|"Arda in the Third Age" by Quentin Lowagie|
|Other names||South Land|
The Dark Land was created as a by-product of the Battle of the Powers, in which the Valar overthrew Melkor in his original fortress of Utumno. Originally, Middle-earth was one landmass, set between the western sea of Belegaer and the East Sea. This changed during the War; the inland Sea of Ringil, originally set in the mid-south of Middle-earth, grew in size and "became a great sea flowing north-eastward and joining by straits both the Western and Eastern Seas." This event split Middle-earth into two landmasses, and the landmass to the south and east of the former Sea of Ringil[note 1] was known as the Dark Land.
Fans have suggested and discussed different theories of inspiration behind the Dark Land:
- the Dark Land as reminiscent of Lemuria.
- the Dark Land as perhaps representing a combination of both Australia and Antarctica (because of its geographic position).
Portrayal in adaptations
1982-97: Middle-earth Role Playing:
- Although never fleshed out in much detail, a "dark continent" called Mórenorë is said to be situated south of Middle-earth, separated by the sea of Haragaer. A few glimpses of this remote continent, however, were provided:
- A black cold-drake, Naikamil, fled from mountains in the south of Endor to Mórenorë after killing her mate.
- Ungoliant, a monster of the Elder Days, is said to have "settled in the shadowy reaches of Morenórë, the Dark Continent",[note 2] according to tales of the Avari Elves.
- Ninko Goldmaster, a merchant with a shady past appearing as a non-player character in an adventure setting owned shares in ships travelling to legendary Mórenorë.
- Confusingly, the former Sea of Ringil was also called the "East Sea" by Tolkien on one early map. See J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Shaping of Middle-earth, "V. The Ambarkanta: Map V".
- Inspired by a passage in The Silmarillion, which says that Ungoliant went "into the forgotten south of the world", after having dwelt at Nan Dungortheb (cf. "Of the Flight of the Noldor").
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Shaping of Middle-earth, "V. The Ambarkanta: Map V"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Shaping of Middle-earth, "V. The Ambarkanta: Of the Fashion of the World", pp. 293-294
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Shaping of Middle-earth, "V. The Ambarkanta: Commentary on the Ambarkanta", p. 305
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Shaping of Middle-earth, "V. The Ambarkanta: Map IV"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, "Part One: II. The Fall of Númenor, (iv) The further development of The Fall of Númenor", p. 32 ("If this region [the Empty Lands] ... is to be related to Ambarkanta Map V it must be what is there called the Burnt Land of the Sun; perhaps also the Dark Land[.]")
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, pp. 9, 108
- Christina Scull and Wayne G. Hammond (2006), The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide: II. Reader's Guide, p. 42
- Travis (?Henry), "Re: an objection! (354.18)" dated 8 May 2009, Elfling (accessed 23 September 2022)
- "Dark Land...a continent south of Middle Earth?" at The Lord of the Rings Fanatics Plaza Forum (accessed 20 October 2011)
- Peter C. Fenlon, Jr., Jessica M. Ney-Grimm, Terry K. Amthor (1993), Middle-earth Campaign Guide (#2003), pp. 7, 9
- Ruth Sochard Pitt, Jeff O'Hare, Peter C. Fenlon, Jr. (1994), Creatures of Middle-earth (2nd edition) (#2012), p. 102
- Peter C. Fenlon, Jr. (1993), Valar and Maiar (#2006), p. 117
- Peter C. Fenlon, Coleman Charlton, Jessica Ney, John Croudis, Keith Robley, Anders Blixt (1990), Gorgoroth (#3112), p. 117
- Michael Martinez, "Parma Endorion" dated 4 October 2001, Frodu.ru (accessed 16 March 2018)