Tolkien Gateway


The name Rivendell refers to more than one character, item or concept. For a list of other meanings, see Rivendell (disambiguation).
J.R.R. Tolkien - Rivendell.jpg
General information
Other namesImladris (S)
Imbeláris (Q)
Karningul (W)
The First Homely House, The House of Elrond, The Last Homely House
LocationA hidden valley beneath the western Misty Mountains in Eriador
PopulationPrimarily Elves
LanguageQuenya, Sindarin, Westron
GovernanceLord of Rivendell
Preceded byEregion
FoundedS.A. 1697
First SiegeS.A. 1697 - 1700
Second Siegec. TA 1400
Council of Elrond25 October, T.A. 3018
AbandonedBy Fo.A. 120[1]
GalleryImages of Rivendell
"And the house of Elrond was a refuge for the weary and the oppressed, and a treasury of good counsel and wise lore."
Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age

Rivendell, or Imladris, was an Elven outpost in the Misty Mountains on the eastern edge of Eriador. Because of its location, it was called the Last Homely House from the point of view of a traveller going to the Misty Mountains and Wilderland; and also the First Homely House from the point of view of someone coming from these lands to the civilised lands of Eriador to the west.

It was established by Elrond in S.A. 1697 as a refuge from Sauron after the Fall of Eregion.[2] It remained Elrond's seat throughout the remainder of the Second Age and until the end of the Third Age, when he took the White Ship for Valinor. Rivendell had a strong alliance with the Kings of Arnor and after the fall of Arthedain, it became a refuge for the Rangers of the North and the Heir of Isildur.


[edit] Geography

"Valley of Rivendell" by Soni Alcorn-Hender

Rivendell was located at the edge of a narrow gorge of the Bruinen River,[3] but well hidden in the moorlands and foothills of the Misty Mountains.[4]

Pine-trees grew on the top of the valley, and there was a "steep zig-zag path" to the valley bottom. The vegetation in the valley bottom was mostly oak and beech.[4]

[edit] History

[edit] Second Age

[edit] Foundation

During the War of the Elves and Sauron, and as Sauron was moving against Eriador, Elrond led an army of Elves of Lindon to the region. They arrived late but were joined by a detachment out of Eregion led by Celeborn. Despite this, Sauron's armies overwhelmed the Elves, and Elrond was unable to reach Eregion. Forced northward toward the headwaters of Bruinen, Elrond established a stronghold.[2]

This became a refuge for those seeking shelter from Sauron's onslaught in Eriador, and Elrond's and Celeborn's Elves were soon joined by many fleeing the Sack of Eregion. More came as Sauron ravaged Eriador on his march toward Lindon. By S.A. 1700, Sauron had overrun all of Eriador and Imladris was besieged. The siege ended when Gil-galad's forces, strengthened by the armament sent by Tar-Minastir, routed Sauron's armies and drove him out of Eriador.

A Council held at that time made Elrond Gil-galad's vice-regent in Eriador, and Imladris his seat. Gil-galad bestowed Vilya upon Elrond in secret. Aided by the power of the Elven ring, Elrond made Imladris one of the chief seats of Elvish strength in the west in the latter part of the Second Age. Imladris remained an Elvish stronghold in Eriador to the end of the Second Age and into the Third.[5]

[edit] Last Alliance

At the end of the Second Age, Elendil and Gil-galad formed the Last Alliance of Elves and Men to challenge Sauron, and their host halted for a while at Imladris in S.A. 3431 and they stayed there for 3 years, gathered their forces before crossing the Misty Mountains.[2][6]

Isildur's wife and his youngest son, Valandil, were in Imladris at that time, and Isildur was journeying back to them after Sauron's defeat when he was ambushed at the Gladden Fields.[7] After receiving the shards of Narsil, Valandil took up his role as King of Arnor and left Imladris for Annúminas.[6]

[edit] Third Age

After the fall of Gil-galad, Elrond remained in Imladris. During the Third Age, it was a refuge and sanctuary; many Elves gathered there, and it was the chief dwelling of the High Elves in Eriador, except the Elves of Lindon, but also wise and powerful people of all the races. The Heirs of Isildur were also harboured there due to their kinship with Elrond, as descendants of his brother Elros.[6]

Danger came to Eriador around T.A. 1300 when Angmar was established in the north-east beyond the Ettenmoors. It was late in the reign of Arveleg I that Rivendell was besieged by Angmar. After an incursion by Angmar into Eriador in T.A. 1409, the Elves of Rivendell joined those of Lindon and the Galadhrim, whom Elrond brought over the Mountains, in subduing the power of the Witch-king for many years.[8]

After the end of the North-kingdom in T.A. 1975 Aranarth, the first Chieftain of the Dúnedain, had his son fostered in Rivendell, as were all subsequent sons of the chieftains. The heirlooms and treasures of the house of Isildur, including the shards of Narsil, were also kept there after Arvedui's death.[6] Among these were also some of the few remaining documents containing the history of Númenor.[9]

There was traffic across the Misty Mountains in the Third Age between Imladris and Lothlórien, for Elrond's wife was Celebrían, daughter of Galadriel and Celeborn.

In the Quest of Erebor, Bilbo Baggins stopped off at Rivendell with the Dwarves on the way to the Lonely Mountain[4] and also on the way back to the Shire with Gandalf.[10] Bilbo retired there after his 111th birthday, writing his memoir There and Back Again.[11]

Years later, Frodo Baggins and his companions journeyed to Rivendell, where they met Bilbo. Several other Elves, Dwarves and Men had also arrived at Rivendell on separate errands;[11] at the Council of Elrond they learned that all of their errands were related to the fate of the One Ring, and they had to decide what to do about it. In the end, the Hobbits influenced the decision.[12]

Following the destruction of the One Ring at the end of the Third Age, Elrond's ring lost its power, and Elrond, with many of his household, left Rivendell to sail for Valinor from the Grey Havens; this marked the start of the Fourth Age.

[edit] Later History

Although Elrond departed from Rivendell, Elladan and Elrohir remained for a while with some of the remaining Noldor.[13] It is believed that Celeborn also relocated to Rivendell after the departure of Galadriel and having also grown weary of East Lórien.[13][14]

It is not known when Rivendell was finally abandoned, but shortly before Aragorn died in Fo.A. 120, he said to Arwen that "none now walk" in the garden of Elrond, indicating that the last of the Noldor had departed to Valinor.[1]

[edit] Etymology

Rivendell ("cloven-dell") is the Common Speech translation of the Sindarin name Imladris ("deep dale of the cleft").[15] An alternative (or complementary) etymology, gives Rivendell as the Anglicised version of the Westron name Karningul (itself a translation of Imladris).[16]

The name Imladris is also glossed as "Canyon of the Cleft"[17] and "flat-floored valley of the Cleft".[18]

The Quenya name Arcimbelë is used only once in a manuscript, and its meaning is unclear except for the element imbe ("deep vale").[19]:125 A more literal translation is given: Latimberista, from latimbë ("glen") + rista ("cut"). However, on the same page, Tolkien stated that this name was not used in practice, and was replaced the Quenyarized form of Imladris: Imbeláris.[19]:127

[edit] Inspiration

A possible inspiration (so suggested by David Salo[20]) could have been Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland, which Tolkien visited in 1911:

I am... delighted that you have made the acquaintance of Switzerland, and of the very part that I once knew best and which had the deepest effect on me. The hobbit’s journey from Rivendell to the other side of the Misty Mountains, including the glissade down the slithering stones into the pine woods, is based on my adventures in 1911 (he was 19 and travelled to Lauterbrunnen)... Our wanderings mainly on foot in a party of 12 are not now clear in sequence, but leave many vivid pictures as clear as yesterday." (He talks of similar conditions of the travel of Bilbo camping out, walking mountain paths, carrying packs).
Letter 306

[edit] Portrayal in adaptations

Rivendell in adaptations
Rivendell in ArdaCraft  

2001-03: The Lord of the Rings (film series):

Rivendell appears in every instalment, although its role in the second and third film is rather minor.

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

Rivendell is the fifth level and the first where no fighting is required. After Frodo is taken to Rivendell by Glorfindel, he is first woken by Gandalf; after that, the Council of Elrond starts. After the council, there is an opportunity to speak to the NPCs - Aragorn, Arwen, Boromir, Elrond, Gandalf, Gimli, Legolas, Merry, Pippin and Sam. The gameplay continues by entering a door. A short cutscene follows in which Bilbo gives Sting and the mithril shirt.[21]

2006: The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II:

Rivendell is one of the battlegrounds in the game and a site of a skirmish between Elves and Goblins.

2007: The Lord of the Rings Online:

Rivendell is one of the major cities in the game, located between Trollshaws and the Misty Mountains. Rivendell is also one of the places that players can choose as Elven character's homeland. The Last Homely House refers to a large dwelling of Elrond, not to the entire refuge of Rivendell. It is located on the eastern side of Rivendell. One can find Elrond's library, the Hall of Fire, the scholar's guild and various guest rooms.

2011: The Lord of the Rings: War in the North:

Rivendell is one of the major cities in the game and the only place characters are obliged to visit more than once (other cities can be re-visited, but this is optional).

2012-14: The Hobbit (film series):

Rivendell appears in the first film after Gandalf leads Thorin and Company away from Yazneg and the Wargs. Much of Rivendell is familiar from The Lord of the Rings film series but new areas have been included, such as the meeting place of the White Council and a crystal table used for investigating the Moon-letters in Thrór's Map.


  1. 1.0 1.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen"
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Second Age"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The West of Middle-earth at the End of the Third Age" [map]
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "A Short Rest"
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn"
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age"
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Disaster of the Gladden Fields"
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Eriador, Arnor, and the Heirs of Isildur"
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "A Description of the Island of Númenor"
  10. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "The Last Stage"
  11. 11.0 11.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "Many Meetings"
  12. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Council of Elrond"
  13. 13.0 13.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, "Prologue"
  14. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Great Years"
  15. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Nomenclature of The Lord of the Rings" in Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, p. 774
  16. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix F, "On Translation"
  17. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Eldarin Hands, Fingers & Numerals and Related Writings — Part One" (edited by Patrick H. Wynne), in Vinyar Tengwar, Number 47, February 2005, p. 14 (note 18)
  18. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Letter to Anthony D. Howlett" (letter)
  19. 19.0 19.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, "Quenya Verb Structure", in Parma Eldalamberon XXII (edited by Christopher Gilson)
  20. Aaron Fuegi, "Rivendell in Switzerland" at the Last Homely House (accessed 15 November 2011)
  21. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (video game), "Rivendell"
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