Doors of Durin

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Doors of Durin
J.R.R. Tolkien - Doors of Durin
General Information
Other namesWest-gate, West-door of Moria, Elven Door
CreatedBetween S.A. 750 and 1500.[1]
GalleryImages of the Doors of Durin
"Annon edhellen, edro hi ammen."
(Gate of the Elves, open now for me)

The Doors of Durin, also known as the West-gate, the West-door of Moria, or Elven Door, were built into the Walls of Moria in the dark cliffs of the Silvertine, and formed the western entrance to the great Dwarven city of Khazad-dûm.


The main entrance to Khazad-dûm was the Great Gates in Dimrill Dale, east of the Misty Mountains. During the Second Age, it was decided to open a way to the west side of the Silvertine, which would facilitate contact and cooperation with the Elven realm of Hollin.[2]

The Doors of Durin by Anke Eißmann.

The Elven Door was constructed in cooperation between Dwarves and Elves, sometime between S.A. 750 and 1500.[1] It was the two greatest craftsmen of the Second Age, the Elf and Lord of Eregion, Celebrimbor, and the dwarf Narvi who built the Doors.[2] These were the days before the Dark Years of Sauron's dominion in Middle-earth, and the friendship between Elven and Dwarven kingdoms was a rare and special event. During this peaceful time the Doors stood open, allowing unfettered trade. But during the War of the Elves and Sauron (in S.A. 1697) the Doors were sealed shut after Hollin fell to Sauron's forces.[1]

When Khazad-dûm was abandoned in T.A. 1981[3] the way of opening the Doors was forgotten.

At some point between 2845 and 2950 the Wizard Gandalf entered the city looking for King Thráin II who had disappeared on journey to Erebor. After his search the Wizard exited through the Doors; however this experience did not help him know how to open the doors from the outside.[2]

In 2994, during the settling of Balin's Colony, they were attacked by an onslaught of orcs.[3] Óin led a group to the west side of the city hoping to find escape through the Doors of Durin, but instead he found the water up to the doors where the Watcher in the Water killed him. The Dwarves were trapped, and wiped out.[4]

In August 3018 Gollum took refuge in Moria; but when he had at last discovered the way to the Doors he could not get out.[5]

Password Into Moria by Ted Nasmith.

On 13 January 3019 the Fellowship of the Ring entered Moria through the Doors,[5] but initially Gandalf could not find out the password to open them. Merry Brandybuck unknowingly gave Gandalf the answer by asking, "What does it mean by speak, friend, and enter?" When Gandalf realized that the correct translation was "Say friend and enter" he sprang up, laughed, and said "Mellon", which means "friend" in Sindarin, and the Doors opened. Shortly thereafter, the Watcher in the Water attacked the Fellowship and shut the Doors behind them.[2] Afterwards Khazad-dûm was resettled by Dwarves; it is unknown if the Doors of Durin were ever repaired.


The Doors of Moria by Donato Giancola.

They were fashioned as flush doors, the jambs invisible to the eye, and matched so perfectly with the mountain rock that when closed the Doors could not be seen. The slabs were made by Narvi out of a grey material stronger than stone, and inlaid by Celebrimbor with ithildin, which could only be seen in starlight and moonlight.

When visible, the fine silver-like inlay showed a hammer and anvil (the emblems of Durin), a crown and Seven Stars (probably Durin's Crown), two trees surmounted by crescent moons (probably symbolizing the Tree of the High Elves), and a single star (the emblem of the House of Fëanor). On the top left and right corners there were the tengwar Calma (C) and Óre (N) standing for Celebrimbor and Narvi; between their feet was an Ando (D) for Durin.

The inscription on the archivolt read:

"Ennyn Durin Aran Moria. Pedo Mellon a Minno. Im Narvi hain echant. Celebrimbor o Eregion teithant i thiw hin."

As Gandalf first translated it to the other Walkers:

"The Doors of Durin, Lord of Moria. Speak, friend, and enter. I, Narvi, made them. Celebrimbor of Hollin drew these signs."

Actually, the inscription gave the password that would cause the Doors to swing open. Gandalf's translation is correct, but the proper translation of the second sentence, also correct, is "Say 'friend' and enter."[2]

From the inside the Doors could be opened by simply pushing against them, though it usually took the thrust of two to do so. When Moria was inhabited by the Dwarves they kept doorwards inside who would help open the Doors and see that only those with permission could pass.[6]

A possible inconsistency

The name Moria means "Black Chasm" in Sindarin and was said to have been given by the Elves "without love".[7] Some statements seem to imply that the name Moria for Khazad-dûm was only widely used after it fell to Durin's Bane,[8][9] although others suggest the name was merely given by the Elves as a result of their lack of love for underground dwellings.[7] The possibly derogatory nature of this name has led some to question why it appears on doors that were made in a time of friendship between Elves and Dwarves,[10] but Tolkien has never said that Dwarves find it derogatory and they use it at the end of the Third Age, even talking about its wonders.[11] For a more detailed discussion of potential explanations, see Mistakes and inconsistencies in Tolkien's works.

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Second Age"
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "A Journey in the Dark"
  3. 3.0 3.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age"
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Bridge of Khazad-dûm"
  5. 5.0 5.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Great Years"
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Hunt for the Ring", Note 12
  7. 7.0 7.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix F, "On Translation": "Moria is an Elvish name, and given without love; for the Eldar... were not dwellers in such places of choice"
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Sindar": "afterwards in the days of its darkness called Moria"
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Ring Goes South":"Khazad-dûm, the Dwarrowdelf, that is now called the Black Pit, Moria in the Elvish tongue."
  10. Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, pp. 281-2
  11. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Council of Elrond" "Glóin sighed. 'Moria! Moria! Wonder of the Northern world!'"