Tolkien Gateway


General information
Other namesKingdom of the North, the Lost Realm, the North-kingdom, the North-realm
LocationMost of Eriador
CapitalAnnúminas, later Fornost Erain
Major townsLond Daer, Tharbad, Bree, Hobbiton
RegionsArthedain, Cardolan, Rhudaur
Middle Men
Few Elves
LanguageWestron, Sindarin, Quenya, Hobbitish
GovernanceKing of Arnor/High King
Council of Arnor
Preceded byNúmenor
FoundedS.A. 3320
DividedT.A. 861
AbandonedT.A. 1974
Re-formedFo.A. 1
Followed byReunited Kingdom

Arnor, or the Northern Kingdom, was a kingdom of the Dúnedain in the land of Eriador in Middle-earth. It was the original seat of the High King of Arnor who ruled over both Arnor and Gondor.


[edit] Geography

Arnor included most of Eriador, extending from the gulf of Lune (west of which was Lindon) to the river Greyflood and its tributary, the river Loudwater (east of which was Rivendell).[1]

The Dunedain of Arnor dwelt in many places in Eriador, but most of the population centered around the region of Arthedain. The Dunedain mainly inhabited the cities of Fornost and the capital city of Annúminas, as well as along the Baranduin and the gulf of Lune. By the later Third Age, the settlements of the Dúnedain of Cardolan and Rhudaur had decayed and become ruins and barrows.[2]

[edit] Regions

[edit] Cities, Fortresses and Watchtowers

  • Annúminas, the old capital on the shore of Lake Evendim
  • Fornost, the new capital of the successor state of Arthedain
  • Bree, a trading centre located on the East Road
  • Lond Daer, an old harbour town founded by Númenóreans
  • Amon Sûl, also called Weathertop, a watchtower on the highest of the Weather Hills
  • Elostirion, an elven watchtower in the Tower Hills
  • Tharbad, a fortified town and port on each side of the River Greyflood on the southern border of Arnor

[edit] The Palantíri

The Palantíri or 'seeing stones' were spherical stones that could communicate with each other and give visual impressions to a skilled remote user. Elendil and his two sons originally divided these stones between themselves. They were usually heavily guarded and under the control of the kings. There were seven of these stones in total. The northern kingdom possessed three, and the southern kingdom held the other four.[2]:362 They were:

[edit] History

[edit] Early History

Before the foundation of Arnor, Eriador was home to Middle Men of Edain stock. As a result of the slow emigration that started under the Númenórean kings Tar-Meneldur and Tar-Aldarion, a sizable Númenórean formed. These early colonists soon interbred with the indigenous population of Eriador. The Faithful favored Eriador over the more southern regions (Gondor) because the Elves of Lindon under their high king Gil-galad lived very near across the river Lhûn.[2]:360 Conversely, the King's Men settled more to the south in the later days. Thus, Elendil arrived in an area populated by people who were mainly still Faithful and Elf-friends, where much of the knowledge of the Elder Days was preserved.

Steven White, Jr. - Palace Complex at Annúminas

Elendil and his people reached Eriador by sailing through the Gulf of Luneand up the Lune river. The High King of the Noldor Gil-galad and his people aided the fledgling realm. Gil-galad even built the Emyn Beraid for Elendil.[2] Elendil established the city of Annúminas as his capital. Elendil founded Arnor at the end of the Second Age (S.A. 3320), while his sons founded the southern realm of Gondor. Both kingdoms of the Númenóreans were known as the realms in Exile, and their history is intertwined.

[edit] War of the Last Alliance

Isildur in Peter Jackson's Fellowship of the Ring

At the end of the Second Age, Arnor allied itself with Noldorin High King Gil-galad in a great alliance opposing Sauron, the Last Alliance of Elves and Men. In conjunction with southern forces from Gondor, they confronted Sauron's armies in the War of the Last Alliance. This war was fought over a period of several years on the Dagorlad plain and in Mordor itself, at the Siege of Barad-dûr. Both Elendil and his son Anárion were slain in this conflict, but Isildur cut the One Ring from Sauron's finger and prevailed. Elrond, Gil-galad's herald, urged Isildur to cast it into Mount Doom and destroy it, but Isildur refused, and the Ring survived. Arnor suffered heavy casualties in the war, and some parts of the land were partially depopulated.[3]

Arnor's second king was Isildur (who was also King of Gondor). He was killed in T.A. 2 by Orcs in the disastrous Disaster of the Gladden Fields. His three eldest sons were killed with him, but the fourth and youngest, Valandil, who had remained at Rivendell due to his youth, became king of Arnor. Isildur also lost the One Ring at this time, when it slipped off his finger as he tried to escape pursuing Orcs. Arnor never fully recovered from the devastating loss of manpower it suffered in the war against Sauron.

Because Valandil and his heirs did not claim the throne of Gondor the realms were split, but Arnor's ruler kept the title High King, whereas in the south the ruler was 'just' King.

[edit] Decline and Breakup

Tengwar, Sindarin mode

Arnor's capital was Annúminas on Lake Evendim, but by T.A. 861 Fornost Erain had taken its place. No longer a site of such importance, Annúminas became depopulated and was slowly abandoned.

After the death of its tenth king, Eärendur, in T.A. 861, Arnor was shaken by civil war between his three sons. The eldest, Amlaith, claimed Kingship over all Arnor but was reduced to only ruling the region of Arthedain as his kingdom, while the other sons founded the breakaway kingdoms of Cardolan and Rhudaur.[4]

Arnor was refounded de jure by Arthedain's king Argeleb I, when Cardolan placed itself under the suzerainty of Arthedain. However, even Arthedain was eventually destroyed. The people of Arnor were mostly wiped out by the continuing wars, but the Hobbits survived in the Shire, Men survived in Bree and probably other villages, and the Dúnedain of Arnor created new homes in the Angle south of Rivendell, where some of them became known as the Rangers of the North.[5]

[edit] Conflict with Angmar

Eliot Gould - The Witch King
Arnor's greatest enemy in the north by the middle of the Third Age was Angmar, ruled by the Witch King of Angmar. During the reign of Malvegil (c. T.A. 1300), this new power arose beyond the Ettenmoors. This land became populated with the Orcs and men of Sauron, and began attacking Rhudaur and Cardolan. This Witch-king was later identified as in fact the chief of Sauron's Ringwraiths.

Years later, Argeleb I of Arthedain, reasserted control over Cardolan, and fortified a line along the Weather Hills. At this time the line of Isildur had failed in Cardolan and Rhudaur, and an evil Hillman had seized control of Rhudaur. The chieftain swore allegiance to Angmar, and together they attacked the newly fortified Weather Hills, killing Argeleb. His son Arveleg, however, counterattacked in conjunction with Cardolan and drove the enemy back. Arveleg successfully held the frontier along the Weather Hils in force for quite some years.

Weathertop from BFME2
Then in T.A. 1409, Angmar crossed the Hoarwell river into Cardolan and attacked again. This time, Weathertop was captured and Arveleg fell in battle. While Amon Sûl fell, the palantír was recovered and taken to Fornost. With Amon Sûl lost, Angmar had free reign over the all the lands of Cardolan, and the population was forced to hold out in the Barrow Downs. The Dunedain did not have the strength to drive away the forces of Angmar, so the elves of Lindon, Rivendell, and Lorien defeated the armies of Angmar.

[edit] The Great Plague

Another threat appeared to the northern successor kingdoms, this time one that swords and spears could not deter. A major plague began in the east, in the vicinity of the Sea of Rhûn, northeast of Mordor. After doing great damage in Rhovanion, it struck Osgiliath in Gondor in T.A. 1636, killing King Telemnar and his family. In seriously affected areas, the plague killed 50% or more of the populace. This plague, which barely affected western Gondor, spread northwards to Cardolan.

In Cardolan, it struck severely, wiping out the last of Dúnedain of Cardolan at the Barrow-downs. The Witch-king, exploiting the tragedy, sent evil spirits, the Barrow-wights, to infest the area. The Hobbits of the Shire were damaged by it, but not heavily. The plague lost its strength, however, at this point, so that most of Arthedain was unaffected.[6]

[edit] The Fall of Arthedain

In T.A. 1974, the final chapter in Arthedain's history began. The Witch-king attacked during the harsh winter weather. The capital of Fornost fell, and the remaining Arnorian forces were driven over the Lune river into Lindon. King Arvedui was compelled to flee to Forochel, and ask aid of the Snowmen there. His son, Aranarth, journeyed to Círdan at the Havens to inform him of Arthedain's fall. Círdan responded by sending a ship north to rescue Arvedui. When the Snowmen of Forochel saw the ship arrive, they were uncomfortable and nervous about the escape plan.[5] Their chief replied to Arvedui:

"Do not mount on this sea-monster! If they have them, let the seamen bring us food and other things that we need, and you may stay here till the Witch-king goes home. For in summer his power wanes; but now his breath is deadly, and his cold arm is long."
The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, p. 1018

It turned out that the Snowmen were right. A storm blew in that night and drove the ice towards the shore, and the ship was crushed and sank, with great loss of life, including King Arvedui. He unfortunately fulfilled Malbeth the Seer's prophecy about him at his birth that he would be the 'Last king' of Arthedain. So the North-kingdom ended, but the Hobbits survived in the Shire. They eventually chose a Thain from among themselves to replace the King, and the first of these was Bucca of the Marish, in T.A. 1979.

[edit] Showdown with Angmar

Envoys from Arthedain had journeyed to Gondor to ask assistance from the southern Dúnedain in fighting the Witch-king's forces. Gondor, however, was preoccupied with its own threats from the Easterlings, and so could not respond immediately. Gondor had been in a weakened condition since the death of King Ondoher and his two sons in the Battle of the Camp fighting the Easterlings in T.A. 1944. Arvedui of Arnor tried to claim the southern throne but this claim was rejected by Gondor. Eärnil, the victorious commander in the above battle and a member of the royal house, claimed the throne, and was confirmed by the Gondorian royal council.[6]

Amir Salehi - Servant of Death
King Arvedui sent increasingly urgent messages to Gondor about the crisis he faced from Angmar's continuing assaults. Eärnil II was unable to react quickly due to his need to order Gondor after succeeding to the throne, however. The king sent his son and heir Eärnur north to the Havens with a powerful fleet. Unfortunately, it was not in time to save Arthedain, and the northern kingdom perished. When Eärnur's naval forces landed in the Grey Havens, they dazzled both Men and Elves with their size and majesty. From these ships debarked the most powerful army seen in the north of Middle-earth in centuries. Círdan's people were quite impressed with the strength of Gondor's army, particularly its cavalry forces, dominated by riders from the Vales of Anduin. Círdan and Eärnur combined their forces, along with the remnant of Arnor's army, in the greatest joint Elf-Man army since the War of the Last Alliance; this great Host of the West re-crossed the River Lune and marched northward.[7] These allies drove relentlessly toward the Arnorian capital of Fornost, where the Witch-king had occupied the palace complex there.

[edit] Angmar is Vanquished

When the Witch-king saw the invading Host, he failed to take it for the serious threat that it in fact was. Instead of awaiting the invaders in the fortress city of Fornost, he confidently marched his forces out to meet them in the open. He expected to defeat them as easily as Arvedui's forces the previous year. But there was an appreciable difference this time-- the ground and naval might of Gondor. The allied Host continued to advance, and instead of establishing a merely defensive position, they attacked him from the Hills of Evendim, and a large battle broke out. The Witch-king's army could not stand before the allies, however, and began to retreat back towards their capital. Any hopes for an orderly withdrawal were in vain, however.

Gondorian cavalry forces, attacking from the north, routed the forces of Angmar, and put them to flight signalling an end to what became known as the Battle of Fornost. The Witch-king, in full flight, forsook his new conquests, and made for Angmar. But the cavalry under Eärnur continued the pursuit and rode down what remained of his forces. To add to his difficulties, an Elven force under Glorfindel also attacked from Rivendell, and completed his forces' destruction. At the last, the Witch-king charged Eärnur in frustration, but his horse shied away from the evil wraith. As Eärnur once again mastered his horse, Glorfindel uttered his famous prophecy:

"Do not pursue him! He will not return to this land. Far off yet is his doom, and not by the hand of man will he fall."
The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, p. 1027.

This prophecy would not be fulfilled until a thousand years later, at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields.

[edit] Chieftains of the Dúnedain

After the death of King Arvedui, his son, Aranarth, perceived that the northern Dúnedain had become too few to reestablish the realm of Arthedain. He took his dwindling people and turned them into wanderers who traveled from place to place in Eriador. Instead of calling himself a king or prince, he assumed the title Chieftain. Through them the royal line of Arnor was maintained successfully for a thousand years until the refounding of Arnor in Fo.A. 1. Aranarth brought his son Arahael to Rivendell and gave him to Elrond for safekeeping until he was grown. This became a tradition that was followed through the rest of the Third Age. Also brought to Elrond were the heirlooms of the House of Elendil: the Sceptre of Annúminas, the Ring of Barahir, the shards of Narsil, and the Star of Elendil.[5]

So the Dúnedain survived in the shadows, waiting for a better day when the kingdom of Arnor would be reborn. There were sixteen Chieftains in direct descent, with Aragorn Elessar being the last. There were many perils in Eriador in that time, and many of the Chieftains died premature deaths. One of these was Aragorn II's father, Arathorn II, who was slain by Orcs raiding the area.

[edit] War of the Ring

The Kingdom of Arnor had been fallen for a thousand years by the time the War of the Ring broke out, but northern forces did participate in the War. Aragorn II was a Dúnedain Ranger of the North, and there were several hundred of them operating during the conflict. A company of this group accompanied Aragorn through the Paths of the Dead and during the attack on Umbar which captured the Corsair fleet. They participated at the last battle, fighting under his banner, at the Battle of the Morannon, where Sauron was finally thrown down.

There was conflict in other areas of the North. There were three different invasions of Lothlórien, which were thrown back by the Elven army under Celeborn and Thranduil. Finally, Celeborn led an attack resulting in the capture of Dol Guldur and put an end to Sauron's northern threat.

There was also a battle fought in the Shire, between Saruman's Ruffians and Hobbit militia forces. This was the last battle fought in the War of the Ring, and resulted in the death of Saruman and the death or capture of his followers. This became known as the Battle of Bywater, and represents the Hobbit contribution to the War.[8]

[edit] Restoration and the Reunited Kingdom

Rowena Morrill - The Last Steward of Gondor
Faramir, son of Denethor II the last Ruling Steward, presented his rod of office to the new king, and received it back from him. Aragorn II then was crowned by Gandalf as King Elessar, refounded the Kingdom of Arnor as part of the Reunited Kingdom, and made Annúminas his new capital city.[9] He was wed to the Elven princess Arwen, who became Queen Evenstar of Arnor and Gondor. After the fall of Sauron Arnor was safe again for resettlement of Men, and although it remained less populated than Gondor to the south, in time Arnor became a more densely populated region again, even if it had dwindled in size due to the independence of the Shire. The area encompassed by the Reunited Kingdom now encompassed the territory of the Two Kingdoms at their greatest extent. In the North, this included all the land between the River Lune and the Misty Mountains, and in the South included all the land between Dunland in the west, to the Far Harad southwards, to Rhûn in the east. The reborn kingdom continued on into the Fourth Age, with Eldarion eventually succeeding his father to the throne of this now empire-sized state.

[edit] Languages

Many people in Arnor were of Númenórean stock. However, aside from the Exiles, most had long since mingled with non-Númenórean peoples; the predominant language spoken by them was Westron.[10] At least some of the population, especially the upper classes, were fluent in Sindarin, while Quenya was studied as a language of lore. Many early place names and the names of the royal house were Quenya, but by the 8th century of the Third Age, Quenya had given way to Sindarin.

[edit] Etymology

Arnor was the colloquial name for the North Kingdom. The North Kingdom, as the land was called at its conception, was also known as Turmen Follondiéva in Quenya and Arthor na Forlonnas in Sindarin. These names quickly fell out of use, in favour of Arnor: the Land of the King, so called for the kingship of Elendil, and to seal its precedence over the southern realm. In full, poetic Sindarin, it was called Arannor, which mirrored its Quenya name, Arandórë.[11] Though technically Arandórë would have a Sindarin form Ardor, Tolkien chose Arnor because it sounded better. This linguistic change was ascribed to a later, Mannish development of Sindarin.[12][13] The form Arnanórë is also seen.[12]

[edit] Portrayal in adaptations

2002: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (Extended Edition)

Peter Jackson's movies do not mention the long history of how Arnor and Gondor diverged, nor do they mention Arnor by name. The one passing reference to it is in a scene from the Extended Edition, when Aragorn reveals to Éowyn that he is actually eighty-seven years old. She realises that he must be one of the Dúnedain, a descendant of Númenor blessed with long life, but says that she thought his race had passed into legend. Aragorn acknowledges that he is one of the Dúnedain, and explains that there are not many of his people left, because "the Northern kingdom was destroyed long ago".

[edit] See also


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Eriador, Arnor, and the Heirs of Isildur"
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age"
  3. The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, p. 1018.
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age"
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2
  6. 6.0 6.1 The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, p. 1023.
  7. The Lord of the Rings, p. 1026.
  8. The Lord of the Rings, The Scouring of the Shire, pp. 992-996.
  9. The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, p. 1019.
  10. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix F
  11. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Words, Phrases and Passages in Various Tongues in The Lord of the Rings", in Parma Eldalamberon XVII (edited by Christopher Gilson), p. 28
  12. 12.0 12.1 J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 347, (dated 17 December 1972)
  13. Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, p. 17