Sea of Núrnen
It was referred to as a bitter sea and held dark sad water, but the area around it was fertile enough to support great fields that were cultivated by slaves. An old meaning of sad is dark-coloured, in particular an unpleasant colour. Bitter is perhaps by analogy with sad or in the sense of unpalatable, referring to poisonous water from the rivers.
Núrnen is Sindarin for "sad-water" or "dead water". Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull, and Paul Strack suggest that it is a compound of Nurn (the name of the region in which the inland sea is located) and nen ("water"). Tolkien also noted the related Sindarin word guru ("death").
In The Atlas of Middle-earth, Karen Wynn Fonstad assumed that the Sea of Rhûn and Sea of Núrnen were the remnants of the inland Sea of Helcar. The atlas was however published before The Peoples of Middle-earth, where it was revealed that the Sea of Rhûn existed already in the First Age, as an apparently different body of water than the Sea of Helcar.
Portrayal in adaptations
- Queen Marwen is the queen of from the Tribesmen of Núrnen and rules over the Sea of Núrnen.
- In the second episode, when Bronwyn tries to warn the Southlanders of Tirharad in Waldreg's tavern of the ruin of Hordern, Waldreg notes that Crookfinger Lake has always been spewing vapors, possibly referring to Lake Núrnen as it is the only and the most well known body of water nearby. The dark and damp forested lake that Arondir was suddenly seized from may possibly be a sub lake of Crookfinger Lake.
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "The Black Gate is Closed", p. 636
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Land of Shadow", p. 923
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Steward and the King", p. 968
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, "The West of Middle-earth at the End of the Third Age" [map]
- Robert Foster, The Complete Guide to Middle-earth, entry "Nurnen"
- Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, p. 457
- 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, p. 457
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, Index, entry Núrnen
- 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. 87, entry Nûrnen
- Paul Strack, "S. Núrnen loc.", eldamo.org (accessed 19 February 2022)