Fords of Isen

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

The Fords of Isen[1][2] or Crossings of Isen[3][4] were fords across the river Isen over which travellers on the Great Road could cross the river.[5]

The fords were located a few miles north of where the Isen turned west towards the Belegaer in the Gap of Rohan, a strategic location where the Misty Mountains in the north were close to the White Mountains in the south. They were the main entrance to the realm of Rohan from Eriador in the west.[6]

Geography

Just north to the westward bent of the River Isen (Sindarin Sîr Angren) towards Belegaer,[6] it became broad and shallow, flowing across a stony shelf and branching into two arms about a large island. Only here could large forces effectively cross the river, and the Fords were the only place where the river could be crossed south of Isengard.[7] The road from Edoras to Isengard passed over the fords and western part of the road continued on the western side of the Isen.[5] On both sides of the river the road descended between banks of turf down to the edge of the water. Three series of flat stepping stones with fords for horses between them led from each side of the river to a bare island in the middle of the river.[8]

History

During the time of the Realms in Exile, the North-South Road, which connected Arnor and Gondor, crossed the Isen, and the Fords of Isen—the Ethraid Engrin (or Athrad Angren), marked the entrance into the South Kingdom of Gondor. The Fords were closely guarded from the Gondorian fortresses of Isengard and the Hornburg at Helm's Deep.[6][5]

After the fall of Sauron at the end of the War of the Last Alliance in S.A. 3441,[9] and while Isildur was still in Gondor[10] the larger part of the army of Arnor returned to Arnor on the Great Road crossing the Isen at the Fords of Isen.[11]

In T.A. 2510[12] the Steward Cirion granted the land of Calenardhon to Eorl the Young. The River Isen then became the western boundary of the new realm of Rohan and responsibility for the great road and the Fords of Isen fell upon the Rohirrim, although it was agreed that free passageway would be maintained for all travelers of either people.[13]

In 2758[14] 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.[15]

On 18 September, 3018, the Black Riders crossed the Fords of Isen on their way to the Shire.[1] Six days later, Gandalf crossed the Isen on his way to The Shire, probably using the Fords of Isen, because he wanted to get to the Shire quickly and he wanted to avoid Isengard after having been imprisoned there.[1]

On 25 February, 3019[2] 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 Prince Théodred in the First Battle of the Fords of Isen. This blow against the leadership of Rohan was Saruman's main objective in this battle and his forces then withdrew.[7]

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,[16] the host of Saruman overwhelmed the defenders and swept across the Fords in the Second Battle of the Fords of Isen.[7]

Three days later, Gandalf and Peregrin Took crossed over the Fords of Isen on their way to Minas Tirith. The next day, Théoden, Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli and riders from Rohan took the Fords of Isen to return to Rohan. Not lang after they had croosed over the river, Halbarad and thirty Rangers of the North accompanied by Elladan and Elrohir, the sons of Elrond also crossed the Fords of Isen and caught up with them.[17]

In August,[18] Aragorn took leave of the reduced company that had formed King Théoden's funeral escort near the Fords of Isen.[19]

Etymology

The Sindarin name for the Fords of Isen was Ethraid Engrin (singular Athrad Angren).[20][21]

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

Portrayal in adaptations

Fords of Isen in The Lord of the Rings Online

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.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Great Years", entry for the year 3018, September 18, p. 1091
  2. 2.0 2.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Great Years", entry for the year 3019, February 25, p. 1092
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The House of Eorl", entry for King Helm, p. 1066
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The House of Eorl", "The Kings of the Mark", Third Line, 2991 - F.A. 63, p. 1070
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 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 Fords of Isen, p. 412
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The West of Middle-earth at the End of the Third Age" [map]
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Battles of the Fords of Isen"
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "The Road to Isengard", p. 550
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Second Age", entry for the year 3441, p. 1084
  10. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age", entry for the year 2, p. 1085
  11. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Disaster of the Gladden Fields", first paragraph
  12. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age", entry for the year 2510, p. 1087
  13. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan", "(iii) Cirion and Eorl"
  14. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age", entry for the year 2758, p. 1088
  15. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The House of Eorl"
  16. , entry for the year 3019, March 2, p. 1093
  17. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Passing of the Grey Company"
  18. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Chief Days from the Fall of Barad-dûr to the End of the Third Age", entry for the year 3019, August 18 and 22, p. 1095
  19. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "Many Partings"
  20. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn"
  21. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan", note 47