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|"Great East Road" by Matěj Čadil|
|Other names||Great Road, East-West Road|
|Location||Running from Blue Mountains through central Eriador to the Misty Mountains|
|Inhabitants||Hobbits, Men, Dwarves, Elves|
The East Road was originally laid by the Dwarves probably 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 the Kingdom of Doriath in Beleriand.
The western parts were built to facilitate the passage of companies of Dwarf craftsmen (and later, their armed escort) across eastern Beleriand, before the Battle of the Thousand Caves by the dwarves of Nogrod ended their trade.[source?]
After the ruination of Nogrod and neighbouring Belegost, focus shifted to the eastern part of the ancient road, which had been built by the Dwarves of Khazad-dûm from the Misty Mountains. Khazad-dûm's inhabitants, the Longbeard Dwarves, continued to grow in power and influence, and their trading needs meant that the road from the Iron Hills that travelled through Mirkwood to their gates, known as the Dwarf-road, 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 of Arnor took over the maintenance of the East Road, and built several fortresses on or near it (including Weathertop), and expanded or 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 Angmar War, Arthedain and Cardolan tried to mantain a frontier along the Weather Hills, the East Road, and the lower Hoarwell against Angmar and Rhudaur.
By the late Third Age the most notable users of the road were the Dwarves who traveled to and from the mines of the Blue Mountains. Those often stopped at Bree, and when they traversed the Shire they brought scarce news from the outside world; actually being the main link with the wide world for the Shire-hobbits.
Originally, the Road made two great curves: a great loop south of Weathertop to the North-east and then made a great bend southwards, round the feet of the Trollshaws; the text of the First Edition reflects this by saying "the Road bent back again southward towards the River". 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".
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "A Conspiracy Unmasked", p. 66
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Eriador, Arnor, and the Heirs of Isildur", p. 1039
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Shadow of the Past", p. 43
- J.R.R. Tolkien, "Unfinished index for The Lord of the Rings", in Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, entry East Road, p. 75
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, "The West of Middle-earth at the End of the Third Age" [map]
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "A Part of the Shire" map
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Eriador, Arnor, and the Heirs of Isildur", The North-kingdom and the Dúneadin, p. 1040
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "At the Sign of the Prancing Pony"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Return of the Shadow, "The First Phase: XI. From Weathertop to the Ford, Note on the course of the Road between Weathertop and Rivendell"