Nameless things

From Tolkien Gateway
This article describes a concept which is mentioned in J.R.R. Tolkien's works, but was never given a definite name.

Heather Hudson - Nameless Thing

Far, far below the deepest delving of the Dwarves, the world is gnawed by nameless things. Even Sauron knows them not. They are older than he. Now I have walked there, but I will bring no report to darken the light of day.

The nameless things were gnawing things that were said by Gandalf to dwell so far beneath Arda that not even the Dwarves had ever chanced to come upon them.[1]


Gandalf claimed that these nameless things under Arda were older than Sauron, suggesting that they were alive before the physical arrival of some Maiar to Arda.[note 1]

Some such creatures were said to be "slimier than fish" and preferred to dwell in darkness. They were known to have inhabited the caves deep within the hearts of mountains as far back as the Elder Days. When the Orcs of the Misty Mountains dug around Goblin-town, digging new tunnels and expanding and joining those that already existed, their original owners withdrew to the deepest depths and lurked beyond their knowledge.[2]

According to Gandalf, Durin's Bane had learned to navigate the nameless things' tunnels during its long stay in Moria. After the two fell from the Bridge of Khazad-dûm into an underground lake, the Balrog fled through these tunnels. Gandalf pursued it closely, believing that its knowledge of the tunnels was his only hope of escape. Their chase led them to the foot of the Endless Stair, which they climbed to eventually emerge on the peak of Zirakzigil.[1]

Other versions of the legendarium

In The Book of Lost Tales, Nan Dumgorthin, the "Land of the Dark Idols" "(dum ‘secret, not to be spoken’, dumgort, dungort ‘an (evil) idol’)", was a dark forested land that was located to the east of Artanor where a collection of "evil tribes of renegade men" made sacrifices to Gods whose idols were hidden upon a wooded mountain.[3] In the Lay of the Children of Húrin, there are shrines are hidden in secret places for the worship of nameless gods older than both Morgoth and the Valar.[4]


Todd Jensen suggests that the nameless things may have been inspired by the dragon Nidhog of Norse mythology, who gnawed at the roots of Yggdrasil the World Tree.[5]

Portrayal in adaptations

Nameless things in adaptations
A Nameless Thing by Heather Hudson for the Middle-earth Collectible Card Game.
A Nameless Thing by Heather Hudson for the Middle-earth Collectible Card Game.  
The "worm" in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.


2022: The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power:

1 September: Adrift:
While adrift on a makeshift raft in the Sundering Seas, Galadriel, Halbrand, and five Southlanders are attacked by a creature referred to as "the worm", which had destroyed the Southlanders' ship two weeks before. The scene is accompanied by the following on-screen trivia: "The Great Sea, or The Sundering Seas, divides the Undying Lands from Middle-earth - where there are still nameless things in the deepest places of the world." The trivia entry cites Book III, Chapter 5.


2007: The Lord of the Rings Online:

Nameless is a creature type categorized as "Ancient Evil". They have a variety of shapes, but most of them are humanoid, only with no eyes or no head at all. They can be found in the Drúadan Forest, having come out of the White Mountains during the Dawnless Day; and beneath the Iron Hills, where a horde of Morgoth's monsters were sealed away by the Dwarves long ago. The largest concentration of Nameless, however, are within the Foundations of Stone, the deepest level of Moria. The Watcher in the Water is also classified as Nameless, as is "Helchgam", another tentacled creature, found in the sewers of Carn Dûm.

External links


  1. Hammond and Scull suggest this could have been a rhetorical flourish on Gandalf's part. Cf. Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, pp. 392-393. Note that Tom Bombadil also claims to have been on Arda before the arrival of "the Dark Lord".


Legendary races of Arda
 Animals:  Dumbledors · Gorcrows · Hummerhorns · Pards · Swans of Gorbelgod · Turtle-fish
Dragon-kind:  Sea-serpents · Spark-dragons · Were-worms
Evil Races:  Ettens · Giants · Half-trolls · Hobgoblins · Ogres · Snow-trolls · Two-headed Trolls
Other:  Badger-folk · Great beasts · Lintips · Mewlips · Nameless things · Otter-folk · Spectres
Individuals:  Badger-brock · Fastitocalon · Fisher Blue · Lady of the Sun · Lonely Troll · Man in the Moon · Old Swan · Talking Gurthang · Talking purse · The Hunter · The Rider · River-woman · Tarlang · Tim · Tom · Whisker-lad · White cow · Willow-wren