Helm's Deep

From Tolkien Gateway
The name Helm's Deep refers to more than one character, item or concept. For a list of other meanings, see Helm's Deep (disambiguation).
Helm's Deep
Valley
"Helm's Deep and the Hornburg" by J.R.R. Tolkien
General Information
LocationNorthern side of White Mountains
TypeValley
RegionsWestfold of Rohan
People and History
InhabitantsGondorians, later Rohirrim
EventsBattle of Helm's Deep

Helm’s Deep was a deep gorge[1] below the Thrihyrne near the end of the northernmost arm of the White Mountains[2] on the far side of the Westfold Vale[3], which was named after Helm[4], the ninth King of Rohan[5].

Geography and description

The deep gorge was located below the Thrihyrne at the head[2] of the Westfold Vale[3]. Caves,[6][7][8] such as the Glittering Caves[9] were located in the cliff walls of the gorge. The lower entrance of the gorge, Helm's Gate,[10] was fortified by the Deeping Wall and the Hornburg[3]. A quarter of a mile below Helm's Dike, a high rampart made from earth behind a trench ran across the Deeping-coomb from one side of the valley to the other side.[6] The Deeping-stream flowed through the gorge through a culvert at the base of the Deeping Wall, turned to flow along the feet of the Hornburg down to Helm's Dike[3] where it flowed through a wide breach in the rampart[6] down the Deeping-coomb and into the Westfold Vale[3].

History

In the long distant days of the glory of Gondor,[3] at the height of their power,[11] the Númenórean sea-kings of Gondor built a fortress at the entrance to the gorge,[3] which they called the fortress of Aglarond[12], which means "Glittering Caves"[13] in Sindarin[14]. As a consequence, it is probable that Men from Gondor had already explored the gorge and its caves and named the fortress after the Glittering Caves.

When Steward Cirion of Gondor granted the province of Calenardhon to King Eorl of the Éothéod (later referred to as the Rohirrim after they had helped Gondor in the war against the Balchoth,[15] the fortress of Aglarond was repaired with the help of stonemasons from Gondor and handed over to the Rohirrim and the old hereditary guards of the fortress were transferred to the fortress of Angrenost, which remained under the control of Gondor.[12] The Rohirrim called the fortress the Súthburg and the caves Glǽmscrafu in their own language.[16]

During the war against the Dunlendings and Wulf's usurpation of Rohan, Helm Hammerhand took refuge in the keep, where they held out under siege during the Long Winter of T.A. 27582759.[5] After Helm’s death, the gorge was called Helm's Deep[5] and the fortification was called the Hornburg[16].

At the time of the War of the Ring, Helm’s Deep became the refuge of some of the Rohirrim under King Théoden. The keep fell under siege and was breached by Saruman's Uruk-hai, and subsequently the Battle of the Hornburg was fought.[17] After the battle, someone, probably the Huorns,[18] laid the slain Uruk-hai in a mound known after as the Death Down.[19] The Dunlendings allied with Saruman were buried more honourably in a separate mound below the Dike.[20]

Etymology

The element Helm in the name Helm's Deep refers to Helm,[21] the King of Rohan who sought refuge in the Hornburg when his realm was invaded by the Dunlendings.[5]

Portrayal in adaptations

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers by Peter Jackson

The keep was filmed at Dry Creek, an active quarry in the Wellington region of New Zealand’s North Island.[22]

References

  1. 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, entry Helm's Deep, p. 413
  2. 2.0 2.1 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, entry Thrihyrne, p. 412
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "Helm's Deep", p. 528
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The House of Eorl", entry for King Helm Hammerhand, p. 1066
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The House of Eorl", "The Kings of the Mark", entry 9. Helm Hammerhand, p. 1068
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "Helm's Deep", p. 530
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "Helm's Deep", pp. 535, 537-38, 542
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "The Road to Isengard", p. 546
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "The Road to Isengard", p. 547
  10. 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, entry Helm's Gate, p. 414
  11. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age"
  12. 12.0 12.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Battles of the Fords of Isen", "Appendix (ii)"
  13. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "The Road to Isengard", p. 548
  14. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Nomenclature of The Lord of the Rings" in Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, note on Aglarond removed by Tolkien from the final Nomenclature, pp. 421 and 751
  15. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion", "The Stewards", entry for Steward Cirion, p. 1053
  16. 16.0 16.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Battles of the Fords of Isen", "Appendix (ii)", footnote relating to Aglarond
  17. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "Helm's Deep"
  18. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Passing of the Grey Company", p. 777
  19. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "The Road to Isengard", p. 553
  20. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "The Road to Isengard", p. 545
  21. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Nomenclature of The Lord of the Rings" in Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, Helm's Deep, Helm's Dike, Helm's Gate, entry, p. 772
  22. Shaw-Williams, H, "The Truly Epic Story Of How The Battle Of Helm's Deep Was Filmed", https://www.slashfilm.com/ (accessed 22 December 2024)