Towers of the Teeth

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This article is about Towers of the Black Gate. For the song by Maury Laws, see The Towers of the Teeth.
Towers of the Teeth
Fortress
"Cirith Gorgor" by Paul Monteagle
General Information
Other namesNarchost and Carchost
LocationCirith Gorgor, above the Black Gate
TypeFortress
DescriptionWatchtowers of the Black Gate
People and History
InhabitantsOrcs
CreatedEarly T.A.
Destroyed25 March, 3019 T.A.

The Towers of the Teeth were two towers that stood on two sheer hills that were thrust forward on either side of the mouth of the pass of Cirith Gorgor at the northwestern end of Mordor where the Ered Lithui met the Ephel Duath. They were strong, tall, stony-faced and had dark window-holes facing north, east and west.[1] The tower on the western side of the pass was called Narchost and the tower on the eastern side of the pass was called Carchost.[2]

History

In S.A. 3434, the Battle of Dagorlad[3] took place at the plain Dagorlad in front of the Black Gate.[4]

After the defeat of Sauron in the War of the Last Alliance the Men of Gondor built the Towers of the Teeth to prevent Sauron from returning to Mordor[1] and to keep watch on Mordor where the creatures of Sauron still lurked.[5]

After the Great Plague devastated Gondor in T.A. 1636, the watch on the borders of Mordor ceased and the fortresses that guarded the passes were unmanned in T.A. 1640 because of a lack of troops.[6][7] It is possible that the Towers of the Teeth and the other fortresses that guarded the passes into Mordor were only abandoned temporarily and were manned again by troops from Gondor when sufficient troops became available again later.

At the time of the death of king Ondoher the Towers of the Teeth were still manned by the Men of Gondor.[8]

As the strength of Gondor failed, the Towers of the Teeth were abandoned by the Men of Gondor and were empty for long years and fell into decay. After the return of Sauron they were repaired and garrisoned with the forces of Sauron.[1] The Towers of the Teeth fell down during an earthquake[9] after an eruption of Orodruin when the One Ring fell into the Sammath Naur in the Orodruin[10] on 25 March T.A. 3019.[11]

Other names

Other names of the Towers of the Teeth were the Teeth of Mordor[1] or the Towers of the Black Gate.[9]

Etymology

The name Narchost is translated as "Bitter-biting Fort".[2] Its initial element narch is not defined, but a similar (Noldorin) verb narcha- ("to rend") appears in The Etymologies as a derivative of the root NÁRAK.[12] The second element is ost ("fortress").[13]

The name Carchost is translated as "Fang Fort".[2][14] It contains two Sindarin elements: carch ("fang")[14] and ost ("fortress").[13]

Other versions of the legendarium

An earlier version of what would later become Appendix A and an earlier version of what would later become Appendix B mention the watch on Mordor was "neglected" and "relaxed", respectively and the fortresses guarding the passes became emptied with the first mentioning the fewness of the people after the plague as the reason.[15][16]

Portrayal in adaptations

1987-96: Middle-earth Role Playing:

In the Teeth of Mordor module in the Fortresses of Middle-earth series Carchost is incorrectly described as the western tower, and Narchost as the eastern tower. It is stated that Isildur began an grand plan to seal off Mordor and that the construction began before the end of T.A. 1 and was completed during the reign of Rómendacil I (T.A. 492 - T.A. 541). It is mentioned that by T.A. 1640 the last citadel guarding Mordor was abandoned by Gondor, so Sauron sent all Ringwraiths - except the Witch-king and Khamûl - to lake Núrnen with the mission to ready Mordor for his return. Thereafter, the Ringwraith Dwar of Waw occupied the Black Gate with Orcs, Trolls and mannish servants. After Sauron's fall, only the Black Gate and the upper levels of the Towers of the Teeth were destroyed.
Towers of the Teeth in The Lord of the Rings Online (Narchost in the foreground)

2017: The Lord of the Rings Online:

Both Narchost and Carchost are infiltrated by the player with the help of the Rangers shortly before the Battle of the Black Gate. The Towers are connected by an underground tunnel as part of a large networks of pits and holes that exists under the Morannon.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "The Black Gate is Closed", p. 636
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 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, entries Narchost and Carchost, p. 601
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Second Age", entry for the year 3434, p. 1084
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age", "before the gate of the Black Land
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Tower of Cirith Ungol", p. 900
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age", p. 1086
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion", entry for King Telemnar, p. 1048
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan", "Notes", note 15
  9. 9.0 9.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Field of Cormallen", p. 949
  10. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "Mount Doom", p. 947
  11. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Great Years", entry for the year 3019, March 25, p. 1094
  12. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, Part Three: "The Etymologies", entry "NÁRAK"
  13. 13.0 13.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Appendix: Elements in Quenya and Sindarin Names", entry os(t)
  14. 14.0 14.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Appendix: Elements in Quenya and Sindarin Names", carak-
  15. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "VII. The Heirs of Elendil", manuscript C, The Southern Line of Gondor: the Anarioni, entry 27. Tarondor
  16. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "VIII. The Tale of Years of the Third Age", manuscript T 4, entry for the year 1640