Cirith Ninniach

From Tolkien Gateway
Cirith Ninniach
Ted Nasmith - The Incoming Sea at the Rainbow Cleft.jpg
"The Incoming Sea at the Rainbow Cleft" by Ted Nasmith
General Information
LocationEred Lómin
GalleryImages of Cirith Ninniach

The Cirith Ninniach, the "Rainbow Cleft", was a thin, rocky pass through the Ered Lómin ("Echoing Mountains") in the far northwest of Beleriand.[1]

History[edit | edit source]

The Cirith Ninniach connected the land of Hithlum with the Firth of Drengist which led to the Great Sea.[1] Although not explicitly stated, when Fëanor led his followers up the Firth and into Hithlum they must have found and used Cirith Ninniach to achieve their passage.[2]

During King Turgon's stay in Nevrast the Gate of the Noldor, a dark tunnel under the mountains, was built which opened into the pass. Centuries later, after Turgon and his people had abandoned the region for Gondolin, Tuor found and used both the Gate of the Noldor and Cirith Ninniach to escape from Hithlum.[3]

Tuor found the Cirith Ninniach by following a stream that flowed from Dor-Lómin to the Ered Lómin and then disappeared into a great arch in a wall of rock. At first he though that there was no passage but then he saw two Elves issue from the archway. Gelmir and Arminas they were, and they told him that he had found the Gate of the Noldor. The two Elves led Tuor into the tunnel beside the stream and down long flights of steps. They left Tuor beside a waterfall and he continued until he emerged into a narrow ravine that ran straight into the West. In the pass the stream rushed over falls and wove rainbows; thus he named the ravine Cirith Ninniach.

Tuor traveled in the pass for four days, watching the stream turn into a river fed by shimmering falls that descended the walls of Cirith Ninniach. The pass ended when the river met the sea in the narrow Firth of Drengist.[4]

Etymology[edit | edit source]

Cirith Ninniach is Sindarin, glossed as "Rainbow Cleft" in the narrative, but it could literally mean "Pass of the Slender Crossing", from cirith ("cleft, pass"), ninn + iach ("ford, crossing").

Early Gnomish names for the pass were Cris Ilbranteloth ("Gully of the Rainbow Roof") and Glorfalc ("Golden Cleft").[5]