Dol Guldur

From Tolkien Gateway
This article is about the stronghold in Mirkwood. For the MERP supplement, see Dol Guldur (book).
Dol Guldur
"Dol Guldur" by Matěj Čadil
General Information
Other namesAmon Lanc
LocationSouthern Mirkwood
DescriptionBarren hilltop later occupied by Sauron and Nazgûl
People and History
InhabitantsOrcs, Spiders,[1] and other creatures
formerly: Silvan Elves
CreatedAround T.A. 1100
DestroyedT.A. 3019
EventsAttack on Dol Guldur, Fall of Dol Guldur
GalleryImages of Dol Guldur

Dol Guldur (S. "Hill of Sorcery"),[2] also called "the dungeons of the Necromancer",[3][4] was a stronghold of Sauron located in the south of Mirkwood.


Dol Guldur was originally known as Amon Lanc ("Bald Hill") in Greenwood the Great.[5] It had been the capital of Oropher's Silvan Elves, who had departed north to the Dark Mountains[6] (later known as the Mountains of Mirkwood).

Somewhere after T.A. 1000, an evil presence took over Amon Lanc. It was in 1050 that a shadow fell upon Greenwood and it began to be called Mirkwood.[7] The hostile entity was known as "the Necromancer" by the peoples. Thranduil son of Oropher led his people over the Forest River, where they remained.[8]

John Howe - Pass the Doors of Dol Guldur

The Council of the Wise long feared the Necromancer might be none other than Sauron himself who secretly regained his powers after his defeat in the War of the Last Alliance. In 2063 Gandalf went to Dol Guldur, and the "Necromancer", not yet powerful, fled to the East so as not to be identified.

After four centuries in 2460, just as the One Ring was found by Sméagol the Stoor, the "Necromancer" returned there.[7]

A dark shadow and cloud flowed from Dol Guldur whereas a golden mist that came from Lothlórien to the west contended with the darkness coming from Mirkwood. In T.A. 2510 when Eorl the Young was leading his riders to the Battle of the Field of Celebrant he steered his force westward to avoid the phenomenon of the shadow, and they entered the mist.[9]

In 2845 Thráin II, King of Durin's Folk-in-exile and holder of the last of the Seven Rings of the Dwarves, was on his way to the Lonely Mountain. He was captured near the eaves of Mirkwood, imprisoned and tortured in Dol Guldur's dungeons, and his Ring taken from him. In 2850 Gandalf again entered Dol Guldur, found the dying Thráin, and was entrusted with the map and key to give to Thorin, although Thráin could not tell him his own or his son's name before he died. Gandalf confirmed that the Necromancer, the master of Dol Guldur at that time, was Sauron.[7]

Angus McBride - Dol Guldur

Gandalf returned to the White Council and urged an attack on Dol Guldur, but was overruled by Saruman, who secretly had begun searching for the One Ring in the area by then. In T.A. 2941 Saruman finally agreed to an attack, which occurred at the same time as the Quest of Erebor. This was carefully planned by Gandalf, so that Sauron and Smaug could not assist each other, as otherwise they could easily have done. During the attack, Sauron fled.

In 2951 Sauron came to Mordor, his plans now ready, and sent Khamûl, the second chief[10], and two other Nazgûl back to Dol Guldur.[7]

In the following decades Dol Guldur must have rebuilt some of its power until the War of the Ring, during which its forces (most likely Orcs) made an attack upon the Woodland Realm and assaults on Lórien,[11] causing grievous damage to the outlying woodlands. However each time they were driven back by Thranduil, Celeborn and Galadriel who held the power of Nenya; which only Sauron himself could have overcome.

Dol Guldur was finally destroyed and cleansed by the Elves of Lórien, led by Celeborn and Galadriel, after Sauron's fall.[11]


Dol Guldur is Sindarin from dol ("hill") and guldur ("sorcery").[12]

Other versions of the legendarium

The original name of Dol Guldur was Dol Dúgol, and on Tolkien's First Map of The Lord of the Rings the hill was located much farther east than its later location (in square M-15 of Map II).[13] Christopher Tolkien explained that Map II had faint traces of green which suggested that Mirkwood originally extended farther to the east too.[14] The name Dol Dúgol was stricken out and the hill was moved to its later location on this map, but its name became Dol Dúghul before finally changing to Dol Guldur.[13]

Portrayal in adaptations

Dol Guldur in adaptations
Dol Guldur in The Lord of the Rings Online
The Fall of Dol Guldur from The Battle for Middle-earth II
Dol Guldur in The Hobbit film trilogy
Dol Guldur in The Hobbit film trilogy 


2012: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey:

Dol Guldur is depicted as a ruined and abandoned fortress of unknown origin. It features statues of the Nazgûl. Radagast, not Gandalf, enters Dol Guldur. He is attacked by the Witch-king, obtains a Morgul blade, and finds that Dol Guldur is occupied by a Necromancer. He then travels to Gandalf to tell him the news and gives him the sword as proof.

2013: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug:

Gandalf enters Dol Guldur to investigate its ruins. There he meets Azog and his army. He tries to escape, but is trapped by the Necromancer, who reveals to Gandalf his true identity. Gandalf is later seen trapped in one of the cages.

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

Galadriel enters Dol Guldur in order to rescue Gandalf. Accompanied by Saruman and Elrond they encounter Sauron and the Nine. The Attack begins and Sauron flees to the East.


2004: The Lord of the Rings: War of the Ring:

Dol Guldur makes appearance during both "Good" and "Evil" campaigns as a site of a major battleground.

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

Dol Guldur is commanded by the Mouth of Sauron, not Khamûl. Dol Guldur (or Mordor itself) sent a huge army of Orcs, Haradrim, and Trolls to assault Erebor. The attack fails, and the Mouth of Sauron is killed along with all the attacking force. Dol Guldur is then itself attacked by a combined army of Elves and Dwarves led by Elrond, Arwen, Glorfindel, Glóin, and Dáin Ironfoot. After a long and hard struggle, the Elves and Dwarves finally overrun Dol Guldur and lay waste to the evil that dwelled there, ending Sauron's war campaign in the North once and for all.
In the Evil Campaign, the Goblins from Dol Guldur eliminate the Elves and the Ents that guard the Forest Road in Mirkwood.

2007: The Lord of the Rings Online:

Dol Guldur is a central point in the game's second expansion, The Lord of the Rings Online: Siege of Mirkwood. In its storyline, Celeborn and Galadriel organize a military campaign against Dol Guldur while the Fellowship still resides in Lothlórien (not to be confused with the later battle during the War of the Ring). The announced goal is to sow chaos into Orc forces by destroying as many of their troops, weapons and supplies as possible, to delay an inevitable assault upon Lothlórien. The true purpose, however, is to distract the Eye of Sauron from the company departing down the shores of Anduin.
An assault by the "Golden Host" of the Galadhrim is successful despite minor losses and after establishing multiple camps throughout southern Mirkwood arrives at the walls of the fortress itself. However, without the White Lady they do not have the means of bringing down the walls, so the Elves prepare to swiftly fall back beyond Anduin before the main forces of the Enemy arrive. The players can also explore multiple locations within the fortress, among them the "Necromancer's Gate", the baileys of Dol Guldur, the "Sword-hall of Dol Guldur", the Dungeons of Dol Guldur, the chief tower "Barad Guldur", and "Sammath Gul" - the chambers once occupied by the Dark Lord himself.
Much later, after the War of the Ring, the Galadhrim and Elves of Mirkwood lead a great assault on Dol Guldur, where Galadriel casts down the walls of the stronghold, and renames the hill Dol Dhannen, "The Hill of Ruin". In the process of assisting the Lady in this players discover another location, "Gostador", the secret dungeon in which Sauron let his physical form recover from his defeat at the end of the Second Age, and where he held audiences with agents carrying out his plans in other parts of Middle-earth.

See also


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "Shelob's Lair", p. 723
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Index of Names"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "An Unexpected Party"
  4. "The sins of Middle Earth, Tolkien's use of Allegory". Chapter 6. Greenwood Press. pp. 86.
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Disaster of the Gladden Fields", note 12, p. 280
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Disaster of the Gladden Fields", note 14, p. 280
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age"
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn", "Appendix B: The Sindarin Princes of the Silvan Elves", p. 259
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan", p. 298
  10. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Hunt for the Ring", note 1, p. 352
  11. 11.0 11.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Great Years"
  12. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Words, Phrases and Passages in Various Tongues in The Lord of the Rings: Eldarin Roots and Stems", in Parma Eldalamberon XVII (edited by Christopher Gilson), p. 32
  13. 13.0 13.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Treason of Isengard, "XV. The First Map of The Lord of the Rings", "Map II", p. 305
  14. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Treason of Isengard, "XV. The First Map of The Lord of the Rings", "The original element in the First Map", p. 298