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Dates
The first three Beacons were built between about III 2000 and III 2500;1 all seven survived into the Fourth Age
Location
A chain of hills running along the northern edge of the White Mountains, and another along the southern fringes of that range
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  • Updated 8 September 2010
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Beacons of Gondor

The warning-fires of Minas Tirith

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Map of the Beacons of Gondor

Two chains of beacon-hills that ran along the northern flanks of the White Mountains to Rohan, and along the southern flanks to Belfalas. The names of southern beacons are not recorded, but the northern chain of hills running between Minas Tirith and Rohan are all known. The table below lists the seven beacons in order from east to west (that is, in the order a signal would be passed from Gondor westward to the borders of Rohan).

Amon Dîn One of the first beacons to be established, and the nearest to Minas Tirith, the purpose of the signal fire on Amon Dîn was originally to communicate with Gondorian forces in Anórien or on the island of Cair Andros. As the line of beacons extended westward over time, Amon Dîn became the first in a line that reached two hundred miles or more to the borders of Rohan.
Eilenach The tallest of the three original beacons, Eilenach was the highest point in the Drúadan Forest. Though tall, its summit came to a narrow point, and there was little room to construct a large signal fire. The Eilenach beacon thus relied on the westward beacons to pass its warning on through the Mountains.
Nardol An outlier of the Mountains at the extreme western edge of the Forest, Nardol was not so tall as Eilenach, but it had a much broader summit, allowing a great fire to be constructed. This was the source of its name, which means simply 'Fire-hilltop', and its purpose was to pass on the relatively faint light of the Eilenach beacon westwards towards the borders of Rohan.
Erelas Erelas was not so pronounced a peak as many of the other beacon hills, but its location midway between the great flame of Nardol to the east, and the Min-Rimmon to the west, made it a suitable location for one of the seven beacon fires.
Min-Rimmon One of the three original beacons established before the founding of Rohan, the purpose of Min-Rimmon's beacon was originally to communicate with the Gondorian province of Calenardhon, the wide green land that would eventually be settled by the Rohirrim.
Calenhad The sixth of the seven Beacons was only a matter of some fifty miles from Gondor's border with Rohan. West of Min-Rimmon, the White Mountains receded from the plain of Anórien, forming a wide and shallow indentation with a mouth some thirty miles across. Calenhad stood at the western end of this 'bay', at the point where the Mountains came close to the Great West Road once again.
Halifirien The last of the seven beacon hills, and the tallest, was the Halifirien, which stood among the trees of the Firien Wood. Based on Gondor's ancient borders, this mountain had stood near the centre of the land, and was thus chosen as the site of the Tomb of Elendil. As time passed, Gondor's borders shrank, until by the time of the foundation of Rohan the Halifirien was on the fringes of the South-kingdom. At that time Elendil's remains were taken from his ancient Tomb to Minas Tirith, and the mountain became the last of the warning beacons, whose fire would call directly on the Rohirrim for aid.

In the early days of Gondor, communication between its major cities and fortresses was achieved through the four palantíri of the South-kingdom. After the Master Stone of Osgiliath was lost in III 1437, and the Ithil-stone was captured in III 2002, these fell out of use, and another means of communication was needed. This developed from an outpost on the hill of Amon Dín to the north of Minas Tirith, which was combined with stations on the hills of Eilenach and Min-Rimmon to create a rudimentary beacon system. The guard-posts at these beacons also maintained horses for messengers, allowing news of invaders from the west or east to quickly reach Minas Tirith.

After the settlement of Rohan in III 2510, the line of beacons was extended westward, and the last of the new outposts was built on the Halifirien on the borders of the new land. This allowed Gondor to reach its new northern ally rapidly when aid was needed, and also gave Rohan a means to call on the Stewards when danger approached.

We have only one historical record of the beacons actually being used. That happened in the War of the Ring, on 8 March III 3019, when Steward Denethor II used them to summon aid from Théoden of Rohan. Seven days later Théoden's Riders arrived at Minas Tirith, barely in time to save it from the besieging armies of Mordor and to help bring a victory in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields.


Notes

1

The dating of the Beacons is uncertain, but the first three (Amon Dîn, Eilenach and Min-Rimmon) were put in place after the loss of the palantíri of Gondor (probably after the Ithil-stone was captured in III 2002) and before the foundation of Rohan in III 2510.

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