendur • Amlaith of Fornost
Argeleb I • Arvedui
Dúnedain • Middle Men • Hobbits
Related topics
Malbeth the Seer • Rangers of the North
Gondor • Rohan • The Shire
Mordor • Angmar • Númenor
Rivendell • Reunited Kingdom
House of Isildur • House of Anárion
House of Telcontar

Arnor is a fictional kingdom in J. R. R. Tolkien's writings. Arnor, or the Northern Kingdom, was a kingdom of the Dúnedain in the land of Eriador in Middle-earth. The name probably means "Land of the King", from Sindarin Ara- (high, kingly) + (n)dor (land). Arnor is the territory of Middle-earth associated with the High Kings of the line of Elendil, the kingship of which was restored at the crowning of Elessar (Aragorn) after the War of the Ring at the start of the Fourth Age.

At its greatest, Arnor encompassed almost the whole region of Eriador between Bruinen, Gwathló and Lhûn, and the region which would later be known as the Shire. Arnor's population was composed by Dúnedain in western-central regions and mixed or indigenous (and reluctant as citizens) peoples. Its capital was Annúminas near Lake Nenuial.



Arnor was founded at the end of the Second Age (S.A. 3320) by Elendil, whose sons Isildur and Anárion founded Gondor at the same time. The history of the two kingdoms is intertwined; both kingdoms are known as the Realms of the Dúnedain in Exile.

Before the foundation of Arnor there was already a sizable Númenórean population living there, a result of the slow emigration of Númenóreans which had started under Tar-Meneldur and especially Tar-Aldarion. Most of them lived in the harbour of Vinyalondë, later called Lond Daer. Before the arrival of the Dúnedain Arnor was home to Middle Men of Edain stock, and the early colonists soon interbred with the indigenous population. Arnor was originally favoured over the more southern regions (Gondor) because the Elves under Gil-galad lived in nearby Lindon. But in later days, when the Númenóreans fell under Sauron's shadow, they settled more to the south in port cities such as Umbar. Thus, Elendil arrived in an area populated by people who, unlike his contemporaries in Númenor itself, were mainly still friends with the Elves, and who, unlike those in Gondor to the south, retained knowledge of the Elder Days. In the war of the Last Alliance, Arnor lost much of its manpower and the army of Arnor came home a ghost of its former self.

Arnor's second king, Isildur (also the King of Gondor, where he had ruled jointly with his brother), was killed in T.A. 2 by Orcs, in the Disaster of the Gladden Fields. His three eldest sons were killed with him. Only his youngest son, Valandil, survived; having been a child at the start of the war, he had remained behind in Rivendell. In T.A. 10, after several years of interregnum, Valandil thus became the third king of Arnor.

For several centuries, Arnor's rulers styled themselves High King, following the precedent of Elendil, who ruled Arnor directly while holding suzerainty over Gondor; the rulers of Gondor, by contrast, were merely styled King. Nevertheless, Valandil and his successors never made any serious attempt to assert their overlordship; after the death of Isildur, the two realms developed as equal and independent states.


With the victory of the War of the Last Alliance, Arnor's power was apparently at its zenith. The King of Arnor held the overlordship of all the land from the Bay of Forochel to the River Poros on the southern borders of Ithilien, and from the Blue Mountains to the Mountains of Shadow. But in reality Arnor's strength had been severely depleted by the war and the Disaster of the Gladden Fields, and the northern Dúnedain never really recovered from their losses. The first few centuries of the Third Age were relatively uneventful, but it seems that Arnor's population gradually began to dwindle even in this early period.

Civil war and successor states

After the death of its tenth king, Eärendur, in T.A. 861, Arnor was shaken by civil war between his three sons. The eldest son, Amlaith, claimed Kingship over all Arnor but was reduced to only ruling the region of Arthedain as his kingdom, while the other sons founded the kingdoms of Cardolan and Rhudaur. The former capital, Annúminas, became depopulated and fell into ruin.

This division hastened the decline of the Northern Dúnedain. The three kingdoms had frequent border skirmishes over boundary disputes, but the relationship of Arthedain and Cardolan remained relatively peaceful. Rhudaur, by contrast, was unfriendly towards the two other successor states, and fought a bitter conflict with Cardolan over the tower of Amon Sûl and its palantír.

Around T.A. 1300, an evil power, the Witch-king, arose in the mountains north-east of Arnor, where he founded Angmar. It was later revealed he was the leader of the Nazgûl, who were dispersed after the first overthrow of Sauron in S.A. 3434 at the hands of the Last Alliance of Elves and Men, but survived nonetheless.


The last Kings of Rhudaur were not of Númenórean blood, but were descended of Men in the service of Angmar. Under their rule the land became a vassal of Angmar, and thus enemies of Cardolan and Arthedain. Angmar annexed and terminated the kingdom in T.A. 1409. By this time the Dúnedain were gone from the region, as well as most of the other inhabitants. Constant battle with Angmar began to wear down the forces of Arthedain, while Cardolan as a political entity came to an end shortly after 1409.

In theory Arthedain became Arnor with the end of Cardolan and Rhudaur, but this Kingdom was a poor imitation of the large and powerful realm of Arnor before 861. Arthedain was finally destroyed in T.A. 1974, when the Witch-king captured Fornost. The next year, in the pyrrhic Battle of Fornost, a coalition of Elves, forces of Gondor and the remainder of Arnor's armies destroyed Angmar and freed Fornost. The population of Arnor were mostly wiped out by the wars, but the Hobbits survived in the Shire, men survived in Bree and probably other villages, and the Dúnedain of Arnor created new homes in the Angle south of Rivendell, where some of them became known as the Rangers of the North. With the help of the Elves, those people remained hidden from the rest of Middle-earth, and became an isolated, wandering people.

Reunited Kingdom

Aragorn as King Elessar refounded the Kingdom of Arnor as part of the Reunited Kingdom, and again made Annúminas his capital city. After the fall of Sauron, Arnor was safe again for human population, and although it remained less populated than Gondor to the south, in time Arnor became a more densely populated area again, even if it had dwindled in size due to the independence of the Shire.



Arthedain was bounded upon the north by Forochel and the west by the Lune; upon the east by the Weather Hills and the south by the Baranduin. Cardolan and Rhudaur lay to the south and east.

The kingdom's capital was at Fornost, and Bree was one of its important towns. Annúminas was in the territory of Arthedain, but mostly abandoned and falling into ruin.

Around T.A. 1300 the kingdom of Angmar appeared at Arthedain's north-eastern border. Its King was the chief of the Ringwraiths, the Witch-king, although this was not known to the Dúnedain. Rhudaur, aided by Angmar, attacked in T.A. 1356. Argeleb I died in this conflict. When this new threat came Cardolan placed itself under the suzerainty of Arthedain, which then began to call itself Arnor again. Cardolan repeatedly sent aid to Arthedain when needed but by T.A. 1409 Cardolan and Rhudaur were conquered by Angmar and Arthedain only survived with the help of Elvish reinforcements from Lórien and the Havens.

After 1409 Angmar's power was temporarily broken and the North Kingdom enjoyed relative peace although its population continued to decline. Indeed the decline was so severe that in 1601 Argeleb II (r. 1589–1670) granted a large portion of Arthedain's best farmland to Hobbit migrants, as these lands had become deserted. Arthedain was not badly affected by the Great Plague and it can be guessed that warfare with Angmar resumed in earnest sometime after 1800, with mention being made of a victory gained in 1851 by King Araval (r. 1813–1891), although sources for the Kingdom's history are sketchy until the beginning of the 20th century of the Third Age. Arthedain spent its last decades in desperate conflict with Angmar, but lacked the manpower and resources to win the war. In T.A. 1940, Arthedain, then under Araval's son Araphant (r. 1891–1964), formed an alliance with Gondor, but in the end neither Kingdom was able to provide military assistance to the other; the Witch-king began to attack Arthedain even more vigorously, while Gondor barely survived a massive Wainrider invasion (T.A. 1944) which left it unable to send substantial armies abroad for years. Araphant and his successor Arvedui held out against Angmar as long as they could. In T.A. 1973, Arvedui saw the writing on the wall, and appealed to Gondor for help; the King of Gondor, Eärnil II (r. 1945–2043), sent a fleet north under his son Eärnur. But it was too late. Early in T.A. 1974, the Witch-king captured Fornost and overran Arthedain, and the King's sons and most of the other Dúnedain fled across the Lune. Arvedui himself fled northwards and perished in a shipwreck early in T.A. 1975, taking with him the palantíri of Annúminas and Amon Sûl. Eärnur's fleet reached Lindon after Arvedui's death. The combined might of Gondor, Lindon and Rivendell, together with soldiers from the former North-kingdom, routed Angmar's army at the Battle of Fornost.

Though the military threat of Angmar had been removed, the North-kingdom was ended. The long wars and a series of natural disasters had taken their toll on the population of Eriador, and the Dúnedain especially were few in number and unable to maintain a nation. In T.A. 1976, Aranarth, Arvedui's oldest son, took the title of Chieftain of the Dúnedain. He and his descendants led the Rangers of the North; Aragorn II was the sixteenth Chieftain until he restored the Kingdom of Arnor in T.A. 3019. The Kingdom of Arthedain had included the Shire; in T.A. 1979, the Hobbits there chose a Thain to represent the royal authority.

The name Arthedain appears to be dialect Sindarin for "Realm of the Edain".


The borders of Cardolan extended from the river Baranduin (Brandywine) to the west, the river Mitheithel (Hoarwell) to the east and the river Gwathló (Greyflood) to the east and south. Its northern border was the Great East Road.

After it became a kingdom, Cardolan also claimed the Arthedain-controlled Weather Hills, which contained the fortress of Amon Sûl (Weathertop) and its valuable palantír. For this reason the Weather Hills were claimed by all three kingdoms — Arthedain, Cardolan and Rhudaur. This territorial dispute continued until Rhudaur became a vassal of Angmar after the line of the Dúnedain kings failed there.

In T.A. 1050, the branch of Hobbits known as the Harfoots crossed the Misty Mountains, and settled in the South Downs in the west of Cardolan. They were joined about a century later by the Fallohides.

When the kingdom of Angmar arose in northern Eriador, Cardolan became the most important ally of Arthedain. It had to fight the combined armies of both Angmar and Rhudaur. In 1356 Argeleb I of Arthedain was slain in battle with Rhudaur, now allied with Angmar. For a while Cardolan and Arthedain held back Angmar, and in its last years the people became entrenched in their capital region, Tyrn Gorthad, but in 1409 a large Army from Angmar broke into Cardolan and devastated the country. Arthedain could provide little aid, as it was itself under attack. The last King of Cardolan died in this conflict, and Cardolan was shattered. While Arthedain recovered something of her power, Cardolan did not and the region of the Barrow-downs entered hobbit legend as a place of mystery and danger.

In 1636 the Great Plague claimed the life of the King of Gondor, and withered the White Tree. The plague spread north along the Great Road that joined the two kingdoms, and the population of Minhiriath was decimated. About this time the plague also wiped out the Dúnedain hiding in the Barrow-downs and evil spirits came to dwell there. What few folk survived could offer little aid to Arthedain in 1974, when Angmar overwhelmed the last of the kingdoms of Arnor. Until the end of the Third Age, the Dúnedain of Cardolan were only a memory, their tombs and barrows haunted by evil wights sent from Angmar; for the Rangers that wandered over the lands were descended from the people of Arthedain. The only major settlements in old Cardolan were likely to be found along the North-South Road close to Tharbad, until 2912, when terrible floods devastated the lowlands and destroyed Tharbad.

The name Cardolan appears to be dialect Sindarin for "Red Hill Country".


The name Rhudaur appears to be dialect Sindarin for "Eastern Forests", and indeed Rhudaur was the most easterly of the three regions in Eriador, stretching from the Weather Hills with Weathertop (Amon Sûl) to the river Bruinen (Loudwater). It shared a long border with Cardolan along the Great East Road, and with Arthedain along the line of the Weather Hills.

South of the Road, the land lying between the Bruinen and Mitheithel (Hoarwell) rivers was also considered part of Rhudaur. It was called the Angle, and it is here that the first Stoor Hobbits came into Eriador around T.A. 1150. However, due to the increasing hostility of Angmar these Stoors fled the region around T.A. 1356, with some of them moving west to the Shire, and others moving back to Wilderland.

Rhudaur's Dúnedain population was always small, and was always only a small proportion of its people. From the start of its existence as a separate kingdom, Rhudaur was unfriendly towards the two other successor states, and waged a long war with Cardolan over the tower of Amon Sûl and the palantír associated with the tower.

Over time, the more numerous Hillmen came to dominate the population of Rhudaur, and one of their leaders, allied with Angmar, seized power from the Dúnedain during the 14th century. In T.A. 1356, forces of Rhudaur and Angmar slew the High King Argeleb I in battle; the Stoors who had dwelt in Rhudaur's south, fearing Angmar, fled south into Dunland, or east over the mountains into the Vale of Anduin. Angmar annexed and terminated Rhudaur in T.A. 1409, at which point the last Dúnedain were killed or fled the region.

The Great Plague of T.A. 1636 devastated Eriador. This stemmed the tide for 300 years, because Rhudaur and Angmar were not spared. But the most telling blow was struck in the year T.A. 1975. Arthedain and Cardolan had fallen to the combined hosts of Rhudaur and the Witch-king the previous year, but these hosts were themselves wiped out by a combined army of Gondor and Lindon. The Witch-king fled to the North, and the Hillmen vanished from the histories of Middle-earth. As far south as the Great East Road, Rhudaur became a troll-country; travellers along the Road generally hurried along their way and avoided the Trollshaws.

There is evidence that after the fall of Angmar at the Battle of Fornost the Angle became home to the remainder of the Dúnedain, and the Rangers of the North established several villages there, where their people lived until the resurrection of the northern Kingdom under King Elessar at the end of the Third Age. But northern Rhudaur remained wild and dangerous for the rest of that Age: Arador was slain there by hill-trolls in T.A. 2930, and his son Arathorn II fell in battle with Orcs in T.A. 2933. And in T.A. 2941, trolls captured the company of Thorin at the start of The Hobbit.


Fornost Erain (Sindarin 'Northern-fortress of the Kings' from for(n) (north) + ost (fortress); "Norbury of the Kings" in Westron) was a city of Eriador in the north of Middle-earth. It was located at the south end of the North Downs, about 100 Númenórean miles north of Bree; after Fornost Erain was abandoned, the site became known as Deadmen's Dike, visited only by Rangers. At the time when The Lord of the Rings is set, Fornost had been abandoned for "nearly a thousand years, and even the ruins of Kings' Norbury were covered with grass".

It is not known when Fornost was founded or when the kings of Arnor moved there from Annúminas, but it is known that the kings moved to Fornost some time around T.A. 861, when King Eärendur died, and Arnor was divided into three kingdoms with Fornost the capital of the greatest kingdom, Arthedain.

Fornost was first attacked by the forces of the Witch-king in 1409, when the border defence system collapsed with the storming of the Forts of the Weather Hills. However, the City was successfully defended by the young King Araphor and disaster was averted.

In T.A. 1974, Arthedain was overrun by the forces of Angmar; they captured Fornost, and King Arvedui fled into the northern wastes and was lost in the Ice Bay of Forochel. In the following year, a fleet from Gondor led by Eärnur landed at Mithlond, fought the Witch-king of Angmar in the plains west of Fornost, and defeated him and his armies, although the Witch-king himself escaped.

Fornost fell into ruin following the end of Arthedain and came to be known as Deadmen's Dike. Gandalf indicated to Barliman Butterbur that Fornost would probably be rebuilt by King Elessar.

Literary Significance

Some stylistic analyses consider the ultimate importance of Arnor is to stand as a literary device contrasting the southern kingdom of Gondor. Arguing that Arnor and Gondor are representative of the classical dichotomy of light and dark, blessed and forsaken, good and evil - these analyses reference the abandonment by the heirs of Valandil, the seizing of Minas Ithil by the forces of Sauron, and the absence of a White Tree, as points of stylistic comparison to Gondor, with its fortresses and heavily populated capital city, its possession of a White Tree, and its well-equipped military and armaments.[2]

See also


  1. ^ Return of the King, Appendix B, pp. 362–376
  2. ^ Reid, Robin Anne (2009). "Mythology and history: a stylistic analysis of The Lord of the Rings". Style 43 (4): 517–538. 

External links

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