- Great Road redirects here. This name sometimes refers to the East Road.
The North-South Road, also known as the Great Road and Royal Road, was a major road in the Westlands built by the Númenóreans from the Second Age; it linked the northern kingdom of Arnor with the southern kingdom of Gondor.
It originally ran from Fornost Erain in the far north, southward for hundreds of leagues through Eriador passing by Bree (where it crossed the East-West Road) and through Andrath between the Barrow-downs and the South Downs and crossed the former Cardolan and Minhiriath. Most of this road had fallen into ruins after the Fall of Fornost and the desolation of Eriador. The patch of the North Road around the Bree-land was known as the Greenway because of its disuse. It then crossed Tharbad on the Gwathló, where it crossed the river to traverse Enedwaith. From then on, the North Road became the Old South Road.
Arching slightly towards the Misty Mountains, it went through the Gap of Rohan (via the Fords of Isen) and then it was known as the Great West Road. After two miles it bent sharply to the south-east to meet the Deeping-road and again bent to the east and Edoras. It passed across Calenardhon/Rohan parallel to the White Mountains and eventually Anorien. It passed near Minas Anor and then, the portion known in Minas Tirith as South Road, passed over Erui at the Crossings of Erui, and reached Pelargir.
Other versions of the legendarium
Only parts of the North-South Road are taken in consideration in the narrative of The Lord of the Rings; the route is partially seen in the original General Map of Middle-earth (and then in Pauline Baynes's A Map of Middle-earth). In those earlier maps, the portion of the road from Enedwaith to Rohan is not seen, suggesting that the road was abandoned or ruined after contact and traffic was diminished.
The name Great Road in the Appendices refers to the East Road. Confusingly, the name Great Road in the Unfinished Tales refers to the North-South Road, which appears as a whole in the map accompanying the book. Christopher Tolkien extrapolated the course between Enedwaith and Rohan, to restore it on the new map.
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, Index
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, "The West of Middle-earth at the End of the Third Age" [map]
- General Map of Middle-earth
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Battles of the Fords of Isen"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "Minas Tirith"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "Map of Rohan, Gondor, and Mordor"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Eriador, Arnor, and the Heirs of Isildur"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The West of Middle-earth at the End of the Third Age" [map]
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Introduction", "The Map of Middle-earth"