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Menegroth (S, pron. [meˈneɡroθ]), the 'Thousand Caves', was the city in the land of Doriath which was home to king Thingol of the Sindarin elves and queen Melian, one of the Maiar, during the First Age.



Melian urged Thingol to make an underground mansion to protect their people. In the third Age of the Chaining of Melkor, Thingol commissioned the Dwarves of Belegost to aid with the building of Menegroth. The city was built inside a rocky hill on the banks of Esgalduin, where the river turned to the west. He rewarded them with the priced pearl Nimphelos among other treasures.

It was there that Thingol was slain by the Dwarven craftsmen of Nogrod. After the death of its king, Dior, Thingol's grandson, became the leader of the survivors of the dwarven raid.

It was later sacked by the sons of Fëanor in the Sack of Doriath, in pursuit of the one of the Silmarils to have left Morgoth's iron crown prior to the War of Wrath.


Menegroth was a wholly undeground city accessed only through a stone bridge over Esgalduin. It was mentioned to be illuminated by torches and contain stone pillars in imitation of trees.

This description can be found in the Lay of Leithian:

…through corridors of carven dread
whose turns were lit by lanterns hung
or flames from torches that were flung
on dragons hewn in the cold stone
with jewelled eyes and teeth of bone.
Then sudden, deep beneath the earth
the silences with silver mirth
were shaken and the rocks were ringing,
the birds of Melian were singing;
and wide the ways of shadow spread
as into arched halls she led
Beren in wonder. There a light
like day immortal and like night
of stars unclouded, shone and gleamed.
A vault of topless trees it seemed,
whose trunks of carven stone there stood
like towers of an enchanted wood
in magic fast for ever bound,
bearing a roof whose branches wound
in endless tracery of green
lit by some leaf-imprisoned sheen
of moon and sun, and wrought of gems,
and each leaf hung on golden stems.
   Lo! there amid immortal flowers
the nightingales in shining bowers
sang o’er the head of Melian,
while water for ever dripped and ran
from fountains in the rocky floor.
There Thingol sat. His crown he wore
of green and silver, and round his chair
a host in gleaming armor fair…

Lay of Leithian, Canto IV, lines 981-1011

This description is remarkably similar to the description of Morgoth's stronghold of Angband (Canto XII, lines 3840-3903), suggesting that in a way that Menegroth was its direct opposite as the symbol of the forces of light.


The name means "Thousand Caves" and is analyzed as meneg "thousand" and groth "excavation"[1]

In the earlier Etymologies Tolkien explains the word as of Doriathrin language and gives the final element as Doriathrin roth.[2]


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels p.414
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, "Part Three: The Etymologies", p.384 entry ROD