Warning beacons of Gondor
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The warning beacons of Gondor were an alarm system for the realm of Gondor.
“…The Lord of the City had beacons built on the tops of outlying hills along both borders of the great range, and maintained posts on these points where fresh horses were always in readiness to bear his errand-riders to Rohan in the North, or to Belfalas in the South.” — Gandalf to Pippin
The beacons were two series of permanently manned stations maintained by the lord of Minas Tirith for raising the alarm in northern and southern Gondor respectively. The stations were on the summits of foothills in the White Mountains (Ered Nimrais). The stations kept signal fires in readiness and stabled fresh horses for couriers.
We can only speculate on the positions of the southern posts, but based on the description of following foothills of the White Mountains, and their spread of 20 to 30 miles, there may have been as many as ten beacons along the southern foothills, following a course west by southwest through Lebennin and passing through the hills north of Dor-en-Ernil, south of Ringló.
In the late Second Age and early Third Age, they mainly served to warn south Gondor of a danger for the northern province of Calenardhon, or vice versa, but after the Steward of Gondor Cirion granted Calenardhon to the Éothéod they were used mainly to warn the people in Anórien (the only part of Calenardhon Gondor kept in its realm) of danger.
The tomb of Elendil was hidden on the summit of Halifirien, westernmost of the beacon mountains.
Portrayal in adaptations
- One of the major changes made to the story is that when Gandalf and Pippin ride to Minas Tirith the beacons are not lit, since the despairing Denethor has decided not to ask for help. In the movie there is a beacon just above the city, and to summon the Rohirrim Gandalf asks Pippin to evade the guards and light it. Once he has done so, the film depicts the other beacons being lit one by one until the last is sighted by Aragorn who is in Edoras, and it is this (and not the Red Arrow, which is not mentioned in the film) which finally helps him to persuade Théoden to muster the Rohirrim to Gondor's aid.
- Another change is that in the movie there are thirteen beacons as opposed to the seven described in the book.[note 1]
2011: The Lord of the Rings Online:
- Halifirien was visible in the distance from the Rohirrim town of "Beaconwatch" in the Eastfold. The regions of Western, Central and Eastern Gondor together featured ten southern beacons running from Belfalas to Lossarnach. These were, from west to east: Amon Lontir, Nendath, Maegond, the Fallen Beacon, Eilendoth, Dol Brannor, Anglebed, Sirthanc, and Minlos. In addition, there appeared to be an unnamed, inaccessible beacon across the river from Pelargir.
- Also, the beacons were depicted as signal fires only (without stables), atop mountain peaks instead of foothills.