Elves of Nargothrond

From Tolkien Gateway
Elves of Nargothrond
"The host of Nargothrond" by Anke Eißmann
General Information
LocationsNargothrond, Minas Tirith, Barad Nimras
MembersFinrod, Orodreth, Finduilas, Guilin, Gwindor, Gelmir, Edrahil, Ornil

The Elves of Nargothrond were those who followed Finrod Felagund and dwelt under his rule in the underground citadel of Nargothrond on the banks of the River Narog.


For the most part of the late First Age, the Elves of Nargothrond remained hidden and isolated, waging a guerilla war against the forces of Morgoth, ambushing but never assaulting them directly in open warfare. Spies and scouts of Nargothrond guarded Talath Dirnen, the plains between Nargothrond and Doriath.[1]

The realm of Nargothrond extended westward to the Sea and the Elves were allied to the Falathrim. With their help they built ships and some of them explored the Isle of Balar, thinking to prepare it as a last refuge in time of need.[2]

Aid on the Fens by Henning Janssen

However they also participated in major events of the Age, as during Dagor Bragollach, when Finrod and his army came north to stop the onslaught. In that skirmish, they were ambushed at the Fen of Serech but a sortie by Barahir rescued them, and allowed them to retreat. Finrod pledged to Barahir for saving him. After the Battle, Sauron attacked Tol Sirion, and it was lost thereafter.[3]

In order to repay this pledge, Finrod and a company of ten Elves of Nargothrond participated also in the Quest for the Silmaril to assist Beren, Leaving Orodreth to rule in his place. These Elves were captured by Sauron in Tol-in-Gaurhoth, and were devoured one by one, including Finrod.[4]

A small army from Nargothrond also joined the Union of Maedhros in order to avenge losses of the previous battle, but Gwindor's premature assault led to the disastrous Nirnaeth Arnoediad.[5]


Sack of Nargothrond by Ted Nasmith

After that battle, most of Beleriand was under the power of Angband and there was a massive orc-buildup nearby. Túrin Turambar came to Nargothrond and gained influence among the Elves. Against the counsels of Ulmo, he persuaded the forces of Nargothrond to turn into open war against the Orcs. This led to the disastrous Battle of Tumhalad which all but exterminated the army of Nargothrond, and King Orodreth was killed. Glaurung the Worm led Orcs to the Sack of Nargothrond where all women were taken prisoners, and taken by the Crossings of Teiglin; the Haladin of Brethil came to their rescue in vain; the Orcs managed to kill all their captives.[6]

Little is known about the fate of any survivors or their descendants: some fled the slaughter, survived the subsequent Fell Winter and sought refuge to Doriath, bringing the tidings to King Thingol, and news of Túrin to Morwen, his mother who was staying there.[6] Other than that, Nargothrond and its people disappear from history as it remained deserted until the deluge of Beleriand in the War of Wrath,[7] but some members of the House of Finrod (cf. Gildor Inglorion) lingered in Middle-earth until the late Third Age.[8]

Other versions of the legendarium

In the earliest version of the legendarium in The Book of Lost Tales, the realm of Nargothrond had not been named by Tolkien, but the inhabitants were known as the Rothwarin, later changed to the Rodothlim. Their name meant "cavern-dwellers".[9] The leader of those Elves had always been Orodreth.[10]

In Eriol's Old English translations, Nargothrond is referred as Hlydingaburg, "City of the Hlydingas".[11]

While writing The Lay of Leithian, Tolkien used the term Nargothronders once in the preliminary summary of Canto X, but it was not used in the actual poem.[12]


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Children of Húrin, "Túrin among the Outlaws", p. 110
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of Beleriand and its Realms"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Ruin of Beleriand and the Fall of Fingolfin"
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of Beren and Lúthien"
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Fifth Battle: Nirnaeth Arnoediad"
  6. 6.0 6.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of Túrin Turambar"
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Voyage of Eärendil and the War of Wrath"
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "Three is Company"
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Book of Lost Tales Part Two, "Appendix: Names in the Lost Tales – Part II", p. 347
  10. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Book of Lost Tales Part Two, "II. Turambar and the Foalókë", p. 82
  11. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Shaping of Middle-earth, "III. The Quenta: Appendix 1: Fragments of a translation of The Quenta Noldorinwa into Old English, made by Ælfwine or Eriol; together with Old English equivalents of Elvish names"; the word contains hlyd ("loudness, noise"), probably referring to the river Narog.
  12. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lays of Beleriand, "III. The Lay of Leithian: Canto X (The attack by Celegorm and Curufin)", "Celegorm and Curufin in a revulsion of feeling the Nargothronders wish to slay them. Orodreth will not. They are exiled and all Fëanorians from Nargothrond for ever".