Warning beacons of Gondor

From Tolkien Gateway
This article describes a concept which is mentioned in J.R.R. Tolkien's works, but was never given a definite name.
The Beacons of Gondor by Donato Giancola

The beacons of Gondor[1] were an alarm system of the realm of Gondor.

Description[edit | edit source]

The beacons were two series of permanently manned stations maintained by the lord of Minas Tirith for raising the alarm in northern and southern Gondor respectively. The stations were on the summits of outlying hills north of and south of the White Mountains (Ered Nimrais). The stations kept signal fires in readiness and stabled fresh horses for couriers on their way to the allied kingdom of Rohan north of or the Gondorian fief of Belfalas in the south of the White Mountains.[1]

The beacons north of the White Mountains from the direction of Minas Tirith to the direction of Rohan were on the hills Amon Dîn, Eilenach, Nardol, Erelas, Min-Rimmon, Calenhad and Halifirien (or Amon Anwar)[1] with a distance of 20 to 30 miles between each beacon.[2]

The locations of the southern beacons are not recorded, but based on the description of them being on the summits of outlying hills along both borders of the White Mountains,[1] the distance of 20 to 30 miles between each of the beacons north of the White Mountains[2] and them having posts with fresh horses for mounted messengers to ride to Belfalas, there may have been as many as ten beacons starting from Minas Tirith west along the southern foothills of the White Mountains and then from the southwestern spur of the White Mountains between the river Gilrain and the river Ringló southwest along the mountains in Dor-en-Ernil.

History[edit | edit source]

Isildur buried his father Elendil in a casket in a low mound of grass with a black stone lying before it, which was engraved with the letters lambe, ando, lambe (which stood for Elendil) on the summit of a hill,[3] which was called Eilenaer and was then near the centre of the Kingdom of Gondor[4]. After that the hill was called Amon Anwar, which means "Hill of Awe" in Sindarin.[4]

Anórien and the White Mountains with the beacon hills

It is not recorded, when the beacons on the northern and the southern side of the White Mountains were constructed. While the Palantíri were still used for communication between Osgiliath, Minas Ithil, Minas Anor and Angrenost without the necessity of messages or signals, no beacon was built on Halifirien.[3] Perhaps the oldest beacon on the northern side of the White Mountains was Amon Din, which served as a fortified outpost that kept watch over any movement by enemies from Dagorlad into North Ithilien or any crossings of enemies from the east over the river Anduin into Anórien at or near the island Cair Andros and sent warnings of such movements with its beacon to Minas Tirith.[5] The beacons of Eilenach and Min-Rimmon were the next two oldest beacons north of the White Mountains. They were built while there were still many people living in Anórien to communicate with the people of Anórien who were charged with watching any approaching enemies from Calenardhon or crossings of enemies over the river Anduin at Cair Andros. It was not allowed to build a beacon on Amon Anwar while Elendil was still buried there.[3] The other beacons north of the White Mountains, Nardol, Erelas, Calenhad and Halifirien were probably built after the settlement of the Rohirrim in Calenardhon,[6] because before their settlement, the population of Calenardhon had decreased so that they could have sent little troops and Gondor did not send troops to Calenardhon as Gondor was increasingly struggling to defend the line of the Anduin and to guard its southern coast.[3]

After Steward Cirion of Gondor had granted Calenardhon to Eorl, the King of the Éothéod, the ancestors of the Rohirrim, and Eorl had returned to the north to get his people to resettle in Calenardhon, Cirion had the casket of Elendil moved to the Hallows of Minas Tirith, because the hill was now no longer near the centre of the Kingdom of Gondor, but close to the border of the new Kingdom of Rohan. In the beginning the guarding and maintenance of Amon Anwar was shared by Gondor and Rohan. Later when Gondor declined and the population of the Rohirrim increased, only men from the Eastfold of Rohan guarded Amon Anwar and called it Halifirien in their language.[4]

During the War of the Ring the beacons of the North were lit when news came to Minas Tirith from Lebennin that a large fleet of the Corsairs of Umbar was coming near to the mouths of Anduin,[7] and as the Rohirrim rode to Gondor's aid through Anórien they travelled close to all seven beacons north of the White Mountains on their way east to Minas Tirith.[8][9][10]

Portrayal in adaptations[edit | edit source]

2003: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King:

One of the major changes made to the story is that when Gandalf and Pippin ride to Minas Tirith the beacons are not lit, since the despairing Denethor has decided not to ask for help. In the movie there is a beacon just above the city, and to summon the Rohirrim Gandalf asks Pippin to evade the guards and light it. Once he has done so, the film depicts the other beacons being lit one by one until the last is sighted by Aragorn who is in Edoras, and it is this (and not the Red Arrow, which is not mentioned in the film) which finally helps him to persuade Théoden to muster the Rohirrim to Gondor's aid.
Another change is that in the movie there are thirteen beacons as opposed to the seven described in the book.[11][note 1]

2011: The Lord of the Rings Online:

Halifirien was visible in the distance from the Rohirrim town of "Beaconwatch" in the Eastfold. The regions of Western, Central and Eastern Gondor together featured ten southern beacons running from Belfalas to Lossarnach. These were, from west to east: Amon Lontir, Nendath, Maegond, the Fallen Beacon, Eilendoth, Dol Brannor, Anglebed, Sirthanc, and Minlos. In addition, there appeared to be an unnamed, inaccessible beacon across the river from Pelargir.

External links[edit | edit source]


  1. Also, the beacons were depicted as signal fires only (without stables), atop mountain peaks instead of foothills.