East Road

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East Road
Road
"Great East Road" by Matěj Čadil
General Information
Other namesGreat Road, East-West Road
LocationRunning from Grey Havens through central Eriador to Rivendell
TypeRoad
InhabitantsHobbits, Men, Dwarves, Elves

The East Road,[1] also known as the East-West Road,[2][3][4] the Great Road,[5] the Old Road,[6] or the great East Road east of the Brandywine Bridge,[7][8][9] was a great ancient road in Eriador that ran from the Grey Havens to Rivendell.[7]

Course

The western end of the Road was the Grey Havens[2] near the Blue Mountains[10]. The East Road passed through the Shire, and two of its most important towns, Hobbiton and Michel Delving, lay athwart the road.[11] Just northeast where the East Road crossed the Greenway was the town of Bree.[10] 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.[12]

History

It is not recorded when and by whom the East Road was built. It is possible that Dwarves had used the East Road or a path that followed the course of the East Road since the First Age.

Dwarves had lived in the underground cities of Nogrod and Belegost in the Blue Mountains since the First Age.[13] At the end of the First Age during the War of Wrath between the forces of the Valar and the forces of Morgoth great earthquakes caused the western parts of Beleriand west of the Blue Mountains to sink beneath the sea and created a gap in the south of the Blue Mountains into which a gulf of the sea flowed. The earthquakes also caused the river Lune to change its course and flowed into the new gulf. The Elves built the Grey Havens at the eastern end of the gulf, which was named the Gulf of Lune.[14] As a result of the events Nogrost and Belegost were ruined and many of their inhabitants fled to the underground dwarven city of Khazad-dûm in the Misty Mountains in the east.[15]

In the First Age the Longbeard Dwarves of Khazad-dûm and their kin from the Iron Hills began to build a road from the east gate of Khazad-dûm north along the eastern skirts of the Misty Mountains over the upper part of the Gladden River to the southernmost point where a bridge over the river Anduin could be constructed and then eastwards on a stone bridge over the Anduin east across the valley of the Anduin through Mirkwood to a bridge over the River Running and then over open land north-east to the iron mines[16] in the Iron Hills[17].

Near the end of the Third Age at the time of the Quest of Erebor a road ran near the valley of Rivendell eastwards to the High Pass.[18] It is possible that this road had been made a long time ago. At the time of the War of the Last Alliance at the end of the Second Age an "ancient" road ran down from the High Pass and that the bridge over the Anduin that it led to was enlarged and strengthened so that the armies of the Last Alliance of Elves and Men could pass over it.[19]

Records from the time of the War of the Ring at the end of the Third Age refer to Hobbits working the fields on both side of the "Dwarves' ancestral road to the" Blue Mountains[20] and state that dwarves had "always" travelled on the East Road to their mines in the Blue Mountains[2].

After the Númenórean realm-in-exile of Arnor was founded, the East Road from the Grey Havens to Rivendell and the great road that connected Fornost with the second Númenorean realm-in-exile of Gondor were the only "Númenórean roads" in the north-west of Middle-earth.[3]

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.[21]

By the late Third Age, the most notable users of the road were the Dwarves who travelled to and from the Blue Mountains.[5] 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.[22][2]

East Road
East Road

Other versions

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".[23]

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

Portrayal in adaptations

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

  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "A Conspiracy Unmasked", p. 66
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Shadow of the Past", p. 43
  3. 3.0 3.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Disaster of the Gladden Fields", "Notes", note 6
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The West of Middle-earth at the End of the Third Age" [map], label next to the road
  5. 5.0 5.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Eriador, Arnor, and the Heirs of Isildur", p. 1039
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "A Knife in the Dark", p. 183 and p. 186
  7. 7.0 7.1 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
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Old Forest". p. 113
  9. Christopher Tolkien, General Map of Middle-earth, label next to the road
  10. 10.0 10.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, "The West of Middle-earth at the End of the Third Age" [map]
  11. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "A Part of the Shire" map
  12. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "A Knife in the Dark", p. 187
  13. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Sindar"
  14. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age"
  15. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "Durin's Folk", p. 1071
  16. J.R.R. Tolkien, Carl F. Hostetter (ed.), The Nature of Middle-earth, "Part Three. The World, its Lands, and its Inhabitants: XX. Note on the Dwarf Road", pp. 372-73
  17. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "X. Of Dwarves and Men", "Notes", note 30
  18. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Over Hill and Under Hill", first and second paragraph
  19. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Disaster of the Gladden Fields", "Notes", note 14
  20. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Quest of Erebor", "Appendix: Extracts from an earlier version"
  21. 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 Dúnedain, p. 1040
  22. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "At the Sign of the Prancing Pony"
  23. 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"