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J.R.R. Tolkien - Map of Wilderland.jpg
"Map of Wilderland" by J.R.R. Tolkien
General Information
Other namesWilderland
LocationNorth-east Middle-earth
DescriptionLarge, inhabited region focussed around Mirkwood
RegionsLothlórien, Iron Hills, Mirkwood, Vales of Anduin
Major townsCaras Galadhon, Dáin's Halls, Dale, Dol Guldur, Elvenking's Halls, Erebor, Framsburg, Lake-town
People and History
InhabitantsDurin's Folk, Elves, Hobbits, Northmen, Orcs, Eagles, Dragons
EventsDisaster of the Gladden Fields
The Great Plague
War of the Dwarves and Dragons
Sack of Erebor
War of the Dwarves and Orcs
The Fell Winter
Battle of Five Armies
Fall of Dol Guldur
Battle of Dale
GalleryImages of Rhovanion

Rhovanion or Wilderland was a large region of northern Middle-earth. The Great River Anduin flowed through it, and the immense forest of Greenwood the Great was a part of it.

Many wild horses and wild kine roamed the plains of Rhovanion.[1]


[edit] Boundaries

Important rivers were the Anduin or Great River, the Celduin or Running, and the Carnen or Redwater.

Major features were the forest of Mirkwood, and the Long Lake of Esgaroth.

[edit] History

[edit] First Age

In the First Age the Elves passed through it during the Great Journey, and much later the Atanatári (Fathers of Men) followed them. It is not otherwise mentioned until the Second Age.

[edit] Second Age

Rhovanion played host to two Silvan Elf kingdoms ruled by Sindarin lords: Northern Greenwood and Lórinand (or Lórien).

The great battlefield (or Dagorlad) of the War of the Last Alliance against the host of Sauron lay in the south of Rhovanion, and in the Gladden Fields of the Great River the High King of Gondor and Arnor, Isildur, son of Elendil, was killed.

[edit] Third Age

Sometime around T.A. 1050, due to the darkness around Dol Guldur, the Harfoots left the Vales of Anduin westwards, beginning the Wandering Days. The Fallohides would follow, but the Stoors remained until T.A. 1150. Some Stoors would continue to dwell in the vales of the Anduin until at least the late Third Age.

In the mid-13th century there were many northern princes, the most prominent of them being Vidugavia, who ruled between Mirkwood and the River Running, although he called himself "King of Rhovanion"[2] About this time Regent Minalcar of Gondor led a great expedition into Rhovanion in T.A. 1248 and utterly defeated the Easterlings, with substantial help from the Northmen and from Vidugavia in particular. Vidugavia became Gondor's strong ally.[2]

In T.A. 1248, Rómendacil II, who as Minalcar served as Regent to his uncle of Atanatar II of Gondor, destroyed all camps of the Easterlings even beyond the Sea of Rhûn, and a strong alliance with Rhovanion was forged. The King of Rhovanion at this time was Vidugavia - ruling the lands between Mirkwood and the River Running[2] - and Prince Valacar of Gondor served in his army and integrated with their culture. Vidugavia's daughter Vidumavi married Valacar, and their son Vinitharya became King Eldacar in 1432, which led to the Kin-strife in 1437. Eldacar fled to Rhovanion, and with a Rhovanion army, he reclaimed his Kingdom in 1447.

In T.A. 1636, the Great Plague devastated Rhovanion, killing more than half its people. This left Rhovanion weakened, and in 1851 the Wainriders overran and enslaved Rhovanion. For 43 years Rhovanion was enslaved, but in 1899 Rhovanion revolted, while Gondor attacked the Wainriders from the west. Rhovanion was freed but left extremely weakened. Many Men of Rhovanion left for Gondor, where they were welcomed as distant relatives.

In T.A. 1851, the Battle of the Plains was fought by Gondor and the Northmen against the Wainriders; King Narmacil II of Gondor and the Northman Marhari (a descendant of Vidugavia)[3] were both killed in this battle.[note 1] Refugees from this defeat were reorganized as the Éothéod on the other side of Mirkwood in the lower Vales of Anduin, under the leadership of Marhwini, son of Marhari.[3] Many of the Northmen remained in their old lands as a subject people of the Wainriders. Others fled north, with some mingling with the people of Dale.[3]

[edit] Later History

In the later Third Age, in the north lay the Dwarven kingdoms of Erebor and the Dwarf halls in the Ered Mithrin, the kingdom of Dale, and in the north of the great river Anduin lay the realm of the Éothéod. In the north of Greenwood lived the Silvan Elves ruled by Thranduil, and in the south of Greenwood and across the river in Lórinand ruled Amdír and later Amroth. In the far south, near the great falls of Sarn Gebir, watched the northern guard of Gondor, and in the valleys of the Anduin lived Stoors.

In around T.A. 2460, Sauron returned as the Necromancer he took residence at Dol Guldur in the south of Greenwood. And Greenwood became evil and was renamed Mirkwood. The Dwarves of Erebor and the Men of Dale were destroyed and scattered when the Dragon Smaug took Erebor, and Gondor retreated from the Falls. Some Men still lived along the forest, notably the Beornings and the Men of Esgaroth upon the Long Lake. The Men of Éothéod removed south at the invite of Gondor and settled the plains of Calenardhon, later Rohan. After being driven out of Erebor the Dwarves relocated, some went to the Iron Hills, but most went to the Ered Luin in Eriador.

At the end of the Third Age, the Kingdoms of Erebor and Dale were restored as a result of the death of Smaug and the Battle of Five Armies, and Sauron was removed from Mirkwood by the wizard Gandalf. During the War of the Ring, it held off an invasion by Sauron's forces, and after Sauron was defeated Mirkwood was clean again, and renamed Eryn Lasgalen, or "Wood of Greenleaves". Some time during the Fourth Age, the Reunited Kingdom claimed large parts of it.[2]

[edit] Etymology

Rhovanion is Sindarin for "wilderland" and contains rhovan, with the place-name ending -ion.[4]

Wilderland was a Hobbit name.[5] Tolkien made Wilderland based on wilderness but with a side-reference to the verbs wilder, "wander astray" and bewilder.[6]

[edit] Notes

  1. The Lords of the Eotheod claimed descent from the '...kings of Rhovanion, whose realm lay beyond Mirkwood before the invasions of the Wainriders...' according to Appendix A to 'The Lord of the Rings'.


  1. Daniel Helen, "Tolkien’s annotated map of Middle-earth transcribed" dated 10 November 2015, The Tolkien Society (accessed 5 August 2018)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion"
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan", "(i) The Northmen and the Wainriders"
  4. 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), p. 78
  5. 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, p. 14
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Nomenclature of The Lord of the Rings" in Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, p. 779
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