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The name Udûn refers to more than one character, item or concept. For a list of other meanings, see Udûn (disambiguation).
Roger Garland - Melkor chained.jpg
"Melkor chained" by Roger Garland
General Information
Other namesUdûn (S)
LocationIron Mountains; far north of Arda
DescriptionVast and very cold, with pits extending deep into the earth
People and History
InhabitantsMelkor and his servants
EventsSiege of Utumno
"The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udûn. Go back to the Shadow!"
Gandalf, The Bridge of Khazad-dûm

Utumno (in Quenya) or Udûn (in Sindarin) was a fortress of Melkor in the far north of Middle-earth. It was the first and greatest of Melkor's citadels, delved in the earliest days. It was the home to hosts of demons, the fallen Ainur who allied with Melkor, and numerous monsters of corruption were made in mockery of Middle-earth's naturally intended creatures and beings.[1]


[edit] History

Utumno was built by Melkor after his first expulsion from Arda. The Valar had by this time created the Two Lamps. Utumno was built under the Iron Mountains, where the light of Illuin and Ormal was dim and cold. Though the Valar did not yet know it, from this place, "the blight of his [Melkor's] hatred flowed out thence, and the Spring of Arda was marred."[2]

Melkor used Utumno as his base of operations from the Valian Year 3400 until Y.T. 1090, when the Valar assailed Melkor's fortress, which fell in Y.T. 1099.[3]:53[4]:74-5 From there he had destroyed the Two Lamps, so that the Powers left Almaren, their dwelling-place in Middle-earth, and removed into the West. He then began his corruption of Arda.[2] Utumno was also where the first captured Elves were taken and the creation of Orcs began as a mockery of the Firstborn.

Utumno was laid waste in Y.T. 1099, in the war that the Valar began against Melkor for the sake of the Elves. The Valar attacked Udûn in full force, and destroyed it utterly, carrying its master back to Valinor as their prisoner. Melkor was chained and dragged as a captive to Valinor.[1]

Melkor had established a second and lesser fortress at the western end of the Ered Engrin to act as the first line of defence for Utumno from Aman.[1] This became Angband, which was at first held by Sauron. After the destruction of Utumno, Melkor chose to rebuild and fortify Angband as his lair.

[edit] Etymology

The name Utumno (pron. [uˈtumno]), contains the stem Utumnu-. An older version of the name, Utumna, is said to derive from Tumna (Q: "low-lying, low, profound, deep").[5]:269, 271

The name Udûn is Sindarin, meaning "dark pit, Underworld"[6] or "hell"[7].

In the Annals of Aman, Tolkien wrote: "'Utupnŭ √TUP cover over; hide'" and "'that stronghold was ever after called Utumno the Deep-hidden.'" In Etymologies (V.394) with the stem TUB, the original form of the name is given as Utubnu.[3]

Udûn (pron. [ˈuduːːn]) was the less commonly used Sindarin name of Utumno. In The Lord of the Rings, this name appears just once, in Gandalf's words to Durin's Bane.[8]

It survived, though, as a name for the northern valley of Mordor that lay behind the Morannon. Undoubtedly, Sauron chose this name in memory of his ancient master's greatest stronghold.

[edit] Other versions of the legendarium

Tolkien was not entirely consistent with the location of Utumno, but it was always located within the northern Middle-earth, in or behind the Iron Mountains.

As noted from one of Tolkien's earlier sketch maps about Utumno from the Ambarkanta, Utumno was previously spelled as "Utumna" and was north of the Iron Mountains, towards the western end of the mountain chain.[9]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Coming of the Elves and the Captivity of Melkor"
  2. 2.0 2.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Beginning of Days"
  3. 3.0 3.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Morgoth's Ring, "Part Two. The Annals of Aman: First section of the Annals of Aman"
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Morgoth's Ring, "Part Two. The Annals of Aman: Second section of the Annals of Aman"
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Book of Lost Tales Part One, Appendix: Names in the Lost Tales – Part One
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Unfinished index for The Lord of the Rings", in Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, p. 297
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, "Index"
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Bridge of Khazad-dûm"
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Shaping of Middle-earth, "IV. The First 'Silmarillion' Map"