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"Map of Wilderland" by J.R.R. Tolkien
General Information
Other namesWilderland
LocationNorth-east Middle-earth
DescriptionLarge, inhabited region focussed around Mirkwood
RegionsEastern Eriador, Iron Hills, Lothlórien, Mirkwood, Vales of Anduin
Major settlementsCaras Galadhon, Dáin's Halls, Dale, Dol Guldur, Elvenking's Halls, Erebor, Framsburg, Lake-town
People and History
InhabitantsDurin's Folk, Elves, Hobbits, Northmen, Orcs, Eagles, Dragons
EventsDisaster of the Gladden Fields
The Great Plague
War of the Dwarves and Dragons
Sack of Erebor
War of the Dwarves and Orcs
The Fell Winter
Battle of Five Armies
Fall of Dol Guldur
Battle of Dale
GalleryImages of Rhovanion

Rhovanion or Wilderland was the name of the lands on the east side of the Misty Mountains, but was often used to include the wild lands on the west side, Eastern Eriador.[1] The Great River Anduin flowed through it, and the immense forest of Greenwood the Great was a part of it.[2][3]

Many wild horses and wild kine roamed the plains of Rhovanion.[4]


The boundaries of Rhovanion were probably:

Important rivers were the Anduin or Great River and the Celduin or River Running.[6]

Major features were the forest of Mirkwood, and the Long Lake of Esgaroth.[3]


First Age

After they had awakened in Cuiviénen in the far east of Middle-earth, some Elves passed through Rhovanion during their Great Journey to the west of Middle-earth. In Y.T. 1115[11] the Elves travelled through Greenwood the Great and reached the river Anduin. The Teleri stayed on the eastern side of the river for a long time and were afraid of the Misty Mountains. The Vanyar and the Noldor crossed the river and travelled over passes of the Misty Mountains with help from Oromë. A numerous part of the Teleri under the leadership of Lenwë abandoned] the march to the west, went away south down the river and became known as the Nandor. The rest of the Teleri continued their march to the west and passed over the Misty Mountains.[12]

After the awakening of the Elves the ancestors of the Longbeard Dwarves awoke at Mount Gundabad at the northern end of the Misty Mountains. They expanded east to the Iron Hills where they mined for iron-ore and southwards down the Vales of Anduin where they founded their chief underground city Moria further south in the Misty Mountains. They also considered the Grey Mountains and the east vales of the Misty Mountains as their territory.[13]

After they had awakened in Hildórien in the far east of Middle-earth, some groups of Men travelled through Rhovanion on their way to the west of Middle-earth until they reached Greenwood the Great and then split into different groups. Some of them passed between the northern edge of Greenwood the Great and the Grey Mountains. Others passed south of the southern edge of Greenwood the Great until they reached the river Anduin and then migrated to the north up the Vales of Anduin. Only a small part of them moved on to Eriador and Beleriand. Most of those Men that remained in the north of Rhovanion were related to the House of Hador and became known as the Northmen. They were skilled riders and mostly lived in scattered farms, villages and small townships, which were fortified by wooden fences and dikes at best. The Longbeard Dwarves soon started to trade tools, weapons, arms and other items that required a lot of skill or were costly was well and their services as builders, miners and roadmakers in exchange for food produced by Men as farmers and herdsmen.[13]

The Orcs stopped harassing the region when most were concentrated to the War of the Jewels in Beleriand, and Rhovanion existed in relative peace;[13] it was not otherwise mentioned until the Second Age.

Second Age

After the destruction of Angband in the War of Wrath, large well-armed hordes of Orcs fled to the east in search of new homes and attacked the Longbeard Dwarves. Initially the Men of Rhovanion were only lightly armed, primarily with bows, because they had little metal and only had few unskilled smiths. Early in the Second Age, the Longbeard Dwarves who were outnumbered by the Orcs formed an alliance with the Men of Rhovanion and provided them with arms and armour made from metal in exchange for the aid in the fight against the Orcs. The Men of Rhovanion acted as mounted scouts that kept watch for the movements of Orcs. Whenever they discovered groups of Orcs they gathered a large troop of mounted archers, surrounded them and destroyed them.[13] For many lives of Men the territory of the Longbeards included the east side of the Misty Mountains to the edge of Lothlórien, the Grey Mountains, the Lonely Mountain and the Iron Hills. Then Men of Rhovanion lived adjacent to them all the way to the south to the Old Forest Road that led through Greenwood the Great to the Iron Hills.[14]

Rhovanion played host to two Silvan Elf kingdoms ruled by Sindarin lords: Northern Greenwood and Lórinand (or Lórien).

The great battlefield (or Dagorlad) of the War of the Last Alliance against the host of Sauron lay in the south of Rhovanion, and in the Gladden Fields of the Great River the High King of Gondor and Arnor, Isildur, son of Elendil, was killed.

Third Age

Sometime around T.A. 1050, due to the darkness around Dol Guldur, the Harfoots left the Vales of Anduin westwards, beginning the Wandering Days. The Fallohides would follow, but the Stoors remained until T.A. 1150. Some Stoors would continue to dwell in the vales of the Anduin until at least the late Third Age.

In the mid-13th century there were many northern princes, the most prominent of them being Vidugavia, who ruled between Mirkwood and the River Running, although he called himself "King of Rhovanion"[15] About this time Regent Minalcar of Gondor led a great expedition into Rhovanion in T.A. 1248 and utterly defeated the Easterlings, with substantial help from the Northmen and from Vidugavia in particular. Vidugavia became Gondor's strong ally.[15]

In T.A. 1248, Rómendacil II, who as Minalcar served as Regent to his uncle of Atanatar II of Gondor, destroyed all camps of the Easterlings even beyond the Sea of Rhûn, and a strong alliance with Rhovanion was forged. The King of Rhovanion at this time was Vidugavia - ruling the lands between Mirkwood and the River Running[15] - and Prince Valacar of Gondor served in his army and integrated with their culture. Vidugavia's daughter Vidumavi married Valacar, and their son Vinitharya became King Eldacar in 1432, which led to the Kin-strife in 1437. Eldacar fled to Rhovanion, and with a Rhovanion army, he reclaimed his Kingdom in 1447.

In T.A. 1636, the Great Plague devastated Rhovanion, killing more than half its people. This left Rhovanion weakened, and in 1851 the Wainriders overran and enslaved Rhovanion. For 43 years Rhovanion was enslaved, but in 1899 Rhovanion revolted, while Gondor attacked the Wainriders from the west. Rhovanion was freed but left extremely weakened. Many Men of Rhovanion left for Gondor, where they were welcomed as distant relatives.

In T.A. 1851, the Battle of the Plains was fought by Gondor and the Northmen against the Wainriders; King Narmacil II of Gondor and the Northman Marhari (a descendant of Vidugavia)[16] were both killed in this battle.[note 1] Refugees from this defeat were reorganized as the Éothéod on the other side of Mirkwood in the lower Vales of Anduin, under the leadership of Marhwini, son of Marhari.[16] Many of the Northmen remained in their old lands as a subject people of the Wainriders. Others fled north, with some mingling with the people of Dale.[16]

Later history

In the later Third Age, in the north lay the Dwarven kingdoms of Erebor and the Dwarf halls in the Ered Mithrin, the kingdom of Dale, and in the north of the great river Anduin lay the realm of the Éothéod. In the north of Greenwood lived the Silvan Elves ruled by Thranduil, and in the south of Greenwood and across the river in Lórinand ruled Amdír and later Amroth. In the far south, near the great falls of Sarn Gebir, watched the northern guard of Gondor, and in the valleys of the Anduin lived Stoors.

In around T.A. 2460, Sauron returned as the Necromancer he took residence at Dol Guldur in the south of Greenwood. And Greenwood became evil and was renamed Mirkwood. The Dwarves of Erebor and the Men of Dale were destroyed and scattered when the Dragon Smaug took Erebor, and Gondor retreated from the Falls. Some Men still lived along the forest, notably the Beornings and the Men of Esgaroth upon the Long Lake. The Men of Éothéod removed south at the invite of Gondor and settled the plains of Calenardhon, later Rohan. After being driven out of Erebor the Dwarves relocated, some went to the Iron Hills, but most went to the Ered Luin in Eriador.

At the end of the Third Age, the Kingdoms of Erebor and Dale were restored as a result of the death of Smaug and the Battle of Five Armies, and Sauron was removed from Mirkwood by the wizard Gandalf. During the War of the Ring, it held off an invasion by Sauron's forces, and after Sauron was defeated Mirkwood was clean again, and renamed Eryn Lasgalen, or "Wood of Greenleaves". Some time during the Fourth Age, the Reunited Kingdom claimed large parts of it.[15]


Rhovanion is Sindarin for "Wilderland", consisting of rhovan ("wild")[17] and the ending for names of regions -ion.[18]

Wilderland is the translation of Rhovanion into the Common Speech,[17] which was also used by Hobbits.[1] Tolkien made Wilderland based on Old English wilderness (a region inhabited by wild creatures, but not by Men)[17] with a side-reference to the verbs wilder, "wander astray" and bewilder.[2]


  1. The Lords of the Eotheod claimed descent from the '...kings of Rhovanion, whose realm lay beyond Mirkwood before the invasions of the Wainriders...' according to Appendix A to 'The Lord of the Rings'.


  1. 1.0 1.1 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 Wilderland, p. 14
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 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, entry Wilderland, p. 779
  3. 3.0 3.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Map of Wilderland"
  4. Daniel Helen, "Tolkien’s annotated map of Middle-earth transcribed" dated 10 November 2015, The Tolkien Society (accessed 5 August 2018)
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion", entry for king Narmacil I, "between Rhovanion and the Inland Sea"
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, "The West of Middle-earth at the End of the Third Age" [map], the region to the east has the label Rhûn, the region to the north has the label Forodwaith and the region to the south of the Ered Lithui has the label Mordor
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Great River", p. 381 "Ere long we shall come to the mouth of the Limlight that runs down from Fangorn to join the Great River. That is the north boundary of Rohan"
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Great River", p. 385 "the Emyn Muil, the southern march of Wilderland"
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Great River", p. 393 paddling on Nen Hithoel "Wilderland was behind them"
  10. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Council of Elrond", "the whole length of Wilderland, down even to the Mountains of Shadow and the fences of Mordor
  11. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Morgoth's Ring, "Part Two. The Annals of Aman": §60-2
  12. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Coming of the Elves and the Captivity of Melkor"
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "X. Of Dwarves and Men", "Relations of the Longbeard Dwarves and Men", pp. 302-303
  14. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "X. Of Dwarves and Men", "Notes", note 30
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion"
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan", "(i) The Northmen and the Wainriders"
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 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), p. 78, entry "Rhovanion"
  18. 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), p. 42, entry "Eregion"; and p. 37, entry "Azanul-bizar"
Route of Thorin and Company
Bag End · Green Dragon · The Shire · Lone-lands · Last Bridge · Trollshaws · Trolls' cave · Rivendell · High Pass · Front Porch · Goblin-town · Goblin-gate · Eagle's Eyrie · Carrock · Beorn's Hall · Wilderland · Forest Gate · Elf-path · Mirkwood · Elvenking's Halls · Forest River · Lake-town · Long Lake · River Running · Desolation of the Dragon · Ravenhill · Back Door · Lonely Mountain · Great Hall of Thráin