List of Middle-earth roads

List of Middle-earth roads

This is a list of roads mentioned by name in J. R. R. Tolkien's stories of Middle-earth. Many roads in Middle-earth were dirt tracks, but paving was also used and in some cases stone causeways were built.


Great East Road

The Great East Road (also known as the East Road or the East-West Road) was an ancient Dwarven route passing from western Beleriand, over the Ered Luin, to the Misty Mountains. Travellers could cross the Misty Mountains by using the High Pass, and continue their journey to the distant dwarven lands in the East by using the Old Forest Road. The Great East Road passed through lands that would become Arnor, the northern kingdom of Men, and later, the Shire of the Hobbits.

The Great East Road was originally laid by the Dwarves during the First Age before the first rising of the Sun, probably during the last Age of Stars. It is assumed that the Great East Road was built as a western extension of the Old Forest Road, which ran from the Iron Hills through Rhovanion and ended at the Misty Mountains near the High Pass. The Great East Road gave the Dwarves a route across Eriador to the Ered Luin, and then on into Doriath in Beleriand. The westernmost parts of the road were built to facilitate the passage of companies of dwarf craftsmen (and later, their armed escort) across eastern Beleriand, before the sack of Doriath by the dwarves of Nogrod ended their trade.

At the end of the First Age, the War of Wrath destroyed Beleriand and most of it fell into the sea, taking the western part of the Great East Road with it. Once the longest road in Middle-earth, the now shorter Great East Road would lose that title to the North-South Road. In the new geography of the region, the Great East Road would now stretch from the Grey Havens in the west to the newly founded Rivendell in the east, on the western side of the Misty Mountains.

When the Númenórean realm in exile of Arnor was founded, the Arnorians took over the maintenance of the Great East Road, and built several fortresses on or near it (including Weathertop), and expanded or created bridges over the rivers Baranduin and Mitheithel. After Arnor was divided in T.A. 861, the Great East Road formed the boundary between two of its successor states, Cardolan and Arthedain. In T.A. 1601, the Shire was founded and the Hobbits were tasked with maintaining the middle section of the Great East Road.

Once a major thoroughfare of Arnor, when the last remnants of the northern kingdom fell in T.A. 1974, travel on the road declined. By the end of the Third Age, only the portion of the Great East Road within the Shire was well used while the rest carried only a few wanderers and the occasional band of Dwarves.

Old Forest Road

The Old Forest Road (also known as Dwarf Road or Men-i-Naugrim[1]) is the main route through the great forest originally known as Greenwood the Great and latterly as Mirkwood. The Old Forest Road originally ran from the Iron Hills through Rhovanion and ended at the Misty Mountains near the High Pass. Where the Road crossed the Great River, there was originally a stone bridge, but by the later years of the Third Age the bridge had been lost and the river was crossed by the Old Ford. From there, a traveller following the Road east would cross some miles of open country before plunging into the depths of the forest. The Road then ran directly east from one side of the forest to the other, covering more than two hundred miles beneath the canopy of trees before it emerged by the banks of the River Running.

Of the origins of the Road we know little for certain. We can be sure that it existed before the end of the Second Age, because a record exists of the stone bridge being specially strengthened to carry the armies of the Last Alliance of Elves and Men. A strong clue to its origins is presented in its Sindarin language name, Men-i-Naugrim, meaning 'Dwarf-road'. The Dwarves had a tradition of road-building dating back to before the First Age, and it seems that they must have built the Forest Road to carry traffic between their western and eastern clans. It's particularly notable that the old bridge over the Anduin at the Road's western end lay almost exactly halfway between the ancient Dwarvish meeting-place at Gundabad to the north, and Durin's mansions of Khazad-dûm to the south. It is assumed that the western end of the road had been built by the dwarves of Khazad-dûm in the Misty Mountains. Khazad-dûm's inhabitants, the Longbeard dwarves, continued to grow in power and influence, and their trading needs meant that the road from the Iron Hills that travelled through Mirkwood to their gates became widely known.

By the middle of the Third Age, several Dwarf kingdoms had fallen and travel on the Forest Road dwindled. By the end of the Third Age, the Old Forest Road had become overgrown and portions of the road east of Mirkwood had become impassable.

North-South Road

North-South Road - The longest road in J. R. R. Tolkien's fictional realm of Middle-earth. It ran from the lost realm of Arnor in the north to Minas Tirith in the south. Before the breaking of Beleriand in the War of Wrath, the Great East Road was the longest road in Middle-earth. After Beleriand sank beneath the waves, the Old South Road had supplanted it. In the early Third Age, the road served as the main linkage between Gondor and Arnor. The road was the lifeline between the two kingdoms, and existed well throughout Tolkien's legendarium.

The road begins at Fornost Erain, Norbury of the Kings, the ancient capital of Arnor. From there the road runs 100 Númenórean miles south to the ancient crossroads of the Great East Road at Bree. Below Bree, the road becomes known as the Greenway as it is overgrown with grass due to its waning use in the Third Age. The road passes through the Andrath and meets up with the road out of the Southfarthing from Sarn Ford. It then runs southeast through the desolate wastes of Minhiriath to the ruined city of Tharbad on the Gwathló. At Tharbad the road crosses the Greyflood along a series of causeways and a massive stone bridge over the river. From Tharbad, the road continues southeast through the deserted land of Enedwaith and enters Dunland just west of the Misty Mountains. In southern Dunland, the road turns due east and crosses the Fords of Isen and enters the Gap of Rohan between the Ered Nimrais and Hithaeglir. Upon crossing the River Isen, the road enters the Kingdom of Rohan and becomes known as the West Road. The road then travels eastward slowly sloping south along the northern edge of the Ered Nimrais through Edoras and entering the Kingdom of Gondor by crossing the Mering Stream. From the border with Gondor the road continues to the end of the Ered Nimrais to Minas Tirith. From Minas Tirith the road turns due east to Osgiliath where it once crossed Anduin via a great stone bridge. From Osgiliath, the road continues across Ithilien and ends at Minas Ithil, which by the end of the Third Age had become known as Minas Morgul. By the end of the War of the Ring, there were plans in place by King Elessar to restore the ancient royal road.

The road is specifically mentioned in The Lord of the Rings, when describing shipments of pipe-weed from the Shire's Southfarthing to Isengard. Saruman's ruffians also used the road to reach the Shire, as did he and Gríma Wormtongue just before the Battle of Bywater.

Boromir is also mentioned as having used the road, travelling from Minas Tirith to Rivendell. He lost his horse at Tharbad's broken bridge. The Nazgûl also used the road when they travelled north in search of the One Ring.


The Greenway is a section of the North-South Road which connects Arnor and Gondor.

The section of road known as The Greenway pertains to the area between the North-South Road's junction with the Great East Road in the north and the southern end of Andrath in the south. The name The Greenway is derived from the fact that the road between Bree and Andrath was little used and had become covered with grass.

The Greenway is a smaller portion of the North-South Road, which runs from Fornost Erain, ancient capital of Arnor to Minas Tirith, capital of Gondor. Principal points on the road include Tharbad, the ruined bridge-town where the road crosses the Gwathló, and the Fords of Isen near Isengard. After crossing the Isen, the road passes through the Gap of Rohan and bends eastward for Gondor and ultimately, its end (then known as The Great West Road at Minas Morgul and the gates of Mordor.

Old South Road

Old South Road - A Third Age name for the section of the North-South Road from approximately Tharbad southwards. Most of this route had ceased to exist by the time of The Lord of the Rings, with only remnants of the causeways still extant in the fens of Minhiriath. The same term was also used to describe a road in Beleriand in the First Age which ran from the Pass of Sirion, past Doriath, and down to Nargothrond.


  • Lampwrights' Street - Rath Celerdain, a street on the first tier of the city of Minas Tirith.[2]
  • Qalvanda - The road of death, leading to the Halls of Mandos.[4]
  • Bywater Road - Runs from the Great East Road through Bywater and Hobbiton in the Westfarthing. Location of the last battle of the War of the Ring, the Battle of Bywater.

See also


  1. ^ Tolkien, J. R. R. (1980), Christopher Tolkien, ed., Unfinished Tales, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, Disaster of the Gladden Fields, ISBN 0-395-29917-9 
  2. ^ Tolkien, J. R. R. (1955), The Return of the King, The Lord of the Rings, Boston: Houghton Mifflin (published 1987), Minas Tirith, ISBN 0-395-08256-0 
  3. ^ Tolkien, J. R. R. (1986), Christopher Tolkien, ed., The Shaping of Middle-earth, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, The Earliest 'Silmarillion', ISBN 0-395-42501-8 
  4. ^ Tolkien, J. R. R. (1984), Christopher Tolkien, ed., The Book of Lost Tales, Part One, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, The Hiding of Valinor, ISBN 0-395-35439-0 
  5. ^ Tolkien, J. R. R. (1955), The Return of the King, The Lord of the Rings, Boston: Houghton Mifflin (published 1987), Mount Doom, ISBN 0-395-08256-0 

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