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"Who told you, and who sent you?" — Gandalf
This article or section needs more/new/more-detailed sources to conform to a higher standard and to provide proof for claims made.
The name Moria refers to more than one character, item or concept. For a list of other meanings, see Moria (disambiguation).
The name The Mines of Moria refers to more than one character, item or concept. For a list of other meanings, see The Mines of Moria (disambiguation).
Alan Lee - The Eastern Arches.jpg
General information
Other namesKhazad-dûm (K), Casarrondo (Q), Hadhodrond (S), Phurunargian (W), Dwarrowdelf, The Black Chasm, The Black Pit, Mansion of the Khazâd
LocationMiddle of the Misty Mountains, beneath Celebdil, Caradhras and Fanuidhol
PopulationPrimarily Dwarves
LanguageKhuzdul, Sindarin, Westron
GovernanceKing of Khazad-dûm
Lord of Moria (T.A. 2989-2994)
FoundedBetween Y.T. 1050
and Y.T. 1300[1]
AbandonedT.A. 1981
Reclaimed by BalinT.A. 2989
Colony destroyedT.A. 2994
RefoundedAfter Fo.A. 171
Followed byLonely Mountain
GalleryImages of Moria
"Greatest of all the mansions of the Dwarves was Khazad-dûm, the Dwarrowdelf, Hadhodrond in the Elvish tongue, that was afterwards in the days of its darkness called Moria."
Quenta Silmarillion, "Of the Sindar"

Khazad-dûm, latterly known as Moria (The Black Chasm, The Black Pit), was the grandest and most famous of the mansions of the Dwarves. There, for many thousands of years, a thriving Dwarvish community created the greatest city ever known.

It lay in the central parts of the Misty Mountains, tunnelled and carved through the living rock of the mountains themselves. By the Second Age a traveller could pass through it from the west of the range to the east.

History[edit | edit source]

Elder Days[edit | edit source]

It was founded in very ancient days by Durin who awoke at Mount Gundabad in the Misty Mountains. He came upon the valley Azanulbizar beneath the mountains. He looked into a shimmering lake and saw a crown of stars reflected in its waters. He named that lake Kheled-zâram, the Mirrormere and it remained a revered place among Dwarves of all houses ever afterwards, and the Durin's Stone was erected on the location of that event.[2]

There, in the caves above, Durin and his people started the delving and building of the Great Gates of Khazad-dûm, and the First Hall leading to a bridge over a chasm. From there began the expansion, both to Levels above and to Deeps below, and mines expanding out from the inhabited areas of the city proper.

As the centuries passed, the realm of Durin became the greatest of all their mansions, and became famous even to the distant west; the Elves of Beleriand, heard its rumour from the Dwarves of the Blue Mountains on their borders.[1]

Durin the Deathless died before the end of the First Age, and was buried in a tomb in Khazad-dûm[3] and his descendants continued to rule.

Second Age[edit | edit source]

"After the end of the First Age the power and wealth of Khazad-dûm was much increased; for it was enriched by many people and much lore and craft..."
Appendix A
The Doors of Durin by Anke Eißmann

In c. S.A. 40, most of the Dwarves of the Blue Mountains began leaving en masse from their now ruined cities for Khazad-dûm. The city was enriched not just in numbers, but in the western Houses' skills in smithing, crafting and masonry. All these factors created a renaissance for Khazad-dûm, and brought its prosperity to its zenith.[4]

Khazad-dûm had expanded so much that it completely traversed the Mountains from east to west, ending to the western rocky cliffs at their base, the Walls of Moria.[5] Narvi with the Lord of Eregion, Celebrimbor, constructed the magical West-gate of Moria.[3]

The friendship of Khazad-dûm and Eregion came to a sudden end, however, in S.A. 1697. Sauron overran the country of the Elves. Durin's warriors withdrew from the Gates, and they shut them against Sauron, also secluding the kingdom off from the outside world.[6]

It was also during this time that the Orcs reinvaded the mountains and made war on the Dwarves, taking Mount Gundabad from the Kingdom of Durin.

Third Age[edit | edit source]

Demise[edit | edit source]

Most of its great wealth was based on the rare Mithril that was found in its mines, and as the centuries passed, the Dwarves mined deeper and deeper for the precious metal. In the year T.A. 1980, their deep digging unleashed a nameless terror, a Balrog from the Elder Days, that wreaked dreadful destruction, and in slaying the King, Durin VI, became known as Durin's Bane. In the following year, Durin's son, Náin I, was also lost, and the Dwarves fled their ancient home.

After millennia as one of the richest cities in Middle-earth, Khazad-dûm stood dark and empty, but for the brooding menace the Dwarves had released. In that time it was given a new name, Moria, the Black Pit.

The monster - a Balrog of Morgoth, as was later known - lurked alone in Moria for nearly five hundred years. After that time, around T.A. 2480 Orcs made secret strongholds in the Mountains and Sauron started to populate the old city of Khazad-dûm with his creatures.[6] Orcs from the North began to enter the abandoned city to raid its treasuries, and occupy it. They also began to worship the Balrog as their deity.[source?] Though the orcs' numbers were greatly reduced in the Battle of Nanduhirion, fought in the valley beneath Moria's East-gate in 2799, the Balrog could not be bested, and Khazad-dûm remained a place of darkness.

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.[5]

Balin's Colony[edit | edit source]

Battle for Moria by Joona Kujanen

In 2989, there was an attempt by the Longbeards to reclaim their ancient home. The expedition was led by Balin, who had accompanied Bilbo Baggins on the Quest of Erebor. He led a colony of Dwarves there from Erebor. The Colony was successful at first, killing a considerable number of Orcs, taking many of the Eastern halls and finding many lost treasures such as Durin's Axe. They were however defeated and slain by the Orcs in 2994.

At some point either before or after the colony, Aragorn, Chieftain of the Dúnedain, entered Moria for some unknown purpose.

The Fellowship's passage[edit | edit source]

When Frodo Baggins set out from Rivendell with the Fellowship, they at first planned to travel over the Misty Mountains. When they were stopped by heavy snow on Mount Caradhras, they found themselves pursued by wolves and Orcs, and fled into Moria, so as to go under the mountains. There, they found Balin's journal in the Book of Mazarbul and learned the fate of his expedition. They were then set upon by a host of Trolls and Orcs, and they discovered that the terror was, in fact, a Balrog of Morgoth. Gandalf fought the Balrog on a narrow bridge and succeeded in destroying a section of bridge to make the Balrog fall. As it fell, the Balrog snagged Gandalf's leg with its whip of thongs and pulled him after it, sending them both plunging into the abyss spanned by the bridge. The rest of the Fellowship managed to escape Moria and reach Lórien mostly unharmed.

Unknown to the Fellowship, both Gandalf and the Balrog survived the fall and fought a ferocious battle from the depths of Moria to the mountains above, demolishing the top of the legendary Endless Stair and a part of the surrounding mountain peak in the process. Gandalf cast down the Balrog upon the mountainside and lived just long enough to see it die, but his story was not yet ended.

While Gandalf had felled the Balrog, Moria remained a place of evil creatures until the Fourth Age.[7]

Later history[edit | edit source]

Though little information is given, the retaking of Khazad-dûm by Durin VII seems to have occurred sometime after Fo.A. 171.[note 1] As the King of Durin's Folk, he led a final return to the city. He was successful; the House of Durin reclaimed their inheritance and the hammers rang again in their great halls beneath the Misty Mountains until the race of Dwarves ended.[8]

Layout[edit | edit source]

Khazad-dûm was a huge array of chambers, passages, mines, halls, stores and pits. In general, areas were either classed as mines or city. The mines were working sections of Khazad-dûm whilst the city was the area of habitation.

The Bridge of Khazad-dum by Paul Monteagle

The city areas of Khazad-dûm were clustered primarily to the east; these were the oldest parts of the kingdom and had access to the Great Gates. They were structured into seven Levels and seven Deeps. The Levels stretched above the gate whilst the Deeps were set deeper within the mountain below the level of the East-gate. It is possible that the First Level (on which the Great Gates were set) and the First Deep were highly intertwined.

The eastern section of the city spaces had also been delved in such a manner as to have light shafts to illuminate their chambers. One example of this is the Chamber of Mazarbul which was located on the eastern edge of the Seventh Level.

The mine areas of Khazad-dûm were interlaced with the city spaces, but spread also westward toward the Doors of Durin. The mines ran deeper and further than any other tunnels within Khazad-dûm, and it is possible that more of the lower Deeps were given over to mining, although this is only conjecture.

The defined change between mines and city can be seen when the Fellowship pass through Moria - there is a marked difference between the early passages and chambers and those of the city structures illuminated by Gandalf.

Far below Moria, there are abysses, spaces and tunnels not known even by the Dwarves, but known by the Balrog. Nameless things gnaw the earth and make them, far from the knowledge of any lore.

Etymology[edit | edit source]

The name Moria is composed of the Sindarin elements mor "black, dark" and "void, abyss".[9][10] Khazad-dûm was so called in Sindarin by the Gwaith-i-Mírdain, "a name and given "without love"[11] as for them it was but a "Dark Chasm". For reasons unknown, Celebrimbor used it on the West-gate.[5]

Other names[edit | edit source]

The name Khazad-dûm in Khuzdul means "Dwarves' Mansion(s)". Khazâd being the plural of khuzd "Dwarves" while dûm (or possibly rather tûm) a word for "excavation(s), hall(s), mansion(s)" (it is not clear if the second word is in singular or plural form).

The Elves translated it as Casarrondo (Quenya, name given by the Noldor)[12] or Hadhodrond (Sindarin). The word Hadhodrond is composed of the elements hadhod (an attempt by the Elves to render Khazâd, the Dwarves' name for their own kind, into Elvish sounds) + rond ("cavern").[source?]

Phurunargian meaning "Dwarrowdelf" or "Dwarf-delving" was the Westron name for Khazad-dûm.[11][13] The word derives from the root PHUR ("to delve") and narg- ("dwarf").[13] Tolkien noted that the form Phurunargian was "archaic" Westron although he did not mention the elements that make it archaic (over a possible vernacular form).[14][11] The word "dwarrow(s)" is the "expected" Modern English reflex of the Old English "dweorgas" (dwarfs/ves) before syntactic leveling produced "dwarfs".

Portrayal in adaptations[edit | edit source]

Moria in adaptations
Map of Moria from The Lord of the Rings Online  

1978: The Lord of the Rings (1978 film):

Moria is portrayed prominently in the film.

2001: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring:

Moria is portrayed prominently in the Theatrical Edition, while Extended Edition gives it even more attention - notably, Mithril is introduced to the audience properly.

2002: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (video game):

During the Moria levels the player for the most part controls Gandalf, only once is focus switched to Frodo instead.

2004: The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth:

The entire journey through Moria takes place in one level, which can be completed in several minutes. The iconic location are portrayed immediately next to each other and in the end, Gandalf defeats the Balrog and continues journey with the Fellowship.

2008: The Lord of the Rings Online: Mines of Moria:

Mines of Moria was the first major expansion of the game, released in November 2008. Almost the entirety of Moria is present in the game, with players able to freely journey from the West Gate to the East Gate and from the Cliffs of Zirakzigil to the very Foundations of Stone where nameless things dwell.
Moria is divided into several major sub-areas, depicted on the map to the right. The Great Delving lies directly next to the West Gate and links ancient Dwarven mines to palaces, academies and foundries founded during Khazad-dum's glory days. Durin's Way is the area, where, according to legend, Durin himself first braved the mines before bringing his folk in there. Zelem-Melek is home to both numerous Orc encampments and the famed Twenty-first Hall. Silvertine Lodes refers to the mining area located directly under Silvertine, much like the Redhorn Lodes are the mining area under the peaks of Redhorn. The Water-Works hosts both a large underground lake and ancient Dwarven gears, wheels and devices that delivered the fresh water throughout the whole kingdom once. The Flaming Deeps is an area that reeks with fire and where few could survive for long - it appears that Durin's Bane resided there following his reawakening. Nud-Melek mostly consists of the Second Hall and the First Hall. The Foundations of Stone are located below the deepest delving of the Dwarves; no light has ever shined there and, as Gandalf recounted, nameless things older than the world gnaw at the roots of the mountains.
Surprisingly for those seeing it for the first time, Moria in The Lord of the Rings Online is very much inhabited. In an original storyline by Turbine, Dwarves from the Iron Hills sent by Dáin Ironfoot arrive in Moria shortly after the Fellowship to learn the fate of Balin's expedition. With Durin's Bane recently gone, the Orcs and Goblins of Moria are in great disarray, which allows the Dwarves to move in and establish encampments at all major crossroads. Fresh supplies are coming from both East and West gates, preventing the Iron Hill Garrison from being cut off like Balin was. Shortly after the defeat of Sauron at the end of the Third Age, the Iron Garrison was expelled from Moria by overwhelming numbers of orcs and evil creatures.

2009: The Lord of the Rings: Conquest:

Several levels of both good and evil campaigns take place in Moria.

2022: The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power:

Moria, under the name Khazad-dûm, is featured in the first season of the show, with Elrond travelling there in order to encourage the relationships between Elves and Dwarves.


  1. The mention of Durin's name as a prophecy in the Appendix A, and considering that the Appendix derives from the Red Book (copied Fo.A. 171), seems to suggest that he was probably born, or emerged, after that date.


  1. 1.0 1.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Sindar"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "Lothlórien"
  3. 3.0 3.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "Durin's Folk"
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Second Age"
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "A Journey in the Dark"
  6. 6.0 6.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age"
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Sauron Defeated, "Part One: The End of the Third Age: XI. The Epilogue: The second version", p. 122
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "IX. The Making of Appendix A": (iv) "Durin's Folk", p. 278
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Appendix: Elements in Quenya and Sindarin Names", entries mor and
  10. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 297, (dated August 1967), pp. 382-3
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix F, "On Translation"
  12. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, "Part Four. Quendi and Eldar: Appendix B. Elvish names for the Dwarves", p. 389
  13. 13.0 13.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, "Words, Phrases and Passages in Various Tongues in The Lord of the Rings", in Parma Eldalamberon XVII (edited by Christopher Gilson), pp. 35, 137
  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, p. 769
Route of the Fellowship of the Ring
Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas
Rivendell · Eregion · Caradhras · Moria · Lothlórien · Caras Galadhon · Anduin · Parth Galen · Amon Hen · Eastemnet · Fangorn Forest · Rohan · Edoras · Hornburg · Isengard · Dunharrow · Paths of the Dead · Gondor · Hill of Erech · Lamedon · Linhir · Lebennin · Pelargir · Minas Tirith · Osgiliath · Cross-roads · Ithilien · Dagorlad · Black Gate · Field of Cormallen · Cair Andros · Gondor · Minas Tirith · Anórien · Rohan · Edoras · Isengard
Rivendell · Eregion · Caradhras · Moria · Lothlórien · Caras Galadhon · Anduin · Parth Galen · Amon Hen
Frodo and Sam
Rivendell · Eregion · Caradhras · Moria · Lothlórien · Caras Galadhon · Anduin · Parth Galen · Amon Hen · Emyn Muil · Dead Marshes · Black Gate · Ithilien · Henneth Annûn · Cross-roads · Morgul Vale · Stairs of Cirith Ungol · Cirith Ungol · Shelob's Lair · Tower of Cirith Ungol · Mordor · Morgai · Plateau of Gorgoroth · Mount Doom · Field of Cormallen · Cair Andros · Gondor · Minas Tirith · Anórien · Rohan · Edoras · Isengard
Rivendell · Eregion · Caradhras · Moria · Celebdil† · Lothlórien · Fangorn Forest · Edoras · Hornburg · Isengard · Rohan · Anórien · Gondor · Minas Tirith · Osgiliath · Cross-roads · Ithilien · Dagorlad · Black Gate · Field of Cormallen · Cair Andros · Gondor · Minas Tirith · Anórien · Rohan · Edoras · Isengard
Rivendell · Eregion · Caradhras · Moria · Lothlórien · Caras Galadhon · Anduin · Parth Galen · Amon Hen · Emyn Muil · Eastemnet · Fangorn Forest · Wellinghall · Derndingle · Isengard · Hornburg · Dunharrow · Drúadan Forest · Gondor · Minas Tirith · Anórien · Rohan · Edoras · Isengard
Rivendell · Eregion · Caradhras · Moria · Lothlórien · Caras Galadhon · Anduin · Amon Hen · Parth Galen · Emyn Muil · Eastemnet · Fangorn Forest · Wellinghall · Derndingle · Isengard · Rohan · Anórien · Gondor · Minas Tirith · Osgiliath · Cross-roads · Ithilien · Dagorlad · Black Gate · Field of Cormallen · Gondor · Cair Andros · Minas Tirith · Anórien · Rohan · Edoras · Isengard
Kings of Durin's Folk
Durin I* (Y.T.) · Durin II* · Durin III* (fl. S.A. 1600) · Durin IV* · Durin V* · Durin VI* (until T.A. 1980) · Náin I* (1980 - 1981) · Thráin I (1981 - 2190) · Thorin I (2190 - 2289) · Glóin (2289 - 2385) · Óin (2385 - 2488) · Náin II (2488 - 2585) · Dáin I (2585 - 2589) · Thrór (2585 - 2790) · Thráin II (2790 - 2850) · Thorin II Oakenshield (2850 - 2941) · Dáin II Ironfoot (2941 - 3019) · Thorin III Stonehelm (T.A. 3019 - Fourth Age) · Durin VII (Fourth Age)*
* Kings of Khazad-dûm · Kings under the Mountain