From Tolkien Gateway
General information
Other namesKingdom of the North, the Lost Realm, the North-kingdom, the Northern Kingdom, the North-realm
LocationMost of Eriador
CapitalAnnúminas, later Fornost Erain
Major townsLond Daer, Tharbad, Bree, Hobbiton
RegionsArthedain, Cardolan, Rhudaur
Middle Men
Few Elves
LanguageWestron, Sindarin, Quenya, Hobbitish
GovernanceKing of Arnor/High King
Council of Arnor
Preceded byNúmenor
FoundedS.A. 3320
DividedT.A. 861
AbandonedT.A. 1974
Re-formed1 May, T.A. 3019
Followed byReunited Kingdom
GalleryImages of Arnor

Arnor, or the Northern Kingdom, was a kingdom of the Dúnedain in the land of Eriador in Middle-earth. It was the original seat of the High King of Arnor who ruled over both Arnor and Gondor.


Arnor included most of Eriador, extending from the gulf of Lune (west of which was Lindon) to the river Greyflood and its tributary, the river Loudwater (east of which was Rivendell).[1]

The Dunedain of Arnor dwelt in many places in Eriador, but most of the population centered around the region of Arthedain. The Dunedain mainly inhabited the cities of Fornost and the capital city of Annúminas, as well as along the Baranduin and the gulf of Lune. By the later Third Age, the settlements of the Dúnedain of Cardolan and Rhudaur had decayed and become ruins and barrows.[2]


Sites of civilization

  • Annúminas, the old capital on the shore of Lake Evendim
  • Fornost, the new capital of the successor state of Arthedain
  • Bree, a trading centre located on the East Road
  • Lond Daer, an old harbour town founded by Númenóreans
  • Amon Sûl, also called Weathertop, a watchtower on the highest of the Weather Hills
  • Elostirion, an elven watchtower in the Tower Hills
  • Tharbad, a fortified town and port on each side of the River Greyflood on the southern border of Arnor


The Palantíri or 'seeing stones' were spherical stones that could communicate with each other and give visual impressions to a skilled remote user. Elendil and his two sons originally divided these stones between themselves. They were usually heavily guarded and under the control of the kings. There were seven of these stones in total. The northern kingdom possessed three, and the southern kingdom held the other four.[2]:362 They were:


Early history

Before the foundation of Arnor, Eriador was home to Middle Men of Edain stock. As a result of the slow emigration that started under the Númenórean kings Tar-Meneldur and Tar-Aldarion, a sizable population formed. These early colonists soon interbred with the indigenous population of Eriador. The Faithful favored Eriador over the more southern regions (Gondor) because the Elves of Lindon under their high king Gil-galad lived very near across the river Lhûn.[2]:360 Conversely, the King's Men settled more to the south in the later days. Thus, the area was populated by people who were mainly still Faithful and Elf-friends, where much of the knowledge of the Elder Days was preserved.

Palace Complex at Annúminas by Steven White, Jr.

During the Downfall of Númenor, Elendil and his people sailed through the Gulf of Lune and up the Lune river, and befriended the High King of the Noldor Gil-galad.[2] Both Elendil and his sons were welcomed by the Men who were in whole or part of Númenorean blood.[2][3] These Men of Eriador accepted the new kingdom of Elendil and helped to people and maintain the many places that the Northern Dúnedain built.[2] The Men of Bree also became subjects of Arnor.[3] Gil-galad and his people aided the fledgling realm; he even built the Emyn Beraid for Elendil.[2]

Elendil founded Arnor at the end of the Second Age (S.A. 3320), while his sons founded the southern realm of Gondor. Both kingdoms of the Númenóreans were known as the Realms in Exile, and their history is intertwined. Despite its precedence over it as the seat of the High King, Arnor was never as powerful and populous as Gondor.[4]

Elendil established the city of Annúminas as his capital. Besides the chief cities like Annúminas and Fornost, the Men of Arnor concentrated around the courses of the Lhûn and the Baranduin, the hills of Rhudaur, and built towers on Amon Sûl.[2]

War of the Last Alliance

Isildur in Peter Jackson's The Fellowship of the Ring

In S.A. 3430, Arnor joined forces with Gil-galad in a great alliance opposing Sauron, the Last Alliance of Elves and Men. When Elendil led his people against Sauron, the Dúnedain and the other Men of Eriador marched together to the South.[2] In conjunction with southern forces from Gondor, they confronted Sauron's armies in the War of the Last Alliance. This great war lasted several years, that reached Dagorlad and Mordor itself far in the south, culminating to the Siege of Barad-dûr. Both Elendil and his son Anárion were slain in this conflict, but Isildur cut the One Ring from Sauron's finger and prevailed.

Isildur (who was also King of Gondor) was the elder son of Elendil and would inherit the High Kingship and throne of Arnor. But he never reached his new realm: he was killed in T.A. 2 in the Disaster of the Gladden Fields, as were his three eldest sons; the One Ring was also lost there.

Isildur's fourth and youngest son, Valandil, who had remained at Rivendell due to his youth, became his heir (T.A. 10). But the Men of Arnor suffered heavy casualties in the War and subsequent Disaster; there now remained too few people and the places that Elendil had built became partially depopulated. Arnor never fully recovered from the devastating losses.[2]

Because neither Valandil nor his subsequent heirs claimed the throne of Gondor (at least until Arvedui's attempt), the realms were split; but whilst Arnor's ruler kept the title High King in practice they were King of Arnor only, and had no power over the South-kingdom. Anárion and his heirs made no claim over the Northern-kingdom and styled themselves as simply as Kings of Gondor.

Breakup, decline, and war with Angmar

Arnor's capital was Annúminas on Lake Evendim, but by T.A. 861 Fornost Erain had taken its place. No longer a site of such importance, Annúminas became depopulated and was slowly abandoned.

After the death of its tenth king, Eärendur, in T.A. 861, Arnor was divided up between his three sons. The eldest, Amlaith, claimed Kingship over all Arnor but was reduced to only ruling the region of Arthedain as his kingdom, while the other sons founded the kingdoms of Cardolan and Rhudaur.[5][2][6] The three petty kingdoms often strifed, usually over control of the Weather Hills and the palantír of Amon Sûl.[6]

The Witch King by Eliot Gould

Seeing the disunion in Arnor, during the reign of Malvegil (c. T.A. 1300), the Witch-king of Angmar arose in the north, later identified as in fact the lord of Sauron's Ringwraiths. This new threat began attacking Rhudaur and Cardolan.[6]

Eventually the line of Isildur failed in the other kingdoms but Arthedain and the Dúnedain were few in Rhudaur, where a lord of the Hill-men, secretly supporting Angmar, seized power. Arnor was refounded de jure by the seventh King of Arthedain, Argeleb I, and Cardolan placed itself under its suzerainty but Rhudaur resisted. Arthedain thus reasserted control over Cardolan but in response, fortified a line along the Weather Hills, but Rhudaur and Angmar attacked and killed the King in T.A. 1356. His son Arveleg I, however, counterattacked in conjunction with Cardolan and Lindon and drove the enemy back.[6]

Weathertop from BFME2

Arveleg continued to hold the frontier along the Hills for the following years, until T.A. 1409, when Angmar crossed the Hoarwell and successfully captured Weathertop, and Arveleg fell in battle, as did the last prince of Cardolan (later interred in the Barrow-downs).[7]. Amon Sûl fell, and its palantír was taken to Fornost. With Amon Sûl lost, Angmar had free reign over the all the lands of Cardolan, which was ravaged, and the population was forced to hold out in the Barrow Downs, or took refuge in the Old Forest.. Rhudaur was occupied by evil Men subject to Angmar, and the remaining Dúnedain were slain or fled west.[6]

The Shire, once the hunting grounds of the King of Arnor, was a fertile and well-tilled part of Arnor, deserted during the waning days of the Arthedain. The Hobbits (who had lived in Dunland and parts of depopulated Cardolan and Rhudaur) got official permission from King Argeleb II to settle the lands. This was finally done in T.A. 1601 by Bree-hobbits led by the brothers Marcho and Blanco; almost all of the Hobbits of Middle-earth could be found there by 30 years later. The Shire-hobbits considered themselves as subjects of the King of Arthedain, at least nominally, considering the isolation of their country. Nevertheless, they sent some support troops to the great battles Arnor fought against Angmar.[6]

The Men of Arnor did not have the strength to drive away the forces of Angmar, so the Elves of Lindon, forces of Rivendell, and the Galadhrim would defeat the armies of Angmar much later.[6]

The Great Plague

Amir Salehi - Servant of Death

Another threat appeared to the northern kingdoms, the Great Plague that came from the East. The Men of Arnor were so much affected that the joint garrison at Tharbad that Arnor held with Gondor, ceased to exist,[8] and the last of the Dúnedain of Cardolan died on the Barrow-downs. The Witch-king, exploiting the tragedy, sent evil spirits, the Barrow-wights, to infest the area.

The Shire-folk were damaged by it, but not heavily. The plague lost its strength, however, at this point, so that most of Arthedain was unaffected.[6]

The two Realms in Exile eventually suspected that these disasters might be being coordinated by a single power, and resumed communications. As a result, Prince Arvedui, heir to the Sceptre, wedded Fíriel, the daughter of Ondoher King of Gondor (T.A. 1940). That happened before Ondoher was slain in battle, and hoping to save his Kingdom, Arvedui staked his claim to Gondor, by right of his descent from Elendil and by that of his wife. The Council of Gondor refused the reunification and crowned King Eärnil II, who maintained good relations with Arnor, promising aid against Angmar. But Arnor's strength was fast dwindling; in T.A. 1973 Arvedui (who now was King) sent a message to Gondor that Angmar was preparing its final assault, and Eärnil mustered a great armament bound for Lindon, but it would arrive too late.[9]

Fall of Arthedain

In T.A. 1974, the final chapter in Arthedain's history began. The Witch-king attacked during the harsh winter weather. The capital of Fornost fell, and the remaining Arnorian forces were driven over the Lune river into Lindon.[6] Arvedui fled to Forochel, while his son, Aranarth, informed Círdan at the Grey Havens about the disaster. Círdan's sailors were eventually unable to rescue Arvedui, and Malbeth the Seer's prophecy at his birth, that he would be the 'Last king' of Arthedain, was fulfilled.

Showdown with Angmar

The Gondorian naval forces under Eärnur, Captain of Gondor eventually landed in the Grey Havens, from which debarked the most powerful army seen in the north of Middle-earth in centuries.

The remnants of Arnor would later join the great force, led by Cirdan and Eärnur, in the greatest joint Elf-Man army since the War of the Last Alliance; this great Host of the West marched northward toward the Arnorian capital of Fornost, where the Witch-king had occupied. He confidently marched his forces out to meet them in the open. The Host attacked him from the Hills of Evendim, and a large battle broke out. The cavalry under Eärnur pursued what remained of the Angmar forces, and were joined by an Elven force under Glorfindel from Rivendell. Angmar fell but the Witch-King fled.

Thus both Arthedain and Angmar were destroyed. the Dúnedain of Arnor created new homes in the Angle south of Rivendell, but Aranarth perceived that his people had become too few after the continuing wars to reestablish the realm. Some Men survived in Bree and other villages, while the Hobbits survived in the Shire and Bree; in the Shire they chose a Thain from among themselves to replace the fallen King in T.A. 1979. The Shire remained a minor but independent political unit.[10]


Rangers of the North

Aranarth instead of calling himself a king or prince, he assumed the title Chieftain and took his dwindling people, now secretive wanderers who traveled from place to place in Eriador. His son, Arahael, grew up safely in Rivendell under the fosterhood of Elrond, a tradition that was followed through the rest of the Third Age. Also brought to Elrond were the heirlooms of the House of Isildur: the Sceptre of Annúminas, the Ring of Barahir, the shards of Narsil, and the Star of Elendil.[6] Thus, through them the royal House of Isildur was maintained successfully from father to son for a millennium.

There were sixteen Chieftains in direct descent, under many perils in Eriador, and many of the Chieftains died premature deaths. One of these was Arathorn II, who was slain by Orcs raiding the area. So the Dúnedain survived in the shadows, waiting for a better day when the kingdom would be reborn, that would be in the time of Aragorn, on 1 May, T.A. 3019.

War of the Ring

The Kingdom of Arnor had been fallen for a thousand years by the time the War of the Ring broke out, but northern forces did participate in the War. Aragorn participated, the Heir of Isildur, and there were several hundred of them operating during the conflict. The A company of this group accompanied Aragorn through the Paths of the Dead and during the attack on Umbar which captured the Corsair fleet. They participated at the last battle, fighting under his banner, at the Battle of the Morannon, where Sauron was finally thrown down.

There was conflict in other areas of the North. There were three different invasions of Lothlórien, which were thrown back by the Elven army under Celeborn and Thranduil. Finally, Celeborn led an attack resulting in the capture of Dol Guldur and put an end to Sauron's northern threat.

There was also a battle fought in the Shire, between Saruman's Ruffians and Hobbit militia forces. This was the last battle fought in the War of the Ring, and resulted in the death of Saruman and the death or capture of his followers. This became known as the Battle of Bywater, and represents the Hobbit contribution to the War.[11]

Restoration and the Reunited Kingdom

The Last Steward of Gondor by Rowena Morrill

Faramir, son of Denethor II the last Ruling Steward, presented his rod of office to the new king, and received it back from him. Aragorn II then was crowned by Gandalf as King Elessar, refounded the Kingdom of Arnor as part of the Reunited Kingdom, and made Annúminas his new capital city.[12] He was wed to the Elven princess Arwen, who became Queen Evenstar of Arnor and Gondor. After the fall of Sauron Arnor was safe again for resettlement of Men, and although it remained less populated than Gondor to the south, in time Arnor became a more densely populated region again, even if it had dwindled in size due to the independence of the Shire. The area encompassed by the Reunited Kingdom now encompassed the territory of the Two Kingdoms at their greatest extent. In the North, this included all the land between the River Lune and the Misty Mountains, and in the South included all the land between Dunland in the west, to the Far Harad southwards, to Rhûn in the east. The reborn kingdom continued on into the Fourth Age, with Eldarion eventually succeeding his father to the throne of this now empire-sized state.


Many people in Arnor were of Númenórean stock. However, aside from the Exiles, most had long since mingled with non-Númenórean peoples; the predominant language spoken by them was Westron.[13] At least some of the population, especially the upper classes, were fluent in Sindarin, while Quenya was studied as a language of lore. Many early place names and the names of the royal house were Quenya, but by the 8th century of the Third Age, Quenya had given way to Sindarin.


Arnor was the colloquial name for the North Kingdom. The North Kingdom, as the land was called at its conception, was also known as Turmen Follondiéva in Quenya and Arthor na Forlonnas in Sindarin. These names quickly fell out of use, in favour of Arnor: the Land of the King, so called for the kingship of Elendil, and to seal its precedence over the southern realm. In full, poetic Sindarin, it was called Arannor, which mirrored its Quenya name, Arandórë.[14] Though technically Arandórë would have a Sindarin form Ardor, Tolkien chose Arnor because it sounded better. This linguistic change was ascribed to a later, Mannish development of Sindarin.[15][16] The form Arnanórë is also seen.[15]

Portrayal in adaptations

2002: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (Extended Edition)

Peter Jackson's movies do not mention the long history of how Arnor and Gondor diverged, nor do they mention Arnor by name. The one passing reference to it is in a scene from the Extended Edition, when Aragorn reveals to Éowyn that he is actually eighty-seven years old. She realises that he must be one of the Dúnedain, a descendant of Númenor blessed with long life, but says that she thought his race had passed into legend. Aragorn acknowledges that he is one of the Dúnedain, and explains that there are not many of his people left, because "the Northern kingdom was destroyed long ago".

2012: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey:

The kingdom of Arnor is mentioned indirectly by Galadriel in the White Council scene, and so is the war with Angmar and it's aftermath.

See also


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Eriador, Arnor, and the Heirs of Isildur"
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age"
  3. 3.0 3.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix F, "The Languages and Peoples of the Third Age", "Of Men"
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "X. Of Dwarves and Men", "The Atani and their Languages"
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age"
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 6.7 6.8 6.9 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Eriador, Arnor, and the Heirs of Isildur"
  7. Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, "Fog on the Barrow-downs", pp. 144-5; Index, 'Cardolan, last prince of'
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn", "Appendix D: The Port of Lond Daer"
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion"
  10. The Lord of the Rings, The Scouring of the Shire, pp. 992-6
  11. The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, p. 1019.
  12. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix F
  13. 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. 28
  14. 15.0 15.1 J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 347, (dated 17 December 1972)
  15. Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, p. 17