An encyclopedia of Middle-earth and Numenor
Angband was the stronghold of Morgoth beneath the Iron Mountains north of Beleriand in Middle-earth. During the First Age, Morgoth waged war against the Elves from Angband. The Elves attacked and besieged Angband, but they could not capture it, though Beren and Luthien entered the dungeon to steal a Silmaril from Morgoth's crown. At the end of the First Age, Angband was destroyed in the War of Wrath against the Host of the Valar, and Morgoth was banished from the world.
Angband was located in far northwestern of Middle-earth. It was on the border of the cold northern lands which were fenced by the Iron Mountains. East of Angband, the Iron Mountains extended to the Blue Mountains and beyond. West of Angband, the mountain range curved northwestward to the Sea.
The three great pinnacles of Thangorodrim stood out from the Iron Mountains above the Gate of Angband. They were the tallest mountains in Middle-earth. The mountains of Thangorodrim were volcanic, and a foul, dark smoke issued from their peaks.
The Gate of Angband was set in an archway at the foot of the southern face of Thangorodrim. Cliffs formed battlements on either side of the road leading to the Gate. Above the Gate rose a thousand-foot precipice.
Inside the Gate, a twisting stairway led down into the dungeons, forges, and vaults of Angband. In the deepest hall, Morgoth had his throne room which was filled with weapons and torture devices. The pillars were carved with terrible images and the chamber was illuminated with fire.
Countless Orcs lived and multiplied in the depths of Angband, and many other creatures also dwelled there including Dragons and Balrogs. Morgoth also captured Elves who were forced to work as slaves in the underground forges and mines.
In addition to the main Gate, there were secret entrances into Angband on the southern side of the mountains. There was also a great tunnel that ran beneath the Iron Mountains to the frozen lands on the northern side. Morgoth's original stronghold Utumno was located in this arctic region to the northeast of Angband.
The region directly south of Angband was Dor Daedeloth, the Land of Shadow and Horror. It was a dreary wasteland pitted with chasms where serpents dwelled. South of Dor Daedeloth was the vast plain of Ard-galen, which later became the desert of Anfauglith.
West of Ard-galen was the land of Hithlum behind the Ered Wethrin. South of Ard-galen were the highlands of Dorthonion. The Pass of Sirion ran between the Ered Wethrin and Dorthonion into West Beleriand. The Pass was defended by the watchtower of Minas Tirith on the island of Tol Sirion.
East of Ard-galen, the plain of Lothlann stretched to the Blue Mountains. South of Lothlann stood the Hill of Himring. Between Himring and Dorthonion, the Pass of Aglon led into East Beleriand, while between Himring and the Blue Mountains was another passage into West Beleriand called Maglor's Gap. The Elves maintained a line of defense called the March of Maedhros to guard against invasion from the north.
Morgoth built Utumno, his first stronghold in Middle-earth, in 3400 of the Years of the Valar. Sometime later, he built Angband further to the west to guard against an attack by the Valar from the Sea. Morgoth gave control of Angband to his lieutenant, Sauron.
The Valar attacked Morgoth's strongholds in the Battle of the Powers from 1090 to 1099 of the Years of the Trees. Morgoth was taken captive, and Utumno and Angband were destroyed. But the Valar did not find all the hidden vaults and many of Morgoth's evil creatures still lurked there. Sauron also eluded capture, and according to one story (HoME X, p. 421) he began to rebuild Angband and repopulate it with Orcs in preparation for Morgoth's eventual return.
After three ages of captivity, Morgoth was released. He stole the Silmarils made by Feanor and returned to Middle-earth in 1495 of the Years of the Trees. Ungoliant tried to take the Silmarils from Morgoth, but Balrogs lurking in the depths of Angband heard their master's cry and came to his aid.
Morgoth did not return to Utumno but instead rebuilt Angband and gathered a growing army of Orcs and other creatures. He created the three peaks of Thangorodrim above Angband at this time. Morgoth ruled from his throne in the deepest hall and rarely left Angband.
In 1497, Morgoth sent forth a great army of Orcs from Angband under a cloud cover to invade Beleriand on two fronts. The Orcs fought the Sindarin Elves in the First Battle. The western force besieged the Havens of the Falas. The eastern force was defeated by King Thingol of Doriath. The surviving Orcs tried to retreat but were attacked by the Dwarves of Belegost and Nogrod, and few of them returned to Angband.
Later that year, Feanor and many of the Noldor came to Middle-earth with the intention of taking back the Silmarils from Morgoth. Morgoth sent an army to attack them in Hithlum, but the Noldor were victorious in the Battle-under-Stars. Only a small remnant of Morgoth's army came back to Angband with news of their defeat and Morgoth was dismayed.
But Feanor decided to go after Morgoth immediately, and he set out for Angband with no knowledge of its strength or defenses. When he came to Dor Daedeloth, Feanor was separated from his army. Balrogs emerged from Angband and surrounded Feanor, and he was mortally wounded by Gothmog. Before he died, Feanor looked at the peaks of Thangorodrim and realized that the Noldor would never overthrow them. Nevertheless, he made his seven sons swear to uphold their oath to recover the Silmarils at any cost.
Morgoth captured Feanor's eldest son Maedhros during a parley and demanded that the Noldor leave the vicinity in exchange for his release. The Noldor did not trust Morgoth and they refused. In 1498, Morgoth chained Maedhros by the wrist to a precipice high on Thangorodrim.
Soon afterwards, at the start of the First Age, the Moon and the Sun rose for the first time. Morgoth withdrew to the depths of Angband and created dark clouds and shadows to shield his stronghold from the light. On the great plain of Ard-galen, grass began to grow over the filth and desolation that had spread from Angband.
At the dawn of the First Age, Fingolfin and his followers came across the Grinding Ice to Middle-earth. They marched to Angband and sounded their trumpets and knocked on the gates, but Morgoth remained hidden. Fingolfin realized they did not have the strength to assail Angband and withdrew. Maedhros cried out to them from the pinnacle of Thangorodrim but they did not hear him.
When Fingolfin's son Fingon learned that his friend Maedhros had been captured, he resolved to rescue him. In the year 5 of the First Age, Fingon set out alone to Angband. He discovered Maedhros hanging far above the ground but could not reach him. Maedhros begged Fingon to kill him with an arrow but before Fingon could do so, Thorondor, King of the Eagles, appeared and carried Fingon to the precipice. Fingon was forced to cut off Maedhros' hand in order to release him.
The race of Men awoke in the far East of Middle-earth at the start of the First Age. Leaving Sauron in charge, Morgoth departed from Angband for the only time and journeyed to the East for the purpose of corrupting Men to his service. Many of the Easterlings were swayed to follow Morgoth and later fought for him, but other Men remained incorrupt and later sided with the Elves.
In the year 60, Morgoth launched an invasion of Beleriand accompanied by earthquakes in the north and fires that poured from fissures in the ground and from the Iron Mountains. But the Elves were prepared and they defeated Morgoth's forces in the Glorious Battle.
After the battle, the Elves began the Siege of Angband which lasted 395 years. Cavalry patrolled and camped on Ard-galen, and a close watch was kept on Morgoth's stronghold to prevent him from sending out troops openly and in great force. However, because of the Iron Mountains, the Elves could not completely surround Angband, and Morgoth was able to dispatch spies and smaller forces from the north.
Morgoth instructed his Orcs to capture Elves alive and bring them to Angband, where he tormented and enslaved them. Morgoth also extracted information from some of the Elves, and he turned a few of them to his service out of fear and released them to act as spies and traitors. Other Elves began to distrust any of their kin who had been captured even if they managed to escape Morgoth's thralldom.
In 155, an army of Orcs trekked through the northern lands to the west coast and then came down to the Firth of Drengist to attack Hithlum. Fingon defeated them easily and drove them into the Sea.
Morgoth realized that an army of Orcs was not sufficient to defeat the Elves, so he began to breed Dragons. The first of these was the Fire-drake Glaurung. In 260, Glaurung emerged from Angband without Morgoth's knowledge and began to defile the fields of Ard-galen. At first the Elves fled from this unknown creature, but then Fingon led a company of archers to the attack. Glaurung's armor was not fully formed and he was forced to retreat to Angband. Morgoth was angry that Glaurung had revealed himself prematurely.
The Men who became known as the Edain first came to Beleriand in 310. Morgoth became alarmed at their friendship with the Elves. In 375, Morgoth sent Orc raiders eastward, evading the Siege. They crossed the Blue Mountains and came south and then crossed back over the Blue Mountains to Thargelion where a group of Men called the Haladin had settled. The Orcs besieged the Haladin but they were defeated by the Elves of Thargelion led by Caranthir.
Morgoth broke the Siege of Angband in 455 in the Battle of Sudden Flame. Rivers of fire poured down from Thangorodrim onto Ard-galen and it became a desert called Anfauglith. Many of the Elves keeping watch on Angband perished in the flames. Glaurung led an army from Angband.
Morgoth's forces took control of Dorthonion and pressed far into East Beleriand until they were finally stopped by Thingol of Doriath. The Elves and the Men who were their allies suffered a great defeat and many were slain.
After the battle in 456, Fingolfin, the High King of the Noldor, rode alone to Angband and challenged Morgoth to single combat. Morgoth reluctantly emerged from his stronghold and fought with Fingolfin. After a long struggle, Fingolfin was slain, but Morgoth was wounded and became lame. Morgoth returned to Angband and did not come out again.
Sauron left Angband in 457 and captured the island of Tol Sirion, and the Pass of Sirion leading into West Beleriand fell under his control. He sent messages to Morgoth through his minion Thuringwethil, who flew to Angband in the form of a vampire bat.
Morgoth recalled his forces to Angband to regain strength. In the forges of Angband, weapons production was increased. In 462, Morgoth sent armies to attack Hithlum from the north and east, but they were driven back by Hurin of Dor-lomin and Cirdan the Shipwright.
In 465, Luthien and Huan the Hound drove Sauron from Tol Sirion and he fled to Dorthonion. Luthien and Huan had come to rescue Beren from Sauron's dungeon.
Beren and Luthien wanted to marry, but Luthien's father Thingol had demanded that Beren first steal a Silmaril from Morgoth. In 466, Beren and Luthien came to the Gate of Angband disguised as the werewolf Draugluin and the vampire Thuringwethil. The Gate was guarded by Carcharoth - a great wolf bred by Morgoth when he heard that Huan was abroad. Luthien cast a spell of sleep on Carcharoth and she and Beren entered Angband.
They descended the winding stairs down to Morgoth's throne room in the depths of Angband. Luthien sang and cast her enchanted cloak before Morgoth's eyes, and he and his court fell asleep. Beren cut a Silmaril from Morgoth's Iron Crown and they fled back up the stairs.
Carcharoth had awakened, and he bit off Beren's hand and swallowed the Silmaril. The Silmaril drove Carcharoth mad and he fled south to Doriath where he was later killed by Huan and the Silmaril was retrieved from his belly. Beren and Luthien were rescued by Thorondor as Morgoth awoke and firebolts flew from Thangorodrim.
Inspired by the success of Beren and Luthien, Maedhros decided it was time to launch an assault on Angband. In 468, he formed the Union of Maedhros to oppose Morgoth, and in 469 they drove the Orcs from Beleriand. But Morgoth was forewarned of the alliance and made plans to thwart them. He sent a plague called the Evil Breath from Angband that afflicted the people in the lands bordering Anfauglith.
At midsummer of 472, Maedhros initiated the attack on Angband. His strategy was to draw out Morgoth's forces onto Anfauglith with an army approaching from the east and then trap the enemy with another army coming from Hithlum in the west. But Maedhros was betrayed by an Easterling named Uldor who was secretly in league with Morgoth. Uldor gave Maedhros false information about an imminent attack from Angband which delayed the eastern army.
As Fingon and the western army awaited the signal from Maedhros, Morgoth sent a camouflaged army across Anfauglith to Hithlum. When they came within sight of Barad Eithel, Morgoth's captain brought forward an Elf named Gelmir - who had been captured at the Battle of Sudden Flame - and had him killed.
Gelmir's brother Gwindor was provoked into launching a premature attack on Angband, and the rest of the western army followed him and raised their banners before the walls of Morgoth's stronghold. Gwindor and his company forced their way through the Gate of Angband and killed the guards inside. But they were trapped on the stairs and all of them were slain except Gwindor who was taken captive.
An army issued from the secret doors of Angband and the Battle of Unnumbered Tears began on Anfauglith. Many Elves and Men in the western army were slain and the rest were surrounded. Then Turgon came to their aid with an army from Gondolin, and Maedhros and the eastern army arrived at last.
The tide of battle nearly turned against Morgoth, but then Uldor and his brothers openly switched sides and attacked Maedhros' army from the rear. At the same time, Morgoth unleashed a host of wolves, Balrogs, and Dragons led by Glaurung from Angband. Morgoth's forces were victorious, and the surviving Elves, Men, and Dwarves retreated and were scattered and weakened.
At the end of the battle, Hurin, the Lord of Dor-lomin, was captured by Gothmog. Hurin was taken to Angband and Morgoth interrogated him to learn the location of Gondolin, but Hurin refused to tell him anything. Morgoth cursed Hurin's family and imprisoned him in a chair high up on Thangorodrim where he could look out across Beleriand and see the tragedies that befell his son Turin and daughter Nienor.
Morgoth continued to send his minions forth from Angband. In 473, he sent an army to destroy the Havens of the Falas. Cirdan and Gil-galad escaped with a few others to the Isle of Balar.
Many Elves had been captured and enslaved in Angband during and after the Battle of Unnumbered Tears. Morgoth forced them to labor in his mines and forges. In 489, Gwindor was able to escape through secret tunnels and made his way to Dorthonion where he met Hurin's son Turin and returned with him to Nargothrond.
In 495, Nargothrond was captured by Glaurung and most of the inhabitants including Gwindor were slain. Turin escaped but later unknowingly married his sister Nienor. In 499, Turin slew Glaurung but both he and Nienor committed suicide after learning the truth of their relationship.
Hurin was released from Angband in 500 after 28 years of captivity. Morgoth sent an escort from Angband to accompany him, implying that Hurin was in league with him. The implication was false, yet Morgoth's influence remained. Hurin unwittingly revealed the general location of Gondolin to Morgoth. He also visited Thingol - whom he wrongly blamed for his family's fate - and brought him the Nauglamir which later played a role in the downfall of Doriath. Hurin then declared himself free of Morgoth and threw himself into the Sea.
Morgoth continued to seek the exact location of Gondolin. In 509, Orcs captured Maeglin outside Gondolin and brought him to Angband. Morgoth tortured Maeglin and promised to give him lordship of Gondolin and the King's daughter Idril in exchange for information, and Maeglin gave in. In 510, Morgoth's forces attacked and destroyed Gondolin, and only a small number of survivors escaped including Idril, Tuor, and their son Earendil.
Earendil sailed to the Undying Lands to ask the Valar to help the peoples of Middle-earth defeat Morgoth, and the Valar agreed. Earendil's ship Vingilot was set in the heavens, and he sailed the night sky as a star bearing the Silmaril that Beren had taken from Morgoth's crown.
The Host of the Valar fought Morgoth in the War of Wrath from 545 to 587. A great battle raged on Anfauglith and throughout the northern lands. By 587, most of Morgoth's forces had been destroyed, and Morgoth was afraid to emerge from Angband.
Morgoth sent out his winged Dragons led by Ancalagon the Black in a final attempt to stop the Host of the Valar. The Dragons were defeated by an army of birds led by Thorondor and Earendil in his flying ship. Earendil slew Ancalagon, and the Dragon's body fell and broke the peaks of Thangorodrim.
The pits of Angband were exposed, and the slaves were released. Morgoth fled deep into his mines, but the Valar pursued and captured him. In 590, Morgoth was cast through the Door of Night into the Timeless Void and was banished from the world. The upheaval of the battle and the breaking of Thangorodrim caused most of the land west of the Blue Mountains to sink beneath the Sea.
Although Angband was destroyed, a few Balrogs survived and hid in caverns deep underground. One of these fled eastward to the Misty Mountains and lurked beneath the roots of Caradhras for over 6,000 years until it was awakened by the Dwarves of Khazad-dum in 1980 of the Third Age.
Note: Angband, Utumno, and the Iron Mountains only appear on early draft maps, therefore their exact locations are uncertain.
There is no definitive chronology of the Years of the Valar, the Years
of the Trees, or the First Age. These dates are based on
Annals of Aman" in The History of Middle-earth,
vol. X, Morgoth's Ring and "The Grey Annals"
in The History of Middle-earth, vol. XI, The War
of the Jewels. One year during the Years of the Trees is equivalent
to 9.582 solar years.
Years of the Valar:
Morgoth begins to build Utumno, his first stronghold in Middle-earth. He builds Angband sometime later to defend against an attack by the Valar from the Sea.
Years of the Trees:
Angband and Utumno are destroyed in the Battle of the Powers and Morgoth is taken captive by the Valar.
Morgoth returns to Middle-earth after stealing the Silmarils. He rebuilds Angband and creates the peaks of Thangorodrim.
Morgoth sends an army of Orcs from Angband to invade Beleriand in the First Battle. Thingol defeats the eastern force while the western force besieges the Havens of the Falas.
Feanor comes to Middle-earth to retrieve the Silmarils. He and his followers defeat Morgoth's forces in the Battle-under-Stars. Feanor marches on Angband and is slain by Gothmog, Lord of Balrogs. Maedhros is captured by Morgoth.
Maedhros is chained to a precipice of Thangorodrim.
The Moon and the Sun rise for the first time. Fingolfin and his followers arrive in Middle-earth. Fingolfin marches to Angband but Morgoth remains hidden. Men awake in the East. Sometime afterwards, Morgoth leaves Angband for the only time and travels to the East in an attempt to corrupt Men.
Fingon frees Maedhros from the precipice of Thangorodrim with the help of Thorondor.
The Elves defeat Morgoth's forces in the Glorious Battle. The Siege of Angband begins.
Morgoth sends Orcs to attack Hithlum from the Firth of Drengist in the west but Fingon defeats them.
Glaurung the Dragon emerges from Angband but is driven back by Fingon. The Long Peace begins.
The Edain first come to Beleriand.
Morgoth sends Orc raiders to attack the Haladin in Thargelion.
Morgoth breaks the Siege of Angband in the Battle of Sudden Flame.
Fingolfin comes to Angband to challenge Morgoth to single combat. Morgoth slays Fingolfin but is wounded in the foot.
Sauron captures the island of Tol Sirion.
Morgoth sends an army to attack Hithlum but they are driven back by Hurin and Cirdan.
Sauron is driven from Tol Sirion by Luthien and Huan the Hound who come to rescue Beren.
Beren and Luthien enter Angband and steal a Silmaril from Morgoth's crown.
A pestilent wind called the Evil Breath is sent from Angband to the northern lands bordering Anfauglith. Many die including Hurin's daughter Lalaith.
The Battle of Unnumbered Tears. Gwindor enters Angband with a small company of Elves but he is captured and they are slain. Morgoth's forces are victorious. Hurin is captured and imprisoned in a seat high on Thangorodrim.
Morgoth's forces destroy the Havens of the Falas.
Gwindor escapes from Angband.
Glaurung captures Nargothrond. Death of Gwindor.
Glaurung is slain. Deaths of Turin and Nienor.
Hurin is released by Morgoth after 28 years of captivity.
Maeglin is captured and brought to Angband and reveals Gondolin's location to Morgoth.
Gondolin is destroyed by Morgoth's forces.
Earendil reaches the Undying Lands and asks the Valar to help defeat Morgoth.
The War of Wrath (545-587). In 587, Earendil kills Ancalagon the Black and the peaks of Thangorodrim are destroyed by the Dragon's body. Most of Beleriand is ruined. Morgoth is defeated and is banished from the world. A few Balrogs go into hiding underground and one flees to the Misty Mountains.
The name Angband means "Iron Prison" or "Hell of Iron" in Sindarin from ang meaning "iron" and band meaning "prison, duress." The Quenya form was Angamando. Also called the Iron Prison and the Hells of Iron.
The Silmarillion: "Of the Coming of the Elves and the Captivity of Melkor," p. 47, 51; "Of the Flight of the Noldor," p. 80-81; "Of the Sindar," p. 95-96; "Of the Sun and the Moon," p. 100-102; "Of the Return of the Noldor," passim; "Of Beleriand and Its Realms," p. 118-19; "Of the Coming of Men into the West," p. 141-42, 145; "Of the Ruin of Beleriand," passim; "Of Beren and Luthien," p. 167, 171, 174, 178-82; "Of the Fifth Battle," passim; "Of Turin Turambar," p. 198, 200, 204-7, 209, 211, 220; "Of the Ruin of Doriath," p. 227, 230; "Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin," p. 240-43; "Of the Voyage of Earendil," p. 251-52; "Akallabeth," p. 259; "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age," p. 285, 293; Index entry for Angband; "Appendix - Elements in Quenya and Sindarin Names," entries for anga and band
The History of Middle-earth, vol. III, The Lays of Beleriand: "The Lay of Leithian," p. 282-83, 294-95
The History of Middle-earth, vol. IV, The Shaping of Middle-earth: "The Quenta," p. 101; "The Ambarkanta," p. 249 (Map IV), 251 (Map V), 257, 259-60
The History of Middle-earth, vol. X, Morgoth's Ring: "The Annals of Aman," p. 53, 74-75, 109-10, 127, 131; "The Later Quenta Silmarillion," p. 156, 295, 297-98; "Athrabeth Finrod Ah Andreth," p. 350; "Myths Transformed," p. 420-21, 423 note 6
The History of Middle-earth, vol. XI, The War of the Jewels: "The Grey Annals," p. 15-18, 29-32, 35-39, 46, 50, 52-56, 60, 63, 68, 71-80, 82-84, 86, 97, 111-12, 116-18; "The Later Quenta Silmarillion," p. 196, 221; "The Wanderings of Hurin," p. 252-53, 257, 259; "Maeglin," p. 321, 331 (map); "The Tale of Years," p. 344-47
Unfinished Tales: "Of Tuor and His Coming to Gondolin," p. 18; "Narn I Hin Hurin," p. 58, 66-67, 153-59
The Fellowship of the Ring: "A Knife in the Dark," p. 206; "The Council of Elrond," p. 256
Appendix A of The Lord of the Rings: "The Numenorean Kings," p. 314; "Durin's Folk," p. 353
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