Tolkien Gateway

Dunharrow

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Dunharrow by Ted Nasmith

Dunharrow was a refuge of the Rohirrim hidden in the White Mountains and fortified against attack. Dunharrow was a clifftop overlooking Harrowdale, the valley of the river Snowbourn.

In order to reach the refuge, a winding path had to be used, known as the Stair of the Hold leading to the "Firienfeld", a large grassy area for the encampment of soldiers and refuge-seekers.

Large carved stones marked the entrance to the Dimholt, a natural amphitheater, which led into the Paths of the Dead.

History

Dunharrow had been used as a refuge sacred place by the Pre-Númenórean Middle Men of the White Mountains during the Second Age — nearly three millennia before the establishment of the Kingdom of Rohan.

Those Men of the White Mountains had lined the winding path with statues known as the Púkel-men — statues originally carved in the likeness of the Drúedain.

When the Rohirrim came to the region, the recognized the "heathen fane" and they used it as a refuge.

Etymology

Tolkien made Dunharrow the Modern English form of Rohirric (Old English) Dūnhaerg, meaning "the heathen fane on the hillside".[1]

Tolkien notes that he modernized the element haerg since harrow exists as an element in English place-names.[1]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, "Nomenclature of The Lord of the Rings" in Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, pp. 769