The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien


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Welcome to The Encyclopedia of Arda

The Encyclopedia of Arda is a personal project - a tribute to and a celebration of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. The site is evolving into an illustrated hypertext encyclopedia of Tolkien's realms and peoples. It already contains about four thousand entries, and we're constantly adding new entries and expanding existing ones.

Inside the encyclopedia

The Encyclopedia of Arda contains thousands of articles covering topics from J.R.R. Tolkien's world, some brief, some lengthy and some containing detailed essays and discussions.

You'll also find a selection of interactive tools, including a chronicle to help you explore Tolkien's fictional history, and calendar to translate dates and events, a lexicon of names, a glossary of old and rare words, and much more.

Context and approach

The content of the Encyclopedia is written in the same context as Tolkien himself used; he presented himself simply as a translator, rather than originator of the tales. Hence, we try to describe his world from a 'historical' rather than a literary perspective, though sometimes it's useful to explore ideas in their wider context. Where relevant, therefore, you'll also find a few references to Tolkien's life or opinions, or to real historical or mythological parallels to events in his universe.

About the name Arda

Arda was the name given by the Elves to their World and all it contained, and so 'Encyclopedia of Arda' seemed a peculiarly apt title for this project.

Special thanks

Thanks to all those who've e-mailed us over the years with their suggestions, corrections, ideas and just general support.

But the real Special Thanks, though, belong to the memory of J.R.R. Tolkien for his extraordinary and unparalleled creation.

For acknowledgements and references, see the Disclaimer & Bibliography page.

Original content © copyright Mark Fisher 1997-2019. All rights reserved. For conditions of reuse, see the Site FAQ.

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Featured Entry

Seven Gates of Gondolin

The guarded way into Hidden City

For most of its history, a hidden way existed into Gondolin from the valley of the River Sirion. The course of the Dry River that Turgon had originally used to find his way through the Crissaegrim led into a tunnel and a narrow ravine through the mountains, the Orfalch Echor. After the establishment of Gondolin, this way was guarded by seven famous gates, the Gates of Wood, Stone, Bronze, Writhen Iron, Silver, Gold and, finally, the Great Gate, the Gate of Steel.

Turgon's armies passed through the Seven Gates on their way to the great battle that became known as the Nirnaeth Arnoediad. That battle turned to disaster, and though Turgon himself survived, after that time the danger of Morgoth discovering Gondolin became imminent. So Turgon blocked the way into the mountains from the Dry River, and the way into the Hidden City was blocked forever.

The Encyclopedia of Arda
The Encyclopedia of Arda