The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien
First seen in c. II 2250; went 'into the shadows' II 3441; reappeared in Middle-earth c. III 1300; finally destroyed in III 3019
Various, including some Númenóreans
Other names


About this entry:

  • Updated 11 February 2008
  • Updates planned: 18

Black Riders

The Nazgûl on horseback

One of the forms taken by the Nazgûl when they went abroad in Middle-earth; black-cowled figures riding coal-black horses.

In the closing years of the Third Age, the Black Riders were sent by their master Sauron into the northern lands to seek for the land of 'Shire', where he had learned the Ring could be found. They rode up the Greenway, and their leader, the Lord of the Nazgûl, established himself in the gorge of Andrath, south of Bree. Meanwhile, the Riders discovered the Shire, but too late to capture the Ring-bearer. They gave chase to Frodo and his companions eastward to Rivendell, and close enough to wound him on one occasion. However, their ambitions were foiled by Aragorn and Glorfindel, and they were ultimately overcome by the powers of Elrond and Gandalf.

After the loss of their horses, the Black Riders made their way back to Minas Morgul and acquired new mounts: vast flying beasts that carried them far above the lands of Middle-earth.

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