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Tharbad

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Tharbad
Ford/town
Rob Alexander - The Ruins of Tharbad.jpg
"The Ruins of Tharbad" by Rob Alexander
General Information
LocationEriador, on the Gwathló river
TypeFord/town
InhabitantsMen
GalleryImages of Tharbad

Tharbad was a ford[1] and ruined town[2][3] at the river Gwathló on the southern border of Eriador[4].

Contents

[edit] Geography

Tharbad was located on the southern border of Eriador a few miles downstream from the confluence of the river Hoarwell and the river Glanduin, which formed the river Gwathló.[5] The lower part of the Glanduin was a fenland called the Swanfleet and the natural state of the upper Gwathló near Tharbad was a slow wide river that spread into a fenland. The land around Tharbad was later drained to strengthen the banks of the river to allow the construction of causeways, a bridge, a harbour and a town. Ships with a smaller draught could be sailed or rowed up the Gwathló as far as Tharbad.[6]

The North-South Road crossed the river Gwathló at Tharbad.

[edit] History

[edit] Second Age

In the early Second Age the 'Swanfleet' river, entered the southern part of the Noldorin realm Eregion. After he took the sceptre in S.A. 883[7] the King of Númenor, Tar-Aldarion traveled up the River Gwathló to Tharbad and met Galadriel there.[8]

Such early river voyages were also made by hardy explorers of Númenor, in ships of smaller draught,[9] but such journeys up the Gwathló increased rapidly after the Númenóreans constructed a small harbour at the river's estuary to exploit the local timber: 'Vinyalondë', 'the New Haven'.

By S.A. 1695, the Númenóreans were devastating the forests below Tharbad, and had been obliged to build forts both at the Haven and along the river, to protect their ship-building yards and wood-stores from the local population, who were understandably hostile, treated as enemies.[10]

Despite overrunning all of Eriador in the war which began in that year, Sauron's armies had eventually been forced back to the fortified River Gwathló, where they were held. Beforehand, Sauron had not enough force to spare for any assault upon the forts, but late in the war he had summoned more forces, which were approaching from the south-east, and were indeed in Enedwaith at the Crossing of Tharbad, which was only lightly held.[10]

Whether Tharbad's defences - which presumably consisted of the most northerly of the Gwathló's river forts - were overcome is uncertain, but Tharbad did become the site of The Battle of the Gwathló, where after having his army caught in the rear by Ciryatur, who had hurried up the Gwathló from Lond Daer, "Sauron was routed utterly.."[9]

Tharbad is not mentioned in surviving records for more than 1500 years after the war: the whole region was largely ignored by the elves and the Númenóreans following the destruction of Eregion and the forests "and the continued hostility of the surviving natives."[source?]

The site of the ford became very important after the founding of Gondor and Arnor in S.A. 3320, however, and saw extensive development:

A need had arisen "..to undertake the great works of drainage and dyke-building that (would make) a great port on the site where Tharbad stood.."[9]

The ford was deepened to receive sea-going vessels, and the massive fenlands above it were extensively drained, until a much smaller Swanfleet was all that remained. Tharbad's new river-port was spanned by a bridge, the immense labour of which "was shared by the North and South Kingdoms", and included "a fortified town and haven about the great bridge over the Greyflood."[11]

These fortifications around the town were "raised there on great earthworks on both sides of the river..", and 'The Great South Road', which was built at the same time to connect the two nations, passed across the bridge via "long causeways that carried the road to it on either side across the fens.."[9]

It is probable that Tharbad became part of the kingdom of Arnor in S.A. 3320, because after the establishment of the kingdoms of Arnor and Gondor, Enedwaith belonged to neither of those two kingdoms[12] and the Gwathló was the eastern border of Arnor and the Isen was the western border of Gondor[13].

[edit] Third Age

In the earlier centuries of Arnor and Gondor[14][15][16] the region of Enedwaith between the Gwathló and the Isen belonged to neither of those two kingdoms.[12] Until the decay of Arnor both kingdoms shared an interest in Enedwaith, but were mainly concerned with the building and maintenance of the North-South Road, which was the main route of transport between the two kingsdoms except by sea, and of the bridge at the fortified town and haven of Tharbad and of the long causeways on which the road ran to Tharbad on either side of the Gwathló across the fens in the plains of Enedwaith.[12] There were no permanent settlements of people of Númenórean origin in Enedwaith,[12] except at Tharbad,[14][15][16] where a large garrison of soliders, mariners, engineers[12] and river-wardens was stationed.[14][15][16] In addition, the drainage works were built and maintained and the banks of the rivers Mitheithel and Gwathló were strengthened.[14][15][16]

When the Kingdom of Arnor was divided in T.A. 861,[17] Minhiriath, the region between the river Baranduin and the river Gwathló became a part of Cardolan, one of the three successor states of Arnor.[18] As a consequence, Tharbad probably became a part of Cardolan.

From about T.A. 1150, the Stoors, a tribe of hobbits, migrated to and settled in[19] the area between Tharbad and the borders of Dunland,[20] but they left around 1630[21].

After the Great Plague spread north-west from Gondor in T.A. 1636,[22] most of the people of Cardolan died, especially in Minhiriath.[23] After that Minhiriath was almost completely deserted,[24], but some survivors of the plague continued to live in Tharbad. After the decay and receding of the kingdom of Arnor, which had originally included Minhiriath,[14][15][16] Enedwaith became a part of Gondor during the days of the Kings of Gondor. Like before, Gondor was mainly concerned with the maintenance and patrolling of the North-South-Road.[13] As a consequence, it is possible that the town of Tharbard became a part of Gondor. However, after the Great Plague of T.A. 1636 the region fell quickly into decay and turned back into wild fenlands long before the War of the Ring.[12]

The survivors of the great plague remained in Tharbad, and the Great (now Old) South Road continued to be an important trade route for another 350 years until the fall of Arthedain in 1974, and the end of the 'days of the Kings' in Gondor 76 years later. From 2050, the nearby native Dunlendings, as well as the people left in Tharbad no doubt, ..ceased in fact to be subjects of Gondor; the Royal Road was unkempt in Enedwaith, and the Bridge of Tharbad became ruinous, and was replaced only by a dangerous ford.[25]

After the Fell Winter of T.A. 2911[26] in T.A. 2912 Enedwaith and Minhiriath were devastated by great floods and Tharbad was ruined and deserted[27].

Over a century later in T.A. 3018,[28] the North-South Road no longer existed except for the crumbling remains of the causeways on both sides of the river and the river was crossed by Boromir on a ford that was formed by the ruings of the bridge.[10] The ford was so dangerous[10] that Boromir lost his horse when he crossed the river at the ford.[29]

Before 22 September T.A. 3018 the Ringwraiths cross the Greyflood on their way to the Shire.[30]

On 27 September T.A. 3018 Gandalf crossed the Greyflood[31] with his horse Shadowfax at Tharbad.[32] Others occasionally crossed the ruined bridge - at their peril - including the Ringwraiths, servants and spies of Saruman, as well as the Rangers of the North who sought Aragorn in Rohan in 3019.

After the War of the Ring at the end of the Third Age, the North-kingdom of Arnor was reestablished by Aragorn II.[33] It is probable that the town of Tharbad and its bridge were rebuilt, because Gandalf announced that the Greenway would be opened again, that there would be people and fields where there was wilderness before and that there would be room enough for people between the Isen and the Greyflood.[34]

[edit] Etymology

Tharbad is a Sindarin name. It means "road-crossing".[3] It is composed of the elements thar ("across", "over") and pad ("walk", "step").[35] Its original meaning is said to have been "the Stepping Stones". Tharbad was originally a ford over which one could walk.[36] The name Tharbad was already used for the ford before the town was established.[1]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, "Words, Phrases and Passages in Various Tongues in The Lord of the Rings", in Parma Eldalamberon XVII (edited by Christopher Gilson), entry S pat-, p. 34
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Ring Goes South", p. 274
  3. 3.0 3.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, "Unfinished index for The Lord of the Rings", in Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, entry Tharbad, p. 15
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Eriador, Arnor, and the Heirs of Isildur", first paragraph, p. 1039
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, "The West of Middle-earth at the End of the Third Age" [map]
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn", "Appendix D: The Port of Lond Daer", discussion of the name Gwathló
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Aldarion and Erendis: The Mariner's Wife", "Notes", Chronology, second paragraph
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Aldarion and Erendis: The Mariner's Wife", The Further Course of the Narrative, fourth paragraph
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn", "Concerning Galadriel and Celeborn"
  11. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "Of Dwarves and Men"
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn", "Appendix D: The Port of Lond Daer", discussion of the name Glanduin, first paragraph
  13. 13.0 13.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Battles of the Fords of Isen", "Appendix (ii)", note to the text, first paragraph
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 J.R.R. Tolkien, Carl F. Hostetter (ed.), The Nature of Middle-earth, "Part Three. The World, its Lands, and its Inhabitants: XXII. The Rivers and Beacon-hills of Gondor", p. 378
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 15.4 Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, p. 650
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 16.4 J.R.R. Tolkien, "The Rivers and Beacon-hills of Gondor" (edited by Carl F. Hostetter), in Vinyar Tengwar, Number 42, July 2001
  17. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age", entry for the year 861, p. 1085
  18. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Eriador, Arnor, and the Heirs of Isildur", The North-kingdom and the Dúnedain, first paragraph, p. 1039
  19. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age", entry for the year 1150, p. 1085
  20. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, "Prologue", "Concerning Hobbits", p. 3
  21. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age", entry for the year c. 1630, p. 1085
  22. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age", entry for the year 1636, p. 1086
  23. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Eriador, Arnor, and the Heirs of Isildur", The North-kingdom and the Dúnedain, entry for king Argeleb II, p. 1041
  24. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn", "Appendix D: The Port of Lond Daer", discussion of the name Gwathló, second paragraph
  25. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Battles of the Fords of Isen"
  26. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age", entry for the year 2911, p. 1089
  27. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age", entry for the year 2912, p. 1089
  28. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Great Years", entry for the year 3018, 4 July and 24 October
  29. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "Farewell to Lórien", p. 374
  30. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Great Years", entry for the year 3018, 22 September, the reach the Sarn Ford on that day, p. 1091
  31. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Great Years", entry for the year 3018, 27 September, p. 1091
  32. Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, p. 552 citing from The Hunt for the Ring, Marquette manuscript 4/2/33
  33. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Eriador, Arnor, and the Heirs of Isildur", p. 1042
  34. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "Homeward Bound", p. 993
  35. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Words, Phrases and Passages in Various Tongues in The Lord of the Rings", in Parma Eldalamberon XVII (edited by Christopher Gilson), entries S thar- and S pad-, p. 34
  36. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Words, Phrases and Passages in Various Tongues in The Lord of the Rings", in Parma Eldalamberon XVII (edited by Christopher Gilson), entry S thar-, p. 34