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Jef Murray - Edoras.jpg
"Edoras" by Jef Murray
General information
Other namesRiddermark
LocationFrom Fangorn Forest to White Mountains, between the Isen and the Entwash
CapitalEdoras, earlier Aldburg
Major townsAldburg, Dunharrow, Grimslade, Hornburg, Upbourn, Underharrow
RegionsEastemnet, Westemnet, Eastfold, Folde, Westfold, The Wold, West-march
few Dwarves
LanguageRohanese, Westron, Khuzdul
GovernanceKing of Rohan
Preceded byCalenardhon
FormedT.A. 2510
GalleryImages of Rohan
"At the bottom they came with a strange suddenness on the grass of Rohan. It swelled like a green sea up to the very foot of the Emyn Muil."
The Two Towers, "The Riders of Rohan"

Rohan was a Mannish kingdom on the northern borders of Gondor. It was the territory of the Rohirrim, a people of herdsmen and farmers. Well-known for their horses and cavalry, they were Gondor's most important ally.

Description[edit | edit source]

The borders of Rohan were the river Isen from its junction with the river Adorn and then northwards to the outer walls of Isengard and the river Adorn in the west; from the outer walls of Isengard eastwards and northwards along the eaves of Fangorn Forest to the river Limlight in the north; the river Anduin and the west-cliff of the Emyn Muil hills down to the marshes of the mouths of the river Entwash and beyond those marshes the Mering stream that flowed from the Wood of Anwar to join the river Entwash in the east and the White Mountains as far as the end of their northward arm in the south.[1][2].

The most significant feature of Rohan's geography was the river Entwash, which divided the country between Eastemnet and Westemnet, itself divided as Eastfold and Westfold. Other lands were the Wold, the Folde, the line of downs to the north-west of the East Wall of Rohan[3] and the Undeeps.

Ted Nasmith - The Riders of Rohan

The Rohirrim found abandoned Gondorian fortresses and refuges in the White Mountains, such as Dunharrow, Orthanc and the Hornburg which they restored and used themselves.

The capital of Rohan was the hill fort of Edoras which lay on the slopes of the White Mountains. Another large city was Aldburg, the capital city of the Eastfold and original city of Eorl the Young. Other cities must have existed but are not named.

Climate and countryside[edit | edit source]

The countryside of Rohan was described as a land of pastures and lush tall grassland. The lands of Rohan are frequently described as appearing like "seas of grass". Most of the Rohirrim dwelt in small villages or farms.

Background[edit | edit source]

In the 1200s of the Third Age, the Kings of Gondor made close alliances with the Northmen of Rhovanion, a people akin to the Three Houses of the Edain (later the Dúnedain) from the First Age. In the 2000s, a remnant tribe of such Northmen that called itself the Éothéod moved from the valleys of Anduin to the north-west of Mirkwood, clearing out what remained of the recently defeated witch kingdom of Angmar, east of the Misty Mountains.

In the meantime, the Gondorian province of Calenardhon was deserted by the Great Plague and during the Watchful Peace, local chieftains, such as Dunlendings gained control.[4] During the time of Cirion the Steward of Gondor, Calenardhon was overrun by the Balchoth.

Ted Nasmith - The Oathtaking of Cirion and Eorl

In 2509, Cirion sent summons to the Éothéod for aid in stopping a combined invasion of Men from the north-east of Middle-earth, and Orcs from the Misty Mountains. Borondir reached Eorl the Young, king of the Éothéod, who answered the summons, and arrived unexpectedly at a decisive battle of the Field of Celebrant.

As a reward, Cirion invited Eorl on Amon Anwar, over the tomb of Elendil and he swore mutual alliance and cooperation between the two peoples. The Steward also gave Eorl the deserted but fertile area of Calenardhon to take as their own and repopulate.

History[edit | edit source]

Eorl moved his people there driving out the Dunlendings who attempted to repopulate it without Gondor's consent. Eorl also built the first city of Rohan, Aldburg. Eorl lost his life fighting the Easterlings in the Wold.[5] Migration was continued to the days of second king Brego who defended the borders against the Dunlendings and Easterlings, and drove the remaining Orcs and Balchoth off the Wold. Brego also built the Golden Hall of Meduseld, and made Edoras the capital of Rohan.

Jan Pospisil - Edoras

King Aldor was the founder of a golden age in Rohan's history, during which he completed Rohan's conquest east of the Isen and the Rohirrim increased greatly in numbers, and even settled valleys of Ered Nimrais including Harrowdale. It was he who succeeded in driving all the remaining Dunlendings from his realm. Rohan continued to prosper during Goldwine's rule; but as the guard of the borders lessened, the Dunlendings slowly began to return to northern Westfold, settling the area around the (friendly to them) Ring of Isengard and the southern eaves of Fangorn Forest[4]. A powerful Dunlendish force had been established, and King Déor was forced to ride northward from Edoras, ultimately to defeat his enemies but he was unable to recapture the Ring of Isengard. The following years the Dunlendings harassed and mingled with the Rohirrim.

The first line of kings lasted for 249 years, until the ninth king Helm Hammerhand. In T.A. 2758, Rohan was invaded by Dunlendings under Wulf, son of Freca, of mixed Dunland and Rohan blood. The King, Helm Hammerhand, took refuge in the Hornburg until reinforcements from Gondor and Dunharrow (a refuge of the Rohirrim) arrived a year later and defeated the invaders. In a daring raid Fréaláf recaptured Edoras, and managed to reclaim it. He eventually drove the Dunlendings back across the rivers Isen and Adorn, freeing all of Rohan. It would take Rohan close to 200 years to recover its strength after the invasion.

The Rohirrim now kept a strong force in north Westfold, however at some time King Folcwine would need the help of Gondor to drive some of them from the area.[5] He was successful but the people who remained were largely of mixed blood, and not loyal to Edoras.[4]

Soon after this, Saruman arrived and took over Isengard. He was welcomed as a strong ally.

As Rohan was still recovering from the war with the Dunlendings, hostilities remained at the western borders. For two generations during the War of Dwarves and Orcs, many thousands of Orcs sought refuge in the White Mountains and troubled the Rohirrim. King Brytta fought them off, and when he died it was believed Rohan was free of Orcs, but they were not entirely driven from the White Mountains until T.A. 2864 by Folca.

During Thengel's reign, a mysterious Northerner calling himself Thorongil entered his service, and rode with him for some time.

Around 2960, Saruman began harassing Rohan. In 3014, he began using his influence to weaken King Théoden, and in 3019, he launched a full-scale invasion. Théoden's son, Théodred was killed during the First Battle of the Fords of Isen, and during the Second, Saruman's forces crossed the Isen and scattered the Rohirric forces. Some regrouped with Théoden at the Hornburg, where they were besieged. With help from the Huorns, Saruman's forces were defeated at the Battle of the Hornburg.

Ted Nasmith - Pursuit in Rohan

On the heels of this victory, Théoden rode with an army to Minas Tirith and helped break its siege in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, where he was slain. Éomer, his nephew, succeeded to the throne, beginning the third line. Éomer rode with the armies of Gondor to the gates of Mordor and took part in the final battle with the forces of Sauron, who was defeated when the Ruling Ring was destroyed.

The rule of the Stewards of Gondor was now over. King Éomer and the new king of Gondor, Aragorn II (Aragorn), renewed their oath of alliance, and reaffirmed Cirion's grant of Calenardhon to the Rohirrim. But though Sauron had perished Éomer often fulfilled the Oath of Eorl and went with King Elessar far into the East and South. He was known as Éomer Éadig, or "the Blessed", because during his reign Rohan recovered from the hurts of the War and became a rich and fruitful land again.

After the downfall of Sauron, Gimli led a party of the Dwarves of Erebor to Aglarond, the Glittering Caves of the White Mountains within the realm of Rohan, of which there was an entrance in Helm's Deep.[6]

Politics[edit | edit source]

Military[edit | edit source]

The military of the Rohirrim was commanded by Marshals. The First Marshal of the Riddermark was the highest military rank and commanded the Muster of Edoras: riders of the capital Edoras and the surrounding lands, including the King's Lands and Harrowdale. In his youth, King Théoden had led the Riders of the Muster of Edoras himself, so that no First Marshal was needed and at the time of the War of the Ring, there was no First Marshal.

The Second and Third Marshals had no fixed duties, and their roles changed according to the needs of the time. The Second Marshal of the Riddermark and was based in Helm's Deep and around the War of the Ring it was filled by Théoden's son, Prince Théodred, and later Erkenbrand after the death of the prince. The Third Marshal of the Riddermark was based at Aldburg in the Folde and around the War of the Ring it was filled by Éomer.

After the War of the Ring, the new rank of Marshal of the East-mark was created for eastern Rohan by King Éomer. The first Rider to hold it was his lieutenant, Elfhelm.

The Riders were divided into one hundred Éoreds. in the days of King Folcwine a "full Éored" was defined as 120 horsemen (including its captain).[7] This would imply that a full muster of the Riders of the Rohirrim would number at least twelve thousand, if not many more. This does not include levied infantry, such as those Erkenbrand led at the Battle of the Hornburg.[8]

Alliance with Gondor[edit | edit source]

The alliance between Rohan and Gondor came into existence in the year 2510 of the Third Age. In that year the Easterlings launched a massive invasion of Gondor. The army of Gondor was defeated and trapped between the Limlight and the Celebrant. Gondor, which had always been on friendly terms with the different tribes of the Northmen, sent messengers to the closest tribe, the Éothéod. Although it was unlikely that the message calling for aid would come through, it did. Then Eorl the Young and his fierce Éothéod Riders unexpectedly took the field during the Battle of Celebrant and turned the tide in the favour of Gondor. As a reward Cirion, the Steward of Gondor, gave Eorl the depopulated province of Calenardhon for his people to settle, while fulfilling Gondor's need for a strong ally. The Oath of Eorl was sworn by both Cirion and Eorl. Neither nation broke the alliance. Rohan went to great lengths to fulfil their part of the treaty including sacrificing two of its heirs when Gondor was under threat from the Haradrim in 2885, when Fastred and Folcred, the twin sons of King Folcwine, were killed during the Battle of Crossings of Poros. King Théoden once again honoured the alliance in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields. In the years after his rise to the throne, King Éomer would often assist King Elessar of Gondor in his wars against the foes of Gondor.[9]

War with the Dunlendings[edit | edit source]

To the west of Rohan lived the Dunlendings, a native people who had been hostile against the Free Peoples for a long time. The Dunlending Wulf (whose father Freca was killed by King Helm) invaded Rohan and usurped the throne. Pressed by the west and east, the Rohirrim took refuge in the White Mountains. The Long Winter came upon the combatants, which caused many losses from both sides. Prince Háma was lost in a blizzard searching for food while Prince Haleth was slain on the doors of the Golden Hall. Helm had also died from the freezing temperature in T.A. 2759. Wulf was soon defeated by Fréaláf, who was Helm Hammerhand's nephew and became the tenth King of Rohan.[10]

Rohan recovered very slowly from the war and the Winter and Beren welcomed Saruman and allowed him to dwell in Isengard in T.A. 2759 hoping that he would help the Rohirrim. The following years, after 2799, the Orcs who were defeated and fled from the Battle of Azanulbizar, attempted to establish themselves in the White Mountains. As they crossed Rohan, they infested the dales and many years of fighting passed until they were eradicated.

During the War of the Ring, Saruman incited the Dunlendings against the Rohirrim and they fought alongside the Uruk-hai in the Battle of the Hornburg.[11]

Etymology[edit | edit source]

The name Rohan (coined by Hallas) is Gondor Sindarin, meaning "Horse-country". Rohan is a debased form of the proper Sindarin name Rochand (or Rochan), containing the elements roch ("horse") and the toponymical ending -and.[12][13][14]

The native name of the country was Riddermark, or simply the Mark.

In a draft of The Appendices, Tolkien noted that Rohan "is of Noldorin origin, a translation of the native Lōgrad", having the "strictly correct form [...] Rochann."[15]

Other versions of the legendarium[edit | edit source]

Conceptualised as the "Horse kings of Rohan" allied with Mordor in early drafts of 1939, the Rohirrim took their final form in 1942 when the text of The Lord of the Rings was completed to about one third.

Inspiration[edit | edit source]

Several aspects of Rohan's culture and history seem to be inspired by both Goths, Scandinavians and the medieval Anglo-Saxons.

Just like the Germanic Ostrogoths, Rohirric culture was a mounted culture. It had separated from the Northmen, moved south, and had settled in close proximity with a civilization. In the Goths' case it was the Byzantine Empire and in the case of the Rohirrim, it was Gondor.

Especially the Hervarar saga, with its Mirkwood, Gothic horsemen and shieldmaidens, appears to have inspired Tolkien when creating the Rohirrim, although he exchanged the Gothic tongue with the Anglo-Saxon.

The antipathy between the Rohirrim and the Dunlendings resembles the historical tension between the Anglo-Saxon settlers of Britain and the native Celts.

Portrayal in adaptations[edit | edit source]

Map of Rohan towns in The Lord of the Rings Online

2012: The Lord of the Rings Online:

Rohan is split into two major halves, divided by the river Entwash. Eastern Rohan, including the Eastemnet, the East Wall, and Nen Hithoel, was added in 2012 with the Riders of Rohan expansion. A smaller update added the region "Wildermore" to the north of the Eastemnet, between the Wold and Fangorn Forest. Western Rohan, including the Westemnet, Eastfold, Westfold, and Helm's Deep, was added in 2013 with Helm's Deep expansion.
In addition to those mentioned in Tolkien's works, in-game Rohan features many other landmarks and settlements. The Mark is further divided into "Ridings", each governed by a Reeve from the chief town, with the surrounding villages each led by a Thane. The Reeves answer to either Aldor Harding of the Eastemnet or to King Théoden directly. At the centre of each settlement is a grand mead hall, which serves as the seat of the local Thane or Reeve, the place for communal gatherings and the most defensible position in case of an attack.
Outside the borders of Rohan proper, the large fortified town of "Stangard" on the northern shore of the river Limlight guards the approaches from the Brown Lands. During the War of the Ring almost all of Rohan's settlements come under attack by the enemy, with several towns completely razed and burned to the ground, while some smaller villages are completely abandoned when the inhabitants flee to nearby cities for protection.


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan", (iii) Cirion and Eorl, paragraph with the footnotes 45 and 46 and the following paragraph
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "Map of Rohan, Gondor, and Mordor", red dotted line with the label "Border of Rohan"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "The Riders of Rohan"
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Battles of the Fords of Isen"
  5. 5.0 5.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The House of Eorl", "The Kings of the Mark"
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "Durin's Folk"
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan", note 36
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "Helm's Deep"
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The House of Eorl", "The Kings of the Mark"
  10. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The House of Eorl"
  11. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "Helm's Deep"
  12. J.R.R. Tolkien, Nancy Smith, ""Index questions"
  13. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan", "iii. Cirion and Eorl"
  14. Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, pp. 247-8
  15. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "II. The Appendix on Languages", p. 53
Route of the Fellowship of the Ring
Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas
Rivendell · Eregion · Caradhras · Moria · Lothlórien · Caras Galadhon · Anduin · Parth Galen · Amon Hen · Eastemnet · Fangorn Forest · Rohan · Edoras · Hornburg · Isengard · Dunharrow · Paths of the Dead · Gondor · Hill of Erech · Lamedon · Linhir · Lebennin · Pelargir · Minas Tirith · Osgiliath · Cross-roads · Ithilien · Dagorlad · Black Gate · Field of Cormallen · Cair Andros · Gondor · Minas Tirith · Anórien · Rohan · Edoras · Isengard
Rivendell · Eregion · Caradhras · Moria · Lothlórien · Caras Galadhon · Anduin · Parth Galen · Amon Hen
Frodo and Sam
Rivendell · Eregion · Caradhras · Moria · Lothlórien · Caras Galadhon · Anduin · Parth Galen · Amon Hen · Emyn Muil · Dead Marshes · Black Gate · Ithilien · Henneth Annûn · Cross-roads · Morgul Vale · Stairs of Cirith Ungol · Cirith Ungol · Shelob's Lair · Tower of Cirith Ungol · Mordor · Morgai · Plateau of Gorgoroth · Mount Doom · Field of Cormallen · Cair Andros · Gondor · Minas Tirith · Anórien · Rohan · Edoras · Isengard
Rivendell · Eregion · Caradhras · Moria · Celebdil† · Lothlórien · Fangorn Forest · Edoras · Hornburg · Isengard · Rohan · Anórien · Gondor · Minas Tirith · Osgiliath · Cross-roads · Ithilien · Dagorlad · Black Gate · Field of Cormallen · Cair Andros · Gondor · Minas Tirith · Anórien · Rohan · Edoras · Isengard
Rivendell · Eregion · Caradhras · Moria · Lothlórien · Caras Galadhon · Anduin · Parth Galen · Amon Hen · Emyn Muil · Eastemnet · Fangorn Forest · Wellinghall · Derndingle · Isengard · Hornburg · Dunharrow · Drúadan Forest · Gondor · Minas Tirith · Anórien · Rohan · Edoras · Isengard
Rivendell · Eregion · Caradhras · Moria · Lothlórien · Caras Galadhon · Anduin · Amon Hen · Parth Galen · Emyn Muil · Eastemnet · Fangorn Forest · Wellinghall · Derndingle · Isengard · Rohan · Anórien · Gondor · Minas Tirith · Osgiliath · Cross-roads · Ithilien · Dagorlad · Black Gate · Field of Cormallen · Gondor · Cair Andros · Minas Tirith · Anórien · Rohan · Edoras · Isengard