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Lake-town

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"The wise will stay here and hope to rebuild our town..." — Master of Lake-town
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This article is about the town in Rhovanion. For the MERP supplement, see Lake-town (book).
J.R.R. Tolkien - Lake Town (Colored by H. E. Riddett).jpg
Esgaroth
Physical Description
TypeCity
LocationWilderland
RealmsEsgaroth (independent)
InhabitantsLake-men
DescriptionTown built on surface of north-western Long Lake
General Information
Other namesLake-town
EtymologyEsgar "reed-bed"
EventsAttack of Smaug, Battle of Five Armies

Esgaroth upon the Long Lake, also known as Lake-town, was the township of the Lake-men in Wilderland. The town was constructed entirely of wood and stood upon wooden pillars sunk into the bed of the Long Lake, as a protection against the dragon Smaug, who dwelt nearby in the Lonely Mountain.

It was situated on the west side of the lake, south of the Lonely Mountain and east of Mirkwood, near the mouth of the Forest River in a calm bay that was formed by the shelter of a rock promontory. A long wooden bridge connected the town to the land.

In the middle of Esgaroth the central market-place was located, which was a round pool connected to the lake by a tunnel. The greatest houses of Esgaroth were around this market-place just as apparently the town-hall where the Master of Lake-town presided. The Master was the elected civic leader who under normal circumstances was chosen from among the old and wise.

It seems that the town's prosperity was built on trade between the Men (descendants of the Edain, and thus distant cousins of the Dúnedain of Gondor), Elves and Dwarves of northern Middle-earth.

Esgaroth and Lake-town may have been separate settlements established on the same site, one predating Smaug's destruction of Dale and Erebor and the other built afterwards.

In the year 2941 of the Third Age the town was attacked by the dragon Smaug, but Bard the Bowman, who had indirectly learned of a weakness in Smaug's armour that had first been noticed by Bilbo Baggins, slew the dragon. The town was wrecked by the dragon, but afterwards it was rebuilt using some of the treasure that Smaug had stolen, though the town's Master ran off with some of the gold. Part of the town's population followed Bard to resettle the Kingdom of Dale.

Language

As a trading people, the Lake-men knew the Common Speech, Westron. However, amongst themselves they spoke an ancient form of it, Dalian, loosely related to but distinct from Rohirric, the also-archaic language of the Rohirrim. Tolkien "translated" Westron into English in his text, so to represent the ancient relative of it that the Rohirrim spoke, he substituted Old English. Thus, Tolkien substituted Old Norse for the language of the Lake-men (in person and place names, etc.) because it is an ancient relative of Old English.

Etymology

The name means, "…Reedlake, because of reed-banks in west". The root-word, esgar, means "reed-bed" in Ilkorin Elvish.[1]

References

  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, "Part Three: The Etymologies", entry ESEK