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The Thain's Book
An encyclopedia of Middle-earth and Numenor


Map of Eriador
Important Dates
Names & Etymology

Eriador was a large region in northwestern Middle-earth between the Misty Mountains and the Blue Mountains. The Glanduin and Greyflood rivers formed the southern boundary of Eriador. The Shire, Bree, and Rivendell were all located in Eriador and the North-kingdom of Arnor was established there.

Geography (see also the map below):

Eriador had a rich and varied landscape. In western Eriador, the Shire where the Hobbits dwelled was a green and pastoral land with many villages and farms. Bree-land, centered around the village of Bree, also had a number of farms and settlements.

The lands in eastern Eriador were more rugged and wild. At the foot of the Misty Mountains in the north were the Ettenmoors where Trolls lived. South of the Ettenmoors were heather-covered moors where the valley of Rivendell lay hidden. Farther south was a wild and barren land of bleak hills, deep valleys and treacherous swamps.

Eregion was in the southeastern corner of Eriador. It was once a realm of the Elves but had become a desolate land by the end of the Third Age. Eregion was noted for its holly trees and was called Hollin in the Common Speech. Minhiriath - meaning "between the rivers" - was the name given to the southwestern part of Eriador between the Brandywine River and the Greyflood. Minhiriath was a land of grassy plains and some woodlands. It had once been heavily forested but many trees had been felled for timber during the Second Age.

The River Lune was in western Eriador near the Blue Mountains. The Grey Havens were located where the River Lune widened into the Gulf of Lune on the coast of the Sea. In the east near the Misty Mountains, the River Hoarwell joined the Bruinen and then merged with the waters of the Glanduin to form the Greyflood, which flowed southwestward to the Sea. The Brandywine River flowed through central Eriador from Lake Evendim to the Sea.

Lake Evendim was in the Hills of Evendim in northern Eriador. Due east of the Hills of Evendim were the North Downs. Between the North Downs and the South Downs were the Barrow-downs and the Weather Hills where Weathertop was located. The Tower Hills were west of the Shire, and in the Shire were the Hills of Scary, the White Downs, the Far Downs.

Woodlands in Eriador included the Trollshaws between the Hoarwell and Bruinen west of Rivendell, the Old Forest between the Brandywine and the Barrow-downs, and the Chetwood near the village of Bree. The Midgewater Marshes were between Bree and the Weather Hills. Swanfleet was a marshy land around the mouth the Glanduin in southern Eriador.

Bree was an ancient settlement in Eriador at the crossroads of the Great East Road and the North-South Road. The Great East Road crossed Eriador from Rivendell in the east to the Grey Havens in the west. The North-South Road from Gondor passed through the city of Tharbad on the Greyflood and ended at Fornost on the North Downs where the Kings of Arthedain had their seat. Annuminas was a city on the shore of Lake Evendim that was founded by Elendil as the capital of the North-kingdom of Arnor.


In ancient times before the rising of the Sun and the dawn of the First Age, the Elves passed through Eriador on their Great Journey westward to cross the Sea to the Undying Lands. After Men awoke at the beginning of the First Age, many of them migrated into northwestern Middle-earth. Some crossed into Beleriand - a land that lay west of the Blue Mountains until the end of the First Age - while others settled in Eriador.

During the Second Age, the Men of Eriador lived around Lake Evendim and in the North Downs and in the lands between the Weather Hills and the Brandywine. In the year 600 of the Second Age, the Men of Numenor - who were descended from the Men who had crossed into Beleriand - returned to Middle-earth and came to Eriador. The Numenoreans met with twelve of the Men of Eriador in the Tower Hills and they recognized their ancient kinship.

In the year 750 of the Second Age, the Elves founded the realm of Eregion in southeastern Eriador near the Misty Mountains. Around 1200 S.A., Sauron came in disguise to Eregion and from him the Elves gained knowledge and skill. The Elves forged the Rings of Power in the 1500s, but they learned they had been deceived by Sauron when he created the One Ring in 1600 and they hid their Rings from him.

Sauron declared war on the Elves and invaded Eriador in 1695 S.A. Eregion was destroyed in 1697 and Elrond retreated with the remaining Elves and founded the refuge of Rivendell. Eriador was overrun by Sauron's forces by 1699. In 1700, Tar-Minastir of Numenor sent a fleet to the Elves' aid and Sauron was defeated and driven out of Eriador by 1701.

After the downfall of Numenor, Elendil came to Eriador and founded the North-kingdom of Arnor in 3320 S.A. Arnor included all of Eriador except the lands west of the River Lune and the lands east of the Bruinen and Greyflood, where Rivendell and Eregion were located. In the year 861 of the Third Age, the Kingdom of Arnor was divided into three kingdoms: Arthedain, Cardolan, and Rhudaur.

Hobbits began to migrate into Eriador around 1050 of the Third Age. The Harfoots were the first branch of Hobbits to settle in Eriador, coming as far west as Weathertop. The Stoors and the Fallohides followed soon afterwards around 1150. Around 1300, Hobbits established one of their earliest and most important settlements at Bree, where Men had dwelled for centuries.

Also around 1300, the Lord of the Nazgul established the realm of Angmar at the northern end of the Misty Mountains in Eriador. He was the most terrible of Sauron's minions and was known as the Witch-king of Angmar. In 1409, a great host came forth from Angmar. Cardolan and Rhudaur were overrun and King Arveleg I of Arthedain was slain. Arveleg's son Araphor held Fornost and the Witch-king's forces were at last driven back by Elves from Lindon, Rivendell, and Lothlorien.

In 1601, a group of Hobbits from Bree led by Marcho and Blanco migrated westward from Bree. They had obtained permission from King Argeleb II of Arthedain to settle the lands between the Brandywine and the Far Downs. This land became known as the Shire and it was home to the Hobbits for many centuries.

The Great Plague swept through Eriador in 1636 and 1637 and many Men and Hobbits perished. At this time evil spirits from Angmar and Rhudaur inhabited the graves of the Barrow-downs and became known as Barrow-wights.

In 1974, the Witch-king of Angmar once again sent forth a great force and conquered Arthedain and set himself up on the throne at Fornost. The Witch-king was defeated at the Battle of Fornost in 1975 by a host of Men from Gondor and Elves from Lindon and Rivendell. The Witch-king fled from Eriador, but the North-kingdom was ended. The line of Kings was continued by the Chieftains of the Dunedain. The Dunedain became known as Rangers and they protected the peoples of Eriador from many evils.

Orcs began to launch attacks on Eriador in 2740. In 2747, they came as far as the Shire and were defeated in the Battle of Greenfields by a band of Hobbits led by Bandobras Took.

The Long Winter of 2758-59 brought hardship and suffering to the peoples of Eriador. Gandalf the Grey came to the aid of the Hobbits at that time. During the Fell Winter of 2911, the Brandywine and other rivers in Eriador were frozen and White Wolves invaded from the North. The floods that resulted from the spring thaw devastated much of Minhiriath and Enedwaith in the south.

During the War of the Ring in 3018-19, Eriador was troubled by ruffians and thieves from the South, some of whom appeared to have Orc blood. They fought with the Men of Bree after the New Year and were expelled from the village, but they continued to roam the woods and roads. The ruffians occupied the Shire, first at the invitation of Lotho Sackville-Baggins and then under the command of Saruman who came to the Shire in September of 3019. The ruffians were defeated by the Hobbits in the Battle of Bywater, the last battle of the War of the Ring.

Under the reign of Aragorn, King Elessar, the North-kingdom of Arnor was reestablished in Eriador. The city of Annuminas was rebuilt and the King came to dwell there for a time in the year 15 of the Fourth Age.

Map of Eriador:

Map of Eriador

Important Dates:

Years of the Trees:

The Elves pass through Eriador on their Great Journey west to cross the Sea to the Undying Lands.

First Age:

Men settle in Eriador.

Second Age:

The Men of Numenor return to Middle-earth and come to Eriador. They meet with twelve Men of Eriador in the Tower Hills.

The Elves found the realm of Eregion in southeastern Eriador.

Sauron comes to Eregion in disguise.

c. 1500
The Rings of Power are made in Eregion

Sauron creates the Ruling Ring in Mordor and the Elves realize they've been deceived.

Sauron invades Eriador.

Eregion is destroyed. Rivendell is founded by Elrond.

Eriador is overrun by Sauron's forces.

Numenor sends a fleet to Eriador.

Sauron is defeated and driven out of Eriador.

The North-kingdom of Arnor is founded by Elendil in Eriador.

Third Age:

Arnor is divided into three kingdoms: Arthedain, Cardolan, and Rhudaur.

Hobbits begin to migrate to Eriador from east of the Misty Mountains. The Harfoots come as far west as Weathertop.

The Stoors and Fallohides come to Eriador.

The Hobbits establish a settlement at Bree. The Lord of the Nazgul founds the realm of Angmar and becomes known as the Witch-king.

King Argeleb I is slain in battle with Rhudaur, which is ruled by an evil lord in league with the Witch-king. The Stoors leave the Angle and some return to Wilderland.

A host from Angmar overruns Cardolan and Rhudaur and King Arveleg of Arthedain is slain. The forces of Angmar are finally driven back by the Dunedain and the Elves.

Marcho and Blanco lead a group of Hobbits to settle in the Shire.

The Great Plague kills many Men and Hobbits in Eriador. The Barrow-wights inhabit the Barrow-downs.

The Witch-king of Angmar conquers Arthedain.

Battle of Fornost. The Witch-king's forces are defeated by the Elves and a force from Gondor. The Witch-king flees from the north. The North-kingdom is ended.

Orcs begin to launch attacks on Eriador.

Orcs are defeated by Hobbits led by Bandobras Took in the Battle of Greenfields.

The Long Winter leads to great loss of life in Eriador.

The Fell Winter. White Wolves enter Eriador from the North.

Ruffians from the South come to Eriador and begin to cause trouble in Bree and the Shire.

May 1: Aragorn is crowned King of the Reunited Kingdom of Gondor and Arnor.

September 22: Saruman comes to the Shire.

November 3: The last battle of the War of the Ring is fought in the Shire. The Hobbits defeat the ruffians in the Battle of Bywater. Saruman is killed by Grima.

Fourth Age:

King Elessar makes the Shire a Free Land of the North Kingdom.

King Elessar comes to the North Kingdom and lives for a time in Annuminas.

Names & Etymology:

Eriador means "lonely land" or "wilderness." The element er means "one, alone." The element dor means "land."

Also called the Lone-lands, although in the latter part of the Third Age this term may have applied to the unsettled regions in eastern Eriador beyond Bree.


Map of Eriador by Christopher Tolkien, redrawn by Stephen Raw

The Hobbit: "Roast Mutton," p. 40 (Lone-lands); "A Short Rest," p. 56-57

The Fellowship of the Ring: "Prologue - Concerning Hobbits," p. 12-14; "The Ring Goes South," p. 294-97

Appendix A of The lord of the Rings: "Eriador, Arnor, and the Heirs of Isildur," p. 319-24; "Gondor and the Heirs of Anarion," p. 331-32

Appendix B of The Lord of the Rings: "The Tale of Years," passim

The Silmarillion:"Of the Coming of the Elves," p. 54; "Of the Sindar," p. 93-94; "Of the Coming of Men into the West," p. 145 and passim; "Akallabeth," p. 267; "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age," p. 287-92, 295-96, 298; "Appendix - Elements in Quenya and Sindarin Names," entries for er and dor

Unfinished Tales: "Aldarion and Erendis," p. 213-14 note 3; "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn," p. 234-39, 261-63

The History of Middle-earth, vol. XII, The Peoples of Middle-earth: "Of Dwarves and Men," p. 306-316

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