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Cair Andros

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Cair Andros was a large river-island in the Anduin River, to the east of the land of Anórien and north of Minas Tirith. The island itself was long and narrow, a little over ten miles in length.[1] At its northern end, sharp rocks split the waters of the Anduin in a bubbling foam that gave the island its name.[2] Cair Andros was covered with trees for much of its length.[3]

Contents

History

In the First Age, as believed by historians in Gondor, the first men to cross the Anduin were the Drúedain. It was thought that the Drúedain came westward south of Mordor, turned north through Ithilien, and crossed the Great River at or near Cair Andros before eventually settling in the vales of the White Mountains.[4]

Upon the establishment of the realm of Gondor, the island grew in strategic importance: The only practical means for an army to cross the river were at the bridge at Osgiliath, Cair Andros, and the Undeeps. After the granting of Calenardhon to the Éothéod in T.A. 2510 (who created the realm of Rohan)[5] only Cair Andros and Osgiliath remained as vulnerable crossing-points for the Gondorians.

The Gondorians took Cair Andros' risk seriously. Amon Dîn, the first of the Beacon-hills, was set up originally to warn the citizens of Minas Tirith if Cair Andros was ever breached.[6]

Gondor took steps to fortify the island, too, but the history of these fortifications is difficult to establish. In T.A. 1248 Minalcar, regent to King Narmacil I, defeated the Easterlings and upon his return fortified the west bank of the Anduin up to the Limlight, which may have included the fortification of Cair Andros.[7] It is known that it was manned at the time of King Ondoher's fall[8] in 1944,[5] but whatever defenses were in place at that time were apparently abandoned, since Denethor's great-grandfather Túrin II found it necessary to fortify the island again in about the year 2900.[2]

The War of the Ring

The Gondorian defenses fell on 10 March, T.A. 3019. On the same day that the Witch-king of Angmar rode from Minas Morgul with the armies that would besiege Minas Tirith, Sauron released a smaller force (though still numbering more than 6,000 Orcs and Men) from the Morannon. They overwhelmed the defenders of Cair Andros, and used the island to cross into Anórien.[9] It was this northern force that blocked the eastward progress of the Rohirrim as they rode to Gondor's aid[10] and led to the secret ride down Stonewain Valley.[11] After the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, the Rohirrim chased them down and pushed them back out of Anórien.[12]

They retreated to Cair Andros, and apparently held the island for some days. On 23 March,[9] in his march on Mordor, Aragorn let one thousand scared young men from Rohan and Lossarnach go from his main army to retake the island if necessary, and hold it.[13] They must have succeeded, since the last we hear of the island of Cair Andros, its moorings were used by the ships of Gondor, as glimpsed by Frodo after completing his Quest.[3]

Etymology

The Sindarin name Cair Andros translates to "Ship of Long Foam".[2] Cair means "ship", and means "long", and ros means (in this context at least) "foam".[14]

References

  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "Map of Rohan, Gondor, and Mordor"
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion", "The Stewards", Footnote 1
  3. 3.0 3.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Field of Cormallen"
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Drúedain", Further Notes on the Drúedain
  5. 5.0 5.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age"
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan", Note 51
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion"
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan"
  9. 9.0 9.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Great Years"
  10. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Siege of Gondor"
  11. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Ride of the Rohirrim"
  12. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Last Debate"
  13. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Black Gate Opens"
  14. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Words, Phrases and Passages in Various Tongues in The Lord of the Rings", in Parma Eldalamberon XVII (edited by Christopher Gilson), p. 121