The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien
Dates
Founded c. III 1300, destroyed III 1975 (endured c.675 years)
Location
The northern reaches of the Misty Mountains, around Carn Dûm
Founder
Meaning
Not certain. Probably 'Land (literally 'home') of Iron', but 'Land of Oppression' is a less likely alternative.

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  • Updated 28 October 2008
  • This entry is complete

Angmar

The realm of the Witch-king

Encyclopedia of Arda Timeline
Years of the Trees First Age Second Age Third Age Fourth Age and Beyond
Map of Angmar

In the second millennium of the Third Age, Sauron returned in secret to found Dol Guldur, and his Nine Servants, the Nazgûl, began to reappear in Middle-earth. Gondor was immensely strong at this time in its history, but the North-kingdom of Arnor had already weakened and become divided into three kingdoms. In about the year III 1300, Sauron's chief servant, the Lord of the Nazgûl, travelled into the north to seek revenge on his master's enemies.

The great Sorcerer founded a new realm in the far northern reaches of the Misty Mountains, a realm stretching out into the lands on either side of the range, which he ruled from his capital at Carn Dûm. There he gathered Men and Orcs to his service, as well as other beings stranger and more evil, and so he created the kingdom of Angmar, and became its Witch-king.

With the new kingdom established, the Witch-king began the conquest of the Northern Dúnedain. Their eastern kingdom of Rhudaur was closest to Angmar's borders, and there, the line of the Dúnedain had already lost the kingship. Rhudaur's lord, one of the Hill-men, proved ready to ally himself with Angmar. So, the battle lines were drawn: to the west, the Dúnedain of Arthedain and Cardolan, and to the east, the Witch-king of Angmar and his allies in Rhudaur. The Weather Hills marked the border between these two powers, and most of the forts along those hills date from this time. Further to the east, Rivendell fell under siege by the forces of Angmar.

After a century of plotting and skirmishing, Angmar launched its first earnest assault on the defences of the Dúnedain. The ancient Tower of Amon Sûl on Weathertop was destroyed, and King Arveleg I was killed in the attack. Angmar's armies marauded through Cardolan, leaving few survivors, but the Witch-king had left the Elves out of account. Called by Elrond from Lindon and from Lórien, they pushed back the forces of Angmar and finally contained them.

The Lord of the Nazgûl had now come close to his goal: with the few survivors in Cardolan wiped out by a plague, the Northern Dúnedain were reduced to the single kingdom of Arthedain. With the Elves as their allies, though, they could not immediately be defeated, and so the Witch-king set about building up his forces to strike a final crushing blow. It was during this time that evil spirits came out of Angmar into the western lands, and the burial mounds on the Barrow-downs became a place of horror and dread.

At last, after more than five hundred years, the great army of Angmar was ready. The Men of Arthedain had warning of the Witch-king's coming onslaught, and sent south to Gondor for aid, but the Gondorians were themselves beset by the Wainriders at that time, and could send no help. So, when at last the Witch-king was ready, he overthrew the remnant of the Dúnedain with little difficulty. The survivors were driven west across the River Lune, or into the cold north with their last desperate King, Arvedui. Imagining that he had won a final absolute victory, the Witch-king settled in Arthedain's capital of Fornost, and peopled it with his evil followers.

Far to the south, Gondor had at last fought off the threat of the Wainriders, and sent a fleet to the aid of its northern allies. The vast force arrived too late to save the North-kingdom, but they set out with the Elves to avenge it. The Witch-king marched out from Fornost and met the Gondorians on the plains west of the North Downs, and there was fought the last battle of Angmar. The armies of Gondor were overwhelming, and Angmar's own forces, that had so easily dealt with Arthedain, were themselves put to rout. The Witch-king himself fled the field, and escaped to Mordor, where he began to gather the other Nazgûl.

So Angmar was itself overcome just as complete victory over the Dúnedain seemed assured. The Witch-king had eradicated all the northern realms, and the the lands of Eriador were left wild and kingless for the next thousand years, but the Dúnedain survived. A scattered and forgotten people, they ranged through the Lone-lands they had once ruled, and the line of Isildur Elendil's heir was continued in secret. Not all the evils of Angmar were defeated in that final battle and some, like the Barrow-wights of Tyrn Gorthad, survived even to the time of the War of the Ring.


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