East Road

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"I shan't call it the end, till we've cleared up the mess." — Sam
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East Road
Matěj Čadil - Great East Road.jpg
"Great East Road" by Matěj Čadil
General Information
Other namesGreat Road, East-West Road
LocationRunning from Blue Mountains through central Eriador to the Misty Mountains
InhabitantsHobbits, Men, Dwarves, Elves

The East Road,[1] also known as the Great Road[2] or East-West Road[3] was an old Dwarven route in Eriador that ran from the Grey Havens to Rivendell.[4] It crossed the Greenway at Bree.[5]

Course[edit | edit source]

The western end of the Road was the Grey Havens, giving access to the Blue Mountains.[3] The East Road passed through the Shire, and two of its most important towns lay athwart the road (namely Hobbiton and Michel Delving).[6] Where the East Road met the Greenway was where Bree was situated.[5] A day's journey east of Bree on the East Road was The Forsaken Inn. The Ford of Bruinen near Rivendell was a twelve days long march east of Bree on the East Road.[7]

History[edit | edit source]

The East Road was originally built by the Dwarves during the First Age[source?], and ran from the Iron Hills through Rhovanion to Khazad-dûm, from which it continued across Eriador to the Blue Mountains, and then on to Doriath in Beleriand. It connected the realms of Nogrod and Belegost with Khazad-dûm, allowing for trade and communication.

The western parts were laid to facilitate the passage of Dwarf craftsmen (and later, their armed escorts) across eastern Beleriand, before the Battle of the Thousand Caves ended their trading.[source?]

After the ruination of Nogrod and neighbouring Belegost, focus shifted to the eastern part of the road, which had been built by the Dwarves of Khazad-dûm. The inhabitants of Khazad-dûm, the Longbeards, continued to grow in power and influence; their trading needs meant that the Dwarf-road, which traversed from the Iron Hills through Mirkwood to their eastern gates, became widely known. On the western side of the Misty Mountains, after traversing the High Pass, the road continued to the Blue Mountains.

When the Númenórean realm-in-exile of Arnor was founded, the Dúnedain took over maintenance of the East Road and built several fortresses on or near it (of which the most well-known was Weathertop). They also expanded and created bridges over the rivers Brandywine (Bridge of Stonebows) and Hoarwell (Last Bridge). After Arnor was divided in T.A. 861, the East Road formed the boundary between two of its successor states, Cardolan and Rhudaur. During the War with Angmar, Arthedain and Cardolan tried to maintain a frontier along the Weather Hills, the East Road, and the lower Hoarwell against Angmar and Rhudaur.[8]

By the late Third Age, the most notable users of the road were the Dwarves who travelled to and from the Blue Mountains.[2] Those often stopped at Bree, and when they traversed the Shire, it was said that they brought news from the world outside, thus becoming the main link between the Shire and other realms.[9][3]

Other versions[edit | edit source]

Originally, the Road made two large curves: a great loop south of Weathertop to the North-east and then "bent back again southward towards the River" around the bottom of the Trollshaws.

Because of Christopher Tolkien's "carelessness", in the 1954 published map, the Road has only a small northward curve between Weathertop and the Last Bridge, and then runs in a straight line to the Ford of Bruinen. In the Second Edition onwards, in order to agree with the map, the portion of the text was corrected to "the Road behind held on its way to the River Bruinen".[10]

The relevant map in Barbara Strachey's atlas Journeys of Frodo reflects the earlier descriptions.

Portrayal in adaptations[edit | edit source]

2012: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey:

While the Company of Thorin Oakenshield is in Rivendell, Gandalf mentions to Lord Elrond that they were travelling on the Great East Road. It is also said that they found the swords Orcrist and Glamdring in a troll-hoard on the self-same road.

References[edit | edit source]