Grey Mountains

From Tolkien Gateway
This article is about Ered Mithrin. For the ancient range before the First Age, see Grey Mountains (ancient).
This article is about a mountain range. For the MERP supplement, see The Grey Mountains.
Grey Mountains
Mountain range
"Ered Mithrin" by Matěj Čadil
General Information
Other namesEred Mithrin
LocationNorth-west of Erebor, north of Mirkwood
TypeMountain range
DescriptionA rich mountain range of many ores
People and History
InhabitantsDurin's Folk
EventsWar of the Dwarves and Dragons, slaying of Scatha the Worm
GalleryImages of the Grey Mountains

The Grey Mountains (or Ered Mithrin in Sindarin) was a large mountain range to the north of Rhovanion. Their western end connected to the Misty Mountains at the site of Mount Gundabad.


North of the Grey Mountains lay the Northern Waste.[1] In the west, where the Grey Mountains met with the Misty Mountains rose Mount Gundabad, an ancient Dwarven holy site and later the capital for the Orcs of the north. The eastern end of the Grey Mountains was split into two chains, and in between lay the Withered Heath, where Dragons bred. After that was a wide hilly plain, beyond which lay the Iron Hills. Erebor, the Lonely Mountain, lay south of the Grey Mountains.[1]

From east to west the mountains stretched some 350 miles, and the sources of the Great River Anduin, the river Greylin, and the Forest River of Mirkwood arose in this range.[1]


Early history

In the First Age, the Longbeards established mansions in Moria and the Iron Hills, and they considered the Grey Mountains, which lay between these mansions, to be within their territory. Some Men—mostly related to the House of Hador of Beleriand—settled between the Grey Mountains and Greenwood, and they allied with the Longbeards against Morgoth's Orcs.[2]:302-303 This alliance ended in the Second Age after Sauron destroyed Eregion, which prompted the Longbeards to seal Moria. During this time, Orcs took control of the Grey Mountains.[2]:305

Third Age

Durin's folk started to gather in the Grey Mountains in T.A. 1981 after a Balrog was awakened in their ancestral home of Khazad-dûm, which its people fled in fear. Another portion of Durin's folk lead by King Thráin I established the Kingdom under the Mountain founded the Kingdom under the Mountain in T.A. 1999[3] at Erebor.

Around T.A. 2000[4], Scatha, a mighty Long-worm of the Grey Mountains and one of the greatest Dragons to infest that range of the north, had plundered treasure from the Dwarves and kept it in his hoard. He was slain by Fram son of Frumgar in the early days of the Éothéod. His recovered hoard was the subject of great dispute between the Éothéod and the Dwarves of the Grey Mountains, who claimed the hoard as their own.[5]

During the Watchful Peace most of Durin's Folk were gathering to the Grey Mountains and in T.A. 2210 Thorin I abandoned Erebor and also joined the others.[6][3] Nearly six hundred years later, Dragons began afflicting the Dwarves. In 2589 Dáin I was slain by a Dragon and the Grey Mountain strongholds were abandoned after the Wars of the Dwarves and Dragons. About 2480 Orcs had begun to infest the Misty Mountains[7] and spread to the Grey Mountains, such that by 2941 Gandalf the Wizard could say that the range was "simply stiff with goblins, hobgoblins, and orcs of the worst description".[8] However, after the Battle of Five Armies the number of Orcs in the Grey Mountains were greatly reduced (some three parts of them had perished).[9]

There still was a remnant of the Dwarves in the Ered Mithrin after the core of the population left[3], but were probably few; working whatever mines they could hold from the Orcs and Dragons.

Other versions of the legendarium

Another line of "Grey Mountains" in Middle-earth are seen on the Ambarkanta map.[10]

Portrayal in adaptations

Map of Ered Mithrin inThe Lord of the Rings Online

2018: The Lord of the Rings Online:

Ered Mithrin is an area in "The Dwarf-holds" region. The area consists of the southern slopes of the mountains and the land north of Eryn Lasgalen, and is accessed by a road going through the Dale-lands west of Erebor. The Grey Mountains have been settled both by the Longbeards and by a house of Easterling dwarves known as the "Zhélruka". They are now inhabited by many lesser Dragon-kind as well as the true Dragons "Etterfang Foulmaw", Smaug's sister, and "Hrímil Frost-heart". Orcs and Trolls from Gundabad can also be found there.
The slopes and foothills of the Grey Mountains between Gundabad and the sources of the Anduin were introduced in a later update as the region of "Elderslade", site of a war between the Orcs of Gundabad and an army assembled by "Prince Durin", son of Thorin Stonehelm.