Last Bridge

From Tolkien Gateway
Last Bridge
Soni Alcorn-Hender - Mitheithel Bridge.jpg
"Mitheithel Bridge" by Soni Alcorn-Hender
General Information
Other namesBridge of Hoarwell[1]
LocationEastern Eriador, where the East Road crosses the Hoarwell
DescriptionAncient stone bridge
GalleryImages of the Last Bridge

The Last Bridge was an ancient stone bridge[2] that carried the East Road over the River Hoarwell (Mitheithel), about a hundred miles east of Weathertop and roughly the same distance west of Rivendell.[3] Its three arches[4] crossed the rushing river at the bottom of a deep valley,[2] and to the east the land rose again into the wooded hills of the Trollshaws.[3] It was the only practicable crossing point south of the river's sources in the Ettenmoors.[4]

History[edit | edit source]

How ancient the bridge was is unknown. It may have been as old as the East-West Road, which possibly dated to the First Age,[5] or it may have been built or improved by the Númenóreans.[6] In the Third Age, the bridge was within the bounds of the realm of Arnor and then Rhudaur,[3] and probably these two realms kept up the maintenance of this strategic structure.

In T.A. 2941,[7] Thorin and Company passed over the bridge on their way to the Lonely Mountain. After the crossing one of the ponies bolted back into the river and its load of food was lost. This loss of provisions and the dwarves' inability to ignite a fire in the wind and rain led to the encounter of Bilbo Baggins and his companions with the unfriendly trio of trolls.[2]

On 11 October T.A. 3018,[8] three Black Riders were guarding the bridge against Aragorn and the hobbits on their journey to Rivendell. Their plan was foiled by Glorfindel, who drove them away[4] and left his token, a green beryl, on the Bridge. Two days later,[8] Aragorn found the beryl, took it as a sign that the bridge was safe, and led the hobbits over it.[4]

Other versions of the legendarium[edit | edit source]

In the 1960 abandoned rewrite of The Hobbit the Last Bridge was more prominent in the story. When the Company came to the bridge they found its single arch broken (J.R.R. Tolkien had forgotten in this draft that the bridge had three arches in The Fellowship of the Ring - see above). The company had to cross the dangerous ford instead. Gandalf (not yet vanished as in the published story) tried the crossing first on his horse Rohald. His success led to the dwarves crossing, followed by Bilbo, although one of the pack-ponies still bolted back into the river.[9]

The 1960 rewrite ended in the next chapter just as the Company came to the edge of the valley of Rivendell. In a note regarding contents yet to write it was stated "Ch. III should make clear Elrond's care for roads etc. from Greyflood to <Mountains>".[10] This would explain how the Last Bridge got fixed before Frodo Baggins arrived and found the structure intact.

Portrayal in adaptations[edit | edit source]

2002: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring video game:

While the Last Bridge is absent from the home console and PC versions, it is featured in the GBA version. In addition to the bridge itself, there is also a small, populated village built on the western end. It is here that Frodo's Morgul-wound is treated by a local healer instead of by Elrond in Rivendell.

2007: The Lord of the Rings Online:

The Last Bridge marks the border between the Lone-lands and the Trollshaws regions of the game.


Route of Thorin and Company
Bag End · Green Dragon · The Shire · Lone-lands · Last Bridge · Trollshaws · Trolls' cave · Rivendell · High Pass · Front Porch · Goblin-town · Goblin-gate · Eagle's Eyrie · Carrock · Beorn's Hall · Wilderland · Forest Gate · Elf-path · Mirkwood · Elvenking's Halls · Forest River · Lake-town · Long Lake · River Running · Desolation of the Dragon · Ravenhill · Back Door · Lonely Mountain · Great Hall of Thráin