Orfalch Echor

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The First Gate by Alarie

The Orfalch Echor was the great ravine through the Dry River of the Encircling Mountains by which Gondolin was approached.

History[edit | edit source]

The Orfalch Echor was the route that Elemmakil led Tuor and Voronwë through to meet Ecthelion of the Fountain. At its lower end was the First Gate, the Gate of Wood. The Orfalch continued through the remainder of the Seven Gates of Gondolin, reaching the Seventh Gate, the Gate of Steel. At the upper end was a high sward that offered a view of Tumladen and the city in its center.[1][2]

During Húrin's wanderings, he came upon the Orfalch Echor, only to find the old Way of Escape buried underneath "a great fall of stones beneath a sheer rock-wall".[3]

Etymology[edit | edit source]

The name Orfalch Echor is suggested by Paul Strack to be a combination of Noldorin or ("above"), falch ("cleft"), and echor ("outer circle"), perhaps meaning "High Cleft of the Outer Circle".[4]

Other versions of the legendarium[edit | edit source]

In The Book of Lost Tales, the Way of Escape was the main entrance to Gondolin, and it was not a natural ravine, but was instead built by the Gondothlim to be used by those Noldoli who escaped from Melko[5]:163 and as a way of escape in case the city was attacked, as it eventually was. Because of Meglin's treason, Melko was aware of this pass, so many survivors were killed there by a monster while trying to escape quickly in spite of Idril's warnings.[5]:189

This way is also known as Bad Uthwen in Gnomish and Uswevandë in Qenya.[5]:336


Realm of Gondolin
Ondolindë · Hidden City · City of Seven Names
Outside locations Amon Gwared · Anghabar · Echoriad (Crissaegrim · Eithel Nínui · Fingolfin's cairn) · Seven Gates of Gondolin (Gate of Wood · Gate of Stone · Gate of Bronze · Gate of Writhen Iron · Gate of Silver · Gate of Gold · Gate of Steel) · Orfalch Echor · Tumladen
Inside locations Alley of Roses · Arch of Inwë · Caragdûr · Fountains of the South · Gar Ainion · Great Market · Lesser Market · Idril's secret way · Place of the Fountain · Place of the Well · Road of Arches · Road of Pomps · Tower of the King · Way of Running Waters
Objects Anguirel · Axe of Tuor · Crown of the Hidden Kingdom · Elfstone · Glamdring · Glingal and Belthil · Orcrist · Sting
Houses House of the King · House of the Wing · House of the Mole · House of the Swallow · House of the Heavenly Arch · House of the Pillar · House of the Tower of Snow · House of the Tree · House of the Golden Flower · House of the Fountain · House of the Harp · House of the Hammer of Wrath
People Aranwë · Aredhel · Dark Guard · Duilin · Eärendil · Ecthelion · Egalmoth · Elemmakil · Elenwë · Enerdhil · Eöl · Exiles of Gondolin · Galdor · Glorfindel · Huor · Húrin · Hendor · Idril · Legolas · Maeglin · Meleth · Pengolodh · Penlod · Rog · Salgant · Tuor · Turgon · Ulmo · Voronwë · Warden of the Great Gate
Events Fall of Gondolin · Gates of Summer · Nirnaeth Arnoediad · Ulmo's warning · Wanderings of Húrin
Main texts Lost Tale of The Fall of Gondolin (1916-20) · The Lay of the Fall of Gondolin (c. 1920) · Of Tuor and his Coming to Gondolin (1950) · Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin (1977) · The Fall of Gondolin (2018)