Fords of Isen

From Tolkien Gateway
Fords of Isen
Matěj Čadil - Ethraid Engrin.jpg
"Ethraid Engrin" by Matěj Čadil
General Information
Other namesCrossings of Isen, Athrad Angren, Ethraid Engrin
LocationIn the Gap of Rohan where the North-South Road crossed the River Isen
DescriptionA double ford – two shallow arms of the river surrounding a large eyot
EventsFirst Battle of the Fords of Isen
Second Battle of the Fords of Isen
GalleryImages of the Fords of Isen

The Fords of Isen were the crossing point of the North-South Road on the river Isen in the Gap of Rohan. At the western border of the realm of Rohan and at a strategic position between the Misty Mountains and the White Mountains,[1] the Ford was the main entrance to Rohan from the west, and constantly guarded by the Rohirrim.


The River Isen (Sindarin Sîr Angren) could not be crossed anywhere south of Isengard, except at the Fords of Isen,[2] which were just above the point where the river bent west towards Belegaer.[1] In this area the river became broad and shallow, flowing across a stony shelf and branching into two arms about a large eyot. Only here could large forces effectively cross the river.[2] During much of the time the Fords were closely guarded from the fortresses of Isengard and the Hornburg at Helm's Deep.


In S.A. 3320, two Númenórean Kingdoms were established - Arnor in the north and Gondor in the south.[3] Between them ran a road built by the Númenórean Exiles to connect their realms. A traveler journeying southward through Enedwaith along the North-South Road would come to the point where it crossed the River Isen (then known by its Elvish name of 'Angren'). The crossing of the Fords of Isen—the Ethraid Engrin (or Athrad Angren) as they were known in those times—marked the point of entry into the southern land of Gondor.

After the fall of Sauron in S.A. 3441[3] but before Isildur departed from Gondor in T.A. 2,[4] the army of Arnor marched home to Eriador via the Fords of Isen.[5]

In T.A. 2510 the Steward Cirion granted the land of Calenardhon to Eorl the Young.[4] The River Isen then became the western boundary of the new realm of Rohan and responsibility for the great road and the Fords fell upon the Rohirrim, although it was agreed that free passageway would be maintained for all travelers of either people.[6]

In T.A. 2758 a force of Dunlendings led by Wulf invaded Rohan through the Crossings of Isen. King Helm attempted to fight them off at that point but was defeated and retreated to Suthburg while Rohan was overran.[7]

On 18 September, T.A. 3018, the Black Riders crossed the Fords of Isen on their way to the Shire.[8]

In the First Battle of the Fords of Isen (on 25 February, 3019[8]) the Orcs of Saruman, reinforced by Dunlendings and wolfriders, plus two battalions of Uruk-hai, rushed down upon Théodred, King Théoden's son, and killed the Prince. This blow against the leadership of Rohan was Saruman's main objective in this battle and his forces then withdrew.

Erkenbrand of Westfold maintained a defence at the Fords after the First Battle, under the immediate command of Grimbold, strengthened by Elfhelm and his riders. However, on 2 March, 3019[8] the host of Saruman overwhelmed the defenders and swept across the Fords in the Second Battle of the Fords of Isen.

In August of 3019[9] Aragorn took leave of the reduced company that had formed King Théoden's funeral escort near the Fords of Isen.[10]


The Sindarin name for the Fords of Isen was Ethraid Engrin (singular Athrad Angren).[11][12]

The literal meaning of Ethraid Engrin is "fords of iron" (ethraid + engrin).[source?]

Portrayal in adaptations[edit]

2012: The Lord of the Rings Online

Two different versions of the Fords exist in the game. When approached from the direction of Dunland in the west, the Fords are held by the Rohirrim forces led by Grimbold in anticipation of the First Battle of the Fords of Isen, in which the player participates. When approached from the direction of Westfold in the east, the Fords are in the aftermath of the Second Battle of the Fords of Isen, with all Rohirrim defenders scattered or slain and Dunlending looters searching the bodies of the fallen.