River Running

From Tolkien Gateway
The Front Gate, showing the River Running, by Alan Lee

The River Running or Celduin was a long river that flowed from the Lonely Mountain, through the Long Lake and down through Rhovanion to the inland Sea of Rhûn.


The River Running was 600 miles long river[1] that poured out of the Front Gate of the Lonely Mountain, descended over two falls and swirled around Dale. It turned west beyond Ravenhill and then east and south to Long Lake[2] and thence through the eastern outskirts of Mirkwood,[3] then south east through apparently uninhabited regions of Rhovanion to its confluence with the Carnen and finally in a long south-eastward loop to the great inland Sea of Rhûn,[4] past the land of Dorwinion.[5]

The Celduin had three tributaries: the Forest River, which flowed into the Long Lake from the west; a small unnamed river that flowed from the Mountains of Mirkwood to join the Celduin just north of the Old Forest Road;[3] and the Carnen, which entered the Celduin from the northeast about halfway between Mirkwood and the Sea of Rhûn.[4] Its course then ended in the Sea of Rhûn.[6][note 1]


In the thirteenth century of the Third Age the Celduin had formed the northeast border of the lands of Vidugavia.[7] During the Great Plague of T.A. 1636[8] more than half of the people of Rhovanion died and when the Wainriders invaded from the east (beginning in 1851[8]) the remaining Northmen in the region fled across the Celduin and merged with the folk of Dale.[9] After the threat of the Wainriders ended some of the Northmen drifted back along the banks of the Celduin but when Cirion became the Steward of Gondor he learned that new Easterlings were again driving the remnant of the Northmen up the Celduin.[10]

Between the time when Thráin I founded the dwarf-kingdom in the Lonely Mountain (in 1999) and the arrival of Smaug (in 2770)[8] the Northmen living between the Celduin and Carnen grew strong and repelled all eastern enemies.[11] Even after the arrival of the dragon at the Lonely Mountain the Celduin was still a highway of trade for Thranduil's kingdom, the town of Esgaroth, and places to the south.[12]

Other versions of the legendarium

In the earliest version of the map that would become Thrór's Map in The Hobbit, the River Running flowed nearly due east from the ruins of Dale. On this map Tolkien scratched out the eastward flow and put in the bend to the Long Lake, stressing the change with an arrow.[13]


  1. None of the known maps make clear what the name of the river was from the confluence of the Celduin and the Carnen to the Sea of Rhûn. In the Index to the Unfinished Tales Christopher Tolkien says: "'Redwater', river flowing down from the Iron Hills to join the River Running" and the Celduin: "River flowing from the Lonely Mountain to the Sea of Rhûn". If taken literally, these statements support that Celduin flowed to the Sea and the Carnen was but one of its tributaries.


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