Tolkien Gateway

Orcs of the Misty Mountains

Revision as of 00:45, 9 August 2018 by (Talk)
Orcs of the Misty Mountains
John Howe - The Great Goblin.jpg
John Howe - The Great Goblin
General Information
OriginsOrcs of Morgoth fleeing the destruction of the War of Wrath
LocationsGoblin-town, Moria, High Pass, Mount Gram, Gundabad; perhaps Angmar and Mirkwood
LanguagesOrcish dialects, Westron
MembersGreat Goblin, Azog, Bolg

The Orcs of the Misty Mountains were a tribe of Orcs settled in the tunnels of the mountains. Far from Sauron's main dominions in Dol Guldur and Mordor, they seemed to have acted independently, harassing the regions and peoples around them, and eventually occupying Moria.



Their origin, and when they settled those tunnels is not known. However, judging by their recognition and hatred of the Gondolin-forged blades Orcrist and Glamdring, it is likely that many of them were originally bred during the Elder Days, and are remnants of Morgoth's armies that fought in the Wars of Beleriand.

By the Second Age Orcs who survived the War of Wrath attacked and drove out the Dwarves from Gundabad.[1] Sauron must have taken at least some control over them when he settled in Mordor. Orcs of Mordor had come among them[source?], and under their command they ambushed and killed Isildur at the Disaster of the Gladden Fields in early Third Age.[2]

In T.A. 1300 the Orcs started increasing and harassing the Dwarves.[3]

The awakening of Durin's Bane, drove the Dwarves from their city. It also seems that some Dwarves either before or after the War of the Dwarves and Orcs, dwelt on the eastern side of the mountains near Goblin-town.

After the fall of Moria in T.A. 1981, Orcs of the Misty Mountains entered and occupied its ruins.[4] Around 2480 they Orcs begun to make secret strongholds in the Mountains so as to bar all the passes into Eriador[3]. In 2509, on a trip to Lórien to visit her parents, Celebrian was waylaid by Orcs in the Redhorn Pass. She was captured and tormented, receiving a poisoned wound until her sons rescued her.[3]

Around 2740 the Orcs became more bold, daring to invade Eriador. The Rangers of the North fought many battles with the sons of Elrond trying to hold them back, but one party managed to reach the Shire in 2747. They were fought off by a party of brave Hobbits under Bandobras Took, who killed their leader Golfimbul in the Battle of Greenfields.[5][6]

Mikel Janin - The Battle of Azanulbizar

Long afterwards, Moria became the seat of an Orc-chieftain named Azog who slew King Thrór of the Longbeards, beginning the War of the Dwarves and Orcs. In 2793 the Dwarves sought revenge, assailing and sacking one by one all the Orc-holds they could from sacking Mount Gundabad in the north, to the Gladden Fields in the south. Most of the war was fought underground, in the mines, halls, and other dwellings the Orcs had occupied or created. The war ended with the Battle of Azanulbizar where Azog himself was slain.[4] Causing thousands of Orcs to flee south through Rohan, who found refuge in the White Mountains, troubling the Rohirrim for two generations.

The Orcs of the Misty Mountains virtually disappeared as a threat for Eriador and Wilderland but the Dwarves were unable to reclaim Moria.

The Goblin-town had a main gate in one of the passes of the Mountains from which they assaulted travelers. As that way was eventually too dangerous and abandoned, travelers took the (seemingly safer) High Pass, so the goblins opened the Front Porch as an alternate means to snatch people.[7]

Quest for Erebor and beyond

Capucine Mazille - The Battle of Five Armies

After that, the Orcs lurked among the Misty Mountains, and in 2941, a group of them under the leadership of the Great Goblin, started planning a joint raid with the Wargs against the Woodmen to capture slaves.[7] When they discovered Thorin and Company, they thought they were spies of those woodmen and hunted them down, fearing they would warn their people. They escaped with Gandalf's help, killing the Great Goblin in the process.[8]

Furious, the Orcs gathered at Mount Gundabad under the command of Bolg to seek revenge and secure domination of the North. The goblins were about to sweep southward when they learned of the death of Smaug and marched by night through the mountains and appeared unexpectedly at Erebor, almost immediately after the arrival of Dáin Ironfoot, and participated the Battle of Five Armies.[9] It ended in defeat for the Orcs (three fourths of their entire population killed), and left the Misty Mountains free of them for many years afterwards.[10]

In 2989 Balin left the Lonely Mountain and entered Moria with other Dwarves to start a colony and restore Khazad-dûm. The Orcs later counter-attacked, and in 2994, the entire expeditionary force was besieged and destroyed.[3][11]

War of the Ring

By the time of the War of the Ring, the Orcs of the Mountains though permanently depleted, reclaimed Moria but fell under the command of Sauron and Saruman. The Orcs of Moria attacked the Fellowship of the Ring and had a major showdown in the Battle of the Chamber of Mazarbul.[11] Following them, a band of Orcs crossed the Nimrodel, but they were destroyed by a regiment of the Galadhrim.[12]

Some were amongst the party of Orcs that attacked and captured Merry and Pippin at Parth Galen.[13]

The Longbeards eventually succeeded in recapturing Moria, which suggests that the Orcs of the Misty Mountains diminished.


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "Of Dwarves and Men", p. 305
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Disaster of the Gladden Fields"
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age"
  4. 4.0 4.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "An Unexpected Party"
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Eriador, Arnor, and the Heirs of Isildur"
  7. 7.0 7.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Out of the Frying-Pan into the Fire"
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Over Hill and Under Hill"
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "The Clouds Burst"
  10. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "The Return Journey"
  11. 11.0 11.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Bridge of Khazad-dûm"
  12. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "Lothlórien"
  13. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "The Uruk-hai"