From Tolkien Gateway
This article is about the City of Dale. For the Kingdom, see Kingdom of Dale.
Matěj Čadil - Dale.jpg
"Dale" by Matěj Čadil
General Information
LocationNorthern Rhovanion on the banks of the River Running, between the south-west and south-east arms of the Lonely Mountain
DescriptionThe great township of the Northmen
People and History
InhabitantsMen of Dale
CreatedSee below
DestroyedT.A. 2770
RebuiltT.A. 2944
EventsSack of Erebor, Battle of Five Armies, Battle of Dale
GalleryImages of Dale

Dale was a great city of the Northmen which was destroyed by Smaug and rebuilt as the capital of a great kingdom after his demise.

Description[edit | edit source]

Dale was situated in the valley between the south-western and south-eastern arms of the Lonely Mountain, nestled in a sharp U-shaped bend of the River Running.[1]

It was known as a merry town that traded, mainly in food-supplies, for the skills and craft-pieces of the Dwarves. Dale's toy market was the wonder of the North[2] and the town was renowned for its bells.[3]

History[edit | edit source]

Foundation[edit | edit source]

In T.A. 2590, King Thrór re-established the Kingdom under the Mountain.[4] The realm prospered and about this time, the Northmen living to the south came up the River Running and built Dale.[2] The town shared in the prosperity of the Dwarves and it was initially governed by the Lord of Dale, of whom the last was named Girion.[5]

Destruction[edit | edit source]

In 2770, Smaug descended upon the Dwarf-kingdom.[4] Although the Men of Dale fielded warriors against the monster they could not prevent him from killing or scattering the Dwarves and then occupying the Lonely Mountain. After the attack the dragon would crawl out of the Front Gate of the Mountain by night and carry away people (especially maidens) from Dale to eat. The remaining population soon fled and the deserted city fell into ruins.[2]

Re-establishment[edit | edit source]

The death of Smaug and the Battle of Five Armies occurred in 2941. Three years after the battle, Dale was rebuilt by Bard the Bowman,[4] who had killed the dragon and was the descendant of Girion. Dale soon again enjoyed prosperity: Bard founded the Dale as a kingdom and it gathered men from the Long Lake, the South, and the West. Lake-town was rebuilt and grew wealthy from traffic with Dale.[6] Its people became more commonly known as Bardings, after their new ruler.

Jan Pospisil - The Battle of Dale

Later history[edit | edit source]

During the reign of King Brand, the grandson of Bard the Bowman, Dale served as the capital for the lands he ruled, which extended far south and east of Lake-town.[7] However, as Glóin revealed at the Council of Elrond, in 3017 a messenger from Mordor came to ask King Dáin Ironfoot at the gate to the Lonely Mountain for news of Hobbits and to ask for Bilbo's ring. Messengers had also come to King Brand and there were enemies gathering upon the Kingdom of Dale's eastern borders.[8]

During the War of the Ring, the Easterlings crossed the border and moved to attack the city. On 17 March 3019 the Battle of Dale began. Not able to hold back the Easterlings, the Bardings and the Dwarves of Erebor retreated into the Lonely Mountain, but lost Kings Brand and Dáin II Ironfoot who were both slain at the Gate of Erebor. For seven days, the Men and Dwarves barricaded themselves in Erebor until news came from the south of the defeat of Sauron. The new Kings of Dale and Erebor (Bard II and Thorin III Stonehelm), broke the siege and drove the Easterlings out of Dale. Bard later sent an emissary to the coronation of King Aragorn II Elessar and his realm was ever after in perpetual friendship and under the protection of the King of the West.[9]

Etymology[edit | edit source]

The word dale means "valley", as it was built in the Celduin valley between two arms of Erebor.

Other versions of the legendarium[edit | edit source]

According to The Hobbit, Thorin tells Bilbo that the Northmen built “the merry town of Dale” during the time when his grandfather Thror was King under the Mountain, soon after T.A. 2590. This is the only definitive statement of Dale's foundation. However, in the Unfinished Tales of Numenor and Middle-earth, in the section titled “Cirion and Eorl,” the following comment is found (after the defeat of King Narmacil II of Gondor in T.A. 1856):

As for the Northmen, a few, it is said, fled over the Celduin (River Running) and were merged with the folk of Dale under Erebor (with whom they were akin), some took refuge in Gondor, and others were gathered by Marhwini son of Marhari (who fell in the rearguard action after the Battle of the Plains).
J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan"

It is possible to reconcile the texts if T.A. 1856 is seen as the latest year of the foundation of the first, primitive Northmen settlements in the area with the years after T.A. 2590 as the foundation of the city with the coming of the Dwarves; the canonicity of this, however, is unknown.

Portrayal in adaptations[edit | edit source]

Dale in BFME II

2006: The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II:

The City of Dale appears in the Erebor map, just south-east of the mountain itself. It appears to contain several houses, taverns and bridges, as well as a statue of a man. The city is built around the mountain's river.

2012: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey:

The city appears briefly in the prologue of the film, when the dragon Smaug attacks Erebor.

2013: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug:

The ruined city of Dale appears briefly when Bilbo Baggins and the Dwarves are heading for Erebor.

2014: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies:

After the death of Smaug, the villagers of Lake-town seek refuge in the ruined city. During the Battle of Five Armies, they hide inside Dale while the Lake-men combat the enemy forces. When the Orc army attacks the ruined city, Bard and the Lake-towners run to defend it, leaving the Dwarves and the Elves to protect the gates of Erebor. The Elves later come to join the Men in defending the city.

2014: The Lord of the Rings Online:

Dale in The Lord of the Rings Online
Dale was originally introduced as a standalone instance taking place during the Battle of Dale. Several years later, a proper explorable version of the city and the surrounding lands were added as part of the "Strongholds of the North" update. Still rebuilding after the recent battle, Dale is now ruled by King Bard II and his mother, Queen Regent Erna. A large statue of Bard the Bowman stands at the northern entrance of the city.

See also[edit | edit source]