Tolkien Gateway

Battle of Cirith Ungol

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| conflict=[[War of the Ring]]
| conflict=[[War of the Ring]]
| date=May 14, [[Third Age 3019|T.A. 3019]]
| date=March 14, [[Third Age 3019|T.A. 3019]]
| place=[[Tower of Cirith Ungol]]
| place=[[Tower of Cirith Ungol]]
| result=Tower emptied, [[Frodo Baggins]] liberated
| result=Tower emptied, [[Frodo Baggins]] liberated

Revision as of 10:04, 23 March 2011

The name Cirith Ungol refers to more than one character, item or concept. For a list of other meanings, see Cirith Ungol (disambiguation).
Battle of Cirith Ungol
Conflict: War of the Ring
Date: March 14, T.A. 3019
Place: Tower of Cirith Ungol
Outcome: Tower emptied, Frodo Baggins liberated

Orcs of Cirith Ungol

Orcs of Minas Morgul




  • More than 80 Orcs, including an unknown number of bowmen

All Orcs save Shagrat and Snaga

All Orcs

The Battle of Cirith Ungol was a battle fought between the Orc-garrison of Cirith Ungol, and a company of orcs of Minas Morgul.



On March 10, Frodo Baggins and his servant Samwise Gamgee, passed Minas Morgul. This was noticed by the Watchers, but a patrol led by Gorbag wasn't sent out until the 11th or 12th. On the 13th, message also reached the Tower of Cirith Ungol, and Shagrat, commander of the Tower and the Pass, set out. About an hour later, they met Gorbag's company, and quarreled shortly. It was then that they found the body of Frodo Baggins, who had been paralyzed by Shelob. Allthough they realized there had to be more than one intruder (described by the Orcs as a "great Elf-warrior"), they took Frodo to the tower via the Under-gate, which led them into Shelob's Lair for a short time.


Frodo is stored in the top of the turret, as Shagrat does not trust all his troops, and none of Gorbag's. When the prisoner was stripped and searched, Shagrat and Gorbag fought over possession of the artifacts: a Mithril shirt, an Elvish cape, and a Barrow-blade. Especially the mithril shirt was wanted by Gorbag. A fight ensued, which soon involved all present in the Tower. Shagrat was stabbed by Gorbag, but managed to put him down. Gorbag's troops reached the gate first, and shot Lagduf and Muzgash, along with all of the others. For an unknown reason, Shagrat killed Radbug by pressing his eyes in, and threatened to do the same to Snaga if he continues to flout him. Snaga did, and Shagrat chased him. Snaga was saved when Shagrat realizes Gorbag is not dead. As Shagrat chokes Gorbag, Snaga goes to the top of the turret to whip the prisoner.


Directly in the wake of the battle, the great Elf-warrior stormed in and killed Snaga. He rescuedd Frodo, and they were able to continue their mission to Mount Doom. News of the capture does not reach Barad-dûr until the 15th of March. Unfortunately for Shagrat, so does the news of the escape. On the 17th of March, as he brings the tokens to Sauron, Shagrat is slain in anger.

Portrayal in adaptations

In Rankin/Bass' The Return of the King, the tower's name is incorrectly referred to as "Sirith Ungol". Sam battles the tower's heavy gates. In front of the door, he miraculously finds both the Ring, the elven cloak and Sting; the movie does not depict Shelob or Frodo's capture. Sam enters through Shelob's Lair. The Battle is only depicted as two Orcs fighting (one with a morning star, the other with a scimitar), until the Ring urges Sam to go on without Frodo. When Sam comes back (because of simple "Hobbit sense"), he walks past the Watchers with the Phial of Galadriel. Passing the Watchers sets of an alarm, but few are left to attack the "Great Elf-warrior". Stangely, one remaining Orc on the steps knows what a Hobbit is. After slaying the very last Orc - who is flogging Frodo - Sam rescues Frodo.

In The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, the book is followed almost to the letter; Gorbag and Shagrat fight, and take the whole tower with them. When Sam arrives, only three orcs are left alive, and Sam kills them "for Frodo", "for the Shire" and "for my old Gaffer". In the Extended edition, a short shot of Shagrat escaping with the mithril shirt is added.