Minor places in Arda

Minor places in Arda

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 pre-cursor 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 joined it with Beleriand, and this was the way Melkor, and later the Noldor took after their Exile.
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 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.


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. Its means in Quenya 'water (nen) of awakening (cuivie)' 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 at 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.
Dimrill Stair
The southeastern part of Redhorn pass. It leads down into the Dimrill Dale and past the mirror-like pool called Kheled-zâram.
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".


Fen of Serech
The Fen of Serech was a marshy area in the north 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. 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 an icy waste between the lands of Aman and Middle-earth. Its exact nature is left a little 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. One of the victims was Elenwë, wife of Turgon. As a result of the War of Wrath, Beleriand was sundered, and with it Helcaraxë ceased to exist.
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.
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
A range of immense mountains to 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 in the Iron Mountains.


Land of the Sun
Also called the Sun-Lands, this is an empty land east of Middle-earth where the Sun rises at dawn. 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 Kalorme, 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). In the game Middle-earth Role Playing by Iron Crown Enterprises, a Broken Sindarin name for the land — Romenor (Easternesse) — was invented.


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. Four of the seven Fathers of the Dwarves awoke in the range.


Pelóri Mountains
A mountain range in Aman that separates the inner plains of Valinor from Eldamar and the wastelands of Araman and Avathar. 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). The Halls of Mandos were apparently in the northern foothills of this mountain range.


Sea of Helcar
The Sea of Helcar (also Helkar) was a great inland sea which existed during the First Age. In the beginning of Arda, the Valar created the Two Lamps. Due to Melkor's deceit these were destroyed, and where Illuin the northern Lamp, which sat on the mountain Helcar, had stood a great inland sea was formed, which was named the Sea of Helcar after the tower on which the northern lamp had stood.
The awakening of the Elves was at Cuiviénen, a gulf in the Sea of Helcar, and during the Great Journey they passed to the north of it 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 Atlas of Middle-earth, Karen Wynn Fonstad assumed that the lands of Mordor, Khand, and Rhûn lay where the Sea of Helcar had been, and that the Sea of Rhûn and Sea of Núrnen were its remnants. 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.
Sea of Ringil
The Sea of Ringil was a great inland sea which existed during the First Age. In the beginning of Arda, the Valar created the Two Lamps. Due to Melkor's deceit these were destroyed, and where Ormal the southern Lamp, which sat on the mountain of Ringil, had stood a great inland sea was formed, which was named the Sea of Ringil after the tower on which the southern lamp 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.[3]
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 Sindar 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". The mountain holds the same place in Arda as Mount Olympus holds in Greek mythology[4]


Also known as Udûn (Sindarin: "hell"), this was the first fortress of Melkor in the far north of Middle-earth. The name Udûn was also given to a valley in north-west Mordor, shown on the map in The Lord of the Rings. Utumno was built 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.
Utumno was his base of operations for 1149 Valian Years, and from here 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. Utumno was laid waste 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.
Melkor also gathered and bred Orcs, giant spiders, and other creatures in his fortress. Utumno was besieged and destroyed during the Battle of the Powers. Although not all sections were totally destroyed, Melkor never returned there.
Melkor established a second fortress at the western end of the Ered Engrin, known as Angband: this was originally held by Sauron. In the Third Age, Gandalf would refer to the Balrog of Moria as "Flame of Udûn!", using the less common variant of the name.


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.


  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. ^ Christopher Tolkien, 1986. The Shaping of Middle-earth, p.258, Harper Collins Publishers
  4. ^ David Day (1991), Tolkien:The Illustrated Encyclopedia, Mitchell Beazley Publishers, Pages 116. ISBN 085533-924-1.

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