Glittering Caves

From Tolkien Gateway
Glittering Caves
"The Glittering Caves" by Ted Nasmith
General Information
Other namesAglarond (Sindarin)
Glǽmscrafu (Rohirric)
LocationWhite Mountains, behind Helm's Deep
DescriptionBeautiful jewelled caverns
People and History
Later Durin's Folk
EventsBattle of the Hornburg
GalleryImages of the Glittering Caves

The Glittering Caves, in Sindarin called Aglarond, were the spectacular jewelled caverns that lay in the White Mountains behind Helm's Deep in Rohan.


The Glittering Caves were located behind Helm's Deep under the three peaks of the Thrihyrne in the northwestern arm of the White Mountains. The Glittering Caves extended deep under the mountains, with many passages, stairs, halls, and chambers. The floors were sandy and the ceilings were high, domed vaults. The walls were polished stone set with gems and crystals and veins of ore.[1]

The entrance to the caves was behind the Deeping Wall in a narrow gorge that could be defended long against an onslaught, making them an ideal refuge location.

Gimli called the Glittering Caves one of the marvels of the Northern World, and his description of them to Legolas was reportedly one of the few times that a dwarf has bested an elf with words; Legolas was left speechless after visiting them.


The Númenóreans built the fortress of Aglarond during the Second Age.[2] The meaning of the Sindarin name of the fortress suggests that they already knew of the existence of the caves. Later, after the founding of Rohan it was used as a storage space and refuge for Rohirrim who used the Hornburg.

War of the Ring

During the Battle of the Hornburg on 3-4 March, T.A. 3019, many of the women, children, and elderly people of the Westfold took refuge in the Glittering Caves. Livestock and food were stored there as well.

Some Orcs crept through a culvert in the Deeping Wall and entered the gorge but were killed or driven back by the defenders. Then the Deeping Wall was breached by an explosive device and the Enemy forces entered the Deep. Many of the Rohirrim including Éomer were driven back to the Glittering Caves, and with them was Gimli.[3]

After the war Gimli brought Legolas to see the caves; the Elf was so impressed that he was silent and said that only Gimli could fittingly describe them.[4]

As a Dwarven colony

When Gimli Elf-friend was held up in the caves, he was amazed by their beauty. After the War of the Ring he brought from Erebor part of Durin's Folk and founded a colony in the caves, becoming the Lord of the Glittering Caves. The Dwarves of the Glittering Caves carefully tended the stone walls and opened new ways and chambers and hung lamps that filled the caverns with light.[5] The Glittering Caves became one of the most important realms of the Dwarves at the beginning of the Fourth Age.[6]


Aglarond is Sindarin and contains the elements aglar ("brilliance"[7], "radiance", glory"[8]) and rond ("vault", "high roofed cavern")[9],[7] which is translated as "Glittering Caves"[10] or "Caves of Radiance[11]. Since the word aglar is derived from the stem KAL- ("light")[8]"Glittering Caves" can be the exact translation.

Its Rohirric name, which was "translated" as Old English Glǽmscrafu (the sc is pronounced as [sh]) also meant "Caves of Radiance".[11]


The Glittering Caves are one of very few locations in Tolkien's work that are associated with a real place. They were inspired by the caves in Cheddar Gorge in Somerset.[12]