Tolkien Gateway


Revision as of 18:25, 23 January 2011 by Sage (Talk | contribs)
"The wise will stay here and hope to rebuild our town..." — Master of Lake-town
This article needs to be rewritten to comply with Tolkien Gateway's higher standards...
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
Physical Description
RealmsEsgaroth (independent)
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[1]. 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 is not known when Esgaroth was built. The name Esgaroth is mentioned on the Thrór's Map, and is said to be an older name, known while Smaug was younger.[2]

When Bilbo came to the town, he noticed old pilings of a (possibly older) greater town could still be seen along the shores when the waters sank in a drought. As the years passed, Smaug was forgotten and children even doubted about his existence, and the tales of older men who sometimes saw him flying.[3]

File:Thorin in esgaroth.jpg
Thorin arrives in Lake-town

In the autumn of T.A. 2941 Thorin and Company escaped from the Thranduil's halls and Thorin followed by Fili, Kili and Bilbo decided to enter the town and speak to the Master. The Dwarves were welcomed warmly, because the Lake-men saw the King under the Mountain returning. The Dwarves and Bilbo were hosted, rested and pampered before sent with boats to the ruins of Dale to confront the dragon.

File:Smaug vs esgaroth.jpg
Smaug attacks the town

Some days later however, the town was attacked by Smaug, but Bard the Bowman, who had indirectly learned of a weakness in Smaug's armour, slew the dragon with the Black Arrow. The town was wrecked by the dragon who fell dead on it and sunk in the lake[4].

Thorin refused to share Smaug's treasure and declared war on both the Lake-men and the Elves. The conflict eventually exploded because they heard news of approaching wargs and goblins. This became the Battle of Five Armies.

The town was afterwards rebuilt using some of the treasure, 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.

By the time of the War of the Ring, Esgaroth was part of the kingdom of Dale under Bard I[5]


The town's prosperity was built on trade between the Men, Elves of Mirkwood and Dwarves of Erebor. It supplied food and drink to the Elves and the products of Erebor and Dale were funneled through it.[6]


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.


The name means, "…Reedlake, because of reed-banks in west". The root-word, esgar, means "reed-bed" in Ilkorin Elvish.[7]

Portrayal in adaptations

"...there is much else that may be told." — Glóin
This article or section is a stub. Please help Tolkien Gateway by expanding it.


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Fire and Water"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Inside Information"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "A Warm Welcome"
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Fire and Water"
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "Many Meetings"
  6. Robert Foster The Complete Guide to Middle-earth, pp. 131-2
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, "Part Three: The Etymologies", entry ESEK