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Sea of Núrnen

From Tolkien Gateway
(Redirected from Nurnen)

Lake Núrnen[1][2][3] also known as the Sea of Núrnen was an inland sea in the middle of Nurn in Mordor.[4]

The lake was fed by four unnamed major rivers, of which two flowed from the Ephel Dúath and two from a mountain spur that branched off from the Ered Lithui into Lake Núrnen[4][5]

It was referred to as a bitter sea[1] and held dark sad water, but the area around it was fertile enough to support great fields that were cultivated by slaves.[2] An old meaning of sad is dark-coloured, in particular an unpleasant colour. Bitter is perhaps by analogy with sad or in the sense of unpalatable, referring to poisonous water from the rivers.[6]

After the War of the Ring King Aragorn freed the slaves of Mordor and gave them ownership of all the lands around Lake Núrnen.[3]


Núrnen is Sindarin for "sad-water"[7][8] or "dead water".[9] Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull, and Paul Strack suggest that it is a compound of Nurn (the name of the region in which the inland sea is located) and nen ("water").[6][10] Tolkien also noted the related Sindarin word guru ("death").[9]


In The Atlas of Middle-earth, Karen Wynn Fonstad assumed that the Sea of Rhûn and Sea of Núrnen were the remnants of the inland Sea of Helcar. The atlas was however published before The Peoples of Middle-earth, where it was revealed that the Sea of Rhûn existed already in the First Age, as an apparently different body of water than the Sea of Helcar.

Portrayal in adaptations

2014: Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor:

Queen Marwen is the queen of from the Tribesmen of Núrnen and rules over the Sea of Núrnen.

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

In the second episode, when Bronwyn tries to warn the Southlanders of Tirharad in Waldreg's tavern of the ruin of Hordern, Waldreg notes that Crookfinger Lake has always been spewing vapors, possibly referring to Lake Núrnen as it is the only and the most well known body of water nearby. The dark and damp forested lake that Arondir was suddenly seized from may possibly be a sub lake of Crookfinger Lake.