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The name Udûn refers to more than one character, item or concept. For a list of other meanings, see Udûn (disambiguation).
"Melkor chained" by Roger Garland
General Information
Other namesUdûn (S)
LocationIron Mountains; far north of Arda
DescriptionVast and very cold, with pits extending deep into the earth
People and History
InhabitantsMelkor and his servants
CreatedBetween V.Y. 3400 & 3450
DestroyedY.T. 1099
EventsBattle of the Powers
GalleryImages of Utumno

The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udûn. Go back to the Shadow!

Utumno, or Udûn, was a fortress of Melkor in the far north of Middle-earth. It was the first and greatest of Melkor's citadels, delved in the earliest days. It was the home to hosts of demons, the fallen Ainur who allied with Melkor, and numerous monsters of corruption that were made in mockery of Middle-earth's naturally intended creatures and beings.[1]


Utumno was built by Melkor after his first arrival in Arda. The Valar had by this time created the Two Lamps. Utumno was built under the Iron Mountains, where the light of Illuin and Ormal was dim and cold. Though the Valar did not yet know it, from this place, "the blight of his [Melkor's] hatred flowed out thence, and the Spring of Arda was marred."[2] Utumno was delved exceedingly deep, with pits filled with fires and great hosts of servants, caverns and vaults "hidden with deceit". As a result the lands of the far north were made desolate, and remained so in the following ages.[1]

Melkor used Utumno as his base of operations from V.Y. 3400 until Y.T. 1090, when the Valar assailed Melkor's fortress.[3]:53[4]:74-5 From there he had destroyed the Two Lamps, so that the Powers left Almaren, their dwelling-place in Middle-earth, and removed into the West. He then began his corruption of Arda.[2] Utumno was also where the first captured Elves were taken and the creation of Orcs began as a mockery of the Firstborn.

Utumno was laid waste in Y.T. 1099, in the war that the Valar waged against Melkor for the sake of the Elves. The Valar attacked in full force, and until they broke the gates and unroofed it; Melkor hid in the uttermost pit, but they carried him to Valinor as their captive . Melkor was chained held as a prisoner.[1]

Melkor had established a second and lesser fortress at the western end of the Ered Engrin to act as the first line of defence for Utumno from Aman.[1] This became Angband, which was at first held by Sauron. After the destruction of Utumno, Melkor chose to rebuild and fortify Angband as his lair.


The name Utumno, contains the stem Utumnu-. An older version of the name, Utumna, is said to derive from Tumna (Quenya, "low-lying, low, profound, deep").[5]

In the Annals of Aman, Tolkien wrote: "'Utupnŭ √TUP cover over; hide'" and "'that stronghold was ever after called Utumno the Deep-hidden'";[3] while in The Etymologies, the root is TUB and the original form of the name is given as Utubnu.[6]

Udûn was the less commonly used Sindarin name of Utumno. It meant "dark pit, Underworld"[7] or "hell"[8]. In The Lord of the Rings, this name appears just once, in Gandalf's words to Durin's Bane.[9]

It survived, though, as a name for the northern valley of Mordor that lay behind the Morannon. Undoubtedly, Sauron chose this name in memory of his ancient master's greatest stronghold.

Other versions of the legendarium

Tolkien was not entirely consistent with the location of Utumno, but it was always located within the northern Middle-earth, in or behind the Iron Mountains.

As noted from one of Tolkien's earlier sketch maps about Utumno from the Ambarkanta, Utumno was previously spelled as Utumna and was north of the Iron Mountains, towards the western end of the mountain chain.[10]