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General information
LocationNorthernEriador between the Gwathló and the Baranduin

Cardolan was a breakaway realm of the Dúnedain kingdom of Arnor. After the death of Arnor's King Eärendur, his sons divided the realm into the kingdoms of Arthedain, Rhudaur and Cardolan.



The southeastern border of Cardolan followed the Gwathló and the Mitheithel to the Last Bridge. From there its boundary followed the Great East Road westward to the Brandywine Bridge, and then down the Baranduin to the Sea and thence to the mouth of the Gwathló. However, Cardolan also claimed the land between Bree and the Weather Hills.[1] Notable features within Cardolan were the Old Forest, the Barrow-downs, the South Downs, and the Greenway.[2]


In T.A. 861 Arnor's tenth King, Eärendur, died.[3] Due to dissensions between his sons the realm was split into Arthedain, Rhudaur and Cardolan. While the line of Isildur continued in Arthedain, in both Rhudaur and Cardolan the line soon failed. Arthedain held Weatherop and possessed its Palantír as well as two others, which led to strife between the three kingdoms.[1]

In 1050 the Harfoots came into Eriador and in 1150 they were joined by the Fallohides.[3] It is likely that some of these Hobbits settled in Cardolan.

When Malvegil of Arthedain began his reign (in 1272[4]) Orcs began to trouble the region.[5] Later, around T.A. 1300, the Witch-king came north and founded the kingdom of Angmar north of the Ettenmoors. This event caused many Hobbits to move to Bree.[3]

After Malvegil, his son Argeleb I claimed lordship over all of Arnor since no descendants of Isildur remained in the other two kingdoms. Rhudaur resisted this claim and made league with Angmar.[1] Argeleb I fell in battle with Rhudaur in 1356.[3] His son, Arveleg I, avenged his father by pushing the enemy from the Weather Hills. In this effort he had the aid of Lindon and Cardolan.

However, in T.A. 1409 a great host issued from Angmar. It invaded Cardolan and took Weathertop, and King Arveleg I was killed. Rhudar was occupied by Angmar and Cardolan was ravaged. A remnant of the Dúnedain of Cardolan held out in the Barrow-downs and the Old Forest. The last prince of Cardolan was interred in the Barrow-downs in this year.

In T.A. 1636 those people who remained in the Barrow-downs died from the Great Plague. Angmar then sent Barrow-wights to infest and haunt the downs. Arthedain managed to reconquer the land briefly, but few people wished to live there on account of the Barrow-wights, and Cardolan was soon lost again.[1]

In 1974[3] after the final fall of Arnor, and the destruction of Angmar at the Battle of Fornost, Cardolan remained an unpopulated area until the reestablishment of the northern kingdom under king Elessar at the end of the Third Age.

On 22 September 3018 the Black Riders entered Cardolan from the south.[3] While hunting for the One Ring their chief established himself in Andrath on the Greenway and then visited the Barrow-downs. He stayed there for some days in order to rouse the Barrow-wights.[6]


It is not known if Tolkien ever explained the name Cardolan. The most common suggestion is that Cardolan likely is Sindarin for "red hill country". In that case, the name could be analyzed as carn "red", dol "hill, mount" and an(n) "land".[7][8]

An alternative etymology has been suggested by Roger Clewley: Cardolan deriving from Noldorin car "house", dolen "hidden, secret", and the toponymical ending -and, thus meaning "place/land of hidden houses" (a reference to the "dead entombed there").[8]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Eriador, Arnor, and the Heirs of Isildur"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The West of Middle-earth at the End of the Third Age" [map]
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age"
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "The Realms in Exile", "The Northern Line: Heirs of Isildur"
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "The Heirs of Elendil"
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Hunt for the Ring", "(ii) Other Versions of the Story"
  7. Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, p. 690
  8. 8.0 8.1 Roger Clewley, "On the Name Cardolan (#36363)" dated 7 September 2012, Elfling (mailing list) (accessed 11 September 2012)